Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Horace Henry Nowland (1886–1962)

by Stephen Garton

This article was published:

Horace Henry Nowland (1886-1962), psychiatrist, was born on 17 December 1886 at Burwood, Sydney, eldest of four children of John Nowland, gardener and later storekeeper, and his wife Gertrude Sophia, née Balley-King, both Sydney born. He was educated at the Christian Brothers' School, Lewisham, and at St Mary's Cathedral High School, before studying medicine at the University of Sydney (M.B., 1910).

Registered to practise on 11 January 1911, he joined the mental hospitals branch of the Public Service in February and by 1913 was soon medical officer at the Hospital for the Insane, Callan Park. On 1 January 1916 he became senior resident medical officer at Parramatta and in 1923-26 was medical superintendent at Newcastle. On 1 May 1926 Nowland was appointed medical superintendent of the Hospital for the Insane, Gladesville. An outstanding administrator, he was always progressive and 'laid the foundation of an enlightened approach to the treatment of the mentally ill'.

Nowland had married Annie Iolanthe, daughter of Francis Foy, at Chatswood on 29 June 1914. His marriage brought him contacts with the business world: he was a director of Mark Foy's Ltd and the Hydro-Majestic Hotel Ltd at Medlow Bath and chairman of By-Products and Chemicals Pty Ltd. A prominent Catholic layman, Nowland was for nearly thirty years president of the diocesan council of the Holy Name Society's diocesan union and of the Catholic Luncheon Club, and was associated with the Catholic Medical Guild of St Luke, the Newman Society and the administration of Mount St Margaret's Hospital, Ryde, and St John of God Hospital, Belmore Park. In 1940 he was appointed a knight of the Order of St Sylvester and in 1953 was a lay vice-chairman of the International Eucharistic Congress in Sydney.

A balding, bespectacled gentleman with a kind face and warm eyes, Nowland was respected by all who met him. He retired from Gladesville in 1950 and conducted a thriving practice in Macquarie Street until his death. He was a trusted doctor and popular churchman, never afraid to express an opinion or to give advice. Widely read, he was interested in literature and music. A member of the Australian Jockey Club, he followed horse-racing, and also Rugby Union football.

Suffering from arteriosclerosis and diabetes, Nowland died of cerebral haemorrhage in Lewisham Hospital on 31 August 1962; he was buried in the Catholic section of Field of Mars cemetery after a requiem Mass presided over by Cardinal Gilroy. He was survived by his wife, who inherited his entire estate, valued for probate at £61,341, and by a son and two daughters; another son David had died tragically as a schoolboy.

Select Bibliography

  • Medical Journal of Australia, 27 Apr 1963, p 634
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 1 Sept 1962
  • Catholic Weekly, 6 Sept 1962.

Citation details

Stephen Garton, 'Nowland, Horace Henry (1886–1962)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 19 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


17 December, 1886
Burwood, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


31 August, 1962 (aged 75)
Lewisham, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.