Physicans, surgeons, apothecaries, dentists, 1621–1860

“Oxford Physiology”

Description of some Oxford doctors in the 1830s

Sir Christopher Pegge was a showy, handsome man, a Fellow of Oriel in Oriel’s prime of reputation; he had no great practice, but as Regius Professor drew men to his spirited lectures. Though comparatively young, he wore the old-fashioned cocked hat and wig, with the massive gold-headed cane, which his successor, Dr. Kidd a sensible, homely creature – was the first medical professor to abandon. Kidd, Wall, Bourn were the popular physicians of the decade. Kidd was a little man, trotting about the streets in a “spencer”, a tailless greatcoat then becoming obsolete, and worn only by himself and Dr Macbride…. Dr Ogle, father to a distinguished Fellow of Lincoln, who died all too early, lived on into the early Fifties; as did Kidd, with two droll little daughters something like himself. Eden, when Vicar of St Mary’s, once invited the pair to tea; stuffed them with cake and muffin; – for a tea was a square meal in those days – dismissed them with the farewell, which they received in the belief that it was a religious pastoral benediction: Ite domum, Saturae, venit Hesperus, ite, Capellae”
[Virgil, end of Eclogue X: “Go home now that you have had your fill – the Evening Star is rising – go home, she-goats.”]

William Tuckwell,
Reminiscences of Oxford
, pp. 62–3

Right: “Oxford Physiology” by “Spy”, Vanity Fair, 17 May 1894: the Regius Professor of Medicine John Scott Burdon-Sanderson

Stained-glass window at Christ Church

The above stained-glass window in the Hall at Christ Church honours four medical men. The date given under the name of the first three is their year of matriculation by Christ Church, while that for Osler is the year in which he was appointed Regius Professor of Medicine (which carried a studentship at Christ Church):

  • WILLIS 1637: Thomas Willis, who was an undergraduate (servitor) at Christ Church
  • ACLAND 1834: Sir Henry Wentworth Dyke Acland, who was an undergraduate at Christ Church and Lee's Reader in Anatomy there before his appointment as Regius Professor of Medicine
  • GARROD 1876: Sir Archibald Edward Garrod, who was an undergraduate at Christ Church and later Regius Professor of Medicine
  • OSLER 1905: Sir William Osler, Student (= Fellow) of Christ Church and Regius Professor of Medicine

Full information about degrees in Medicine at the University of Oxford around 1600 is available in A. Clark, Register of the University of Oxford, Vol. II: 1571–1622, Part I (Introductions and special list), pp. 123–9. It includes information about the Licence to practise Medicine (“ad practicandum in re medica per totam Angliam”), Licence to practise in Surgery (“ad practicandum in chirurgia per universam Angliam”), as well as the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine (M.B.) and Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). It also lists the names of many doctors.

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