Dr. R. E. Dudgeon Biography and Books

Dr. R. E. Dudgeon Biography and Books

Dr. R. E. Dudgeon Biography and Books

Robert Ellis Dudgeon MD LRCSE (17 March 1820 – 8 September 1904), studied in Paris and Vienna before graduating as a doctor. Dudgeon then became the first editor of the British Journal of Homeopathy and he held this post for almost forty years until its cessation in 1884.

In the early days of English homeopathy he was extremely important both as a teacher and as a translator of Hahnemann’s works into English. He was based in London. He was arguably the most important of the early homeopaths in England, second only after Dr Quin.

Robert Ellis Dudgeon was born in Leith, Scotland, to a wealthy timber merchant and ship owner. He entered Edinburgh University as a boy and by 19 had passed all of his examinations for the MD, qualifying with the Royal College of Surgery (Edinburgh) in 1839. However, as he was not yet of age he had to wait for the conferral of his doctorate, Dudgeon spent those intervening two years studying at École de Médecine de Paris and the hospitals there, attending lectures and clinical practice of Velpeau, Andral, Civiale, Maisonneuve, Louis, Piorry and others. During this time he also visited Vienna.

Dudgeon returned to Edinburgh in 1841 to complete his final examinations and on 1 August was awarded his MD. Shortly after he spent a further semester in Vienna, studying with Skoda, Rokitanksy, Hebra, Heller, and Jaeger.

While in Vienna, Dudgeon met several other British homeopaths, John James Drysdale, John Rutherford Russell and the Canadian Arthur Fisher, who were studying homeopathy at Fleischmann‘s Gumpendorf Homoeopathic Hospital. He also became friends with another visiting student, the future Sir William Wilde, who would become a noted Dublin ophthalmologic surgeon and father of the playwright Oscar Wilde. Although not an homeopath, Wilde senior observed firsthand the astonishing success of Fleischmann’s treatment of pneumonia patients and included a short defense of homeopathy in his 1843 book, Austria: Its Literary, Scientific, and Medical Institutions.

Despite all this Dudgeon remained uninterested in Hahnemann’s system and proceeded to Berlin for further study of the eye under Jüngken, of the ear under Kramer, and organic chemistry under Simon. He also went to Dublin to listen to Graves, Stokes, Corrigan, and Marsh.

Dudgeon returned to England in 1843 and set up in practice in Liverpool, where his colleague Drysdale also practiced. That year Drysdale, along with John Rutherford Russell and Francis Black, had founded the British Journal of Homoeopathy, and asked Dudgeon to help translate German texts for the journal. Dudgeon obliged his friends and, in the process of translating, became a convert to homeopathy.

On Drysdale’s advice Dudgeon returned to Vienna where he took instruction from Fleischmann at the Gumpendorf Hospital, alongside fellow students Henry R. Madden, George James Hilbers, and the hydropath William Macleod.

Dudgeon and Madden lived together with their wives in Vienna and devoted their free time to studying the materia medica. Dudgeon also made the acquaintance of all of the notable Viennese homeopaths, namely Wurmb, Watzke, Gerstel, Zlatarovich, Nehrer, from whom he learned much. As Dudgeon later recalled:

At that time Vienna was in the heyday of its homoeopathic fervor, and a vast deal of invaluable work was done in the way of proving new medicines and re-proving old ones. Many useful essays were also published in the periodicals edited by the homoeopathic society….While their zeal lasted we must allow that they did splendid work.

In 1845 Dudgeon returned to England and set up in private practice in London. The following year he joined Drysdale and Rutherford Russell in editing the fourth volume of the British Journal of Homoeopathy. Dudgeon would remain the sole member of this trio to continue with the journal until it ceased publication in 1884.

In 1850 Dudgeon helped found the London Hahnemann Hospital, with which was connected the Hahnemann Medical Society Dudgeon sat on the council of the Hahnemann Medical Society and would also serve as its Honorary Secretary in 1850-1. He also became Secretary of the British Homeopathic Society in 1848, its Treasurer from 1883-1893, and President in 1878 and 1890.

Dudgeon practiced as consultant surgeon at the London Homeopathic Hospital and specialised in Optics, writing prodigiously on the subject, even inventing “subaqueous spectacles” which could be used under water.

Dudgeon – Sphygmograph (1876)
Sphygmograph which belonged to Dudgeon, 1876. https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk

In 1881 Dudgeon invented a portable Sphygmograph.This was an improvement on the first portable Sphygmograph that had been designed by Étienne-Jules Marey in 1863.

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