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American Medical Biographies/Worthington, Edward Dagge

Worthington, Edward Dagge (1820–1895)

Edward D. Worthington, who is said to have been the first surgeon in Canada who performed a capital operation under ether, was born in Queen's County, Ireland, December 1, 1820. His parents, John Worthington and Mary Dagge, sailed for America on May 2nd, 1822, and settled in Quebec for the remainder of their lives. In 1834 Dr. Worthington was indentured for seven years to the distinguished James Douglas (q.v.), and after serving over five years, Dr. Douglas relieved him from the balance of his indenture, to enable him to accept an appointment as staff-assistant-surgeon in the British army. An assistant-surgeoncy in the army, however, in those piping times of peace, with its "7s. 6d. sterling per diem, and rations," presented few attractions, so after serving two years, he left the army and went to Edinburgh, where he spent two years in attending lectures and "walking" the hospitals. He was awarded the medal of the Royal College of Surgeons there, and became acquainted with many eminent men.

In 1843 he returned to Canada and settled in Sherbrooke, Eastern townships, where he soon built up an extensive practice, and won the fullest confidence of the community in his skill as a surgeon, having for over forty years all of the practice in his district. On March 10, 1847 he amputated below the knee, under ether, and in January, 1848, operated on three cases under chloroform, one being excision of bone. In 1854 the University of Bishop's College, Lennoxville, conferred upon him the degree of M. A., honoris causa, and in 1868 McGill College, Montreal, that of M. D. C. M. ad eundem.

He was distinguished as a friend and physician of the poor, and in 1865 he was presented with a flattering address and a solid tea service as a mark of public favor, for his gratuitous attendance on the poor. He was given also a gold watch and chain for his energetic and successful efforts to prevent the spread of that most loathsome of all diseases in Sherbrooke, the smallpox.

He was a private in the Quebec Regiment of Volunteer Light Infantry, and on active service in both Fenian raids, retiring in 1887, retaining his rank as surgeon-major.

He wrote extensively for periodicals, especially for the Canada Medical Journal, of Montreal, and some of his papers were copied into the medical journals of Great Britain and the United States. Among these may be mentioned: "A New Method of Bed-making in Fractures," (1871); "Glue Bandage in Fractures," (1872); "Acute Fibrinous Bronchitis, with Expectoration of Tube Casts," (1876).

He married Fanny Louisa Smith, daughter of Hon. Hollis Smith, in 1845. Mrs. Worthington died in 1887, leaving five children, two daughters and three sons. One son, Arthur Norreys, graduated in medicine at McGill University in 1886, and settled in Sherbrooke.

Dr. Worthington died early in the year 1895.

Montreal Med. Jour., 1895, vol. xxvi, p. 718–719.
Cyclop. of Can. Biog., Geo. M. Rose, Toronto, 1888, Series ii, p. 456–458.