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Biographical entry Howell, John (1777 - 1857)

MRCS Jan 1st 1801; FRCS (by election) Aug 26th 1844; MD Edin 1816.

21 October 1777
28 May 1857
Palermo, Sicily


Born on Oct 21st, 1777; he joined the Army as Surgeon's Mate on the Hospital Staff, not attached to a regiment, on June 11th, 1801. He was gazetted Assistant Surgeon to the 61st Regiment of Foot on Aug 25th, 1804, and promoted to Surgeon of the Sicilian Regiment on March 17th, 1808. He again returned to the 61st Foot as Surgeon on May 11th, 1809, was attached to the Staff on April 16th, 1812, promoted Deputy Inspector-General of Hospitals on July 22nd, 1830, and at the same time retired on half pay. His active service included the campaign in Calabria and the Battle of Maida, in 1805; he likewise served in Egypt and was wounded in the shoulder. During the Peninsular War (1810-1812) he was again wounded in Portugal. He lived at Clifton after his retirement, and had become Senior Physician to the Clifton Dispensary by the year 1828, living at 45 Royal Crescent. In that year he was beaten in an exciting election for the post of Physician to the Bristol Infirmary, when his opponent, Dr Wallis, received 361 votes and Howell 356. The election was carried out on somewhat unusual lines. Dr Wallis was less strait-laced than Howell, so the supporters divided themselves into 'Saints' and 'Sinners'. When the result was made known there was a general shout of 'Huzza for Wallis and the Sinners, down with the Saints'. Dr Henry Hawes Fox resigned on May 13th in the following year and Howell was elected unopposed on June 4th, 1829. He held office until June 7th, 1843, when he resigned and was made Consulting Surgeon. He appears, according to Johnston's Roll, to have died at Palermo, Sicily, on May 28th, 1857, though a less authentic tradition states that he died at Datchet in 1858.

Howell was looked upon as one of the leading physicians in Bristol who did excellent service during the great cholera epidemic which visited the city in 1832. He was a learned man as well as an able practitioner, acting on the Council of the Bristol College, on the Committee of the Blind Asylum, and taking an active part at the meetings of the Bristol Institution. His name also appears in connection with the Bristol Penitentiary and on many subscription lists for charity and church building.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Johnston's RAMC Roll, No 2414. Munro Smith's History of the Bristol Royal Infirmary, which contains a lively account of the election contest, p441].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England