Ferguson, John Creery (1802–65), medical doctor, was born 22 August 1802 at Tandragee, Co. Armagh, son of Thomas Ferguson, doctor and apothecary, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of John Creery, rector of Tandragee. Thomas practised in Tandragee and then Dublin, where he later died during the cholera epidemic of 1832. John was educated at the Feinaiglian Institution and went on to win a scholarship to TCD (1818), obtaining the gold medal for first place in the examination. He received a BA (1823), a degree in medicine (1827), and an MA (1833) from Trinity. On 9 June 1827 he obtained the licence and on 12 November 1829 the fellowship of the College of Physicians in Ireland.
In 1824 he went to Edinburgh for a year with William Stokes (qv) to gain further medical experience; they graduated there the following year. He also visited Paris (1827), where he was introduced to the use of the stethoscope in diagnosing pregnancy by Jacques de Kergaradec, who pioneered the technique. However, contemporary French obstetricians failed to recognise the significance of the stethoscope and advised Kergaradec ‘to abandon these toys of ignorance, truly prejudicial to science and the well-being of an amiable and interesting sex’ (Coakley, 1988). Ferguson returned to Ireland convinced of the importance of foetal auscultation, and in November 1827 at the Dublin General Dispensary, Temple Bar, he heard the human foetal heart for the first time in Ireland or Britain. He recommended the use of the stethoscope to the master of the Rotunda hospital, Robert Collins, and his assistants, Evory Kennedy (qv) and O'Brien Adams. The technique was taken up with enthusiasm and soon became routine practice in the wards. He wrote a paper, ‘Auscultation, the only unequivocal evidence of pregnancy’, in Dublin Medical Transactions, i (1830), 64. A later publication by Evory Kennedy further influenced the theory and practice of obstetrics in Scotland and England.
Ferguson continued his practice in Dublin, and was physician to Simpson's Hospital and Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital. After the founding of the School of Medicine of the Apothecaries' Hall in 1836 he was appointed first professor of medicine (1837–46). He was given responsibility for fever hospitals after the cholera epidemic of 1832 and the typhus epidemic following the famine of 1845–9. In 1846 he was elected King's professor of the practice of medicine in the school of physic, TCD, and in 1849 appointed first professor of medicine to QCB. He was an examiner in the queen's university and president of the Ulster Medical Society. While there, he published Consumption: what it is, and what it is not: its causation and its remediability (Belfast, 1858).
He married first Jane Clarke from Dublin, and after her death his cousin, a Miss Tate from England. Altogether he had eleven children, ten of whom survived him. He was a popular man with a genial disposition. He died 24 June 1865 in Belfast and was interred at Balmoral in south Belfast, where a monument to his memory was erected by his medical colleagues.