Lives of the fellows

Edmund Dickinson

b.1621 d.3 April 1707
AB Oxon(1647) AM(1649) MD(1656) Hon FRCP(1664) FRCP(1677)

Edmund Dickinson, MD, was the son of the Rev William Dickenson, rector of Appleton in Berkshire. He was educated at Eton, and was sent from there to Merton college, Oxford. He took the two degrees in arts, AB 22nd June, 1647, AM 27th November, 1649, and then, applying himself to medicine, accumulated his degrees therein, and proceeded doctor 3rd July, 1656.

The year previous he had published his Delphi Phœnicizantes. Oxon. l2mo. 1655; a very learned work, in which he attempts to prove that the Greeks borrowed the story of the Pythian Apollo, and all that rendered the Oracle of Delphi famous, from Scripture, and the book of Joshua in particular. This work procured him much reputation at home and abroad, and Dr Sheldon, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, is said to have had so high a sense of its value that he recommended its author to attach himself to divinity and take orders. In place of divinity Dr Dickinson applied himself to chemistry, and eventually became the highest authority on that subject in this country.

About the year 1662 he left his college, took a house in the High-street, Oxford, and for a time practised with much reputation in that city. Dr Dickinson was elected an Honorary Fellow of the College of Physicians in December, 1664; and, having removed to London, was, by the earl of Arlington, lord chamberlain to Charles II, whom he had recovered from a serious illness, introduced to the king, who made him one of his physicians in ordinary, and physician to the household. As the king was a lover of chemistry, and some proficient therein, Dr Dickinson, from his knowledge of that science, grew into great favour, which favour lasted to the end of Charles’s reign, and that of his successor James II, who continued him in both places.

Dr Dickinson was admitted a Fellow of the College 9th April, 1677. Upon the abdication of James II, our physician, being old and much troubled with stone, retired from practice, but still continued to apply himself to study. He had long meditated a system of philosophy, not founded on hypotheses or even experiment, but chiefly deduced from principles collected from the Mosaic history. This appeared in 1702 under the title of Physica Vetus et Vera, sive Tractatus de Naturali Veritate Hexæmeri Mosaici.

Dr Dickinson died of stone in the bladder 3rd April, 1707, in the 86th year of his age, and was buried in the church of St Martin’s-in-the-Fields, where a monument to his memory bears the following inscription:—
Hic subtus jacet Machaon alter
EDMUNDUS DICKINSON, M.D.
Olim apud Mertonenses celeberrimæ
Academiæ Oxoniensis,
Deinde in Collegium Medicorum Londinen:
Socius;
Tandem Medicus Regius a Regibus Carolo et Jacobo Secundis
cooptatus.
Literato effulsit orbe minores non inter ignes,
Græcus, Hebræus, Arabs,
Ingenio, Linguâ, Doctrinâ,
Antiquæ Mythologiæ veritatis
(Pythonicâ licet obvolutæ caligine)
indagator nunquam Orientalis literaturæ
splendore non nitens.
Artem Medicam scriptis expolivit,
inventis locupletavit,
et, quod raro, Medicus stabilivit Theologum,
Theologus Medicum,
variis ita se probavit modis dignum
Apolline filium.
O Mors! quanta tibi vis,
cùm nec bonitas neq: mores valent,
sed omnium versatur urna:
At qualis Victor cum Palmâ non sit integrâ?
Resurget enim immortalis,
et te (quam vivens toties fugavit)
tandem, Christo Duce, devictâ
vivet vigeatq:
Vixit octogenarius sup: ob: diem tert: Aprilis 1707.

He was also the author of
Diatriba de Noæ in Italiam adventu: ejusque nominibus ethnicis: nec non de origine Druidum. 8vo. Oxon. 1655.
Epistola ad Theodorum Mundanum de Quintessentiâ Philosophorum, cum Mundani Responsis. 8vo. Oxon. 1686.

William Munk

(Volume I, page 394)

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