Dr. Thomas Cross was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1816. He received his medical training in Glasgow, Scotland. He ventured to New York, where he met Dr. Rowley Pegley of Chatham. In 1841, both doctors ended up in practice together in Chatham.
Dr. Cross married Dr. Rowley Pegley’s sister Jane on the 25th of October 1841, in Adelaide Twp (Middlesex County). She was born on the 13th of April, 1815 in Westminster, Middlesex County, England. Her parents were Robert and Mary Ann Pegley. Her father was a career soldier who rose to the rank of Captain in the 4th British Infantry Staff Corps. She was the third oldest of 12 children, including her older brother Dr. Rowley Pegley. In 1851 her 71 year old father, Captain Robert Pegley was living in Adelaide Twp, Middlesex County in Ontario with her siblings; Anna Marsden (his widowed daughter), Henry, Mary Ann, Robert L., Matilda, Arabella, John, Latitia, Charles and Catherine. Her brother William Pegley was also listed on the same census with his wife and 2 children.
Dr. and Mrs. Cross were the parents of 2 children: Mary (b. December 29th, 1842) and Rowland (b. 1844).
Dr. Cross’s name can be found in Chatham’s history by way of an advertisement placed in the Chatham Gleaner on July 21, 1846. The advertisement announced that he, along with his medical partner, Dr. Pegley, “…may at all times be consulted at their office on King Street…”. Dr. Cross advertised his practiced in the 1851 Chatham Directory, the Great Western Railway Directory and Gazetteer, the 1864-65 Kent County Directory and Gazetteer, the 1865 Kent County Directory and Gazetteer, the 1869 Ontario Gazetteer and the 1870-71 Sutherlands Gazetteer Business Directory. In 1854, Dr. Cross was the Superintendent of Normal Schools (Public Schools) in Chatham. That year he earned the salary of 5 pounds for the year. His duties as Superintendent included presiding over the annual examinations of school children. On the 10th of August, 1855 as the Superintendent of Normal Schools, Dr. Cross was one of the guest speakers that spoke at the opening ceremony of the Chatham Grammar School, which was located at Murray and Prince Street.
In addition to his medical practice, Dr. Cross was highly regarded for his commitment to Chatham’s early political life. Dr. Cross was elected to Chatham Town Council in 1856. He was named Reeve in 1858, First Deputy Reeve in 1860 and in 1863, he was elected as the Mayor of Chatham.
Dr. and Mrs. Cross lost their daughter Mary on the 19th of November, 1864. She was 21 years old when she died of tuberculosis. Their son Rowland, fell through a trapdoor in a warehouse in Chatham and he died on the 23rd of November, 1871. He was 27 years old at the time of his death. Mary and Rowland Cross are both buried in Ward E at Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham. Perhaps these tragedies were a catalyst for Dr. and Mrs. Cross to move to Ireland. They stayed in Ireland a short time and returned to Canada in 1875 and settled in Aylmer, Ontario (Elgin County). Dr. Cross moved to St Thomas, Ontario in 1880.
On the 13th of January, 1881, Dr. Cross had travelled to Aylmer to attend an inquiry at the Town Hall in regards to an autopsy he had performed on a man that had died under mysterious circumstances. In the early afternoon hours, Dr. Cross had been taking notes when it was noticed that he had apparently suffered from a stroke and he was unconscious. Dr. Cross died the next day.
Dr. Cross was buried at Maple Leaf Cemetery. Mrs. Cross died in Strathroy on the 12th of April, 1904. She was also buried at Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham in the family plot.
Cross Street in Chatham is named after Dr. Cross.
Photo: Courtesy of the Chatham-Kent Museum. Accession Number: 86.43.2
*Dr. Rowley Pegley also appears on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.
**The webmaster gratefully acknowledges the research assistance of Goldie Howes.