Ferguson was one of the leading figures in Irish medicine in the nineteenth century as practitioner, researcher and educator.
He was from Tandragee in County Armagh, son of Thomas, a doctor and apothecary, and Elizabeth Creery, daughter of the local rector. Thomas moved his practice to Dublin where would be a victim of the cholera epidemic of 1832. John won a scholarship to Dublin University with gold medal in the 1818. He was awarded a BA in 1823, a medical degree in 1827. On 9 June of that year he obtained the Licence of the Royal College of Physicians, and was appointed a Fellow there on 12 November 1829. He went to at Edinburgh in 1824 for wider study, and also spent a short time in 1827 at Paris where he encountered Dr Jacques Kergeradec and his new foetal stethoscope; Ferguson obtained one and would become the first person in the British Isles to utilise this innovatory equipment, at the Dublin General Dispensary in November 1827. The foetal stethoscope though introduced in Paris, was not generally admired by French obstetricians whereas the opposite was true in Dublin where it became standard equipment.
He was physician at Simpson’s and Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospitals in Dublin, and was appointed first Professor of Medicine at the new Apothecaries’ Hall. In 1832 came a cholera epidemic and in the 1840s there was an extensive typhus epidemic and Ferguson was given charge of all Dublin fever hospitals. In 1846 he was appointed King’s Professor of Physic at Dublin University.
In Ulster he was the first Professor of Medicine at the new Queen’s College, from 1849, was second President of the Belfast Clinical and Pathological Society and elected first President of the Ulster Medical Society. He was also attending physician to the Belfast General Hospital. While in Belfast he published a significant paper entitled “Consumption: what is and what it is not”.
He was married twice and had 11 children. He died at Belfast and was interred in Balmoral cemetery.
||22 August 1802
||24 June 1865