Surgeon Wheeler vs. the Government (1883)

Siobhan McAndrew
24 min readMar 18, 2024

The Freeman’s Journal, 22 November 1883, p. 6.

Yesterday in the Court of Common Pleas, before Mr. Justice Harrison. and a city special jury, a petition, presented by William Ireland Wheeler to the Queen to recover £1,147 18s, fees for attending (at the request of Government) Mr. Thomas Shaen Carter, who was shot and desperately wounded on the 15th March, 1882, near Belmullet, in the county of Mayo, came on for trial.

The Queen replied — “Let justice be done.”

The particulars of the bill of fees are: — Five professional visits to Belmullet in March and April, 1882, £656 5s; operation, £52 10s; detained five days in March, 1882, £105; three days in April, 1882, and removing from Belmullet to Ballina, £78 15s; two professional visits to Ballina, £210; attendance in Dublin, £31 10s; paid railway fare for two assistants, £5 4s; paid conveyance from Ballina to Belmulett, and from Belmullet to Ballina, £8 14s.

The court was thronged during the day — the attendance including several prominent members of the medical profession, who seemed to take a lively interest in the proceedings.

Mr. Monroe, QC; Mr. Gibson, QC; and Mr. Hemphill (instructed by Messrs Middleton) appeared for the plaintiff.

The Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General, and Mr. Dodd (instructed by Mr. Lane Joynt, Solicitor to the Treasury) appeared for the Government.

Mr. Monroe, in stating the case, said the investigation upon which they were about to enter was somewhat unusual in Ireland. A dispute of this kind did not very frequently arise between her Majesty and one of her subjects, and when such dispute arose a petition was presented to the Queen, and her Majesty replied, “Let right be done,” and the claim then came to be tried in open court. The claim in this case was made by Mr. Wm. Ireland Wheeler, President of the College of Surgeons, against the Government for the amount of fees due to him by the Government for attending Mr. Shane Carter, in Belmullet, Ballina, and Dublin, and on what ground the Government disputed that claim, whether that there was no contract or that the charges were too high, he could not say. It was unnecessary to tell a jury of the city of Dublin who Surgeon Wheeler was or what were his qualifications. For some period a surgeon in the British army, he commenced his career in Dublin about thirteen years ago, and by the exercise of his ability. he might almost say his genius, Surgeon Wheeler rapidly rose in his profession, until he now occupied the position of President of the College of Surgeons, one of the first institutions of the kind in the country. The claim in the case arose in this way. On the 14th March, 1882, Mr. Carter was collecting rents in Belmullet, on his brother’s property, over which he was a receiver, the brother being a lunatic, and on the way home, on that night, he was fired at by some assassin and desperately wounded in the leg. Belmullet was a place in the extreme west of the county of Mayo, and as it was impossible to procure proper medical assistance there, the resident magistrate of the district, to whom the matter was immediately reported, telegraphed to Dublin Castle, suggesting the advisability of sending down a medical man to attend Mr. Carter. That telegram was received by the late Mr. T H Burke, the then Under-Secretary, and as there was a great deal of work to be done in the Castle at the time, Mr. Burke handed the telegram to Mr. Hamilton, who had a responsible office in connection with the Executive, suggesting that Dr Wheeler ought to be communicated with. Accordingly Mr. Hamilton, on the evening of the 3i6th of March, called at Surgeon Wheeler’s house, and, finding Dr Wheeler was out, he left the telegram with a member of Dr Wheeler’s family, and later on sent a message to Dr Wheeler asking him to call at the Castle. Dr Wheeler attended at the Castle, saw Mr. Hamilton, and was informed by him that he was required by the Government to go and attend. Mr. Carter. Dr. Wheeler said his fee would be £125 for a visit. That might be regarded as high, but to a man with a large professional business, it was a serious matter to interrupt his ordinary engagements, and he knew that in the legal profession, eminent leaders at the bar would much prefer to remain in Dublin attending to their usual business at smaller fees than go down in special cases to the country. Mr. Hamilton said to Surgeon Wheeler that the last time he sent down a medical man to the country his fee was only £100; but Surgeon Wheeler said he would not go for less than £125, and when he had to go to Belmullet, and go under police protection, and travel in the middle of the night, forty-two miles on an outside car, counsel did not think the jury would regard the fee as unreasonable, when a medical man who had only to go to Cork, Kilkenny, or Limerick, received a fee of £100. Accordingly Surgeon Wheeler started on the evening of the 16th by the half-past seven o’clock train to Ballina, traversed forty-two miles on a car when he reached Ballina, and he got to Belmullet next morning. Having seen Mr. Carter, and having done all that was necessary for him, Surgeon Wheeler returned to Dublin on the 18th. and called immediately at the Castle. At that time the affairs at the Castle appeared to be completely in confusion, and Surgeon Wheeler was not able to see Mr. Burke, who was just then engaged with the Lord Lieutenant, but saw Mr Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton then handed Surgeon Wheeler a memorandum couched in diplomatic language, in which it stated that if Mr. Carter was not able to pay him, his claims would receive the favourable considerations of the Government. Surgeon Wheeler said he did not want the document: that it was the Government gave him his retainer; that he had no claim on Mr. Carter; and that Mr Carter would be unable to pay him in any case the fees he would require. Mr. Hamilton then remarked that Mr. Burke might forget the matter, and that Surgeon Wheeler might in any case keep the memorandum. Surgeon Wheeler then started again for Belmullet, but found that Mr. Carter’s condition was such as would not enable him to perform the necessary amputation, and he returned to Dublin. On the 21st he received a communication from a local medical man, Dr O’Connor, describing Mr. Carter’s condition, and, finding the symptoms then favourable for amputation, he travelled back again that night to Belmullet accompanied by two distinguished medical students, Messrs Corry and Middleton, to assist him in performing the operation. The operation was performed, and performed successfully, and for five days Surgeon Hamilton was detained there, and for those five days he only charged twenty-five guineas each, a very small fee, indeed, for a man in Surgeon Wheeler’s position under such circumstances. Subsequently Surgeon Wheeler had the patient removed to Ballina, and for two visits to him there Surgeon Wheeler only charged him 100 guineas each. The removal of the patient was carried out by the direction of the Executive, and under the protection of police and military, but the expenses of it was borne by Surgeon Wheeler himself. To show the manner in which Surgeon Wheeler was treated he might mention that one of his assistants, being obliged to travel on the car in which the police also rode, the Sub-Inspector refused to pay for that car, and Surgeon Wheeler had to hand out the money for it. That showed that a spirit of economy was animating the Government which he hoped would ultimately reduce the income tax (loud laughter). As soon as it was possible to do it Mr. Carter was removed to Dublin, and there Surgeon Wheeler paid him close on one hundred visits, for which he only charged £10. It was only for the visits made to Belmullet that Mr Wheeler charged at the rate of 125 guineas; and so soon as it became unnecessary for him to traverse the forty-two miles between Ballina and Belmullet, he reduced his charge to the ordinary professional fee of 100 guineas for each of the two visits he paid to Ballina. Mr. Carter was brought up to Dublin in safetv on the 18th April, and upon the 20th Mr. Wheeler again communicated to Mr. Burke, stating the condition of the patient, and Mr. Burke, by desire of the Lord Lieutenant, acknowledged its receipt. After Mr. Carter’s removal to Dublin Mr. Wheeler found it necessary to pay him 100 visits, for which he charged only £31 10s. Why a man only after getting his diploma would command fees just as large. Surgeon Wheeler sent in his account to the Government on the 5th of May, accompanied by a letter, in which he expressed his hope that his attendance would cease in a few days, and suggesting that a remuneration of 50 and 25 guineas should be paid respectively to his pupils, adding — “had I not employed them I would have been obliged to visit Mr. Carter more frequently, and to have remained longer, and thus additional expense would have been incurred by the Government”. That letter was written on the 5th of May. Whether it ever reached the eyes of the gentleman to whom it was addressed counsel knew not, for the jury would remember that on the evening of the 6th of May poor Mr. Burke was placed beyond the reach of surgical science. On the 11th May however, Mr. Wheeler received a reply from the new Under-Secretary, Mr. R C Hamilton, to this effect — “I have to request that you will inform me if you have made application for payment to Mr. Carter”. That was about as cool a letter as was as ever written by one gentleman to another. Mr. Wheeler was not retained by Mr. Carter, and could not have sustained a claim against that gentleman. He went down to Belmullet on the retainer of the Government. Mr. Carter could not have paid Mr. Wheeler’s professional fees, for his net annual income consisted of £200 of unpaid rents (laughter). To have sought to hold Mr. Carter responsible would have been an outrage in point of morals and point of law. Mr. Hamilton subsequently wrote to Mr. Wheeler, “From whom did you receive the first intimation of Mr. Shean Carter’s injury and requesting your attendance?” That was an extraordinary letter to come from the very gentleman who had employed him. On the 16th May Mr. Wheeler replied — “The first intimation of Mr. Carter’s injury and request for my attendance came from you. You called here, and as I was out saw a member of my family, to whom you stated I was required to go to the country to see a gentleman who had been shot and wounded. I shortly afterwards received a letter from you, marked ‘pressing,’ requesting me to call at the Castle”. Would Mr. Hamilton deny the statements in that letter and the interview at the Castle? Mr. R G C Hamilton then wrote that he was directed by the Lord Lieutenant to return Mr. Wheeler’s bill, and to inform him that the matter was before the law officers of the Crown. What in the world had the law officers of the Crown to say to the matter? What had they to do with a contract that was deliberately entered into between the Government and Dr. Wheeler? Three weeks afterwards, Messrs. Middleton wrote on behalf of Surgeon Wheeler, asking what was being done, and the reply then was the claim was before the Treasury. The Government was always in a desperate condition when they asked the Treasury to step in. Finding it utterly impossible to obtain redress otherwise, Messrs. Middleton wrote back to say that he should take the necessary steps to enforce his claims, and accordingly he filed his petition to the Queen. Her Majesty had replied, “Let right be done”, and, he ventured to say, the jury would find that there was not one shilling of his moderate demand that a man in Surgeon Wheeler’s position ought not put forward.

Mr. William Ireland Wheeler, the plaintiff, having been sworn, deposed, in answer to Mr. Gibson, Q C — I am president of the College of Surgeons. I had a great deal of professional business in Dublin. On the 16th March, 1882, on returning to my house in Fitzwilliam square, I found that Mr. Thomas Hamilton, R M, had been there, and had left his card with a letter and telegram. The letter was dated from the Castle, and said — “Dear sir, can you come here for a few moments in reference to a telegram I left at your house?” The telegram referred to was from Mr. Morony, R M, of Belmullet. I went to the Castle about a quarter before three o’clock, saw Mr. Thomas Hamilton in his office, and returned him the telegram. I said I had got his letter, and had come to the Castle in consequence. He told me Mr. Carter had been shot, and that he wanted me to go to Belmullet to see him, remarking that he believed I knew him. I said “No, that I had seen him on only two occasions, but that I attended his brother for two years and knew him”. Mr. Hamilton said, “We believe Mr. Carter is able to pay himself and you will go down”. I said “No: if Mr. Carter wants me he can telegraph for me”. I said my fees for going down would be 125 guineas. He said “The last time we sent out of town we only paid 100 guineas”. I said “that may be. I will go to Kilkenny for 50, but I will not go to Belmullet under 125 guineas”. He remarked he supposed the distance made the difference, and asked me to go to the office of the Under-Secretary, the late Mr. Burke. The Lord Lieutenant being then engaged with the Under-Secretary we could not see him, and Mr. Hamilton said, “Well, I sappose you will go”. I said “Yes, if I go for the Government”- meaning if the Government employed me. He assented, and I went. As well as I recollect, I said nothing on that occasion about Mr. Carter’s means — nothing whatever. I left Dublin by the 7.30 p m train on the 16th March at considerable inconvenience and on short notice, having committed a great number of important and pressing engagements to Mr. Butcher, who kindly undertook them, and to Dr Pratt and Dr Harley. Reached Ballina about three o’clock in the morning, and, starting from Ballina about four a m by outside car, not hearing until I returned to town that the Government had supplied a wagonette for the purpose. I reached Belmullet, a distance of forty Irish miles, at nine a m. Shaen Manor, where Mr. Carter was lying, is about one and a half miles outside Belmullet. Saw Mr Carter on the morning of the 17th. He was exceedingly nervous, his pulse was so quick after I entered the room, it could scarcely he counted. My entry may have excited him. I counted his pulse at 130; it was weak and occasionally intermitting. His face was anxious, pinched, and drawn down. He appeared to be suffering a great deal of pain; the whole surface of the knee-joint was inflamed from below where the bullet entered at the head of the tibia to above the knee cap. His temperature was 103.8 — not quite 104.

To Mr. Justice Harrison — The normal temperature is 98 ¼.

Examination continued — The case appeared critical and dangerous, and an operation attempted then would have caused his death from shock.

To Mr. Justice Harrison — The knee was all shattered.

Examination continued — There were several marks of pellets. A probe could be passed into the knee-joint, which was very much swollen and red. In some holes where the pellets were the flesh was blackened, not from powder, but from commencing gangrene.

To the Judge — Although amputation then would have been fatal, I formed the opinion that to save his life amputation would be necessary ultimately; the proper treatment was obvious.

Examination continued — I had a constabulary escort from Ballina to Belmullet on my several visits. When in the town of Belmullet I was always received offensively by the people; they would walk past me, stop and spit before me on the street. The mail car leaves Belmullet at two o’clock, which gave me three hours with Mr. Carter, because I returned on the afternoon of the 17th to Ballina and Dublin. In that time I prescribed for the patient and consulted with Dr O’Connor, Dr Mullaly, and Dr Jacob. Dr Jacob was the medical attendant of the late Mr. Henry Carter, and was living in the injured man’s house; he is a cousin of Dr Jacob, of Dublin. The other two gentlemen are local doctors, who had been in attendance on Mr. Carter prior to my arrival. We bandaged the limb with splints, and directed cold lotions and anodynes to be given to quiet his nervous system and produce sleep. That was all we could do on the occasion. Reached Dublin about 5 o’clock am on the 18th, having had in connection with the visit two nights’ travelling. On the same day I called at the Castle and saw Mr. Thomas Hamilton, R M. Told him Mr. Carter was badly wounded; that he would require to be seen on several occasions; that Mr. Carter could not pay my fees, which were 125 guineas a visit; and asked did the Government wish me to attend him. He asked me to come back either in two hours or at 3 o’clock, I forget which. I said I could not, but would not return in an hour and a half. He wanted to consult the Under Secretary, whom we could not see then either, as again the Lord Lieutenant was with him. I returned, and he gave me this memorandum — “The Under-Secretary authorises me to inform Surgeon Wheeler that if Mr. Carter is unable to pay Surgeon Wheeler’s fees for attendance, Surgeon Wheeler may submit his claim for such attendance to the Government and it will receive favourable consideration”. I said, “We understand one another; you know what my fees are; I do not require any memorandum”. He said, “Mr. Burke in the hurry of business sometimes forgets matters, it is better; for you to have it”. I took it. By the night mail train on the 19th, I went to pay my second visit, driving as before at night from Ballina to Belmullet with the police, who met me at the railway station, and reaching Mr. Carter on the morning of the 20th. He had not recovered sufficiently to bear the operation, but I let out some matter from the tibia. Returned to Dublin on the afternoon of the same day, having again travelled two nights. On March 21st Dr O’Connor wrote to me that Mr. Carter had had five hours’ sleep, that the temperature was 103, pulse 95; that he complained of severe pain in the limb, adding, “In my opinion it does not look too pleasant — discharge free and fairly health”. In view of that statement I started on the 22nd to perform the amputation on the 23rd, it being desirable to have the amputation at the earliest moment. Brought two of my pupils — Mr. Alfred Middleton and Mr. Corry. There was no better ability I could get than Mr. Middleton’s amongst students, and Mr. Corry was a first-class practical man. We went from Ballina in a carriage with police. Mr. Carter was in a nervous condition, suffering a good deal from shock; his pulse rapid and weak, temperature near 103. The amputation of the leg was then performed. It was of great importance that it should be done rapidly, and it was working against time. The operation was completed in 16 seconds. Dr Mullaly had charge of the pulse, and in such a weakly condition was the patient, that the doctor, during the amputation, cried out “His pulse is gone! there is no pulse at the wrist”. Sat by him, so weak was he, throughout the night, until 4 am so the 24th, and remained with him until the 26th. My presence was so necessary, that, had he lost two ounces of blood — had secondary hemorrhage, consequent on the operation, set in, and that it was not immediately controlled, Mr. Carter would have died. On the 24th wrote from Belmullet to the Castle, stating the operation had been successfully performed. Left Belmullet at 2pm on the 26th, and arrived in Dublin at 5 am on the 27th, on which day I received from the Under Secretary (the late Mr. Burke) a reply to my letter, stating, “His Excellency is gratified to learn that the amputation has been successfully performed”. I had left Mr. Carter in a very critical condition, but Messrs. Curry and Middleton remained behind, and I had also asked Dr Mullaly and Dr O’Connor to see him. Letters and telegrams passed between myself and Messrs. Corry and Middleton. In consequence of a letter from Mr, Middleton saying Drs O’Connor and Mullaly had ceased for some reason attending Mr. Carter and that he had severe rigor (shivering), and also because it was necessary I should see him after the operation, I again went to Belmullet on the night of the 30th March; returned to Dublin on the night of the 1st; wrote from Belmullet on the 31st to the Under-Secretary that I had just “found Mr. Carter in a favourable condition though not yet out of danger”. Mr. Burke on April 3 acknowledged receipt of that letter. That was my fourth visit from Dublin. My great object at this time was to get Mr. Carter out of Belmullet to Dublin, because he was alwavs frightened and did not sleep well, and the wound was not progressing. His nervous condition appeared to be affected by staying at Belmullet. On April 8th, at an interview with Mr. Hamilton at the Castle, I said I should endeavour to move him to Ballina; spoke to to Mr. Hamilton as to procuring guards to secure his safe removal. I also said to Mr. Hamilton, “My fees amount to £700 now”. Mr. Kaye was in the office, and Mr. Hamilton turned to him and said, “Mr. Wheeler says he has a large claim against the Government”. Mr. Hamilton said to me, “The best way is to let you arrange the guards yourself, and I will telegraph to the Sub-Inspector to Ballina”. Left Dublin on the night of the 8th to arrange the removal, and reached Belmullet on Easter Sunday. Brought Mr. Carter to Ballina on Easter Monday, April 10.

How many hours were you at work consecutively to get this gentleman safely removed? I was 16 hours travelling and 19 hours working in Belmullet, We effected the removal in Mrs Carter’s carriage.

I believe you had to put it on its legs to make it run? Yes; the coachman had taken too much drink, and I found the wheels had to be oiled –

The Attorney-General — Is there any charge for this ?

Witness remarked that himself, Mr. Middleton, and policemen prepared the carriage.

Mr. Justice Harrison remarked that it was not surprising to find Belmullet without carriages. He knew from personal experience that Castlebar, the county town, was also without them.

Examination continued — When we reached Ballina at 1 p m, Mr. Carter was not in such a state that we could continue the journey to Dublin; but I came on to Dublin by the night train, reaching Dublin at 5 a m on the 11th. On April 12th I wrote to Mr. Burke stating the fact of Mr. Carter’s removal. To that letter I received an acknowledgement on the 12th. On the evening of April 13 I had just returned from Kingstown when at a quarter to seven I received a telegram saying Mr. Carter’s temperature was 104; that inflammation was renewed; and that he was in a critical condition. It showed me that he was in a condition of great danger. I went off by the 7.30 train without being able to get any dinner, and when I reached Ballina saw Mr. Carter. I had telegraphed before starting to my pupil, Mr. Middleton, the treatment to adopt. I believe he had adopted it before I telegraphed — he was quite competent to do so. For the visits to Belmullet I charged 125 guineas each; for these visits to Ballina only 100 guineas. The fee of 100 guineas to Ballina is a reasonable and proper fee. I received the same fee for going to Cork a little time ago, which is, perhaps, an easier journey. The fee of a surgeon of position for going out of Dublin depends to a great extent on the distance. When called outside Dublin, I believe nearly every surgeon charges two fees — one for visiting and another for performing the operation. I charged for the operation in Mr. Carter’s case 50 guineas.

Mr. Justice Harrison — Is that the proper fee?

Witness — It is. As a matter of fact, I did not charge quite that sum, because I did not charge the Government for the 23rd, which I am entitled to.

Mr. Justice Harrison-That would be for lost time. I was talking of the operation. On the 17th inst. I again proceeded to Ballina, and through the courtesy of the manager of the Midland line I went down in the State carriage used by the Empress of Austria when she visits the country, and on the 18th I brought up Mr. Carter in it to Dublin. After his arrival in Dublin I paid Mr. Carter about a hundred visits, and I removed a part of a bone that had died owing to the very unhealthy condition in which he was. On the 20th of April I communicated to Mr. T H Burke the fact that Mr. Carter was removed, and that letter was acknowledged on the 22nd April. On the 5th of May I sent in my bill, and the statement in the letter which accompanied that bill that I attended Mr. Carter nineteen consecutive hours at the time of the operation is true. I charged £656 5s for five professional visits at 125 guineas each, and 50 guineas for an operation.

Do you think that is a fair and proper charge? I do.

You were detained three additional days, and you charge £25 each for them. Is that a usual charge? Yes; I sometimes charge more than that.

The total amount of your claim is £1,147 18s? Yes.

Did you continue your visits after the 5th May? I paid sixty-nine additional visits, which are not mentioned at all.

Are they charged in your bill? No.

Had you any arrangement with Mr. Carter? None whatever.

Evidence was then given as to the correspondence between Mr. Hamilton, Under Secretary, and the witness.

Did you receive any directions that you were to be only paid a reasonable amount to be afterwards ascertained, as stated in Mr. Hamilton’s letter of the 23rd of May? None whatever.

Was the amount mentioned by you ? Yes, on two occasions.

I believe on the 4th of August you wrote that you would have a question asked on the matter in the House of Commons? Yes.

Had you an interview with Dr Kaye on the 6th of July? Yes, Dr Kaye called to my house.

What did he say? We had some talk, and finally he said that if Mr. Carter and not the government had employed me I would not have paid so many visits (laughter). “If that is the spirit you take the matter in”, I said, “we won’t have any further conversation on it”. There were some other remarks that I don’t care to mention.

The Attorney-General — I am not making any objection.

Mr. Gibson — Did you pay Mr. Carter any unnecessary visits? No.

Would you go to Belmullet at all if you were not employed by the Government? No.

Having regard to the reasonable remuneration of a surgeon of your position, is there anything unreasonable or exaggerated in your present claim ? There is not.

Cross-examined by the Attorney-General — You gave part of the interview with Dr Kaye. We would like to hear the whole of it? Dr Kaye called to my house and said he came about the Ballina business. “You will have to moderate your claim”, he said. “The fact is”, he said, “there is very little money in the Treasury” (loud laughter).

Mr. Gibson — Oh, this is most painful (laughter).

The Attorney-General — He meant to meet claims like yours.

Witness — I said “that is a terrible state of things”, (laughter) “but I will not press you. I will take the Treasury bills at six months” (Laughter). He said to me again, “You will have to moderate your claim”. “What do you mean”, I said, “by ‘moderate’?” “I think”, he said, “if you were to, say £700 that Hamilton would press it”, meaning Mr. Hamilton, the Under Secretary. I said, “Why should I do that? You employed me, you know my fees; you were informed every time I went, and every time I came back. Why should I do that, as if I was doing something dishonest, when I charge what I am entitled to?” “Well”, he said, “say a round number. Don’t be saying 47–18”. I said, “I don’t know any round numbers to say; my fees are there”. Then he said that if Mr. Carter employed me and not the Government I would not have paid so many visits. “Well, sir,” I said, “if that is the is tone that you have taken towards me, I would thank you if you took my compliments to those who sent you, and say that, in my opinion, may ?? to those it. who sent you, and say that, in my opinion, you are an injudicious diplomatist (laughter). My fees are so much, and I shant take less”. “Well, then”, he said, “write to me”. I said, “I have nothing to write about”. “Well, call to me”. “No”, I said, “I have nothing to call about”. (Laughter).

The Attorney-General — In fact there was no room for diplomacy. You said, there is your bill, and that is all about it. Did you see this telegram?

From W C Morony R M, to Under Secretary, Dublin Castle. Mr Carter fired; badly wounded by slugs in the knee. He and doctors in attendance desire experienced surgeon to be sent down immediately. Please send Surgeon Wheeler by next train.

If Mr. Hamilton says that is the telegram, of course I will admit it; but I don’t remember the wording of it.

Your recollection is that something was said about the amount of the fee at the first interview with Mr. Hamilton? Yes, I’m quite certain.

Is it a rule in your profession to charge 125 guineas at the commencement, and to charge the same amount for subsequent visits? Certainly.

For every visit? Yes. I had a case at Ballybrack where for attendance and operation I got 200 guineas.

Is it the practice to charge separately for attendances and operation? Yes.

You got the memorandum on the 18th March? Yes.

Was it you asked for it or Mr. Hamilton gave it to you? I swear that I neither expected it nor asked for it, and I said there was no occasion for it.

Why did you take it with you? I took it because he gave it to me. I do not think Dr O’Connor left off attending Mr. Carter because my pupils were attending him. Dr O’Connor told me so the other day, but Mr. Middleton told me the reason he left was because of something Mr. Carter said to him.

Re-examined by Mr. Gibson — In a case not very long ago in the Shelbourne Hotel I got 200 guineas for an operation and 40 visits. I got 100 guineas for going to Cork, and 100 guineas for five visits to Sallins. When I perform a capital operation I insist on having charge of the case afterwards, and I would not go down to Belmullet on this case for the Government or anyone else unless I had charge of the case afterwards.

Would your professional reputation be involved? Certainly.

Dr Alfred Middleton, examined by Mr. Monroe, said he was for two years and a half pupil to Surgeon Wheeler. When he with Mr. Corry accompanied Dr Wheeler to Belmullet they were left in charge of the patient. They were completely boycotted there. All the servants left the house, and they had to buy the meat and cook it for themselves. He communicated with Surgeon Wheeler from time to time the symptoms of the patient.

Mr. G T S Carter, examined by Mr. Gibson, said that on the 14th of March, 1882, he was fired at and shot in the leg. After being wounded he drove back in the trap in which he was sitting to Belmullet, and when he got there he threw himself out of the trap into the arms of the police. He was first taken to a public house, and afterwards to the house of the chief coastguard. He directed Dr O’Connor to be sent for, and after that Mr. Moroney, the resident magistrate, suggested Dr Wheeler being sent down by the Castle. He said he would like the best advice, but he did not think he would be able to afford to pay for it. No answer was made to that by Mr. Morony, and he knew nothing more about [it] until Surgeon Wheeler came. He did not in any way employ Surgeon Wheeler; he understood he was employed by the Government. He could not speak too highly of the manner in which Dr Wheeler treated him. Calculating the rents at the rate on which abatements were now given, his income would be about £240, and he had a wife and two children. He did not include in his claim for compensation Dr Wheeler’s claim? If he got the £24,000 he would pay, but he only got a paltry £1,500.

Cross-examined by Mr. Dodd — You said if your rents were abated your income would be £240. Were your rents abated ? Oh, yes, they are abated terribly.

What is the gross income? About £5,000; but that is all swallowed up in incumbrances, at least it will be before the Commissioners are done with it (laughter).

Surgeon Butcher, examined by Mr. Monroe — I heard the evidence, and I think Mr. Carter’s case must have been a very critical one. I think the number of visits paid to him was very small.

Is 125 guineas an unreasonable charge for Surgeon Wheeler to charge in such a case? I think it is very moderate. I would have doubled it myself (laughter).

Have you got a larger fee? Yes, I have got £300, and £400, and £500.

I believe a London doctor will not move a foot under £300? I don’t know about that. I think we have clipped their wings a bit (laughter).

Is 100 guineas to Ballina a reasonable sum for one visit? Yes.

ls it usual to make a separate charge for the attendance and the operation? Yes, it is the rule. I always separate them, because it appears too much if you put them both together (laughter).

Mr. Monroe — And I suppose that is the origin of the custom (laughter).

Cross-examined by the Solicitor General — You would have doubled the fee, doctor? Well, I think I would have charged 200 guineas for going down there.

And you would double the number of visits too, I suppose? No answer.

Oh, go down.

Dr George Kidd, examined by Mr. Gibson, said he was an ex-president of the College of Surgeons, and he did not think the charges made by Surgeon Wheeler were unreasonable or unfair under the circumstances. He had received more than 125 guineas himself for a visit.

Surgeon Joliffe Tufnell, examined by Mr. Monroe, said he regarded Mr. Carter’s case as a very dangerous one, and one that required all the visits and more that Surgeon Wheeler had paid. He did not think the fees charged were at all unreasonable or unfair.

The case for the plaintiff then closed, and the court adjourned to this morning.



Siobhan McAndrew

I research in the social science of culture and religion, moral communities and civic engagement. PPE, University of Sheffield