Lives of the fellows

Edward (Sir) Greaves

b.? d.11 November 1680
MB Oxon(1640) MD(1641) FRCP(1657)

Sir Edward Greaves, Bart, MD, was the youngest son of John Greaves, rector of Colmore, near Alresford, in Hampshire, but was born at Croydon, and admitted probationer fellow of All Souls college, Oxford, in 1634. Entering on the study of physic, he proceeded MB 18th July, 1640, and MD 8th July, 1641. In the following year he passed over to Leyden for further improvement in physic. He practised for some years at Oxford, and on the 14th November, 1643, was appointed Linacre’s superior reader of physic.

He is believed to have been created a baronet by king Charles I at Oxford 4th May, 1645. Soon after this he became one of two travelling physicians to Charles II, Dr Charleton being the other. When the king’s cause declined, he removed to London, practised his faculty there and sometimes at Bath, and was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians 4th April, 1653, and a Fellow 1st October, 1657. He delivered the Harveian oration in 1661, and was one of the physicians in ordinary to king Charles II.

Wood speaks of him as “a pretended baronet.” I am disposed to believe, despite Wood’s sneer, that he was really entitled to that dignity. I find him so characterized in the Annals: he styles himself baronet on the title-page of his Harveian oration, the imprimatur of which is signed by Sir Edward Alston, eq aur, President, by Sir George Ent, eq aur, and by the other three Censors. Further Thomas Guidott, MB, of Bath, writing of him in 1676, says “he is full of honour, wealth, and years, being a baronet, a Fellow of the College of Physicians in London, and physician in ordinary to his Majesty;” and in the official list of the fellows of the College prefixed to the Pharmacopœia Londinensis of 1677 his baronetcy is acknowledged, and he appears as Edvardus Greaves, Baronettus. The point is of some interest, as this is the first instance of an English physician being honoured with an hereditary title.(1)

He was the author of
Morbus Epidemicus An. 1643; or, the New disease, with Signs, Causes, Remedies, &c. 4to. Oxon. 1643.

Sir Edward Greaves died at his house in Covent garden 11th November, 1680, and was buried in his own parish church (St Paul’s).

William Munk

[(1) In the pedigree of his family, as given in Nash’s Worcester¬shire, vol. i, p. 198, I see him styled “Physician to Charles II, created a Baronet 1645, died 1680;” and in a foot note: “This Sir Edward Graves, Bart, is omitted in all the printed lists of Baronets, except in the 5th edition of Guillim’s Heraldry, part ii, chapter xix, p. 99, col. i. ed. London, where he is made to be the 450th Baronet from the first institution, and placed between William de Boreel of Amsterdam, and George Carteret of Jersey. Indeed, Anthony à Wood, in the account of his life, vol. ii, p. 500, says he was a pretended Baronet; but Dr Thomas Smith, who compiled his elder brother John Graves’s (Savilian Professor of Astronomy, Oxford) life in elegant Latin, and mentions all his brothers, towards the end thereof gives a different account of his promotion to that honour. Besides, the original patent of creation is said to be in the family of one Mr Calfe, of St Leonard’s Forest, in Sussex, who married one of his daughters. I have seen a letter from Mr Le Neve, Norroy King-of-arms, wherein he says that, as Sir Edward Graves’s patent was dated at Oxford, 4th May, 1645, he was apt to think there was no enrolment thereof, which was the case of several persons of honour passed about that time, the rolls being taken into the possession of the parliament. Or, if the patent had not been seen, he should have thought he had only a warrant to be Baronet, as is the case of the great Courtney of the West.”]

(Volume I, page 277)

<< Back to List