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Biographical entry Pearson, Charles Yelverton (1857 - 1947)

MRCS and FRCS 10 June 1886; MD MCh LM RUI 1878.

27 August 1857
Kilworth, County Cork
13 May 1947
General surgeon


Born 27 August 1857 at Kilworth, Co Cork, fourth son of William W Pearson, MRCS 1843, MD St Andrews 1845, who later practised at Carrigaline, Co Cork, and his wife Anne Smith, of Castletownroche, Co Cork. He was educated at the Model School and at Perrott's School, Cork, and in 1874 entered Queen's College, then a constituent of the Royal University of Ireland, which in 1908 became University College and a constituent of the National University of Ireland. He qualified with a gold medal in 1878, and was appointed senior demonstrator of anatomy in the college, on whose staff he continued to serve for fifty years. In 1883 he was elected assistant surgeon to the Cork North Charitable Infirmary, becoming in due course surgeon, a post in which he was followed by his second son. He was also surgeon to the County and City of Cork Victoria Hospital for Women and Children, and obstetric surgeon to the Cork Lying-in Hospital. He was appointed professor of materia medica and lecturer in medical jurisprudence in 1884, and as medico-legal adviser to the Crown in criminal cases gave evidence at Cork Assizes in 1887, which played a prominent part in securing the conviction of Dr Philip Cross for the murder of his wife. Surgeon-Major Philip Henry Eustace Cross, LRCSI, had practised at Shandyhall, Dripsey for a dozen years since his retirement from the Army Medical Service, and was also a respected country gentleman in the district, of which he was a native. His wife died in June 1887 and he immediately married his young mistress. Pearson gave evidence that Mrs Cross had died of arsenic poisoning, and although there was no direct evidence that Cross had administered the poison, he was convicted by Judge Murphy, whose emotional charge to the jury was strongly criticized in the British Medical Journal. In spite of an appeal by petition to the Lord Lieutenant, Cross was hanged in January 1888.

Pearson had taken the Fellowship in 1886, though not previously a Member, and in 1897 he was elected professor of surgery at Cork, and held the chair till 1928 when he was granted the title of emeritus on retiring. In 1903 he was elected a surgical Fellow of the Royal University, and on its change into the National University in 1908 was appointed a senator. He became honorary surgeon to the King in Ireland in 1916, in succession to Sir Charles Ball, Hon FRCS. Pearson examined in surgery for the Indian Medical Service from 1912. He was elected an honorary life member of the Austin Flint Medical Association of Iowa in 1900.

Pearson married twice: (1) in 1881 Christiana Dorothea, daughter of A J Tuckey, MD, MRCS, of Bantry, Co Cork. There were two sons and a daughter of this marriage; the elder son, William Pearson, FRCSI, became professor of surgery in Dublin University (Trinity College) and a distinguished consultant in Dublin; the younger son, Charles Broderick Pearson, MD MCh, succeeded to his father's private and hospital practice at Cork, his son Charles also entered the medical profession, as MB 1943; (2) in 1924 May Clemence, daughter of Lawson L Ferguson of Glenview, Co Wicklow; Mrs Pearson was herself a doctor, MB NUI 1921, DPH RCPS Eng 1924; she survived her husband with two daughters, one of whom was a medical student at the time of Professor Pearson's death. Pearson had practised at 1 Sydney Place, Cork, where his son succeeded him. Latterly he lived at 8 Knockrea Park, Cork, where he died on 13 May 1947, aged 89. He was a popular and respected man, fond of all outdoor sports, especially yachting, fishing, and shooting.

Modern surgical technique in its relation to operations and wound treatment. London, Bale, 1906. 392 pages.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1947, 1, 786].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England