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Biographical entry Holman, Charles Colgate (1884 - 1954)

MRCS 30 July 1908; FRCS 13 June 1912; LRCP 1908; BA Cambridge 1905; MB BCh 1909.

18 September 1884
East Hoathly, Sussex
17 June 1954
General surgeon, Obstetrician and gynaecologist and Orthopaedic surgeon


Born at East Hoathly, Sussex on 18 September 1884, where his father and grandfather had practised, he was educated at Eastbourne College and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. There he took second class honours in the Natural Sciences Tripos part I in 1905, and following the family tradition did his clinical training at Guy's, qualifying in 1908.

After holding resident appointments at Guy's and at hospitals in the provinces, he took the FRCS in 1912 and the same year began his long association with the Northampton General Hospital. During the first world war Holman served in the RAMC and was in Mesopotamia for a year. On his return to Northampton he became assistant surgeon in 1919 and surgeon in 1925. He was senior surgeon from 1926 until his retirement in 1952, when the title of emeritus surgeon was conferred on him.

In 1939 he formed the first fracture unit at Northampton General Hospital and from then until 1946 he dealt with all fractures coming to the hospital in addition to his general work. He was the first surgeon to the Manfield Orthopaedic Hospital, Northampton in 1925, surgeon to the Children's Orthopaedic Clinic there and consulting surgeon to Kettering General Hospital 1943-52.

Holman lived for his work, and was rarely away from the hospital for more than ten days in a year. The first man in Northampton to specialise solely in surgery, in his early days he practised as gynaecologist, obstetrician and orthopaedist as well as general surgeon. Charles Holman throve on difficulties. He had an original mind and devised several new techniques, such as an abdominal approach to femoral hernia and a method of supra-pubic puncture. He also designed special instruments for the insertion of Smith-Petersen pins.

For many years he served on the board of management and the house committee of the Northampton General Hospital and was chairman of the medical staff committee. He was president of the Northampton Medical Society, and president in 1933 and 1947 of the Northampton branch of the British Medical Association. He kept meticulous records, read widely, and frequently contributed incisive letters to The Lancet.

For recreation Holman played bridge and tennis which he continued into his sixties despite a limp caused by poliomyelitis contracted at the age of twenty-one. He was twice married: his first wife V E Fowell died in 1921 leaving two sons, the elder being John Colgate Holman MD, MRCS, MRCOG. In 1923 Holman married Violet Lewis.

Two years after retiring, Charles Holman was found dead at his home, Fourview, Woodway, Dodford, near Daventry, on 17 June 1954, aged 69.

Nature and treatment of acute osteomyelitis. Lancet 1934.
Gastro-jejuno-colic fistula. Lancet 1951.
Urinary tuberculosis with extensive calcification of bladder. Brit J Surg 1952.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1954, 2, 52, with appreciations by E E T Taylor and F F Waddy; Lancet, 1954, 1, 1353, with appreciation by ROL].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England