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Biographical entry Hamilton, Samuel Gordon Ian (1934 - 2016)

BA Cambridge 1956; LMSSA 1959; MB BChir 1960; FRCS 1964; MChir 1966.

1 December 1934
Belfast, Northern Ireland
28 October 2016
Truro, Cornwall
General surgeon and Urologist


Ian Hamilton was a consultant general surgeon and later consultant urologist at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro. He was born in Belfast as his father, William James Hamilton, an Irishman himself, wanted him to be eligible to play rugby for Ireland - regrettably something he never achieved. Ian was part of a remarkable medical family. His father was a professor of anatomy and embryology, an author of many well-known books on embryology and dean of Charing Cross Medical School. His mother, Mary Campbell Hamilton née Young, was a qualified doctor but never practised. His sister, Margaret, did dentistry at University College Hospital, becoming a paediatric dental surgeon. His brother, Peter, was a consultant eye surgeon at Moorfields and the Middlesex Hospital. Another brother, David, was a consultant nephrologist at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital; David's twin brother, Alan, died young, but not before he had delivered a Hunterian lecture in 1981.

Ian spent his formative years at Harrow School, where he played full back for the school first XV. He then moved on to Clare College, Cambridge, and continued to play rugby for the first team. He was also well-known for his punting on the river Cam, although his future wife fell into the river in full evening dress! He also played rugby for the Harlequin's second team. He went on to St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical School.

After qualifying, he gained surgical experience in a variety of hospitals in the south, including St Bartholomew's, the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, and St James' Hospital, Balham. In 1960, he was a demonstrator in anatomy at the University of Cambridge. He was then appointed as a junior surgical registrar, again at St Bartholomew's Hospital.

After his junior posts, he moved to the West Country, where he joined the Bristol Royal Infirmary surgical rotation with Southmead and the Royal Devon and Exeter hospitals. Ultimately, he achieved his aim of a consultant appointment in a cathedral city - the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro in June 1969. This included visits to smaller hospitals in Cornwall. The definitive post not only included general surgery, but also a major interest in urology before a urological department was established later, with the appointment of two urologists. He also managed to take time off as a ship's surgeon on the Canberra to Australia.

He was one of the founding fathers of the Duchy Hospital, adjacent to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, and was tireless in raising funds and designing the hospital. In April 1981, the hospital was opened by The Queen Mother, who invited Ian and Caroline, his wife, to dine on the Royal Yacht Britannia in Falmouth harbour.

Ian travelled widely with the 1921 Surgical Club of Great Britain, of which he was president from 1988 to 1989. He was on the council of the British Association of Urological Surgeons and was an honorary member of the Medical Association of Groningen, Netherlands, and the Louisiana State Medical Society.

Ian married my sister Caroline in 1964 at All Souls, Langham Place. Caroline was the daughter of Geoffrey Yates-Bell, a consultant urologist at King's College Hospital. Ian and Caroline had two sons, Simon and Michael, and a daughter, Suzy, who works in Truro as a physiotherapist. Caroline acted as his private secretary, working well into the small hours of the night. She was also a formidable tennis player, playing at Wimbledon over many years, and representing Surrey at doubles. Through Caroline's connections, the family enjoyed the first Saturday at Wimbledon for many years. There are six grandchildren.

Ian loved the Isles of Scilly and spent many holidays on Tresco. He was always joined by his children and grandchildren, who enjoyed his painting competitions and treasure hunts when younger. Later in the evening, he was the life and soul of the party with his odes, especially written for each adult and child, causing much hilarity. He was also a very keen gardener, with a leaning to the 'Hamilton tradition' of potatoes and beetroot!

Ian died on 28 October 2014 in Truro. He was 81.

Andrew J Yates-Bell

The Royal College of Surgeons of England