John Cumpston

John Howard Lidgett Cumpston CMG (19 June 1890 – 9 October 1954) was a senior Australian public servant, and first Director-General of the Department of Health.

John Cumpston
British medical mission in Lahore, India5.jpg
During a British medical mission in Lahore, India in 1944
Director-General of the Department of Health
In office
1 March 1921 – 1 June 1945
Personal details
John Howard Lidgett Cumpston

(1880-06-19)19 June 1880
South Yarra, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died9 October 1954(1954-10-09) (aged 74)
Forrest, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
NationalityAustralia Australian
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne
OccupationPublic servant

Life and careerEdit

John Cumpston was born in South Yarra, Melbourne on 19 June 1880, to parents Elizabeth Cumpston (née Newman) and George William Cumpston.[1] He attended Wesley College and went on to study medicine at the University of Melbourne (1898-1902).[2] His interests were in public health and preventative medicine.

He was appointed medical officer to the central board of health in Western Australia in 1907.

In 1921, he was appointed the first Director-General of the Australian Government's Department of Health.[3] Cumpston retired in May 1945, ahead of his term expiring on 18 June that year.[4]

In 1949, he accepted a position in Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon), advising on the introduction of a new health scheme for the country.[2]

He married Gladys Maeva, the daughter of Dr G. A. Walpole of Gormanston, Tasmania, on 2 January 1908. Among their seven children was Ina Mary, an academic historian of British imperialism, and John Stanley, diplomat, author and publisher.

Cumpston died in Forrest, Canberra on 9 October 1954, and was cremated.[1]


In March 1929, Cumpston was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George for services as Director-General of Health and Quarantine.[5]


  1. ^ a b Roe, Michael. Cumpston, John Howard Lidgett (1880–1954). Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Dr. J. H. L. Cumpston accepts health post in Ceylon". The Canberra Times. 26 July 1949. p. 2.
  3. ^ CA 17: Department of Health, Central Office, National Archives of Australia, retrieved 3 April 2015
  4. ^ "Officers farewell Dr. Cumpston". The Canberra Times. 4 June 1945. p. 2.
  5. ^ "Search Australian Honours: CUMPSTON, John Howard Lidgett, The Order of St Michael and St George - Companion",, Australian Government, archived from the original on 3 April 2015

External linksEdit

Government offices
New title
Department established
Director-General of the Department of Health
1921 – 1945
Succeeded by