American Medical Biographies/Darrach, William

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Darrach, William (1796–1865).

William Darrach, the third son of Dr. William Darrach, was born in Philadelphia, June 16, 1796, at 7th, and Chestnut Sts. and was baptized by the Rev. Ashbel Green, July 17, 1796 at the Second Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia. His paternal ancestry were of Scotch-Irish descent and settled in Georgetown, Kent County, Maryland, before the Revolutionary War. His mother was the eldest daughter of Thomas Bradford and Mary Fisher. Thomas Bradford was the great grandson of William Bradford, who accompanied William Penn to Philadelphia. He was the first printer in the middle colonies and was printer to the government for many years, and later was a vestryman of Trinity Church in New York.

Dr. Darrach received his early education in Philadelphia and attended the prepartory and collegiate departments of the University of Pennsylvania. He then entered the Junior class at Nassau Hall, Princeton, where he received the degrees of A. B. and A. M.

He entered as student the office of Dr. Philip Syng Physick, where he continued for three years. In 1818 he became resident physician to the Philadelphia Almshouse, where he was associated with Drs. Berrien, Mosely, McClelland, Gwathmey, Freeman and Beesley. While he was there a severe epidemic of typhus fever broke out and some of his notes on this disease are still preserved.

In the spring of 1819 he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine from the University of Pennsylvania Soon afterwards he sailed for Europe where he spent three years in England, Scotland. France and Italy Among the men he studied under were John Abernethy, Sir Benjamin Brodie, Herbert Mayo, Sir Charles Bell and Astley Cooper. He was a pupil in the Charter House Eye Infirmary and in the Lock Hospital and attended the lectures of Lawrence, Tyrrell, Babington and Gregory. In Paris he attended lectures at the Jardin des Plantes, College de France and Duplessis and L'Ecole de Medecin. He followed the clinics at the Hotel du Dieu, La Charité and l'Hôpital de St. Louis. He also studied comparative anatomy with Blainville and diseases of the skin with Alibert. In addition he received instruction in surgery from Roux, Boyer, Caffroir, Larrey and Scarpa in Italy.

After his return from Europe he started as a general practitioner and continued till the time of his death. He early became a physician to the Philadelphia Medical Dispensary, a position he maintained for several years, and was then elected its consulting physician. He was appointed physician and surgeon to the Eastern Penitentiary, the duties of which he fulfilled for ten years.

He will be remembered by cases reported to the Pathological Society of Philadelphia, and especially by his folio lithographed plates, "Drawings of the Anatomy of the Groin," Phila., 1830. The drawings were made by Chasal from dissections by Darrach while in Paris in 1820. The dissections were facilitated by forcing air into the different planes of the tissues and they were made from the standpoint of the anatomist and the surgeon interested in cutting for a strangulated hernia.

He was a member of the Philadelphia Medical Society, of the County Medical Society, the College of Physicians and of the Academy of Natural Sciences. From 1843 to 1854 he took an active part in supporting the Pennsylvania Medical College as a member of the faculty and as president for part of the time. He occupied the chair of theory and practice of medicine.

He married April 26, 1826, Margaretta Monro, the daughter of Dr. George Monro. She died in 1841. There were seven children: Dr. George Monro Darrach, Dr. James Darrach (still living in 1916 in his 89th year) and Dr. William Darrach, Jr., and four daughters. In 1845 he married Miss Gobrecht who bore him six children. He was a member and an officer in the Presbyterian Church.

He died May 6, 1865.

Memoir by Dr. Beesley, Trans. Coll. Phys., Phila.