The Friends of Highland Road Cemetery The Friends of Highland Road Cemetery



John Hawkins

Brother in Law of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


In loving memory of
John Hawkins
Who entered into rest
March 25th 1885
Aged 25 years

Doctor Doyle arrived in Portsmouth in June 1882, he set up practice at Bush Villas on the corner of Elm Grove in Southsea. He made a great deal of contacts with the doctors in the area and was often asked for a second opinion from them.
In early March 1885 his friends Doctor Royston Pike asked him to give his opinion on a young man he was treating. John (known as Jack) Hawkins had come to Southsea with his widowed mother and sister, Louisa, six months previously. They were making the most of their modest income by staying at out of season hotels and modest, but respectable, lodging houses. Jack had been suffering from fits and recently they were becoming more severe and frequent, this was causing problems at their lodgings as other guests complained. Both doctors agreed that the diagnosis was cerebral meningitis which was incurable. This posed a dilemma for the Hawkins family as they could not take Jack back to the lodging house. Doctor Doyle had the idea that Jack could stay at Bush Villas with him, his housekeeper and he could look after him until the inevitable happened. Louisa and her mother visited Jack every day, with Doctor Pike calling to see him most evenings. Jack's death came quicker than expected on March 25th.
An anonymous letter sent a police detective to his door, questioning the speed at which Jack’s funeral was arranged. Fortunately, Doctor Pike had examined Jack the evening before he died and could allay any suspicions.
It was a lonely funeral procession with just one carriage, containing Mrs Hawkins, Louisa and Arthur Doyle, following the hearse. The service at the graveside was a poignant one. Whether it was sympathy that brought the two young people together or Doyle's sense of responsibility but they were engaged less than a month after the funeral and married in the August.
A memorial was erected over Jack's grave.