Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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ROWLANDS , GRIFFITH ( 1761 - 1828 ), surgeon ;

born in the parish of Llanfair near Harlech, Mer. on 9 April 1761 . Having spent his apprenticeship as a surgeon in Liverpool , he succeeded in obtaining a place at St. Bartholomew's Hospital , London . Following completion of seven years of medical education, he was accepted, on 1 August 1782 , as a member of the Company of Surgeons , the predecessor of the Royal College of Surgeons . He was a house surgeon in the hospital in London for two years before establishing himself as a surgeon in Chester . In 1785 he was appointed surgeon to the city hospital , a post he occupied for 43 years. Griffith Rowlands was one of the first in Europe to treat a broken hip by sawing away both ends of the bone each side of the fracture in order to seek a better bond — and that over fifty years before the time of anaesthetic. Under his treatment, the left thumb of Thomas Charles of Bala ( DWB , 73-4) was amputated in 1799 . The thumb had frozen as Thomas Charles travelled on a frosty night over the Migneint mountains between the counties of Caernarfon and Merioneth . With Rowlands 's help also, a stone weighing two and a quarter ounces was removed from the gall bladder of Thomas Jones of Denbigh ( 1756 - 1820 ; DWB , 516) in 1802 .

Although he spent the greater part of his life in England , he never lost his knowledge of the Welsh language and he was prominent in the activities of the Chester Cymrodorion Soc.

He died on 29 March 1828 , a few days before his 66th birthday.


  • Geiriadur Bywgraffyddol o Enwogion Cymru , II, 526-7;
  • G. P. Jones , Newyn a Haint yng Ngymru a phynciau meddygol eraill (Caernarfon, 1962) (1963) , 161-63;
  • T. Jones , Hunangofiant (1820, 1937) (ed. Idwal Jones , 1937) , 41-43.


Melfyn Richard Williams, Llanuwchllyn

Published date: 2001