The caesarean birth of Caesar Anna Low
I haven't blogged about one of my family heroes in a while - so here's another episode from the life of the incredible Doctor William Henderson of Perth (1784-1870), brother to my four times great grandfather Andrew...
In 1820, Dr. Henderson gained some notoriety as being the doctor who successfully delivered one of the first surviving babies in Scotland by a caesarean section. Although the procedure had been known to have been carried out elsewhere in Scotland prior to this, only a handful of children had been known to survive the procedure, perhaps most notably Robert II in 1316. The pregant mother in this instance was 30 year old Elizabeth Miller, spouse of David Low. The following account from the Perth Courier of October 5th 1820 describes what happened:The Caesarean operation was performed here on Saturday last, by Dr Henderson, in presence of six of his professional brethren. The patient being much deformed, and in a reduced habit of body, survived the operation only about 24 hours. The child, a fine girl, is doing extremely well. We understand that this is about the 24th time this operation has been performed in Great Britain, and that only one or two have survived it. Of the 24 children, only 11 have been brought into the world alive. Much praise is due to the medical gentlemen who assisted in this distressing case, two of them having constantly attended by turns on the patient, during the whole time she was alive.
For more on how to research the more unfortunate episodes of our ancestors' lives, my book Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis may be of interest. Here's the blurb:
It is perhaps one of greatest truisms of family history research that we will often find that the lives of our ancestors were best documented when the chips were truly down.
There were many battles that our forebears fought for and against in Scotland, both on a personal level and a part of the society within which they lived. There were the laws of the local parish church and the punishments awaiting those who breached kirk discipline; the struggles to avoid poverty and the stigma of being a debtor; the darkest moments of the soul, from mental health issues and illness, to murder and suicide; and the dramatic moments of rebellion, when our forebears drew a line in the sand against a perceived tyranny or democratic deficit. Illness, death, bigamy, abandonment, accidents, eviction, ethnic cleansing - a dramatic range of challenges across a lifetime, and at times, outright tragedy. And close to each of them, a quill and ink.
But through all of these episodes, there is an even greater story that emerges, of how our ancestors overcame such struggles. In this Unlock the Past guide, genealogist Chris Paton goes in search of the records of ancestral hardship in Scotland, to allow us to truly understand the situations that our ancestors had to endure and overcome across the generations, to hep us become the very people who we are today.
For details on how to purchase a copy in the UK, Canada or Australia, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html.
For details on my genealogy guide books, including my recently released Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. My Pinterest account is at https://www.pinterest.com/chrismpaton/.