Lives of the fellows

William Coward

b.? d.1725
AB Oxon(1677) AM(1683) MB(1685) MD(1687)

William Coward, MD, was born at Winchester, and educated at the collegiate school in that city. Going thence to Oxford, he was admitted a commoner of Hart hall in May, 1674, and a scholar of Wadham college in 1675. As a member of that house, he proceeded AB 27th June, 1677. In 1680 he was chosen a fellow of Merton college, and took his degrees as follows: AM 13th December, 1683; MB 23rd June, 1685; and MD 2nd July, 1687. He settled for a time at Northampton, but removed to London in 1694, and was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians 5th July, 1695.

Dr Coward was more devoted to literary and metaphysical pursuits than to medicine. Haller(1) dismisses him summarily as “non utilissimus scriptor.” In 1682 he translated into Latin, Dryden’s Absalom and Achitophel which, however, did not much contribute to his fame, as it was surpassed by the rival translation of Atterbury. On his arrival in town he attracted considerable notice by his work entitled Second Thoughts concerning the Human Soul in which, with great learning and metaphysical knowledge he united sentiments which were repugnant to the opinions of the best divines. This book, as well as another entitled The Grand Essay in defence of it, not only drew the attacks of several writers, but the animadversions of the House of Commons, which on the 17th March, 1704, ordered the book to be burnt by the common hangman, as containing doctrines contrary to the Articles of the Church of England, and opposed to the Christian religion.

Dr Coward remained a Candidate of the College to the last; and died in 1725, having, it is said, resided for some years at Ipswich.

His professional writings were -
De Fermento Volatili Nutritio Conjectura 8vo. Lond. 1695.
Alcali Vindicatum; or, an Enquiry into the fallacious Reasons of a late Essay touching Alcali and Acid 12mo. Lond, 1698.
Remediorum Medicinalium Tabula 18mo. Lond. 1704.
Opthalmiatria, quâ accurata et integra Oculorum male Affectorum instituitar Medela 8vo. Lond. 1706.

William Munk

[(1) Biblioth. Med. Pract. vol. iv, p. 177.]

(Volume I, page 512)

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