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Biographical entry Cawthorne, Sir Terence Edward (1902 - 1970)

Kt 1964; MRCS 1924; FRCS 1930; LRCP 1924.

29 September 1902
2 January 1970
ENT surgeon


Terence Edward Cawthorne was born on 29 September 1902. He was educated at Denstone College and King's College Hospital, and qualified with the Conjoint Diploma in 1924. He held a number of resident posts, and first made an impact on his seniors and colleagues when he showed great aptitude in applying the latest advances in anaesthesia as resident anaesthetist at King's College Hospital. He resisted the temptation to continue a career in anaesthetics, and became registrar to the Hospital's ENT department in 1928. In 1930 he obtained the Fellowship.

From then his career advanced rapidly, and among his distinguished colleagues and predecessors in the ENT department at King's College Hospital he took his place, and enhanced his own reputation and that of the depart¬ment after his appointment as surgeon in 1932. At first he covered the whole field of ear, nose and throat surgery, but soon his interests concentrated in otology, and his reputation was based on his work and advances in otology, in particular neuro-otology: a word which had not been coined in this country at that time, so he may truly be regarded as one of the founders of neuro-otology in Britain.

He was consultant surgeon to the ENT departments of King's College Hospital 1931-1964 and of the Metropolitan Hospital 1930-1934, and consultant ENT surgeon at the Hostel of St Luke 1932-1945, St Giles' Hospital 1932-1945, Royal Hospital Richmond 1931-1933, East Surrey Hospital 1934-1938 and the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases 1936-¬1967.

He was in great demand as a lecturer, and gave Hunterian Lectures at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1949, 1952 and 1953, and eponymous lectures in London, Bristol, Los Angeles, Belfast and Dublin. He was an examiner at the Royal College of Surgeons for the Diploma of Laryngology and Otology. His reputation as an otologist became world-wide and he was elected to honorary membership of many overseas societies, including the American Otological Society, the Canadian Otological Society, the Austrian and Danish Otolaryngological Societies, the American Rhinological, Laryngological and Otological Society, the Pacific Coast Oto-Ophthalmological Society, and the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland. In Great Britain he held many important offices: President of the Harveian Society 1960, Master of the British Academic Conference in Otolaryngology at Oxford 1967, President of the Section of the History of Medicine in the RSM 1969-70, and, most distinguished of all, President of the Royal Society of Medicine from 1962 to 1964.

Many of the prizes open to distinguished members of the specialty were awarded to him: the Dalby Memorial Prize of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1953, the same Society's W J Harrison Prize in 1961, and the Gold Medal of the Society of Apothecaries in 1965. He received the Honorary MD of the University of Uppsala in 1963, and the Honorary LLD of Syracuse University, New York in 1964.

These honours were earned by continuous hard work and application over many years, for in addition to practising surgery he was involved in the administrative side of medical education, first as Sub-Dean and later as Dean of the Medical School of King's College Hospital. He was also involved, with John Hunter, in the administration of his sector of the Emergency Medical Services during the 1939-45 war. For his long and conscientious service to medicine in all its aspects he was knighted in 1964.

Even when he retired from his consultant posts in the Health Service he continued with his surgical work and attendance at medical meetings in all parts of the world. He died on 2 January 1970 aged 67 after a short illness, which came on suddenly while he was visiting patients in a clinic. He had married in 1932, and was survived by his wife and their son and daughter.

Aural Vertigo. Mod Trends Neurol 1957.
Otosclerosis (The Dalby Memorial Lecture) J Laryng 1955, 69, 437.
Facial Palsy.Brit med J 1956, 2, 1197.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Proc Roy Soc Med 1970, 63, 799 and 805-806. Lancet 1970, 1, 254. Brit med J 1970, 1, 307].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England