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Biographical entry Joll, Cecil Augustus (1885 - 1945)

MRCS 12 May 1910; FRCS 9 June 1910; LDS 1907; BSc Bristol 1905; MB BCh 1910; MCh 1911; MD 1932; BSc London 1911; MB BS 1909; MS 1911; LRCP 1910.

15 April 1885
25 March 1945
General surgeon


Born at Bristol 15 April 1885 the second son of Walter Frederick Joll, dental surgeon, and Alice Emmeline Andrews, his wife. He was educated privately before achieving a brilliant career in science at Bristol and London Universities. He then studied medicine and dentistry at Bristol Medical School, University College Hospital, London, the London Hospital, and Paris. At the London MB he won the University medal for first-class honours in medicine, surgery, pathology, and forensic medicine with hygiene. He had previously won the Marshall, Tibbits, Martyn and Clarke prizes and the Committee gold medal. Joll served a number of resident posts, including senior house surgeon and senior resident officer at Leicester Royal Infirmary, and house physician at Birmingham General Hospital, and in March 1912 was appointed senior resident medical officer at the Royal Free Hospital, London. In less than two years he was elected assistant surgeon, February 1914, and became senior surgeon in 1931. He was also at the time of his death senior surgeon to the Royal Cancer Hospital and the Miller Hospital, Greenwich. Endowed with great vitality Joll combined with these exacting posts the surgeoncy to in-patients at the Victoria Hospital for Children and a number of consulting surgeoncies in London and outside it, notably those of the Royal Bucks Hospital, Aylesbury, St Luke's Hospital, Chelsea, Welwyn Garden City Hospital, Manor House Hospital, Golders Green, Thames Ditton Cottage Hospital, Melton Mowbray War-Memorial Hospital, Leicestershire, and Horton Mental Hospital, Epsom. He also had a large private practice.

Joll was always a general surgeon, but had made a special study and success of thyroid surgery, sub-total thyroidectomies being the staple of his operating; on this subject he was the unrivalled authority in England. He became interested in the thyroid through the influence of Sir James Berry at the Royal Free; when he died he was at work on a revision of his book The Diseases of the Thyroid Gland, which had been generally accepted as the standard work since its publication in 1932; the work of revision was taken over by F F Rundle. Joll inaugurated a special thyroid clinic at the Royal Free, and was instrumental in starting a similar specialized clinic at the Royal Cancer Hospital. He made important contributions to the periodical literature of surgery and especially of gastric cancer. During the first world-war Joll was commissioned captain, RAMC, 26 October 1917, and served as chief surgeon to the Majestic Hospital, Paris, 1914-15, and as senior surgeon and later consulting surgeon to Richmond Military Hospital, surgeon to the Endsleigh Place Hospital for Officers, the Military Hospital, Queen's Gate, and the Maxillo-facial Hospital; he was also consulting surgeon to the Brook War Hospital.

Joll was twice a Hunterian professor, in 1923 and 1939, and from 1939 till his death in 1945 was a member of Council of the College, and took an active interest in College affairs. At the British Medical Association he served as secretary of the section of surgery in 1924 and president of the same section in 1931. In spite of the wide extension of his work Joll's interest in the affairs of his hospitals was never confined to the operating theatres, although the length of his lists was prodigious. During the heavy air-raids on London in 1940-41 he slept every second night at the Royal Free, which was severely bombed, and spent alternate weekends there. He made a ritual of carving the Christmas turkey for his surgical ward every year, and insisted on doing so at his last Christmas, 1944, when already in failing health. Joll's mastery as a surgeon was due in part to his unusual dexterity, combined with dynamic energy and a meticulous and fastidious care for detail; he relied on very simple instruments. His purposiveness and rapidity of mind and hand enabled him to tackle without hurry a double ration of work. He was an excellent teacher and popular with his students, both men and women, at the Royal Free.

Joll died after six months of failing health on 25 January 1945, aged 59, at 64 Harley Street, survived by his mother, his wife, their son, and his son by his first marriage. He was cremated at Golders Green and a memorial service was held at Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone on 31 January. Joll married twice: (1) in 1924 Laura Merivall, elder daughter of Louis Slade Winsloe, JP, of Liverpool and Frodsham, Cheshire; Mrs Joll died on 24 September 1931, leaving a son, Evelyn; (2) in 1936 Antonia, younger daughter of FH Ramsden, of Lanchester Court, London, W, who survived him with one son, James. Joll was a tall, handsome man with fair hair, and was always immaculately dressed formal style. He was well-read and cultivated, with a taste for the arts furniture, silver, pottery, and water-colours. He also cared for music a nature-study, especially ornithology, and enjoyed dancing, travel, a good living. His friends contributed to endow the Cecil Joll memorial surgical prize at the College, which is awarded triennially.

Thyroid grafting and treatment of exophthalmic goitre, with E W Hey Groves. Brit med J 1910, 2, 1965.
Gunshot injuries of the skull: analysis of 20 cases. Brit J Surg 1915-16, 3,121-134.
Tinel. Nerve wounds, translated and edited. Oxford, 1916.
Aids to surgery, 3rd edition. London, 1919.
Metastatic tumours of bone, Hunterian lectures. Brit J Surg 1923-24, 11, 38-72. The diseases of the thyroid gland. London, Heinemann 1932. 682 pages.
Recent advances in the aetiology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, Long Fox memorial lecture. Bristol med chir J 1933, 50, 201.
The pathology, diagnosis, and treatment of Hashimoto's disease (Struma lymphomatosa), Hunterian lectures. Brit J Surg 1939-40, 27, 351-389.
Cancer of the stomach. Med Press 1940, 204, 335.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times, 26 January 1945, p 7e; Lancet, 1945, 1, 164, with portrait and eulogy by T J Hoskin, and p 195, with eulogy by R H G, including description of Joll's operative methods; Brit med J 1945, 1, 168, with portrait, p 202, eulogy by Dr H W Loftus Dale, Royal Bucks. Hospital, Aylesbury, p 238, eulogies by Surgeon Rear-Admiral G Gordon-Taylor, CB, and R V Cooke, FRCS, and p 314 eulogy by Dr P Catherine Evans, "an old student and thyrotoxic patient"; Med Press, 1945, 213, 110; information from Mrs Cecil Joll].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England