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Biographical entry Morgan, John Hammond (1847 - 1924)

CVO 1901; MRCS July 23rd 1872; FRCS June 8th 1876; BA Oxon 1871; MA 1873; Knight of Grace of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in England; Médaille de Reconnaissance de la République Française.

19 August 1847
11 October 1924
General surgeon


Born on Aug 19th, 1847, the only son of John Morgan (1820-1891) (qv); was educated at Harrow School and at Trinity College, Oxford, where he matriculated on Oct 13th, 1866, and in 1870 graduated in the third class of the Natural Science School. It was as an athlete and runner that 'Johnnie Morgan', 'Three-mile Morgan', so distinguished himself. A small, thickly set man, he had great elasticity of action, bounding along without the slightest appearance of effort or of fatigue. At Harrow he represented Dr Butler's House at cricket and football. He was in the School rifle team of 1864 which won the Ashburton Shield open to the Public Schools, and the Illustrated London News of July 30th shows Lady Elcho presenting the shield to Harrow's representatives. In the spring of 1866 he won the School Mile Race. In 1868 he won the Blue Riband of the Oxford and Cambridge Athletic Meeting, the Three Mile Race, beating Mitchell the Oxford, and Royds the Cambridge, cracks in the easiest fashion by nearly 200 yards. In 1869 and 1870, besides winning other races, he repeated his feat of winning the Three Miles in the same superbly easy fashion. His time in one race was then a record-15 min 15 sec. In 1870 he was elected President of the Oxford University Athletic Club, also President of the Harrow Club, after serving as Treasurer in 1869. He was also elected to the Falstaff Club, the announcement being made in a letter written by Lord Randolph Churchill.

Morgan followed his father in studying at St George's Hospital, and after a further period of study at Vienna was appointed Surgical Registrar, subsequently Assistant Surgeon, to the West London Hospital for Hip Joint Disease and to the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street. In 1880 he got his definite appointment as Assistant Surgeon to Charing Cross Hospital, becoming Surgeon in 1888 and resigning in 1905. From 1881-1892 he lectured on surgical pathology.

He was a surgeon rather of the old school, with little sympathy for newfangled ideas. Among his maxims, which he was constantly impressing upon his students, were: "Do just what is required and no more"; "Avoid meddlesome surgery"; "As regards the abdomen get in quick and out quicker." His results in what he did understand were distinctly good. His greatest friend was Sir Frederick Treves, for whom he had unbounded admiration. From 1898-1906 he acted as Treasurer of the Charing Cross Medical School.

Possessed of ample means, private practice had no attractions for him, and few men of his experience and standing ever made a smaller income. He would pass on private cases saying, "I don't want the money; Treves will do it better than I could." Confining himself to clinical surgery, he passed on the appointment of Lecturer on Surgery to Stanley Boyd (qv).

His athletic record and his gentle, genial personality endeared him to the students; he was President of the Students' Club, and a warm supporter of the cricket, football, and athletic clubs. He was an excellent member of committees, and for many years Chairman of the Committee of the Medical Schools.

His chief publications concerned his experiences in the surgery of children in particular - eg, The Lettsomian Lectures on the Affections of the Urinary Apparatus of Children, 1898, given when he was President of the Medical Society. On the foundation of the Lord Mayor Treloar Cripples' Hospital in 1907, Morgan was nominated a member of the original Medical Board by the Presidents of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, and was then unanimously elected Chairman of the Board. He often visited the hospital and warmly agreed with and rejoiced in the conservative surgery practised.

He served as Examiner in Surgery at Oxford, and was on the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons from 1902-1910. At the British Medical Association Meetings he was Secretary of the Section of Surgery at Bath in 1878, President of the Section of Diseases of Children in London in 1895, and Vice-President of the Section of Surgery at the Sheffield Meeting in 1908.

In addition to his athletic triumphs he was a keen fisherman, shot, and rider to hounds. Unfortunately, when hunting in 1882, his horse fell on him and caused a comminuted fracture of the femur near the hip, which, despite the most careful treatment, united with such marked shortening that he was lame for the rest of his life. He then travelled a good deal and went on one journey with Sir Frederick Treves to the West Indies. At his country house at Bucklebury Common, Berkshire, he delighted in his garden and laid out a miniature rifle range for the villagers. In spite of some temporary trouble in his cerebral circulation, he undertook in 1917 the duties of Surgeon-in-charge of the Hôpital des Anglais at Nevers until ill health forced his retirement. In private life he was an ardent and patriotic Conservative, and a churchwarden at St George's, Hanover Square. Dignified and courtly, he lived for many years in Grosvenor Street.

After his retirement he moved from Grosvenor Street to 3 Connaught Square, Hyde Park, where after prolonged illness he died on Oct 11th, 1924. He married Isabel, second daughter of W C Lucy, of Brookthorpe, Gloucestershire, in 1874; she survived him without issue. He left over £114,000, and bequeathed his athletic trophies to Trinity College, Oxford.

Sources used to compile this entry: [William Hunter's Historical Account of Charing Cross Hospital and Medical School, London, 1914. Charing Cross Hosp Gaz, 1905, vii, 81, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England