Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Dudgeon, Robert Ellis
DUDGEON, ROBERT ELLIS (1820–1904), homoeopath, born at Leith on 17 March 1820, was younger son of a timber merchant and shipowner in that town. After attending a private school he received his medical education at Edinburgh, partly in the university and partly in the extra- academical medical school. Having received the licence of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1839, he attended the lectures of Velpeau, Andral, Louis, and others in Paris, graduated M.D. at Edinburgh on 1 Aug. 1841, and spent a semester at Vienna under Skoda, Rokitansky, Hebra, and Jaeger. At Vienna his fellow students John Drysdale and Rutherfurd Russell were attending the homœopathic practice which, invented by Hahnemann some forty years before, was then at its height in the city. Dudgeon was not at the time attracted by Hahnemann's system. From Vienna he went to Berlin to study diseases of the eye under Juengken, of the ear under Kramer, and organic chemistry under Simon; finally he passed to Dublin to benefit by the instruction of Graves, Stokes, Corrigan, and Marsh. Having started practice in Liverpool, in 1843 he was there persuaded by Drysdale to study homœopathy. The ‘British Journal of Homœopathy’ was first issued in this year, and Dudgeon translated for it German articles. After a second sojourn in Vienna to follow the homœopathic practice of Fleischmann in the Gumpendorf hospital, he began to practise in London in 1845. He was editor of the ‘British Journal of Homœopathy’ conjointly with Drysdale and Russell from 1846 until 1884, when the Journal ceased. In 1847 he published the ‘Homœopathic Treatment and Prevention of Asiatic Cholera,’ and devoted himself during the next three years to making a good English translation of Hahnemann's writings, of which the ‘Organon’ appeared in 1849 and the ‘Materia Medica Pura’ in 1880. In 1850 he helped to found the Hahnemann Hospital and school of homœopathy in Bloomsbury Square, with which was connected the Hahnemann Medical Society. Dudgeon lectured in the school on the theory and practice of homœopathy and published his lectures in 1854. In 1869 he was for a short time assistant physician to the homœopathic hospital. He was secretary of the British Homœopathic Society in 1848, vice-president in 1874–5, and president in 1878 and 1890. Although elected president of the International Homœopathic Congress which met in Atlantic City in 1904 he did not attend owing to ill-health.
In 1870–1 he was much interested in the study of optics, writing notes on the ‘Dioptrics of Vision’ (1871). He invented spectacles for use under water. The method adopted was to enclose a lens of air hermetically sealed between two concave glasses, the curvature being so arranged as to correct the refraction of the water. Original but unaccepted views which he held on the mechanism of accommodation of the eye, and described to the International Medical Congress were published in ‘The Human Eye: its Optical Construction popularly explained’ in 1878.
In 1878 he obtained a Pond's sphygmograph, and with the help of a young watchmaker from the Black Forest he made the pocket instrument for registering the pulse which is now known by his name. He published an account of it in ‘The Sphygmograph: its history and use as an aid to diagnosis in ordinary practice’ (1882).
He died at 22 Carlton Hill, N.W., on 8 Sept. 1904 and was cremated at Golder's Hill, his ashes being buried in Willesden cemetery. Dudgeon was twice married, and had a family of two sons and three daughters.
Dudgeon edited several volumes for the Hahnemann Publications Society of Liverpool, amongst others the ‘Pathogenetic Cyclopædia’ (1850). Besides the works mentioned, he published ‘Lectures on the Theory and Practice of Homœopathy’ (1854), and ‘The Influence of Homœopathy on General Medicine since the Death of Hahnemann’ (1874).
He also translated Professor Fuchs' ‘Causes and Prevention of Blindness’ (1885) and François Sarcey's ‘Mind Your Eyes’ (1886), and wrote on ‘The Swimming Baths of London’ (1870). In 1890, at the age of seventy, he published ‘On the Prolongation of Life,’ which reached a second edition.
[Monthly Homœopathic Rev. 1904, xlviii. 577 (with portrait); Journal Brit. Homœopathic Soc. (1905) xiii. 55; Homœopathic World, 1904, pp. 433, 464 (with portrait).]