Worth, Edward (c.1678–1733), MD and bibliophile, was the son, and only surviving child, of John Worth (1648–88), chancellor (1671–8) and dean (1678–88) of St Patrick's cathedral, Dublin, and his wife Comfort, and was the grandson of Edward Worth (qv), bishop of Killaloe. After entering (1693) Merton College, Oxford, aged 16, Worth studied medicine (c.1699) at the University of Leiden, graduating MD (1701) at the University of Utrecht. On returning to Dublin he was admitted MD ad eundem by TCD (1702), on the urging of the University's chancellor, James Butler (qv), 2nd duke of Ormond; Oxford University (1706) also admitted him MD.
Choosing medicine over the religious career preferred for him by his father, Worth transferred the library he inherited from his father to his cousin Edward Worth (1672–1741) around the turn of the century. Some of these books would later enter the TCD Library, as well as forming the nucleus of the library of Sir Edward Newenham (qv). Living in Werburgh St., Dublin, while also maintaining a county residence in Rathfarnham, Worth built a prosperous medical practice. Little is known of his professional career and private life, though he inherited some wealth on the death of his uncle William Worth (1646–1721), sometime baron of the Irish exchequer.
Worth was appointed a trustee of the nascent Dr Steevens’ Hospital in Dublin by Grizel Steevens (qv); the 1730 founding act of parliament appointed him a governor. He helped to garner knowledge of the contemporary governance and design of hospitals in London for the new hospital. He was elected (1710) a fellow of (R)K&QCPI; being three times chosen as president (1715, 1723, 1724), he declined to serve and paid fines on each occasion. After his fellowship he never again attended a meeting of the college, regularly paying fines for his absence, perhaps due to his prominent medical practice.
Worth's will (1723) contains an important codicil (1729), bequeathing his library to Dr Steevens’ Hospital, where he hoped it would be of benefit to the medical staff. He stipulated that his library was to remain united in a designated room (initially designed by Edward Lovett Pearce (qv), though the design was amended and constructed by others), in which the library has since remained. Totalling 4,400 works, a third of the collection comprises medical and scientific works, the remainder being works of history, topography, theology, and philosophy, and other subjects. The earliest work dates from 1475, and a small number are works he retained from his paternal inheritance; the remainder he acquired from the Continent, directly when he studied at Leiden, and latterly probably through agents. Annotated book auction notices and catalogues are the principal archival remnant of Worth’s career. This private library ranks as one of the most important in eighteenth-century Ireland.
Worth died in Dublin 2 March 1733, and was buried in the vault of his uncle on the south side of the choir in St Patrick's cathedral. A portrait is held in the Worth Library, Dr Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin.