Lives of the fellows

Thomas Frankland

b.? d.1690
BD FRCP(1675)

Thomas Frankland, BD - A disgraceful history is connected with this person. Frankland was a native of Lancashire, educated at Brasenose college, Oxford. He took the first degree in arts, was elected fellow of his college in 1654, and proceeded master of arts 28th June, 1655. In 1662 he was appointed one of the proctors of the university, and the year after, being then in holy orders, was, to use the words of Wood, “with much adoe, his grace being denied three times, admitted to the reading of the sentences. Afterwards he applied his studies to the faculty of physic, settled in London, and pretended to be a doctor of that faculty, of Oxon, when he was in the company of Cambridge men, and to be a doctor of Cambridge when in the company of Oxford men. At length, being a candidate to be Fellow of the College of Physicians, which he could not be without being doctor, he produced a forged certificate or diploma to attest that he was doctor of that faculty, and thereupon he was at length admitted a Fellow of the said College, and afterwards was Censor thereof.” Thus far Wood.

From the Annals I gather that he represented himself to the College as a doctor of medicine of Oxford, of 10th October, 1667; that he was examined 30th September, 24th November, and 8th December, 1671; was admitted a Candidate 22nd December, 1671, and a Fellow 29th July, 1675; and that at the general election next ensuing he was appointed junior Censor. Frankland is represented by Wood as a haughty, turbulent, and disagreeable man, much disliked by the College generally, but more especially by the juniors, some of whom, that he had more particularly offended, having a suspicion that he was an impostor, and no doctor of medicine, made private application to Dr James Hyde, king’s professor of physic, and Mr Benjamin Cooper, the registrar of the university of Oxford, begging them to search the registers and certify whether he had ever taken the degree of doctor of physic therein. Reporting that he had not done so, the former applicants addressed a letter to the vice-chancellor, doctors, proctors, and masters of the university, acquainting them with Frankland’s forgery, and begging the authorities to certify to the President and Commonalty of the College of Physicians that he was no doctor of their university. This they did by the following instrument under the university seal, and dated 15th November, 1677:-
Cancellarius, Magistri et Scholares Universitatis Oxoniensis omnibus, ad quos hoc præsens scriptum pervenerit, salutem in Domino sempiternam. Cum communi famâ atque sermone, literisque etiam clarissimorum Medicorum e celeberrimo Collegio Lond: nobis innotuerit, quendam Thom Franckland, Collegii Ænei Nasi nuper Socium, dolo malo sæpius jactitasse, se ad gradum Doctoris in Medicinâ apud nos fuisse promotum, et instrumento publico in prædicti gradûs suscepti confirmationem a nobis authenticè donatum: idcirco (ne hujusmodi rumores in Academiæ dehonestamentum, aut aliorum quorumcunque fraudem et præjudicium diutius emanarent) Nos, Registris Universitatis prædictæ (in quibus majora negotia inseruntur, et honor Academicus in singulos moribus et scientiâ dignissimos collatus describitur), diligenter prius inspectis et examinatis, significamus, et tenore præsentium, Omnibus, quorum interest, notum facimus prædictum Tho Franckland, in frequenti congregatione Magistrorum Regentium 2ndo die mensis Julii Anno Dni 1663 habitâ, ad gradum Baccalaurei in Sacrâ Theologiâ fuisse admissum, et ex eo tempore nullum gradum Academicum apud nos suscepisse, neque Diploma aliquod communi nostro sigillo munitum, alterius cujuscunque gradus collationem attestans eidem fuisse concessum, ullibi in Registris nostris extare per præsentes etiam testatum facimus. In quorum omnium majorem fidem et plenius testimonium, sigillum universitatis Oxon commune, quo in similibus utimur, præsentibus apponi fecimus. Datum in domo nostræ Convocationis 15° die mensis Novemb Anno D’ni 1677.

This document was laid before the College, by Dr Charleton, 22nd December, 1677, the proceedings on which occasion stand thus recorded in the Annals. “Dr Charleton libellum ab Academiâ Oxoniensi ostendit, quòd Tho Frankland non in Doctoris gradum in medicinâ sed tantum Baccalaurei in theologiâ ibidem suscepisset 2 Julii, 1663, et hoc ratum fuit per diploma sub sigillo magno, Nov 15, 1677. Dr Frankland increpuit D Allen, D Brookes, D Lawson, D Atfield, D Alvey, seque jus Togæ suæ in Curiâ Cancellariæ jurejurando defensurum asserebat; illosque tantorum criminum accusare potuisse, quibus è Collegio meritò excludi mereantur, si ei paucis auscultare dignaremur. Dr Frankland ut secederet jubetur. Res tota Censoriis Comitiis proximè insequentibus delata est; quibus ut Electores intersint, de hoc negotio amplius deliberaturi oratum est.

“Comitiis Minoribus, 4to. Janii, 1677.

“Moniti sunt adessent Electores, cum Censoribus ad consultandum de rebus arduis cum Præside. Pensitato diu multumque casu, D Frankland monebatur à publicis omnino Comitiis abesse, donec specialiter per Bedellum admonitus et accersitus fuerit.”

Frankland’s declaration that he would justify his right to the doctor’s gown by oath in Chancery, and the difficulty which the College felt in dealing with the transaction at this time, was, doubtless, in consequence of his having got incorporated as a doctor of medicine at Cambridge, the year before his forgery had been discovered. Wood says that, by the connivance of the seniors of the College, Frankland continued afterwards among them, but lost much of his credit and practice. This interpretation can scarcely be admitted. It is true that a considerable time elapsed ere he was removed from the Fellowship, but as soon as the evidence against him was completed there was no unnecessary delay.

Frankland’s grace, as put up at Cambridge, was as follows: “Placeat vobis ut Thomas Frankland, Medicinæ Doctor, sit hic apud nos, iisdem anno, ordine et gradu quibus est apud suos Oxonienses. Lect et concess. 28 Feb 1676. Concordat cum originali. Ita testor Matth Whinn Not Pub ac Almæ Universitatis Cantab Registarius Principalis.” To this attested copy Dr Brady adds the following: “As to Mr Franckland, if he be not a doctor at Oxford he is none here, for he was only admitted ad eundem gradum, honorem, et dignitatem, quo fuit apud suos Oxonienses. His Oxford diploma I saw, and had it in my hand; it was signed in the bottom with Dr Hyde’s hand, who was then physic professor, which I took notice of, it not being usual with us.”

A committee of investigation was now appointed, and they gave into the College the following report: “The committee for College affairs having thoroughly considered and debated the power and right given to the College by his Majesty’s late royal patent (which doth will and grant to the President and Fellows, that they may at any court summon, hear, and admonish any of the said Fellows, Elects, and Censors for cause of evil government, non-residence (otherwise than as aforesaid), or for misbehaving themselves in their respective place, or any other just and reasonable cause, from time to time to expel and amove any of the same Fellows, Elects, or Censors from his or their respective places in the same College, as likewise the great reason and force of the following statute: ‘Statuimus et ordinamus, ut si quis criminis alicujus gravioris ac publici reus, aut vitio aliquo insigni infamis fuerit, ablegetur a Collegio; ne, si retineremus talem, videremur aut virtutem contemnere aut eodem morbo laborare;’ and the faith every Fellow hath given the College, that they will use their best endeavours ‘ut honos Collegii sartus tectus conservetur, nec unquam consilium aut familiaritatem inibunt cum aliquo, qui studet verbo vel facto Collegii statuta labefactare; sed in omnibus quæ ad honorem et utilitatem Collegii spectant, consilio, ope, et auxilio juvabunt,’) are of this opinion (humbly submitting it to the sense of the honble Board), that Mr Frankland, being summoned the next Comitia Majora, and having the following crimes proved against him, should forthwith be expelled from the Fellowship he formerly possessed in the College.

“The crimes wherewith he is charged and offered to be proved are the following, viz:-
“1st. His forging the diploma and seal of the university of Oxford to entitle himself to the degree of doctor of physick, whereby he was admitted candidate and fellow of the College of Physicians, contrary to the express words of the statutes: ‘Si quispiam Clericus aut sacris initiatus admitti cupit in Collegium aut permitti ad praxin, multo minus id illi concedetur,’ he being at that very time bachelor of divinity.
“2. His offering to justify his right to his gown by oath in Chancery after this forgery, detected and proved under the seal of the university of Oxford.
“3. His imposing on the university of Cambridge by the same counterfeit diploma, and procuring thereby an admission in eundem gradum, and this after the aforesaid detection by the College.
“4. His violating his faith given to the College for the preservation of its honour and interest by clandestine compacts with notorious empiricks, receiving several sums of money from them for his connivance and forbearance of prosecuting them, and giving assurance to some, or at least one of them, that he would so use his influence with the College as to make him an Honorary Fellow; all which are notoriously contrary to the faith given and trust reposed in him by this honourable Board. For which flagitious crimes and the reasons premised, this Committee do desire that, upon due proof thereof, the College would forthwith determine whether they do agree with the committee in their opinion now read.”

On the 26th June, 1682, the College unanimously voted his ejection: “Omnium concensu, Tho Frankland, ob ignominiosa crimina ab eo perpetrata, non Socius a Præside indicebatur.” Frankland died in the Fleet prison about Midsummer, 1690, and was buried in the church of St Vedast, Foster-lane, Cheapside.(1) Frankland is said to be the author of the Annals of king James and king Charles I, folio, Lond., 1681.(2)

William Munk

[(1) Vide Wood’s Athenæ Oxon., vol. ii, p. 648; and Goodall’s Collection of College Affairs, MSS., p. 30.
(2) Notes and Queries, 5 S., iii, p. 335.]

(Volume I, page 382)

<< Back to List