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Biographical entry Harris, Herbert Elwin (1860 - 1941)

MRCS 23 October 1885; FRCS 10 December 1896; BA Cambridge 1882; MB 1888; MA 1933; LRCP 1886.

10 June 1860
Binham, Norfolk
20 May 1941
General surgeon


Born 10 June 1860 at Binham, Norfolk, fifth child and third son of Richard Harris, gentleman-farmer, and Elizabeth Browne Wrench his wife, a direct descendant of Sir Thomas Browne, the author of the Religio Medici. He was educated at Truro, in a school kept by an uncle, and at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he graduated in the mathematical tripos in 1882. He had intended to take holy orders, but instead entered St Bartholomew's Hospital, where he was a dresser to Sir W Savory, and qualified in 1885. After a house-surgeoncy at Plymouth he worked in various poor-law infirmaries in London, being successively assistant medical superintendent of the Paddington Infirmary and medical superintendent of the St George-in-the-East Infirmary and of St Saviour's Infirmary, Dulwich.

In 1896, when he took the Fellowship, he settled in general practice at Clifton, Bristol, becoming anaesthetist, surgeon in charge of the nose, throat, and ear department, and finally surgeon to the Bristol Royal Hospital for Women and Sick Children, and was made consulting surgeon on his retirement. He was one of the last to combine consulting with general practice. During the war of 1914-18 he served at the 2nd Southern (Territorial) General Hospital, with a commission as major, RAMC (T) dated 30 September 1908, and was also surgeon to the Beaufort War Hospital, Fishponds, Bristol. Harris was president of the Bristol Medico-chirurgical Society in 1933-34.

In 1934 he retired to The Mount, Halse, near Taunton, where he died suddenly of coronary thrombosis on 20 May 1941, aged 80. Harris was twice married: first, on 14 September 1892 to Edith Higginson who died 16 August 1907. There were three children of this marriage of whom a son and a daughter survived their father. The son, Herbert Elwin Harris, FRCS 1931, succeeded to his father's practice at 13 Lansdown Place, Clifton. Harris married secondly in August 1909, Nellie Thompson, who died 18 August 1910. Harris was an enthusiastic cyclist and an early motorist. In later years he occupied his leisure with photography and gardening.

A case of a bullet in the sphenoidal sinuses; removal through the left nostril. Lancet, 1916, 2, 978.
The removal of tonsils; haemorrhage; [a new forceps]. Brit med J. 1924, 1, 581.
Congenital deformities of forearm, hand, and leg. Ibid. 1924, 1, 711.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1941, 1, 709; Brit med J. 1941, 1, 911, reprinted in Bristol med-chir J. 1942, 58, 97, with portrait; information from his son, H Elwin Harris, FRCS].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England