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Hamilton, Edward Thomas Ernest

We regret to announce the death of Dr. Hamilton which took place on March 8th at his residence in Johannesburg, South Africa. The son of a Naval Surgeon, he was born at Rathgar, near Dublin, in 1867. Entering Guy's in 1886 he became a distinguished student, taking honours in Physiology at the B.Sc. Examination in 1889. He took the Conjoint Qualification in 1891. At London University he took the M.B., B.S., (Honours in Medicine and Forensic Medicine) in 1892; M.D. in 1893 and M.S. in 1895; and F.R.C.S. in 1893.

After serving an appointment as House-Surgeon to Sir H.G. Howse, he became Demonstrator of Anatomy at Guy's a post he held for four or five years.

In 1898 Dr. Hamilton went out to South Africa and started practice on the Rand. During the Boer War he was medical officer on one of the hospital ships and in various hospitals ashore. After serving with the rank of Major in the field during the recent rebellion, Dr. Hamilton became principal medical Officer at Swakopmund, the chief post of German South West Africa, now in British occupation, where he developed an intestinal complaint, and, being much run down from pressure of work, he was ordered to Johannesburg to recuperate. There he became subject to attacks of mental depression, and it is supposed that in one of these fits he terminated his life, as he was found with a fatal bullet wound in his head.

Much sympathy is felt for his widow, an old Guy's nurse. His funeral took place with military honours. Guy's Hospital Reports Vol.LXX, War Memorial Number

 

Death has taken heavy toll from our ranks in Johannesburg of recent times and now we have to mourn  the passing of “Neddy” Hamilton, and mourn indeed we must for never shall we look upon his like again.

Of the circumstances of his tragic end little need be said here. One of the first volunteers on the outbreak of hostilities, he left Johannesburg with the Transvaal Horse Artillery at the initiation of the campaign in German South-West Africa, and since then with the exception of a brief furlough at Christmas time when he paid a very welcome visit to Johannesburg, he had been on active service with the troops engaged in quelling the rebellion and in German South-West Africa; latterly he had been in medical charge at Swakopmund, and it was from there that he returned to his home invalided at the end of February, suffering from a sub-acute intestinal complaint and from mental depression brought on no doubt by overwork and the weariness of the flesh, and out of all proportion to the severity of his physical complaint. Without doubt it may be said that this mental depression took the form of a morbid dread of losing his reason, and in an acute exacerbation he took his life, preferring death to an imagined alternative of a life deprived of charm and usefulness.

In this Journal, conceived, initiated, and in its infancy nurtured by him, it is unnecessary to enter into a recital of his brilliant academic career in London and at Guy’s, or even to accentuate the fact, so well known to most of us, that with this intellectual brilliance he combined (and it is a most unusual combination) every attribute of the ideal practitioner.

To know Hamilton was a privilege; to be on terms of intimate friendship with him was a rare delight; as a companion he was unsurpassable, and his participation in the numerous informal gatherings in hospital, club, and home, which form perhaps the most pleasant feature of our medical life here, ever insured for the time the banishment of dull care; his was the vital and stimulating influence that gave to such meetings their greatest value to us all; his the finest wit and keenest sense of humour; his the readiness and ability to turn a discussion, verging perhaps on the acrimonious into smooth channels, and pilot it to safe anchorage in a sound decision. His influence was great, greater by far than he ever in his modesty imagined; and was always exercised in the upholding of the best traditions of the profession he loved, and of which he was indeed a worthy and brilliant exponent. He had the faculty of inspiring others to an unusual degree; in debate or discussion, to keep pace with him demanded the intellectual best of every man of us present; and with his wide and sympathetic knowledge of humanity and his extended experience, his well-considered judgement and advice were always freely given to his colleagues and were rarely at fault. 

Apart from his loss to the profession in Johannesburg and South Africa for these qualities, briefly and inadequately enumerated, it remains to say a few words from the aspect of one of those numerous friends in the profession who knew and loved him; he was indeed a true, generous and loyal friend, with the happiest disposition ever known; in sickness or sorrow his sympathetic and cheery presence was always the best antidote; in times of pleasant relaxation his spontaneous gaiety and lightness of heart made him the very life and soul of every party out for enjoyment. It is difficult indeed to realise that he is gone, and the manner of his going; and it means to many of us a very different Johannesburg for the rest of our time here.

To his widow we respectfully and sorrowfully offer our sincerest sympathy and condolences. Farewell ! Farewell !! Neddy Hamilton, of happy memory! S. J. S. Guy’s Hospital Gazette 8 May, 1915

Biographical

Surname(s)Hamilton
First name(s)Edward Thomas Ernest
Date of birth1867
Place of birthRathgar near Dublin
Family detailsSon of Fanny Gray Hamilton, Eton House, Barry Road, East Dulwich S.E.
CollegeGuy's Hospital
Dates at college1886-1893
Dept / courseMedical
QualificationsB.Sc. (Hons in Physiology) 1889; M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. 1891; M.B., B.S. (Hons. In Medicine and Forensic Medicine) 1892; M.D. 1893; M.S. 1895; F.R.C.S. 1893
War / conflictWorld War One (1914-1918)
CampaignsGerman South West African Campaign, 1914-1915
Rank at deathMajor
Cause of deathDied on service
Commemoration(s)Guy's Hospital Memorial
SourcesGuy's Hospital Medical School Records, King's College London Archives

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