Dr Archer Brown of Coagh

Mid-Ulster Mail – Saturday 4 July 1970


Dr Archer Brown JP, of Hanover Square, Coagh, who died in the Mid-Ulster Hospital on Monday, was a General Practitioner in the area for more than forty years. He was aged 71 years.

A native of Saltersland, Co Derry, Dr Brown was educated at Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt, and Queen’s University, where he graduated in 1921. He took up practice in Coagh three years later.

On his retirement in 1966 Dr Brown was the recipient of a presentation from his patients and numerous friends in Coagh and district. Since his retirement he was a medical referee for the Cookstown and Dungannon areas.

Dr Brown was a Justice of the Peace for County Tyrone and a member of the management committee of the Mid-Ulster Hospital, Magherafelt. He was a loyal and faithful member of Coagh Presbyterian Church and a member of the church committee. He was a past master of Coagh Masonic Lodge 459.

A keen photographer, he also took an interest in football and indoor bowls.

He entered hospital in May following a motor accident.

He is survived by his widow, Mary.

Pictured centre is Dr Archer Brown (1898-1970) with his Hanover Square neighbours, Rob and Nan Duff Photo courtesy Coagh and District Local History Group

Pictured centre is Dr Archer Brown (1898-1970) with his Hanover Square neighbours, Rob and Nan Duff
Photo courtesy Coagh and District Local History Group


Mid-Ulster Mail – Saturday 11 July 1970



 ‘Honour a physician with the honour due unto him for the uses which ye may have of him: for the Lord hath created him.’ Ecclesiasticus 38.

In the circle of friends life has given us, the tall, distinguished, well-groomed and handsome figure of Dr Archer Brown, of Hanover Square, Coagh, must stand out before mind and memory.

His death on Monday 29 June 1970 plunged into an excess of grief the village and surrounding area where he was the good physician for more than forty-five years. Like his Master he shared the joys and carried the sicknesses and sorrows of many.

From the Old Cross of Ardboe to the Big Stone of Tamlaght and beyond he was respected and revered by all sections of the community. As Mr James Ryder finely said in October 1966, at a public meeting to mark the doctor’s retirement, ‘It mattered not what lodge you drummed for, the foot you dug with, the church you attended, or the colour of your skin. That was not his yardstick. Dr Brown had only one criterion – were you in pain, and could he help you.’

Certainly he had all the marks which make the country doctor such an asset in a scattered community. He was kindly and humane, with a deep respect for his patient. He had a shrewd knowledge of the ailments that human flesh is heir to. Often, he once told me, he would lie awake at night, wondering and worrying whether he had made a correct diagnosis.

This absorption in his work, together with a certain innate shyness and reserve, explains those lapses into brooding silence which so characterised the man. Sometimes we might have thought him gruff but it never got beyond this, even when those who were whole and had no need for a physician, but imagined they had, presented themselves in his surgery or summoned him to their homes night and day. He could even examine with tolerance and understand those who had dreamed up on a Sunday what their complaint should be on a Monday.

He had a deep compassion for the helpless and the underdog. Once, I asked him what aspect of his work gave him the greatest satisfaction. He said, without hesitation, ‘Helping at the birth of a child.’ He loved his fellow-man with all their quirks and virtues. Wherever they were gathered, there he could be found – in a church committee, a children’s party, a game of bowls or even a jumble sale.

The details of his life are soon told. He was born on the eighteenth of November 1898 of good farming stock in Ballygrooby, Moneymore, but his childhood was spent in Archerstown, Ballyriff. He was educated at the Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt, and later, in 1921, he graduated in medicines at Queen’s University, Belfast.

For a time he assisted Dr Alfred M Elliott of Cookstown, and then Dr Todd of Moneymore, the father of Richard Todd, the actor.

In 1924 he was appointed Dispensary Medical Doctor in succession to Dr Robert Burgess in Coagh. He retired from this position in 1966, when his work was taken over by his partner, Dr George Flack. Even so, he continued to practise medicine in a limited way and was appointed medical referee for Cookstown and Dungannon. Several of his medical colleagues found him an excellent stand-by. For many years he was also a member of the Mid-Ulster Hospital management committee.

One other side of the man was his outstanding ability to reproduce antique furniture such as Chippendale chairs and tables. For these he would search near and far for the oldest pieces of mahogany he could find and turn them into objects of beauty in his fantastically equipped workshop. The six offertory plates in Coagh Presbyterian Church, of which he was a devoted member, are evidence of his singular craftsmanship and genius.

In all his work and practice he was supported in a quiet, unobtrusive way by his wife Mary, whom he married in 1926. To her we extend our deepest sympathy.

His remains are laid to rest in the quiet churchyard of Saltersland Presbyterian Church, which he had attended as a boy. We have said farewell to a good friend and true, and for him we have drawn ‘a long, long sigh and wept a last adieu’.

Where he is gone, adieus and farewells are unknown.

WJ Crossley Mercer

Coagh Manse

From left – Rob Duff, Dr Archer Brown, Nan Duff

From left – Rob Duff, Dr Archer Brown, Nan Duff

The Brown grave in the burial ground of Saltersland Presbyterian Church

The Brown grave in the burial ground of Saltersland Presbyterian Church

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