King's College London
War Memorials

Snell, Ernest Hugh

It is with very great regret that we have to announce the death through enemy action of Dr. E. H. Snell, Barrister-at-Law, of Middle Temple, formerly Medical Officer of Health for Coventry, and a member of council of the British Medical Association for many years until his death and one of the Association's most loyal supporters. Ernest Hugh Snell, who was educated at Queen's and Mason Colleges, Birmingham, and King's College, London, qualified M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. in 1889 and in the same year took his M.B.London with honours in medicine and forensic medicine. Two years later he obtained his M.D., and in 1893 the D.P.H. of Cambridge. His early appointments included those of assistant medical superintendent, Paddington Infirmary, and house-physician and ophthalmic and obstetric house-surgeon, Queen's Hospital, Birmingham. In 1897 he was appointed medical officer of health to the city of Coventry, a post from which he retired in January, 1930. From 1905 he was also school medical officer for that city. To many members of the profession, however, Dr. Snell will be best known for his unstinted efforts on behalf of local and central work of the British Medical Association. He was first elected to the Council in 1927 and was continuously a member from 1932. He was a representative in the Representative Body for varying periods between 1917 and 1936. But it is for his advice and help on medico-legal and public health matters, on which he was particularly able to speak by reason of his legal training and his years of public health service, that she Association is most indebted to Snell. He served on the Public Health Committee in 1919 and again from 1932 until his death, and on the Medico-Political Committee continuously from 1934. He was also a member of several medico-legal subcommittees, and also of the Conference of Representatives of the Association and the Society of Medical Officers of Health. For the year 1929-30 he was President of the Birmingham Branch of the Association.

H. G. W. writes:

My own close association with Snell goes My own close association with Snell goes back for twenty five years, and has been mostly concerned with the public health side of his activities. lt may be truly said that as a medical officer of health Snell was individual. He had his own ideas, well reasoned out, often differing from his colleagues in his interpretation and administration of the various Public Health and Housing Acts and Regulations which have been so numerous during past years. None the less it was always fruitful to discuss with him the various problems arising; one could be sure of a well-considered opinion, which in the outcome was usually correct. The individual outlook is not always popular with local authorities. Snell was too independent in his outlook, and refused to utilize methods of obtaining advancement which, though usual, were distasteful to him A very marked sense of humour, somewhat puckish at times but never unkind, remains an abiding memory. As ptesident of the Society of Medical Officers of Health some years ago, Snell's speech at the annual dinner was, to my mind, a model of what such speeches should be: sound common sense, vision, sly but kindly digs at the powers that be and his colleagues in the service, and a humorous resume oi' the history of the Society delighted those present, and it was hard to believe that he was as nervous as, in fact, he assured me he was. Snell's life was a full and' happy one. His work, his holidays, both at home and abroad, and his activities in connexion with the British Medical Association and the Society of Medical Officers of Health were a constant source of interest to him. Many of his colleagues will have pleasant memories of the cheerful personality of Mrs. Snell; she died about two years ago, and it was obvious to those who knew him best that he missed her sadly. It is difficult to realize that we shall not again see that characteristic stance, the sideways glance, the slow smile and twinkling eye of Ernest Hugh Snell, and that the visits to his study, few of late, will no longer be possible. A real friend has passed on, and we shall not see his like again.

Dr. WALTER GREGOR of Coventry writes: By Dr. Snell's death Coventry has lost her most-respected and most-loved doctor. For some thirty years he was medical officer of health for this city, and he lived to see many of his schemes of reform brought to fruition. I want, however, to speak more of his work for the general practitioner. He was chairman and then secretary of the local Division of the B.M.A., and he never ceased to toil in the interests of the panel' doctor. His work was suitably recognized by a presentation to him some years ago. He never- attended meetings simply because he was a member of committee. Always he had studied the agenda, weighed the pros and cons of any decision likely to be arrived at, and rarely if ever was a decision made without the full sanction and approval of Dr. Snell. He was indeed guide, counsellor, and friend to this Division, and when we resume our meetings we shall miss his advice and direction more than we at present realize. He was a brilliant and entertaining after-dinner speaker. At Masonic functions, which he dearly loved, the toast of "The Visitors" was Dr. Snell's as if by royal decree, and many a happy evening do I remember listening to his mock serious, quizzical speeches. The death of his wife was a sad blow to him. I do not think he ever really recovered from it. Moreover, his own health began to fail. War came, suspending all his meetings of Division, Branch, and Council. This struck hard at one who revelled in the atmosphere of the committee room. He was never, however, disconsolate. He put a bright face on all his misfortunes. He had run his race, and it can be said in all truth of Dr. Snell that he was not afraid " to greet the unseen with a cheer."British Medical Journal 9 Nov. 1940


First name(s)Ernest Hugh
Family detailswife Mary Catherine (nee Reid)
Previous educationQueens & Masons College, Birmingham
CollegeKing's College London and/or King's College London Hospital
Dates at college1892-1893
Dept / courseFaculty of Medicine
QualificationsM.D., D.P.H.,M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., M.B. London Hons in Medicine & Forensic medicine
War / conflictWorld War Two (1939-1945)
Date of death22/10/1940
Age at death78
Place of death3 Eaton Road, Coventry
Cause of deathkilled by enemy action
Burial placeCounty Borough Coventry Cemetery
Commemoration(s)King’ s College Chapel
NotesStatus: Civilian
SourcesKing’ s College London Archives; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; British Medical Journal

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