Dr. Whitley Stokes

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Stokes, Whitley, M.D., was born in 1763. He was grandson of Gabriel Stokes, Deputy-Surveyor of Ireland, and son of Gabriel Stokes, a fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. Educated at the Endowed School in Waterford, he entered Trinity College, obtained a scholarship in 1781, a fellowship in 1788, and took out his degree as Doctor of Medicine in 1793. Of known nationalist tendencies, he was summoned before Lord Clare at his visitation in April 1798, which was held for the purpose of with the United Irishmen. Dr. Stokes admitted having been a member of the Society before, but not since, 1792; having visited professionally an insurgent who was sick and in distress; and having furnished information to Lord Moira relative to the atrocities and tortures inflicted on the people in the south of Ireland; but he emphatically denied having taken any part in the revolutionary movement, and was believed by all who knew him. Nevertheless, he was suspended from his teaching functions for three years.

Tone writes in his journal, under date 20th May 1798: "With regard to Stokes, I know he is acting rigidly on principle, for I know he is incapable of acting otherwise; but I fear very much that his very metaphysical unbending purity, which can accommodate itself neither to men, times, nor circumstances, will always prevent his being of any service to his country, which is a thousand pities: for I know no man whose virtues and whose talents I more sincerely reverence. I see only one place fit for him and, after all, if Ireland were independent, I believe few enlightened Irishmen would oppose his being placed there — I mean at the head of a system of national education." When the passions of the time had worn themselves out, Stokes regained his former position. In 1805 he was co-optated a senior fellow; in 1816 he was appointed Lecturer on Natural History; and in 1830, became Regius Professor of Physic to the University, which appointment he held until 1842, when he was succeeded by his more distinguished son. He died at his residence in Harcourt-street, Dublin, 13th April, 1845, aged 82.

Sources

233. Manuscript and Special Information, and Current Periodicals.

324. Tone, Theobald Wolfe, Autobiography: Edited by his Son. 2 vols. Washington, 1826.

331. United Irishmen, their Lives and Times: Robert R. Madden, M.D. 4 vols. London, 1858-'60.

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