Prosper Felix de Larue [Obituary]


Rev. W. Harpley

Trans. Devon. Assoc., 1883, Vol XV, p.55.

Prepared by Michael Steer

Mr de Larue was son of an émigré, an individual who fled revolutionary France, either voluntarily or under duress. The number of émigrés from the revolution is believed to have exceeded 100,000. Contrary to popular opinion, not all émigrés were nobles, in fact, fewer than one in five possessed noble titles. More than half of all émigrés were members of the Third Estate, usually affluent bourgeoisie or those fleeing on religious grounds. These émigrés congregated in places beyond the reach of the revolutionaries, for example across the channel in England. The surgeon’s tragic death from septicaemia  was in this instance the result of occupational hazard. The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

Prosper Felix de Larue, surgeon, of Devonport, was the only son of the late Mons. Louis Napoleon de Larue, who escaped to England during one of the French revolutions, and settled at Devonport. Having adopted the profession of medicine, Mr. De Larue also settled in the same town, and soon secured for himself a lucrative practice. He was appointed surgeon to the Devonport police and workhouse; he was also one of the vaccination officers for the borough. He never took any active part in politics, but he was known to be a consistent member of the Liberal party.

A few months before his death Mr. De Larue attended a post-mortem examination at Devonport in a case of malignant disease. At the close of the examination he was conscious of having by some means irritated a small abrasion on the little finger of the left hand. At first little uneasiness resulted, but some time after the finger gave pain for several days. Inflammation followed, and resulted in suppuration. Mr. De Larue subsequently complained of a recurrence of small boils on the left hand and arm, and was often heard to refer to what he regarded as a calamity to himself through this post-mortem examination. About ten days before his death an apparently small boil of the same kind as those that had previously developed themselves appeared at the nape of the neck. This was freely opened by his medical attendants, in the belief that its development would be arrested; but the place grew until a very large portion of the back became involved, and the spread of the disease continued until the whole of the fleshy parts of the nape of the neck were destroyed. Mr. De Larue was fully aware of the serious nature of his complaint, and for days bore up against it with great fortitude; but it became apparent that his strength was failing, and he died on Monday, March 13th, 1883, having been unconscious for twelve hours previously. There is no doubt that death was due to blood poisoning, the effects of a dissection wound. He was 57 years of age.

Mr. De Larue was well known for the keen interest he took in all good works carried on around him. He was a Vice-President of the St. Mary's Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society; he always liberally aided and encouraged the Sunday-schools; and was a zealous friend and upholder of all parochial organizations.

He joined the Association in 1870.