Patient Case Study: Pope, Thirza

In-patient, 1859


Hospital Dorset County Hospital Patient type In-patient
Number 4533 Date admitted 24 Mar 1859
Name Pope, Thirza Renewed 19 May by J. S. W. E. Drax Esq.
Age 43 Under whose care Mr. Tapp
Occupation Washerwoman Disease Cancer of breast
Parish Morden Discharged 30 Jun 1859
Recommended by J. S. W. E. Drax Esq. Outcome Cured
Source Dorset History Centre, Dorset County Hospital in-patient admissions register 1847-59, NG/HH/DO(C)/5/2/1



  1. Thyrza Pope, daughter of William Pope, shoemaker of Morden, and his wife Eliza, was baptised on 25 Dec 1814 at Morden. [Dorset History Centre, Morden baptism register, PE/MDN: RE 2, p. 5, entry 38]
  1. 1851 census – Thirza Pope, buttoner, aged 34, unmarried, born Morden, deaf, living with her siblings (both of whom were also deaf): brother George Pope, cordwainer, aged 32, unmarried, and Mary Pope, buttoner, aged 29, unmarried, at Higher Street, Morden. [The National Archives, 1851 census, H107/1856, folio 444, p. 3]
  1. “OPERATIONS FOR THE REMOVAL OF TUMOUR IN THE BREAST. … Case 15.–The Dorset County Hospital : Mr. Tapp.–A washerwoman, aged 38, unmarried, was admitted with a tumour in the left breast, the size of a foetal head. It had existed for about nine months, and had caused much pain, but she was in good health, and there was no glandular complication. During the operation, apparent death from chloroform took place, but artificial respiration being immediately resorted to, the vital functions were resumed after a few minutes’ entire cessation. The operation was then completed. The wound healed rapidly. The woman left the Hospital about two months afterwards, and went to a union workhouse, where death took place six months afterwards, from anasarca and ascites. At the autopsy, the heart, liver, and kidneys were found to be in a state of fatty degeneration. No internal malignant disease was discovered. The fatty condition of the heart accounted for the chloroform accident.” [Statistical report of the principle operations performed during 1859. Medical Times & Gazette, 1860, vol. 1, p. 473]
  1. Thirza Pope, aged 44, from Wareham Union, died of dropsy and cancer and was buried on 2 Dec 1859 at Morden. [Dorset History Centre, Morden burial register, PE/MDN: RE 4/1, p. 81, entry 644]

Comment: The ages are inconsistent. There were two other unmarried women treated at the hospital for breast cancer in 1859, both also in their forties. Neither were described as washerwomen and neither are known to have died in a workhouse around six months after discharge, therefore Thirza Pope is the most likely candidate despite the age discrepancy.