Dr Edward Worth (1676-1733)

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Thesis title pageDr Edward Worth (1676-1733), a native of Dublin, was a son of John Worth (1648-1688), Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Dr Worth studied at Merton College Oxford before travelling to the University of Leiden to study medicine. Graduating at the University of Utrecht, his doctoral dissertation was on the Aphorisms of Hippocrates, a popular text for dissertations at both Leiden and Utrecht. Hippocrates, the most celebrated physician of ancient Greece, is perhaps most famous for giving his name to the ethical doctrine of the medical profession known as the Hippocratic Oath. The early modern period had witnessed a rediscovery of Hippocrates and Worth’s choice of topic was not unusual. He completed his degree, and his medical thesis was published in Latin at Utrecht in 1701.

On returning to Dublin in 1702, Worth set up his medical practice at Werburgh Street and was, on two occasions, elected as President of the Royal College of Physicians – an honour he subsequently declined. A friend of the Steevens family, he was asked by Grizelda Steevens to become a Trustee of Dr Steevens’ Hospital, a charitable hospital which arose from a benefaction of her brother Richard Steevens (d.1710). Worth was evidently a keen supporter of the new hospital and decided in 1729 to leave his extensive library to the new institution, where it remains today in its purpose-built room.

Given Worth’s professional interests the collection is particularly strong on early modern medical texts but Worth was equally interested in all things scientific. Elected in 1699 as a Fellow of the Royal Society, he avidly collected publications of the Society and was particularly interested in the writings of Sir Isaac Newton and his many commentators. A connoisseur collector, Worth was equally fascinated by the book as material object and collected rare printings and fine bindings, which today are in an incredible state of preservation.

Access information about the Worth Library and visiting the Worth. The current online exhibition of the Worth Library celebrates his wonderful collection of Aldines.

The thesis is bound with other pamphlets and forms part of the Newenham Pamphlet Collection in the Gilbert Library at Dublin City Library & Archive, Pearse Street, Dublin 2.

His dissertation has been translated into English and is now available in digitised form.

Acknowledgement: Dr Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian, The Edward Worth Library (1733), Dr Steevens' Hospital, Dublin 8.


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