Tradition & Heritage Timeline Artifacts  
Birth of William Worrall Mayo
Portrait of John Dalton
A Passion for Science

William Worrall Mayo's interest in science was sparked during his time in Manchester, England, taking private lessons from the famous chemist and physicist John Dalton, a father of modern physical science. Dalton had revived the theory, originating in ancient Greece, that matter is not continuous but made up of atoms, and went on to publish his ideas, with a table of atomic weights and a list of chemical symbols, in A New System of Chemical Philosophy in 1808.

W.W. Mayo's interest in chemistry originated with Dalton and never waned throughout his career. Under Dalton's tutelage, the young man began his academic study and practical experiences in medicine. While records are not definitive, the young Mayo may have studied in Manchester's city infirmary, and then in hospitals in London and Glasgow, before boarding a ship for America.

Years later, after Dr. W.W. Mayo acquired his medical degree and had a family of his own in America, he often talked about his time with Dalton. Talking about their father, one of the Mayo brothers commented, "When my brother and I were small boys, he told us much about this tall, gaunt, awkward scholar, the keenness of his intelligence, his modesty, and how little it was realized in his day that the atomic theory was more than the vagary of a scientist."

Life in England Mayo Family Genealogy
John Dalton
John Dalton

Find Mayo Clinic on


Terms of Use and Information Applicable to this Site
Copyright ©2001-2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All Rights Reserved.