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Biographical entry Howell, John (1871 - 1945)

CBE 1920; MRCS 13 February 1896; FRCS 14 December 1899; MB London 1898; LRCP 1896.

19 September 1871
Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan
4 March 1945
Llechryd, Cardiganshire
General surgeon


Born at Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan, on 19 September 1871, eldest child of William Griffith Howell, Inspector of Schools, and his wife Miriam Williams. He was educated at Christ College, Brecon, and Guy's Hospital, where he served as house surgeon and obstetric resident. He then took the house surgeoncy at Cheltenham Dispensary, which led to his settling in practice in the town, of which he became a prominent citizen. He was in due course elected to the staff of Cheltenham General Hospital, became senior surgeon in 1913, and retired as consulting surgeon in 1931. He was also consulting surgeon to Dean Close School, Cheltenham, to Evesham Hospital, and Bourton Cottage Hospital, and had been surgeon to Cheltenham College and Cheltenham Ladies College. Howell did much good work as chairman of the medical advisory committee of Gloucestershire County Council, and with Middleton Martin, MD, introduced into the county health service, during the nineteen-twenties, a system of out-stations, which received regular periodic visits from specialists. He was an active and material supporter of the Cheltenham Child Guidance Clinic. He was a moving spirit in the town-council's Spa Committee, and at the time of his death was preparing for the conference of the British Spa Federation, which was to be held at Cheltenham in April 1945.

At the General Hospital Howell encouraged the specialization of his staff, so that between them they should be well equipped to deal with a wide variety of cases. He also organized courses of summer lectures and demonstrations, as "refreshers" for general practitioners of the neighbourhood. He was secretary of the Gloucestershire branch of the British Medical Association, its president in 1925, and a vice-president 1930-35. In 1926 Howell was president of Cheltenham Rotary Club, in 1931-32 chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, and from 1938 to 1941 mayor of Cheltenham. He was also president of various athletic clubs and a patron of musical and artistic activities in the town. He was created CBE 1920, and was later elected a freeman of Cheltenham. In freemasonry he was Worshipful Master in 1911 of the Foundation Lodge No 82, and achieved the rank of Past Provincial Sub-Grand Deacon.

Howell was an ardent Welshman, and owned a property at Pareygors, Llechryd, Cardiganshire. He married in 1902 Margaret Ida Rees, of Newport, Pembrokeshire; Mrs Howell died in 1932. Howell practised at 7 Imperial Square, Cheltenham; latterly in partnership with his son, Major John Howell, RAMC, MRCS, and Dr C R de C Salter, MRCS. He died at his house on 4 March 1945, aged 73, survived by three sons and a daughter. The funeral was at the Parish Church. Howell had a flair for diagnosis, and also developed a theory of "peritoneal" prognosis.

Chief use of the peritoneum. Brit med J 1912, 2, 672.
Clinical study of the use of the peritoneum. Trans Med Soc Lond 1913, 36, 272. Mistakes in diagnosis of perforated gastric ulcer. Clin J 1914, 43, 10.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times, 6 March 1945, p 6e; Brit med J 1945, 1, 464, with eulogy by J S Robinson; information from his son, Captain D G Howell, RAMC, of the War Office].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England