Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Hosford, John Percival (1900 - 1991)

MRCS 1922; FRCS 1925; MB BS London 1922; MS 1925; LRCP 1922.

24 July 1900
10 February 1991
General surgeon


John Hosford was born in London on 24 July 1900, the son of Benjamin Hosford, a medical practitioner in Hornsey, Essex, and his wife Anne, née Haines. He came from a remarkable medical family, three brothers, two cousins and two uncles all being doctors. He was educated at Highgate School and St Bartholomew's Hospital, where he qualified in 1922. He held junior posts at St Bartholomew's and then became demonstrator in anatomy there. After surgical registrarships at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and St Bartholomew's he became assistant to the professorial unit at Bart's and then assistant surgeon there in 1936.

He wrote a popular students' textbook on fractures and dislocations in 1939, but eventually had to give up his interest in orthopaedics because of a rapidly expanding practice in general surgery. At the outbreak of war, much of Bart's was moved to Hill End Hospital, St Albans, and Hosford took charge of one of the surgical units there under the Emergency Medical Service.

In 1946 he was appointed full surgeon to St Bartholomew's and also to the King Edward VII Hospital for Officers and the Nightingale Hospital. As a young man he was much influenced by such great surgeons as Girling Ball, Paterson Ross, Thomas Dunhill and Berkeley Moynihan (later Lord Moynihan of Leeds) gaining considerable experience from these early associations. He was a very fine technician, especially in abdominal, breast and thyroid surgery, and an outstanding teacher of both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

He was appointed Hunterian Professor of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1932, lecturing on hydronephrosis, and he also wrote important papers on peritoneoscopy, partial gastrectomy and stones in the common bile duct. He became a member of the Court of Examiners of the RCS in 1956, and examiner in surgery to the universities of Oxford, London, Sheffield and Belfast, and was also a member of Council of the Association of Surgeons.

John Hosford was a modest, gentle person, a good listener and a kindly chief who was greatly respected by his patients and colleagues alike. He retired early at the age of 60 and went to live in the mountains of Portugal, returning to Essex 24 years later. He was a keen traveller, gardener and lover of the countryside. He died at the age of 90 on 10 February 1991 following a fall, when he sustained several fractured ribs and an extrapleural haematoma. He was survived by his wife Millicent, whom he married in 1932, and by a son, John, and daughter, Elizabeth. On his death he was described as 'the last of the gentlemen surgeons'.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1991 302 1531, with portrait; The Times 14 March 1991; Telegraph 21 March 1991].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England