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Biographical entry Wigg, Henry Carter junior (1845 - 1890)

MRCS Jan 19th 1869; FRCS Dec 9th 1869; MB Edin 1866; MD 1869; MD Melbourne (ad eundem) May 1st 1886

7 February 1890
General surgeon and Physician


Born in Norfolk, the son of Henry Carter Wigg, senr; was taken out to Geelong, Australia, in January, 1853. He returned in 1859 to King's Lynn, was a pupil at Mr Lupton's school, and was so interested in chemistry as to perform the illustrative experiments after his master's lecture, becoming so absorbed as to be undisturbed by the plaudits of the audience.

He went on to University College, London, studied chemistry under Williamson, botany under Oliver, and won a prize given by Berkeley Hill for a clinical "Essay on Four Out-patients". He passed to Edinburgh University and graduated with the Inaugural Dissertation, "Physiological Action of Nitrobenzole", on Aug 1st, 1866, Sir David Brewster conferring the degree.

Returning to University College, he obtained the first Certificate of Honour and Gold Medal in Medical Jurisprudence in 1865, and the Filter Exhibition of £30 for proficiency in Pathological Anatomy in 1866, also the first Certificate of Honour and the Gold Medal in the same subject in December, 1866. In 1869 Wigg took the MRCS and FRCS, apropos of which his father quoted Erichsen's Eulogy on the College of Surgeons:

"The medical profession can boast of no greater institution of a purely educational and scientific character than the Royal College of Surgeons of England, whether as regards the scientific value of its magnificent museum, the extent of its library, the importance of its endowed lectureships, the vastness of its acquired wealth or the yearly increasing number for its diploma. It is beyond rivalry in Great Britain and it is without an equal in the world."

He learnt at Edinburgh the method of acupressure advocated by Sir James Simpson, and from holding a locum tenens at Hecklington, Warwick, Stratford-on-Avon, and other places, he gained experience of English country practice. He was fond of music, and began to write poetry.

In January, 1879, he sailed on board the Planet emigrant ship as Surgeon, with the care of 195 emigrants, and reached Brisbane after ninety-five days, where he presented a Report to the Secretary of the Queensland Government containing a list of drugs desirable for emigrant ships.

Wigg then started practice in Carlton, Melbourne, attended the Lying-in Hospital and Benevolent Asylum, and in April, 1871, was elected Physician to the Alfred Hospital. He resigned this post in the following November for that of Physician to the Hospital for Sick Children. He was active in getting this hospital transferred in 1893 to a more suitable building belonging to Sir Redmond Barry in Pelham Street, and in 1876 succeeded in persuading the Hospital Committee to allow the University students to attend his clinic there.

His practice rapidly increased, and in addition to his ordinary work he added to it by giving lectures on first-aid to the railwaymen.

His health having failed in 1882, he resigned his appointments and travelled to Europe via Ceylon, became interested in architecture, and returned to Australia at the end of 1883.

In 1878 he gave evidence in favour of the Contagious (Venereal) Diseases Legislation from experience derived from attendance at the Sick Children's Hospital and the grave effects of inherited syphilis. In 1888 the plague of rabbits gave rise to the offer by the New South Wales Government of a prize of £25,000, and Pasteur dispatched two assistants for the purpose of experimenting on the dissemination of fowl cholera. Wigg opposed the experiment, and was instrumental in getting the Royal Society of Victoria to advise the Government to refuse permission as involving danger to human life; moreover, the experiments carried out on Rodd Island, Sydney, were negative in results. Among about 1400 other schemes a rabbit-proof fencing was devised, but the rabbits burrowed underneath it.

In 1889 Wigg went on a visit to a friend in Queensland, and was interested in a Benevolent Asylum at Dunwich Stradbroke Island, where 520 inmates built and lived in bark cottages, and grew bananas and oranges in gardens. He returned apparently in good health, but after rowing and taking a ten-mile walk he ruptured a blood-vessel, and died on Feb 7th, 1890. In Memoriam was published by his father, Henry Carter Wigg, senr, in 1890. It contains a photograph.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England