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Biographical entry Ward, Ernest (1877 - 1945)

MRCS 4 August 1903; FRCS 14 June 1906; BA Cambridge 1899; MA MB BCh 1904; MD 1907; LRCP 1903.

30 December 1877
Garforth, Yorkshire
21 September 1945
General surgeon and Medical Officer


Born on 30 December 1877 at Garforth, near Leeds, Yorkshire, son of Sir John Ward and his wife, née Brambles. His father afterwards became Lord Mayor of Leeds. He was educated in Switzerland and at Clare College, Cambridge, and took first-class honours in both parts of the Natural Sciences Tripos, 1899-1900. He received his medical training at the London Hospital, qualifying in 1903. After serving as clinical assistant at the Belgrave Hospital for Children, he went into general practice at Llanelly, South Wales. He took the Fellowship in 1906, and in 1910, the year of his marriage, moved to a practice at Stockton-on-Tees. He was at this time honorary secretary of the General Practitioners' Association for Collective Research.

Becoming a victim of phthisis Ward went to Davos, where he served as assistant medical officer at the Queen Alexandra Sanatorium. He recovered sufficiently to take up practice at Paignton in 1915, where he lived for the rest of his life, and threw himself wholeheartedly into the public campaign against tuberculosis. He was appointed whole-time tuberculosis officer for South Devon, a position he held till 1941, when he had to retire owing to a second major illness, encephalitis lethargica with Parkinsonian complications; he published an account of his own case. Ninety colleagues gave him a testimonial on his retirement.

Ward served as president of the Tuberculosis Society of Great Britain and president of the Society of Medical Officers of Health, in which he had long been honorary secretary of the tuberculosis group; he was the first departmental specialist to take the chair of the Society. In 1924 he founded the highly successful Joint Tuberculosis Council, coordinating the work of various bodies interested in the problem. He guided its activities till 1938, in particular before the Royal Commission on Local Government, whose recommendations took shape in the Act of 1929. In 1930 he led the Council on a useful tour of Canada and America. Ward was chairman of the Torquay division of the British Medical Association in 1927-28 and 1940-41, and its representative to the central body 1927-41. He was president of the section of tuberculosis at the BMA annual meeting in 1938 at Plymouth. He was also president of the Torquay and District Medical Society. Ward found time to translate useful French surgical textbooks. He also contributed to the medical journals, and wrote two books of reminiscences.

Ward married in 1910 Miss Margrave. There were three daughters and one son, a doctor. He died at Withycombe Lodge, Torquay Road, Paignton, after long illness, on 21 September 1945, aged 67. He was a man of strong character, essentially genial but aggressive in prosecution of his ideals. His recreation was nature-study on Dartmoor, and he served as president of the South-Western Naturalists Union and of the Devon Bird Watching and Preservation Society. In spite of two major illnesses he achieved much valuable work for the profession and the community.

F Lejars Urgent surgery, translated with W S Dickie. Bristol, Wright, 1915; 3rd edition, 1923.
A Broca Ligations and amputations, translated. London, 1917.
Conjugal tuberculosis. Lancet, 1919, 2, 606.
Medical adventure, some experiences of a general practitioner. London, 1929. General practice [professional recollections]. London, 1930.
A public health clinician. Lancet, 1937, 1, 55, 110, 169, 231, and 287.
Favourite prescriptions. London, 4th edition, 1937.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1945, 2, 513, with portrait; Med Officer, 1945, 74, 118, with eulogy by R L Midgley, MD; Brit med J 1945, 2; 479; Lond Hosp Gaz 1946, 49, 25, with portrait, eulogy by R H C; information from his daughter, Miss Vera E Ward].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England