He was born in Aberdeen and educated at Denstone College in Staffordshire. He then studied at the Medical School of King's College Hospital, London, becoming first house surgeon and then in 1928 Registrar to the Ear, Nose and Throat department there.
He was appointed consultant surgeon to the ENT departments of King's College Hospital (1931–1964) and Metropolitan Hospital (1930–1934) and consultant ENT surgeon at the Hostel of St Luke (1932–1945), St Giles' Hospital (1932-1945), Royal Hospital, Richmond (1931-1933), East Surrey Hospital (1934-1938) and the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases (1936-1967).
He delivered numerous lectures and was made an honorary member of several overseas medical societies. He was elected President of the Royal Society of Medicine for 1962–1964.
He married Lilian Southworth in 1930 and had with her a son and a daughter.
- 1953 Dalby Memorial Prize of the Royal Society of Medicine
- 1961 W J Harrison Prize of the Royal Society of Medicine
- 1965 Gold Medal of the Society of Apothecaries
- 1963 Honorary MD of the University of Uppsala
- 1964 Honorary LLD of Syracuse University, New York
- ‘CAWTHORNE, Sir Terence (Edward)’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 4 Sept 2013
- Ronald Macbeth, ‘Cawthorne, Sir Terence Edward (1902–1970)’, rev. Anita McConnell, first published 2004, 743 words http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/3233
- "Plarr's Lives of the Fellows Online - Cawthorne, Sir Terence Edward (1902 - 1970)". Royal College of Surgeons. Retrieved 9 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>