Lives of the fellows

Alexander (Sir) Fraizer

b.? d.3 May 1681
MD Montpelier(1625) MD Cantab(1637) FRCP(1641)

Sir Alexander Fraizer, MD, a Scotchman, and a doctor of medicine of Montpelier, of 1st October, 1635; incorporated at Cambridge 9th March, 1637; was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians 30th March, 1640, and a Fellow 23rd November, 1641.(1) He was admitted an Elect 26th July, 1666, “on account of his services to the College,” as our Annals express it; the statute limiting the election to Englishmen, “qui natione sint Angli,” having on this occasion been rescinded for that purpose.

Sir Alexander was physician in ordinary to king Charles II and was much trusted by him in a political, no less than in a professional capacity. The knight’s fortunes were, indeed, from an early period, more or less intimately connected with the royal family. His character, however, was never of the highest, and he was very unceremoniously mentioned by Sir John Denham, in “A Dialogue between Sir John Pooley and Mr John Killigrew.” Sir Alexander Fraizer was in attendance on the royal family at St Germaine’s in 1651 and 1652, as we gather from a letter of Sir Edward Hyde to Sir Richard Browne (6th August, 1652), and from a volume of tracts in the British Museum, quoted by Mr Bray in his edition of “Evelyn's Diary.” Clarendon writes thus – “I am glad you have so good a correspondent as Dr Fraizer, who is grown, God knows why, an absolute stranger to me; he is great with Lord Gerard and Mr Attorney, but he will speedily leave us and go for England, which truly I am sorry for, for the king’s sake; for no doubt he is good at his business, otherwise the maddest fool alive.”

At the Restoration he returned to England, and adapting himself, without hesitation or scruple, to all the wants and wishes of the court, attained to a degree of influence with the king, unequalled, perhaps, in the history of the profession. Thus, Pepys(2) writes, “Dr Pierce tells me, when I was wondering that Fraizer should order things with the prince in that confident manner, that Fraizer is so great with my lady Castlemaine and Stewart, and all the ladies of the court, in helping them to slip their calves when there is occasion, and with the great men in curing them, that he can do what he pleases with the king in spite of any man; and upon the same score with the prince - they all having more or less occasion to make use of him.”

Of the degree in which he was supported by the king, some idea may be formed from the following passage from the same authority:(3) “One Sir Edmund Bury Godfrey, a wood-monger and justice of the peace, in Westminster, having two days since arrested Sir Alexander Fraizer, one of the king’s physicians, for about 30l in firing, the bailiffs were apprehended, committed to the porter’s lodge, and there, by the king’s command, the last night severely whipped, from which the justice himself very hardly escaped - to such an unusual degree was the king moved therein. But he now lies in the lodge justifying his act, as grounded upon the opinion of several of the judges, and among others of my lord chief justice, which makes the king very angry with the chief justice as they say - and the justice do lie and justify his act, and says he will suffer in the cause for the people, and do refuse to receive almost any nourishment.” Sir Alexander Fraizer died 3rd May, 1681.

William Munk

[(1) “Dr Carolus Scarburgh (rebus Collegii ita efflagitantibus) eligitur in Socium, absente contra statuta Collegii totum, sine veniâ impetrateâ, biennium Dre Frasier. Hâc tamen lege ac conditione, ut prædicto Dri Frasier nihil de honore detrahatur; sed ut eidem reduci, rationemq absentiæ reddenti, a Præside et Censoribus approbandam locus pristinus et ordo de integro restituantur.” Annales, iv, 23.
(2) Diary, 19th September, 1664.
(3) Diary, 26th May, 1669.]

(Volume I, page 232)

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