REES, Sir JOHN MILSOM (1866 - 1952), surgeon and laryngologist

Name: John Milsom Rees
Date of birth: 1866
Date of death: 1952
Spouse: Eleanor Rees (née Jones)
Parent: John Rees
Gender: Male
Occupation: surgeon and laryngologist
Area of activity: Education; Medicine; Sports and Leisure Pursuits
Author: Emyr Wyn Jones

son of John Rees of Neath, Glamorganshire, born 20 April 1866. After studying at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, he qualified in 1889, and three years later took the F.R.C.S. (Edin.). Having taken up laryngology as his special subject he was appointed surgeon to the Ear, Nose and Throat Department of the Prince of Wales General Hospital, Tottenham, and he conducted his private consulting practice at Upper Wimpole Street. He became laryngologist to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and to the Guildhall School of Music; in that capacity he was medical adviser to the most famous singers of the day - Madame Patti, Dame Nellie Melba, Kirsten Flagstad, Jan de Reszke and many others - and he was on terms of close friendship with them. Even more noteworthy was his long and distinguished service to the Royal Family; he was laryngologist to King George V throughout the twenty-six years of his reign, and to Queen Mary, Queen Alexandra and Queen Maude of Norway. He was knighted in 1916, appointed K.C.V.O. in 1923, and promoted to G.C.V.O. in 1934. The University of Wales conferred upon him an honorary D.Sc. in 1931. Milsom Rees was officially associated with many of the leading London teaching hospitals as vice-president or governor, and he was also a member of the Court of the University of Wales. In addition he took an active part on the governing body of the British Postgraduate School, Epsom College, the Nuffield Provincial Hospital Trust and similar bodies. Apart from his remarkable success in professional spheres, he also achieved great distinction in many other fields. As a student he was an excellent cricketer, boxer and rugby player; later on he became a first-class golfer of international standing, and still later he took up big-game hunting with equal success. The account of his visits to Africa reveal in a striking manner his multifarious interests. His expert surgical craftmanship would be in demand for the local celebrities and native chieftains; his wise counsel would be sought on the question of providing new hospitals, and at times he gave generous financial assistance for their construction. Furthermore, he acquired extensive business interests there, in the form of coffee estates in Tanganyika and salt mines in Nyaza, and these proved very successful ventures.

Eventually he retired to Broadstairs where he maintained a practical and generous interest in education, and died there 25 April 1952. He married Eleanor, daughter of William P. Jones of Finchley, chairman of Jones Brothers, Holloway and of John Barnes, Ltd., in 1894, and they had a son and a daughter.


Published date: 2001

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