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Biographical entry Griffiths, Joseph (1863 - 1945)

CMG 1918; MRCS 30 July 1891; FRCS 9 June 1892; MB ChM Edinburgh 1885; MD 1890; DPH Cambridge 1887; MA 1890; MCh 1905; LRCP 1891.

20 April 1863
Ponthenry, Carmarthenshire
4 January 1945
General surgeon


Born 20 April 1863 at Ponthenry, Carmarthenshire, second son of David Griffiths, farmer, and Sarah Everett, his wife. He was educated at Llanelly and at Edinburgh University, where he took honours at the MB examination and won the gold medal at the doctoral graduation, and was Murchison scholar. He is said to have served for two years as assistant to the professor of pathology, W S Greenfield, at Edinburgh, and in 1887 joined the department of pathology at Cambridge, and was appointed pathologist to Addenbrooke's Hospital. He became a member of King's College in 1890, when he was admitted MA honoris causa.

His interest now turned to surgery. He took the English Conjoint qualification in 1891, served as assistant to Sir G M Humphry, FRCS and after taking the Fellowship in 1892 was appointed assistant surgeon to Addenbrooke's, becoming surgeon in 1895, and retiring in 1928. He was consulting surgeon to St Leonard's Hospital, Sudbury, Suffolk and to the County Hospital at Huntingdon. He was a Hunterian professor at the College in 1894-95, giving three lectures on the testis. After Professor Humphry's death in 1896 Griffiths was appointed reader in surgery in 1898; believing that there ought to be a professorship in surgery at Cambridge he resigned in 1903. F Howard Marsh, FRCS was appointed to the revived professorship in 1903. During the 1914-1 war Griffiths commanded the 1st Eastern General Hospital at Cambridge with the rank of colonel, RAMC, gazetted 8 May 1908. He had personally built up the hospital organization in readiness for war and introduced a Spartan régime of open-air wards with excellent result. He was created CMG 1918 for his war service.

Griffiths always retained his interest in pathology, and, as became a keen huntsman and agriculturist, gave much attention to comparative pathology. Injuries of the bones and joints were his first interest, but he also studied the surgery of urogenital disorders, in particular prostatic enlargement, and he made many contributions to professional journals. He formed a fine pathological museum at Cambridge, and gave his private collection to the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons. Griffiths married in 1895 Ethel M Payne, who survived him with two sons and two daughters; a third son had died before him. Mrs Griffiths died on 1 October 1947. He died in Addenbrooke's Hospital on 4 January 1945 aged 81. He had lived at 1 St Peter's Terrace, and latterly at 6 Union Road, Cambridge.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times, 6 January 1945, p 6e ; Lancet, 1945, 1, 100 ;Brit med J 1945, 1, 101; King's College, Cambridge, Annual report 1945, p. 11-12; information given by Mrs Griffiths and by Miss D D Charlton, Librarian, Edinburgh University Central Medical Library].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England