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Biographical entry Wells-Cole, Gervas Charles (1889 - 1974)

OBE 1964; MRCS 1914; FRCS by election 1962; BCh Cambridge 1919; MA 1922; MCh 1922; LRCP 1914; JP 1933.

5 May 1889
21 December 1974
Coroner, General practitioner and General surgeon


Gervas Charles Wells-Cole, the eldest son of Gervas Frederick Wells-Cole, a farmer, was born in Lincoln on 5 May 1889. His mother, Mary Beatrice, who died aged 98, was a daughter of Charles Brook, FRCS, who himself survived to the age of 91. After education at St Edmund's School, Hindhead, and Repton College, he went on to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and St Bartholomew's Hospital where he qualified in 1914 and became house surgeon and resident anaesthetist before joining the RAMC. He served with 138 Field Ambulance in France and Belgium, but was invalided home to spend the remainder of the war in military hospital appointments and was demobilised as a Captain in 1919.

After the war he joined his maternal grandfather and his cousin W H B Brook, MD, FRCS in general practice at Lincoln. He was appointed to the staff of Lincoln County Hospital in 1920, took his Cambridge mastership in surgery in 1922 and served that hospital for many years. Soon after the second world war, when his eldest son joined him, he gave up general practice and continued to serve as senior surgeon until 1954 when he retired from the NHS. In 1925 he was appointed deputy coroner for the city of Lincoln and became city coroner in 1935, a post which he held until 1971. He was on the council of the Coroners' Society of England and Wales for many years and was its President in 1954, continuing to attend council meetings until the last year of his life. He served on many other medical committees and was President of the Lincoln Medical Society in 1932 as well as Chairman of the Lincoln Division of the BMA in 1936. He was appointed as JP in 1933, then sheriff of the city in 1952 and became an OBE in 1964. He was elected FRCS in 1962, as one of the last general-practitioner surgeons, and continued to look after the hospital nurses until 1971.

Outside his professional work he loved the outdoor life - walking in Iona, bird-watching, gardening, shooting and, above all, cricket. He had played for Lincolnshire, served on the county committee until his death, and had been president of the county club on three occasions. Whilst a student he had also played football and hockey for his Cambridge college and for St Bartholomew's Hospital. A strong churchman, regular in attendance at parish church and cathedral, he was also a committed Freemason. All this, and a talent for cooking, an appreciation for port and an interest in bridge, left little time for anything else. He married Miss F R Allen, daughter of the Rt Hon C P Allen, MP, in 1915 and they were devoted to their four sons, the eldest of whom had qualified at St Bartholomew's Hospital. Very sadly that son contracted severe poliomyelitis in 1947 and spent five years in an iron lung ventilator before dying in 1952. His wife died in 1958 and when he himself died, aged 85, on 21 December 1974 he was survived by his three sons.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1975, 1, 339; Lancet 1975, 1, 350].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England