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Biographical entry Ball, Sir Charles Bent (1851 - 1916)

Knight Bachelor, 1903; Baronet 1911; Hon FRCS July 25th, 1900; AB TCD 1871; MD 1875; MB MCh 1872; FRCSI 1879. Hon Surgeon to the King in Ireland.

21 February 1851
17 March 1916
General surgeon


The younger son of Robert Ball, LLD, Director of the Dublin Museum of Science and Art, and brother of Sir Robert Stawell Ball, the Astronomer Royal, was born in Dublin on Feb 21st, 1851.

After a brilliant career at Trinity College, Dublin, he practised for a short period in South Wales; but returned to Dublin, where he obtained a Poor Law appointment which he held till 1879, when he took the Fellowship of the Irish College of Surgeons, and devoted himself entirely to surgery. He was Surgeon to Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital, Consulting Surgeon to a large number of institutions, and a member of many important committees. In 1895 he was appointed University Anatomist in succession to Henry St John Brooks, and succeeded Sir George M Porter as Regius Professor of Surgery in the University of Dublin, holding both posts till the end of his life. In 1903 he received the honour of knighthood, and in 1911 he was created a Baronet of the United Kingdom.

Ball was for many years the most prominent figure in Irish surgery, recognized as lavish in public work, a good all-round surgeon, but best known as a specialist in rectal diseases. His most important book – The Rectum and Anus, their Diseases and Treatment – was for many years considered the standard work in the English language. His other works are mentioned in the biographies. ‘Ball's operation’ for pruritus ani consisted in dividing the sensory nerves supplying the region.

He married on July 22nd, 1874, Annie Julia, daughter of Daniel Kinahan, JP, of Roebuck Park, Dublin, by whom he had four daughters and three sons, of whom the eldest – C Arthur Kinahan Ball, FRCSI, Surgeon to Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital – succeeded to the title. Ball practised at 24 Merrion Square, and died after an illness of several months on March 17th, 1916. His portrait is in the Honorary Fellows’ Album.

The Rectum and Anus; their Diseases and Treatment, 12mo, London, 1887 and 1894.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Dublin Jour. Med. Sci., 1916, cxli, 295. Lancet, 1916, i, 703. Brit. Med. Jour., 1916, i, 469.].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England