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Biographical entry Wordsworth, John Cawood (1823 - 1886)

MRCS April 11th 1845; FRCS June 13th 1862.

22 February 1886
General surgeon and Ophthalmic surgeon


Came of a Yorkshire family collateral with that of the poet, and born at Manchester, where his father, the Rev William Wordsworth, was curate. He was apprenticed in 1840 to John Jesse, a well-known Manchester practitioner, from whom he derived all the advantages of a well-ordered apprenticeship. He entered the London Hospital in 1841, where he was a diligent student, and was for two years House Surgeon. For the sake of his health he went to St Kitts and practised there for two or three years. In 1849 he returned, was elected Demonstrator of Anatomy and Assistant Surgeon to the London Hospital, and in 1852 Assistant Surgeon to the Royal Ophthalmic Hospital, Moorfields, a post he resigned in 1883. He practised at 41 Finsbury Square.

In 1855 Wordsworth responded to the call of Sydney Herbert for volunteers, and went out to the Crimea. He was attached to the Castle Hospital above Balaclava for three months, treated the wounded after the Redan attack, and at the close was awarded the Crimean Medal with the Sebastopol Clasps, and the Turkish Medal. In the spring of 1856 he married a Turkish lady, daughter of M Chasseaud, of Smyrna, returned to ophthalmic practice only, resigning his post of Assistant Surgeon to the London Hospital in 1859. He lived first at 50 Queen Anne Street, then at 20 Harley Street.

As an ophthalmic surgeon he had a large scope for gathering experience at Moorfields, and gained the high opinion of all those brought into contact with him. At one time he was Vice-President of the Ophthalmological Society, also of the Medical Society, a member of the Army Medical and Surgical Society, and Ophthalmic Surgeon to the Stockwell Orphanage.

He suffered during fifteen years from gout complicated by heart disease and latterly from definite attacks of angina pectoris. He died at 20 Harley Street on Feb 22nd, 1886, and was buried at Highgate. He wrote on the ophthalmoscope in 1859. He was survived by Mrs Wordsworth, and by a son, William John, who was MRCS Eng.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Biographical note by S D Clippingdale, London Hosp Gaz, 1917-19, xxii, 48. Treacher Collins's History and Traditions of the Moorfields Eye Hospital, p. 105, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England