Ref NoRCSI/IP/Colles
TitleAbraham Colles Papers
Date15 September 1790 - 15 June 1979
Extent And Medium6 volumes, 122 folios, 2 artefacts, 1 medal, 6 photographs, 1 negative
DescriptionThis collection comprises of medical certificates, personal items, correspondence, photographs and lecture notes that are related to Abraham Colles' life and medical career. It also includes documents relating to the family history and genealogy of the Colles family.
Admin_Biographical_HistoryAbraham Colles (1773 - 1843)

Abraham Colles was born on 23rd July 1773 in Millmount, Co. Kilkenny to William Colles and Mary Anne Bates. He was their second son. William owned extensive black marble quarries in Kilkenny which added to the family's wealth. Unfortunately William died when Abraham was 4 years old. Mary Anne, Abraham's mother, proved to be a very astute business woman and provided her children with a good education. Colles attended the Kilkenny Endowed School for his primary education and entered Trinity College Dublin on 4th September 1790 to study medicine. On 15th September 1790 he was indentured to Phillip Woodroffe for five years. He attended lectures and worked under Woodroffe at Stevens', the Foundlings' and the House of Industry Hospitals. He received his letters from Trinity on 24th September 1795 which was quickly followed by a license from the RCSI. Colles furthered his studies graduating as Doctor of Medicine from the University of Edinburgh on 24th June 1797. Colles moved to London for a short period and worked with the renowned anatomist Astley Cooper.

By 1797 Colles had returned to Dublin and set up his practise in Chatham Street. He became a District Visitor for the Dispensary for the Sick Poor in Meath Street. This meant that Colles was able to help the poor of Dublin not only medically but also by supplying them with food, fuel and clothes. His humane actions and gentle nature caught the eye of several influential persons including the Surgeon-General Stewart. In 1799 he succeeded his old master, Woodroffe, as Resident Surgeon in Steevens' Hospital. He would be connected to this hospital for the next 42 years finally handing in his resignation in August 1841. By the end of 1799 he was elected a Member of the RCSI, in 1801 he became a Censor and by 1802 at the age of 29 he was elected President of the RCSI. Colles was appointed Surgeon of numerous institutes including Cork Street Fever Hospital, the Rotunda and Victoria Lying-in Hospital. Colles did not write large amounts but what he did was of great importance. His first description of the wrist fracture that bears his name was published in 1814 in the 'Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal'.

Colles was elected Professor of Anatomy, Physiology and Surgery in the RCSI in September 1804. In 1807 Colles married Sophia, daughter the Rector of Ahascragh, Co. Galway. They had 6 sons and 4 daughters and resided in 22 Stephen's Green. Unfortunately Colles health had been an issue throughout his life. He suffered from 3 diseases, chronic bronchitis, weak and dilated heart and emphysema of the lungs. Severe attacks of gout did not help his already fragile disposition. It was due to this ill health that Colles resigned from his relationship with the RCSI in September 1836. Colles, by 1842, felt that he did not have much time left so gave directions to Robert Harrison, a colleague and friend, to conduct a post mortem on him once he had died. It wasn't until 16th December 1843 that Colles passed away.
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Access ConditionsBy appointment with RCSI Heritage Collections


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