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Biographical entry Watson, John Harry (1874 - 1944)

MRCS 29 July 1897; FRCS 9 June 1904; MB BS London 1903; LRCP 1897.

8 October 1874
Atherton, Lancashire
27 November 1944
Burnley, Lancashire
General surgeon


Born on 8 October 1874 at Atherton, Lancashire, eldest child of Thomas Watson, engineer, and his wife Sarah Bradley. He was educated at Rivington Grammar School, University College, Liverpool, where he won the Holt Fellowship in physiology 1899, King's College, London, and the London Hospital, where he served as demonstrator of anatomy. He was for some time lecturer on anatomy at Birmingham University, and delivered the Arris and Gale lectures at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1906. The same year he joined the practice of T G Crump, MRCS and Sir James Mackenzie at Burnley, Lancashire, and was elected surgeon to the Victoria Hospital in 1907, becoming in due course senior surgeon. During his connexion with the Victoria Hospital the number of its beds was doubled; Watson was the organizer and first director of its radium clinic. He was consulting surgeon to Burnley Municipal Hospital and for thirty years police surgeon to the borough. He was also consulting surgeon to the Reedyford Hospital at Nelson, where he lived at Green Gables, and to the Hartley Hospital at Colne. During the war of 1914-18, Watson served as a surgeon specialist at Salonika, attached to the Royal Serbian Army, and was awarded the Serbian Order of St Sava.

After coming back to Burnley he gave up general practice and became a surgical consultant in 1922, practising first at 68 and later at 66 Bank Parade. He was an active member of many professional societies, and served as president of the Manchester Surgical Society 1932-33. He was founder-president of Burnley Rotary Club. He was an English sub-editor of the American Journal of Surgery, and translated from the French Jeanneney's book on cancer, besides writing a sound textbook of surgery. Watson married on 21 November 1907 Margaret Winifred, daughter of John Humphreys, FSA of Birmingham, who survived him but without children. He died in the Victoria Hospital, Burnley, on 27 November 1944, aged 70. Watson was tall and slim, with clear-cut features and silvery hair. He was a member of the Pendle Forest Golf Club and also a keen player of lawn-tennis and a gardener. He possessed a good surgical library and collected autographs. He bought from Mrs T M Stone, a widow of the former library-assistant and clerk of the College, a collection of papers connected with the history of the College in the first half of the nineteenth century. These with two chairs, which once belonged to John Hunter, from the same source, were presented to the College by Mrs Watson after his death.

Fundamentals of the art of surgery. London, Heinemann, 1926.
Cancer, a practical résumé, translated from the French of G Jeanneney [1926], with John Gibson. London, Lewis, 1929.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1944, 2, 836, with eulogy by his colleague, John Gibson, MC, MD; information from Mrs Watson].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England