Born in Derbyshire, England in 1800, Howitt received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Edinburgh in 1830, before practising as a physician in Leicester and Nottingham at the General Hospital and the City Infirmary. He migrated to Port Phillip in 1840 and, in addition to his medical practice, developed farming and pastoral interests. In 1847, he became President of the Benevolent Asylum and served on the University of Melbourne Council from 1853-1871 and also on the Committee to establish the medical school. Howitt was one of the first honorary physicians elected to the Melbourne Hospital in July 1847 by financial subscribers to the hospital. He held this position until 1849. In 1854-1855, he was Vice-President of the Philosophical Society of Victoria and was a member of its successor, the Royal Society of Victoria, from 1859-1868. Howitt was also a noted botanist and entomologist helping found the Entomological Society of London, was a member of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh and, in 1839, published The Nottinghamshire Flora. He died in Melbourne in 1873.
Photograph courtesy of the Australian Medical Association Collection, Brownless Biomedical Library, University of Melbourne.
Sources: Alan Gregory: The Ever Open Door: A History of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Hyland House, 1998; The Australian Dictionary of Biography; Mary E.B. Howitt: “The Howitts in Australia”, in The Victorian Historical Magazine, Volume 3, Number 1, September 1913.