Edward obtained his M.D. from Grant University, Chattanooga, in 1892. He was
a certificate to practice by the Cullman County Board in Alabama in
1892. The biography of Edward's father, John in Biography
of Eminent American Physicians and Surgeons by Stone, R. French
(1894) p414, mentions that Edward, the eldest of four surviving children, is
a physician in practice with his father, in Tampa, Florida. the Transactions of the Medical Association of the State
of Alabama (1897) record that physicians John Edward Purdon
and Edward Anthony Harry Purdon moved from Cullman county to Corinne county,
Death: 2 August 1904, at Ogden General
Hospital, Ogden, Weber county, Utah, United States, from an abcess of the
liver, aged 32. Edward's residence at the time is noted to be Corinne, Utah.
Buried: 4 August 1904, in Corinne, Box Elder
county, Utah, United States
Birth: age at death on death
certificate is given as "about 32"; place from death certificate; exact
date from Corinne cemetery records
Baptism: England Baptisms
1700-1900 batch C39090-6
Parents: Baptism records; Biography of Eminent American Physicians and
Surgeons by Stone, R. French (1894) p414
of Eminent American Physicians and Surgeons by Stone, R. French
(1894) p414; death certificate
Birth: 25 May 1839, in Dublin, county
Father: Edward Purdon, Lord Mayor of
Mother: Sarah (Murphy) Purdon, of
Silver Hills, county Kildare
Education: John entered Trinity College,
Dublin, in 1857, and graduated in arts in 1862, as a Scholar of the House,
having obtained the senior moderatorship, and gold medal in Experimental and
Natural Sciences at the Bachelor of Arts examination the previous year. In
1863 the separate degrees of Bachelor in Medicine and Master in Surgery were
conferred upon him by Trinity College Dublin and the M.D. on 2 June 1885.
4 other children: only 4 of John and Catherine's 9 children were still
living in 1900
Physician. John was an army surgeon serving in the Isle of Wight,
India and, with the 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers, in
the Channel Islands. Upon his retirement in 1883, he emigrated to the United
States where he continued to work as a physician. Hart's
Army List for 1870 lists John as an assistant surgeon with the rank of
lieutenant stationed in Bengal, ranking as of 2 October 1865. The 1871
list shows John still as an assistant surgeon with the rank of
lieutenant but not stationed anywhere. Perhaps he is returning from India,
or on leave following the tour.
Hart's Army List for 1872 and 1873
list John as an assistant surgeon with the rank of Captain stationed in
Sandown (Isle of Wight) and Hart's
Army List for 1875 lists John as a surgeon stationed in Madras. The 1882
list shows John as Surgeon Major, stationed in Guernsey, having
reached the rank of Surgeon on 1 March 1873, and the rank of Surgeon Major
on 2 October 1877.
The 1881 census list John as a surgeon with the 87th Royal Irish
Fusiliers, stationed in St Peter Port, Guernsey. Notes:
While a student at Trinity College Dublin, John jumped into the River Liffey
in an attempt to save a drowning woman, as noted in the Cavan Observer on 20 July 1861: A COURAGEOUS ATTEMPT--A few
evenings ago as one of the steamers was leaving her berth at the
North-wall, a woman fell into the Liffey, and sank almost immediately. Mr.
John E. Purdon, 23 Bachelors'-walk, who was standing with the crowd, at
once jumped into the river without waiting to divest himself even of his
coat, and dived in the direction in which he saw the woman go down. The
woman rose to the surface in the mean time and succeeded in grasping a
rope which was thrown out to her, and was thus saved. This however does
not detract from the laudable effort of Mr. Purdon, who narrowly escaped,
to say the least of it, severe injury himself, as the paddles of the
steamer were in motion at the time, one of which lightly struck him on the
shoulder and tore his coat.
Story of an Amazing Mountain by John
Wilson, excerpted at the Lookout
Mountain Land Company website tells us that; Dr. John E. Purdon, a former British Army
surgeon who was an early guest at the Mentone Springs Hotel, was so
impressed by the Mentone area that he determined to found an English
He advertised in English newspapers, offering to teach young Englishmen
the art of farming. A few young men did come from England to inspect
Lookout Mountain, but none stayed on to farm the land.
In Mentone, Alabama: A History by Zora Shay
Strayhorn, we find that the Purdons lived at what is now Camp Laney, near
Mentone: History of the Camp Laney site began in 1887 when
Dr. John Edward Purdon and his wife Katherine came from Athlone, Ireland,
with their servants to Mentone. He had been a Major Surgeon in the British
army, a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin.
In Mentone he practiced medicine, often without pay. The Purdons’ friends,
Mary and Thomas Sproule also brought Irish servants and a parrot to
Mentone and built a house on the adjoining property. They are buried in
The remains of an old fireplace still stand as the only evidence that the
Purdon family lived on the Camp Laney site.
and also: Among these early settlers was Dr. John E.
Purdon, a retired British Army Surgeon. Dr. Purdon, in turn, encouraged
young Englishmen to come and live with him while he taught them how to
farm. At least three young men did come, but the venture failed because of
one flaw in Dr. Purdon's plan: he knew nothing about farming.
The Purdons lived across the DeSoto River (the West Fork of Little River)
from the Masons and were later joined by relatives, the Thomas F.
Sproules, a titled Irish family driven out of Ireland during an uprising.
The Purdons left Mentone, but the Sproules lived out their lives there and
received an annual income from the revenues of their Irish home..
This biography of John appeared in Biography of
Eminent American Physicians and Surgeons by Stone, R. French (1894)
Barbara Walker Winge JOHN EDWARD BLAKENEY PURDON
John Edward Blakeney Purdon, of Tampa, Florida, was born in Dublin,
Ireland, May 25, 1839. He is the son of the Late Alderman Edward Purdon,
formerly Lord Mayor of Dublin, and his wife, Sarah Murphy, of Silver
Hills, County Kildare. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1857, and
graduated in arts in 1862, as a Scholar of the House, having obtained the
senior moderatorship, and gold medal in Experimental and Natural Sciences
at the Bachelor of Arts examination the prevous year. In 1863 the separate
degrees of Bachelor in Medicine and Master in Surgery were conferred upon
him by the University of Dublin [Trinity College] and the M. D. in 1885.
In 1865 he entered the British Army, by competitive examination, as
assistant surgeon, and proceeded to India, where for several years he was
engaged in the study of cholera, dysentery, malarious fevers, and all the
diseases incidental to life in the tropics... Doctor Purdon has resided in
America since his retirement from the Army in 1883, and is a member of
some of the leading medical societies of the South... He was married in
1866, to Hannah Selina, daughter of Anthony Kilroy, Esq., of Ornand County
Cavan, Ireland. The eldest of their four surviving children, Edward
Anthony H., is a physician engaged in practice with his father.
John was interested in the occult, and used his scientific and medical
training to try to shed light on the topic. In an article entitled The
Usefulness of History by Fraser Nicol published in the journal Research in
Parapsychology and transcribed
on Michael Prescott's Blog, John's early research recieves a mention: THE SPHYGMO-GRAPH. More than 90 years ago Dr.
John E. Purdon, an English physician with wide experience in psychical
research, performed experiments on percipients and agents which may be
described as forerunners of the plethysmograph work done by Figar and
others in recent years. Using the sphygmograph to measure pulse rate,
Purdon claimed that the rate varied with the success or failure of
telepathic transmission. He also believed he had found that if two people
in the same room happened to think of the same thing, their sphygmograph
records would show it. A self-critical man, Purdon appealed to researchers
better equipped than himself to pursue the investigations further. No
sustained attempt was made to do so, and for three-quarters of a century
his ingenious ideas were lost to history.
In an article in Light (May 10, 1902, p.
at Answers.com, John E. Purdon writes
that: "On one occasion in my quarters at the Sandown Hospital, Isle of
Wight, I held the feet of Miss Florence Cook firmly against the floor, and
can certify that there was no lifting of the heels, either with or without
her boots, and that there was such an elongation that my brother-in-law,
the late assistant-surgeon, Mark A. Kilroy, whose hands were on her
shoulders, cried out 'She is dragging me up to the ceiling.' As he was
over five feet nine inches in height there could have been no posturing
that would account for his experience. Further, I most distinctly remember
Miss Cook coming back with a jerk to her normal stature. My wife, who was
present and heard her brother make the above remark, fully endorses my
A Dr. John E. Purdon is quoted often as a leading supporter of eugenics laws
in Alabama requiring the forced sterilization of the mentally deficient. I
am unsure if this is our same John Purdon, who had been a physician in
Alabama, but is found living in Turlock, California, in the 1900 census.
That does not preclude him from speaking at an Alabama meeting in 1901, but
makes it at least doubtful that it is the same man. I have found no
biographical information on this Dr. Purdon that correlates ages or refer to
his Irish or British Army past. An example of the beliefs of this Dr. Purson
are described by Lutz Kaelber, Associate Professor of Sociology, University
of Vermont, who writes in Eugenics: Compulsory Sterilization in 50 American
States At the 1901 meeting of the Medical Association
of the State of Alabama (MASA), Dr. William Glassell Sommerville, Trustee
of the Alabama Insane Hospitals, declared it a proven fact that “the moral
disposition for good and evil, including criminal tendencies…are
transmitted from…one generation to another…and is as firmly believed by
all scientific men as the fact that parents transmit” physical qualities
to their children (Dorr, “Defective or Disabled?,” pp. 383-4). At
that same meeting, John E. Purdon stated that it was a “‘proven fact’ that
criminality, insanity, epilepsy, and other alleged manifestations of
degraded nerve tissue were hereditary” (Larson, Sex, Race, and Science, p.
50). He emphasized that “‘[i]t is essentially a state function’ to
retrain ‘the procreative powers’ of the unfit” (Larson and Nelson, p.
407). He suggested that the use of sterilization would benefit the
race by saying, “[e]masculation is the simplest and most perfect plan that
can be adapted to secure the perfection of the race” (Larson, Sex, Race,
and Science, p. 50). Finally, Purdon explained his belief that “the
goodness, the greatness, and the happiness of all upon the earth, will be
immeasurably advanced, in one or two generations, by the proposed methods”
(Larson and Nelson, p. 407), and, based on his belief that “weakness
begets weakness” feared that “humanitarianism would ‘assist the imperfect
individual to escape the consequences of his physical and moral
malformation’” (Dorr, "Honing Heredity," p. 29).
Gravestone of John Edward Blakeney Purdon
in Garberville cemetery, Humboldt county, California
Death records; although the death record shows the place of birth
as Texas, the correct age, and mother's maiden name of Kilroy, leads me
to believe that this is the correct John Purden
Occupation: 1900 census
Notes: 1900 census
Kate Selina H. (Purdon) Brown
Birth: 17 September 1876, in Churchpark,
Athleague, county Roscommon, Ireland
Kate Selina was born on Seventeenth September 1876 in Churchpark, Athleague,
the daughter of John Edward Purdon, military surgeon of Churchpark, and
Hannah Selina Purdon, formerly Kilroy.