Hadden, George (1882–1973), medical doctor and historian, was born 9 October 1882 at Richmond Terrace, Wexford town, son of George Hadden, draper, and Hannah Mary Hadden (née Perrot); the Haddens, a methodist family, had originally come to Wexford with John Wesley (qv). He was educated at Wesley College and TCD before travelling to Edinburgh University to complete his medical studies. Here he met his future wife, Helena Vicars, and with her went (1912) to serve on the methodist mission fields in China, carrying on a tradition established by fellow methodist Robert T. Brook of Cork, who had gone as a medical missionary to China in 1898, and Fanny Booth, the first Irish methodist doctor in India. Hadden's brother Richard also travelled to China around this time as a medical missionary but caught fever and died in 1930. In later life Hadden was reticent about details of his earlier life and career. He was one of the trustees appointed and named in the Methodist Church in Ireland Act, 1915, designed to constitute and incorporate the trustees of this church in Ireland. Reputed to have travelled the five continents, he worked in Africa, where he followed the course of the Niger, and also spent time in Russia, where in association with Yale University he volunteered for service with a White Army medical corps to qualify as a surgeon. Hadden was said to have studied such diverse subjects as the firing of bricks in southern China and clothes-drying in sub-zero temperatures in Siberia. In 1938 he returned to Wexford with his wife and family and, insisting that Ireland inhabited a region more fascinating than anywhere on earth, settled permanently there.
Establishing himself as a medieval historian of repute, he actively encouraged local historians and was the founder of the Old Wexford Historical Society (later the Wexford Historical Society) in 1944. As well as giving numerous monthly society lectures, he wrote extensively on the origins and development of Wexford town, and his study of earthworks was published in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. He also wrote a number of articles on Co. Wexford railways, published in the Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society. As a historian, he was regarded as having a disciplined mind and an imagination of great breadth and depth, with a prodigious memory and a keen eye for topographical detail. Opinionated, eccentric, and charming, he was a man who shunned materialism and demonstrated great personal charity and Christianity. Even before the Wexford opera festival began in 1951, he had established the Wexford male voice choir, which was to make a substantial contribution to the internationally acclaimed festival, and he was also responsible for the innovative Wexford travel guides and historical festival tours, established in 1959. Politically active, he served on Wexford corporation for a number of years and was created a freeman of the borough of Wexford in 1972. He died 21 July 1973 and was buried at Crosstown cemetery. When asked what he would have wished for his epitaph, he replied: ‘Tell them I refused to grow old’.