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Biographical entry Waring, Sir Holburt Jacob (1866 - 1953)

Baronet 1935; Kt 1925; CBE 1919; MRCS 8 May 1890; FRCS 15 October 1891; BSc London 1888; MB 1890; BS 1891; MS 1893; Hon FRACS; Hon LLD Bristol; Hon DCL Durham; Hon MS Cairo 1946; Officier, L├ęgion d'Honneur.

3 October 1866
10 February 1953
Tidenham, Gloucestershire
General surgeon


Born on 3 October 1866 the eldest son of Isaac Waring of Southport, he was educated at Owen's College, Manchester and St Bartholomew's Hospital, where he entered in 1886 as a scholar in Natural Science, obtained the BSc with honours in physiology in 1888, the MB in 1890 with honours in medicine and forensic medicine, the BS in 1891 with honours, and the MS in 1893. Waring held a succession of posts at St Bartholomew's including those of demonstrator of anatomy and teacher of operative surgery. In January 1902 he was elected assistant surgeon under Harrison Cripps, full surgeon in 1909, senior surgeon in 1920, and ultimately became consulting surgeon. He was also consulting surgeon to the Metropolitan Hospital, the Royal Dental Hospital, and the Ministry of Pensions.

Throughout his long career Waring worked unceasingly for three institutions: St Bartholomew's Hospital, the Royal College of Surgeons, and the University of London; from 1911 he represented the Faculty of Medicine in the Senate, in 1920 he was elected Dean of the Faculty, and in 1922-24 he was Vice-Chancellor of the University. Waring raised the prestige of the Medical Faculty; he saw the need for close liaison between the London Medical Schools and the University of London, and was mainly responsible for obtaining a Charter of Incorporation for the Medical School of Bart's in 1921, thus providing it with a constitution independent of the Hospital and making affiliation to the University possible; he became the first Vice-President of the new St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College. Other teaching hospitals followed suit, and in 1948, when the voluntary Hospitals were taken over by the Government, all the Schools were formally joined to the University, vindicating Waring's foresight.

He urged progressive rebuilding plans on the Governors of Bart's; studied the design of hospitals at home and abroad, and by his dominant character ensured the building of the new Surgical block on the most modern lines. In recognition, one of the wards was named after him.

Waring developed a sound and practical aseptic ritual, but being trained in the old school he operated rapidly. There was hardly any operation which he did not sometimes perform, and his wealth of experience attracted a large student following; all his teaching was in the wards or the operating theatre. He never lost his Lancastrian abruptness of speech and manner, which many found frightening. His oft-repeated maxim was "Gentlemen, you learn surgery from patients, not from me", and he controlled his assistants and dressers with Victorian discipline.

Waring had a long and close association with this College. He won the Jacksonian prize for his essay "The diagnosis and surgical treatment of diseases of the liver, gall-bladder and biliary ducts" in 1894, and gave the Erasmus Wilson lectures 1897-99 on pathology and treatment of diseases of the liver and the Bradshaw Lecture in 1921 on the operative treatment of malignant disease. He was Hunterian Orator at the bicentenary of Hunter's birth, 1928. Waring was a member of the Court of Examiners 1911-20 and of the Council 1913-17. He was a Vice-President 1923-25 and President 1932-35. He was created a knight in 1925 and a baronet in 1935.

Waring was one of the first to realise that the College had an important part to play in research and postgraduate education, for which money would be required, and being a shrewd business man he paid assiduous attention to College finances. In committee he argued forcibly, succinctly and convincingly.

During the first world war he was in charge of the surgical division of the First London General Hospital (TF). He was mentioned in dispatches, given the brevet rank of Colonel, and created CBE in 1919. He was Treasurer of the General Medical Council and Dental Board of the United Kingdom 1917-32; President of the Medical Society of London 1925-26, he was President of the Section of Surgery in the Royal Society of Medicine 1928-29, and a Governor of the Imperial College of Science 1930-47. He was Chairman and Treasurer of the London School of Hygiene, a Governor and Almoner of Christ's Hospital, and a Hunterian Trustee. He promoted medical education in Egypt and received the Honorary MS degree of Cairo in 1946. In 1932 he opened the new Royal Australasian College of Surgeons at Melbourne.

Waring married in 1900 Annie Cassandra, daughter of Charles Johnston Hill of Holland Park; they lived at 37 Wimpole Street. He was an impressive figure: tall but strongly built, erect, with commanding blue eyes and latterly thick snow-white hair. After retirement Waring lived at PenMoel, Tidenham, Gloucestershire. Lady Waring died on 9 October 1948 and Sir Holburt died at his home on 10 February 1953 aged 86. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his only child Alfred Harold Waring, a research engineer with ICI. A memorial service was held in the Church of St Bartholomew-the-Less on 24 February 1953.

Manual of operative surgery. 1892, 6th edition 1927.
Surgical diseases of liver, gall-bladder and biliary system. 1897.
The surgical treatment of malignant diseases. 1928.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 11 February 1953 p 10 e, 19th February p 10 e with appreciation by Charles Noon, 25th February p 10 b memorial service, and 27 July his will; Brit med J. 1953, 1, 456-457 with portrait and appreciation by J Basil Hume, and p 513 by R W Raven; Lancet, 1953, 1, 398 with portrait and numerous personal appreciations, and p 448 by Charles Noon; Ann Roy Coll Surg Engl. 1953, 12, 279-281 with portrait; A Record of the Years: Royal College of Surgeons from 1901 to 1950 (1951) p 62-65 by J B Hume with portrait; St Bart's Hosp J. 1953, 57, 116-117 by J B Hume with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England