Howdenshire History

Goole's First Doctor: William Eden Cass

Goole History > Goole People & Families > William Eden Cass


WILLIAM EDEN CASS  [1801-1890]

William Eden Cass was born in Howden on the 25th October 1801. His parents were William Cass, a druggist, and Elizabeth Justice, who were married on Christmas Day 1800 at Howden. The Cass family had lived in Howden since the 16th century.

William and Elizabeth Cass had several other children: David Cass (bp 23rd September 1803), Joseph William Cass (bp 27th April 1806), and twin boys, Joseph and Edward, born in 1809 and who unfortunately died in infancy from 'fits'. Elizabeth Cass herself died in 1810 whilst giving birth to her final child, Elizabeth Justice Cass, and was buried on June 16th. Baby Elizabeth only survived another few months, and was buried on August 27th 1810. The following year William Cass remarried to Mary Hawkins.

Young William Eden Cass received his elementary education in Howden and was later placed under the private tuition of the Rev. L. Grainger, Curate of Winteringham, Lincolnshire. As a young man, he sailed as ship's surgeon on a whaler working in the Arctic regions. Unfortunately, Surgeon Cass does not give the name of this vessel in which he sailed on his first voyage as a 20-year-old in 1821.

His most noted voyages were aboard the whaler Brunswick in 1824, in which he completed a journal of the day-to-day running of the vessel. The actual journal was for many years in the possession of Mrs E. E. Cass of Knedlington, near Howden. In 1950 it was transcribed and a copy is kept in Hull Museum.

After his return from the Arctic in 1824, William Eden Cass continued his medical studies at Guy's Hospital in London; he was admitted a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries in 1825 and on the 19th May 1826 he became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons.

He then returned to Yorkshire and settled in the new town of Goole. On 14th August 1834 at Hook Parish Church he married Ann, the daughter of George Rawden Earnshaw of Manor Cottage, Old Goole, a local farmer who was noted for his cutting of Earnshaw's Warping Drain in Old Goole.

He was the first medical practitioner of the new town and during his long career he became involved in its social and professional life. He was medical officer to the Goole Union Workhouse, police surgeon and medical officer of health for the town. During the years 1831 and 1849, there were terrible outbreaks of cholera in the town and other Humber Ports and surgeon Cass worked tirelessly to ease the suffering and distress during the outbreaks of this terrible disease.

William and Ann lived at Banks Terrace until it was demolished in the 1880s to make way for the construction of Victoria Lock. At the time of his leaving Banks Terrace, he was the Aire & Calder's oldest resident, being in the same house for 54 years.

He was also connected with Goole Savings Bank and for many years was an honorary member of the Good Samaritan Lodge of Oddfellows, who presented him with an illuminated address in 1887.

William Eden Cass had three sons, two of whom died before him - William, who died on 23rd September 1864 aged 31 years, and Edward Earnshaw, who died on 2nd September 1874 aged 30 years.

William Eden Cass lived into his 90th year and died on 11th March 1890. A third son, the Rev. George G. Cass, Vicar of Middlesmoor, North Yorkshire, accompanied the cortege which left the surgeon's residence on Friday 14th March for a ceremony held in Goole Parish Church, attended by family and friends and official mourners. The shops in the town were closed and, along the whole route of the procession, blinds were drawn as a mark of respect.

Officiating were the Vicar of Goole, the Rev. W. H. Carr and the Rev. J. Herring. The coffin was laid to rest at Airmyn Churchyard, where William Eden Cass's two sons were already buried.

On his grave are the words:


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