Lives of the fellows

Paul de Laune

b.? d.December 1654
AM Cantab(1610) MD Padua(1614) MD Cantab(1615/6) FRCP(1618)

Paul de Laune, MD, was a native of London; a brother of Gideon de Laune, a noted and wealthy apothecary in the city of London, whose bust is at Apothecaries' Hall; and a relative of Dr Argent, an influential Fellow of our own College. He was educated at Emmanuel college, Cambridge, as a member of which he proceeded AM about the year 1610. Being then a master of arts of Cambridge of five years’ standing, and a doctor of medicine of Padua of 13th October, 1614, Dr de Laune, on the 8th of September, 1615, presented himself before the Censors’ board for examination, when he was told to get incorporated. He was incorporated at Cambridge on the 19th January, 1615-6, and having subsequently undergone the usual examinations was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians 25th June, 1616, and a Fellow 21st April, 1618.

Dr Laune was for many years in Ireland, in the capacity of physician to the viceroy; but the dates of his appointment or return I cannot discover. He was appointed an Elect 24th May, 1642, and was senior Censor in 1643. We learn from Hamey that he read in his turn the anatomy lecture at the College, and in 1642 or thereabouts, when Dr Winston fled to the continent, by the interest of Thomas Chamberlane, one of the most influential members of the Mercers’ Company, was appointed professor of physic in Gresham college. He performed the duties of his office in a manner so creditable to himself and satisfactory to the electors that, to use the words of Harney, “nemo Winstonum requireret, nec quenquam curatorum pœniteret suffecti in illius locum Launei.”

He was one of three physicians who on the 27th June, 1643, in compliance with an order from Lent-hall the Speaker of the House of Commons, were recommended by the College to attend in a medical capacity the army under the earl of Essex. Dr Laune’s long residence in Ireland proved a bar to his success as a practitioner at home; and from Hamey we learn that his practice was very limited. He was a man, however, of inexpensive habits, and his salary and lodgings at Gresham college were sufficient to meet all his wants. The return of Dr Winston, in 1652, and his restoration to the Gresham professorship, proved a severe blow to Dr Laune. His means of support were wrested from him, and this by a man with an ample fortune, to whom in adversity and trouble Dr Laune had proved a warm and constant friend. Under these circumstances, though then a septuagenarian, he accepted from Oliver Cromwell, in 1654, the appointment of physician-general to the fleet, and in this capacity was at the taking of Jamaica. Thenceforward nothing was ever heard of him.

According to Hamey, he died in December, 1654: “Mense Decembri, 1654, morte mortisque horâ incertis.” The fleet on its return was unable to give any definite information concerning him, and the general impression at the time was that he had perished in Jamaica.

William Munk

(Volume I, page 170)

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