Lives of the fellows

Howard Hilton Stewart

b.3 December 1900 d.25 November 1961
MB BCh BAO Belf(1923) MD Belf(1926) MRCP(1928) FRCP(1951)

Born in Belfast, Hilton Stewart was a son of Andrew William Stewart, editor of the Belfast Telegraph, and his wife, Marie Hilton. He went to school at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and entered Queen’s University as a medical student in 1918.

After a year as house man in the Royal Victoria Hospital and another as resident medical officer at the Ulster Hospital for Children and Women, he moved to London where he was appointed house physician at Maida Vale Hospital. Later he engaged in post-graduate study before returning to Belfast in 1929 to take up his long and successful consulting career, first as a general physician and later as a neurologist.

Essentially a clinician, his special interest lay in the follow-up and control of patients suffering from epilepsy. Another was the psychoneuroses, in the diagnosis and treatment of which he was convinced the neurologist had an important part to play. After the passing of the National Health Act he gave up general medicine and became consulting neurologist both to the Royal Victoria and City Hospitals, but he had a much longer connection with the former because from 1929 on he had held successively the posts of medical registrar and tutor. In 1959-60 he was appointed clinical lecturer and examiner in medicine at the University. He was also visiting physician to the Ards District Hospital, a member of council of the Ulster Medical Society, and secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Whitla Medical Institute.

In his earlier days especially, but throughout his whole professional life, his principal field of activity lay at Claremont Street Hospital and the Ulster Hospital, to the consulting staffs of which he had been appointed in 1929. At Claremont Street in particular his influence soon became apparent, he and his wife (who was a prominent member of the Hospital Committee of which he was chairman for many years) succeeding in transforming an obscure and semi-private dispensary into a progressive and vigorous hospital. Founded in 1896 by Dr John MacCormac, Hilton Stewart was its second father, and in his work there lies his greatest single achievement, the memory of which is preserved in the endowment of a library named after him.

His wife, née Clara dos Santos, whom he married in 1930, predeceased him by six years and he never fully recovered from his loss. But in the last year of his own life, during which he insisted on carrying on despite knowledge that he was mortally afflicted, he displayed most outstanding courage that drew the admiration of all.

A man of deep religious conviction and an elder of the kirk, religion was in his heart rather than on his tongue, and throughout his life friends were drawn to him by his gay wit, his consideration for others and his love of company. His chief recreation was golf, and he delighted in his weekly excursions to the Royal County Down Club, of which he was a member for many years.

Richard R Trail

[Belfast Newsletter, 27 Nov. 1961; Belfast Telegraph, 25 Nov. 1961 (p); Brit.med.J., 1961, 2, 1575-6; Lancet, 1961, 2, 1318 (p); Times, 27 Nov. 1961.]

(Volume V, page 395)

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