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Biographical entry Howat, Robert King (1870 - 1958)

MRCS 9 February 1893; FRCS 10 December 1896; LRCP 1893; MB CM Glasgow 1892; FRFPS 1899.

22 November 1870
9 February 1958
General surgeon


Born in Scotland on 22 November 1870, the eldest child of Andrew Howat, a muslin merchant, and his wife née Smith, he was educated at Pollokshields Academy and Glasgow University where he qualified in 1892. He took the English conjoint diplomas in 1893 and the Fellowship in 1896 but continued to practise in Glasgow, where he became a Fellow of the Royal Faculty in 1899. He was lecturer in surgery at Anderson's College and assistant surgeon at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

He moved to Yorkshire in 1901 on his appointment to the staffs of the North Riding Infirmary at Middlesbrough and the Admiral Chaloner Hospital at Guisborough. He had charge of the X-ray and the eye, ear nose and throat departments, and ultimately became consulting surgeon to both hospitals. He qualified as a barrister in 1914, but never used his legal knowledge professionally. He was a member of the Medico-Legal Society.

Howat retired in 1932 and moved to London. King's College availed itself of his skill as an honorary demonstrator of anatomy, and in his eightieth year (1950) he published a useful handbook of osteology. He was also a regular reader in the College of Surgeons library. He made some research into the detail of William Hunter's controversy with the Monros in the 1760s, but did not publish his results.

Howat was an able man of somewhat uncompromising temper. His interests ranged over many branches of surgery and the surgical sciences, and their past history, and he retained his intellectual alertness to the end of his long life.

Howat married May Foster on 21 October 1936. After retirement he lived at Claygate, Surrey, but later moved to Hornsey Lane, Highgate, where he died on 9 February 1958, the sixty-fifth anniversary of his taking the Membership, aged eighty-seven, survived by his wife and by the son and daughter of his first marriage.

Immediate treatment of severe post-partum haemorrhage. Brit med J 1916, 1, 193. Treatment of minor injuries of the foot. Practitioner 1919, 102, 325.
Traumatic rupture of the heart. Lancet 1920, 1, 1313.
Cross-section of perineum; method of limiting rupture in labour. J Obstet Gynaec Brit Emp 1937, 44, 1084.
Osteology for dissectors. London, Kimpton 1950.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1958, 2, 588; Lancet 1958, 2, 596; information from Mrs Howat; personal knowledge].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England