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Naturalists' Society

Cymdeithas Naturiaethwyr



Philip Rhys Griffiths, M.B., B.S. (1857-1920) 32nd President

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Obituary from Volume Vol. LIII of the transactions in 1920

Philip Rhys Griffiths, M.B., B.S. (LOND.) Born 1857. Died 1920.

Dr. Rhys Griffiths was one of our most active members, giving for a period of nearly forty years much time and devoted service to the interests of the Society. A native of Aberdare, he received his professional education at University College Hospital, London. Soon after qualifying he came to Cardiff as house-surgeon to the hospital, and subsequently settled down in practice in the town.

He was elected a member of the Society in 1882 and a member of the Council in 1888. He acted for some time as Honorary Librarian, an office in which he did much useful work. This was recognised by his election to the office of President of the Society in 1909.

Dr. Griffiths took up early with characteristic enthusiasm the study of photography, and throughout his life the work of his camera was freely placed at the disposal of the Society and its Sections. A great lover of nature, he knew his native Glamorgan intimately, having walked most of it and no one had a keener appreciation of its beauties. We owe many photographic illustrations of its natural features and antiquities to his foresight, as he realised early the importance of this form of record in the rapidly changing aspect of the modern county. He was one of the founders of the Photographic Section of the Society of which he was president in 1912-13.

He showed his practical interest in this aspect of scientific work by the thoughtful gift of a Silver Rose Bowl which is competed for annually by the members of that Section. His love of foreign travel carried him to many lands, and the addresses which he gave to the Society on the subject of his various tours always beautifully illustrated by his own artistic slides. An important collection of his negatives and lantern slides is in the National Museum of Wales.

Dr. Griffiths took a full share of the many activities of his professional life. He was closely identified with the hospital as one of its surgeons and he gave freely of his time and energy to its administrative work. In addition, during the war, he rendered devoted service as a surgeon to the 3rd Western General Hospital. He filled the office of President of the Cardiff Medical Society and maintained an active interest in its work to the last.

An ardent nationalist, Dr. Griffiths deeply interested himself in all Welsh movements, and entered with enthusiasm into any proposal which concerned the welfare of his native land. He had made a study of early Welsh medicine, and published several papers on the subject.

Dr P R Griffiths from Society Archives

Dr P R Griffiths 14-09-1912 from Society Archives

Dr P R Griffiths and J Petree 14-09-19 from Society Archives

Dr P R Griffiths and J Petree 14-09-1912 from Society Archives

As with many of the other doctors who have been documented in these pages it is worth noting that his is extensively referenced in the local newspapers as being involved in many cases both practically and in an advisory or legal capacity. It has already been noted that he was the attending physician for Principal Viriamu Jones the 15th President

Principal Viriamu Jones Another Breakdown In Health, Weekly Mail 18th May 1901

Principal Viriamu Jones Another Breakdown In Health, Weekly Mail 18th May 1901

In addition to these medical references there are many other aspects of his character demonstrated by the articles in the newspapers, some examples are

  • Lecture on Welsh Medicine in the 13th Century to the Cambrian Society of South Wales and Monmouthshire, South Wales Daily News, 17th February 1888
  • Lecture on Moscow to the Cardiff French Society Evening Express 11th December 1908
  • Training on behalf of the St John's Ambulance Association , Weekly Mail 2nd August 1890
  • Secretary of the Cambrian Society of South Wales and Monmouthshire, South Wales Daily News 26th January 1888

Back to the 150th Anniversary index

Before this... Thomas William Proger, F.Z.S., 1860-1947 31st and 55th President

Next up... Principal E. H. Griffiths, Sc.D., F.R.S (1851-1932) 33rd President

See our Full list of Presidents

These pages are part of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society 150th Anniversary celebrations and are about our history and are celebrating the people who developed our Society and helped build the city and the cultural heritage of Cardiff. You can read more about that using the links above

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