Dr. Rowley James Pegley was born on the 2nd of May, 1813, in Westminster, Middlesex County, England. His parents were Robert and Mary Ann Pegley. His father was a career soldier who rose to the rank of Captain in the 4th British Infantry Staff Corps. Dr. Pegley is the eldest of at least 12 children, including his sister Jane, who married Dr. Thomas Cross. In 1851 his 71 year old father, Captain Robert Pegley was living in Adelaide Twp, Middlesex County in Ontario with his children; Anna Marsden (a widowed daughter), Henry, Mary Ann, Robert L., Matilda, Arabella, John, Letitia, Charles and Catherine. Dr. Pegley’s brother William Pegley, appears on the same census with his wife and children.
According to the 1872 Ontario Medical Register, Dr. Pegley joined the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in England in 1835. In 1841, Dr. Pegley was partnered with Dr. Thomas Cross and they are mentioned in the Chatham Journal newspaper. Dr. Pegley’s sister Jane married Dr. Cross in 1841. In 1848, Dr. Pegley’s office was located on King Street in Chatham and he advertised as an M.D.E., Coroner and Druggist.
On June 4th, 1848 Dr. William Fulford was loading a charge into a canon when it prematurely discharged, shattering Dr. Fulford’s wrists. Dr. Pegley was one of the physicians treating Dr. Fulford’s injuries (one arm was amputated).
Dr. Pegley married Violet Woods. She was born in Sandwich, (Essex County) in 1822. Dr. and Mrs. Pegley had 4 children; Florence Pegley was born in 1852, a son was born in June of 1854 and died at birth, Elizabeth Woods Pegley was born in 1856 and Robert Edward Pegley was born in 1861. Dr. and Mrs. Pegley had a large estate on Head Street West in Chatham.
In 1858 Dr. Pegley was appointed as a school Superintendent and it is believed he served in this capacity until 1865. In 1860 Dr. Pegley purchased the drug store owned by Dr.’s Donnelly and Askin.
Dr. Pegley advertised in a number of business directory’s of the time, including the 1851 Chatham Directory, the 1861 Great western Railway Gazeteer, the 1866-1867 Kent, Lambton and Essex Counties Directory and Gazetteer and the 1870-1871 Kent and Essex County Sutherlands Gazetteer Business Directory. His office was located on King Street.
Dr. Pegley died in Chatham on the 22nd of June 1872. His brother Charles E. Pegley, a prominent lawyer in Chatham was listed on the death record as the informant. Mr. Charles Pegley’s home, known as “The Cedars” was located on the South East corner of Emma and Violet Street in Chatham. It was purchased by the Public General Hospital Board and became the site of the original Public General Hospital. (The cornerstone for the hospital was laid on the 21st of October, 1891. The first patient was admitted on the 11th of April, 1893).
Mrs. Pegley was listed in the 1877 and the 1882 Town of Chatham Directory as living at 85 Murray Street in Chatham. Mrs. Pegley died on the 1st of April, 1890 in Chatham. Dr. and Mrs. Pegley are buried at Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham.
*Dr. Thomas Cross, Dr. Edmund Donnelly, Dr. Charles Askin and Dr. William Fulford also appear on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.