Lives of the fellows

Robert Jacob

b.? d.?
AB Cantab(1569) AM(1573) MD(1579) LRCP(1585) FRCP(1586)

Robert Jacob,(1) M.D., was [the son of Giles Jacob of London and on the 21 Jany 1563-4 was with his ‘three brothers Thomas, Gysebryght? & William admitted at Merchant Taylors School.’ Vide Robinson’s Register of the Scholars etc? Vol. I p.4] born in London and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, of which he was a fellow. He proceeded A.B. 1769 [corrected, now reads: ‘1569’], A.M. 1573; graduated M.D. at Basle, and was incorporated on that degree at Cambridge in 1579. He was admitted a Licentiate of the College of Physicians 21st May, 1585; a Candidate 12th November, 1585; and a Fellow 15th March, 1586.

He was one of the physicians to, and was held in the highest esteem by, Queen Elizabeth, who, when solicited to send a physician to the Russian court, selected Dr. Jacob as being well skilled in female complaints, the Queen having herself often benefited by his advice. Her Majesty assures her beloved sister, the Czarina, that Dr. Jacob knew more about the situation of lying-in women than even the midwifes themselves.

The Queen’s letters in her physician’s favour are entered at length in the Annals. To the Czar she says - “Noluimus vel non parum provida esse salutis tuæ, vel negligenter honoris nostri, quin virum tam probitatis laude insignem, quàm cognitionis in re medicâ usûque laude commendatissimum, ad te mitteremus; eaque propter è domesticis è nostris ex eorum numero qui corporis salutisque nostræ, secundum Deum, custodes sunt, Robertum Jacob in medicinâ doctorem, virum literatum, artis suæ peritissimum, morum honestate probatissimum ad te mittimus, non quia libenter eo careremus, sed quoniam tibi, tanquam nobis, volumus et cogitamus facere bene. Eum, ut pari cum gratiâ a nobis accipias, et honore merito prosequaris, etiam atque etiam rogamus.” To the Czarina she says: - “Non solum obstetricem expertam et peritam misimus, quæ partûs dolores scientiâ leniat, sed medicum etiam nostrum, qui nostram valetudinem curare solebat, prædictum D. Jacobum una amandamus, hominem vobis antea cognitum, fide plenum, ut medicâ arte, in quâ excellit, obstetricis actiones dirigat, et vestræ valetudini fideliter inserviat.”

Dr. Jacob went out in 1581 in one of a fleet of merchantmen which Jerom Horsey was conducting from England to Russia. He was maintained by the Russian Company for some months, until Ivan Vassilievitch appointed him a regular stipend. Dr. Jacob it was who recommended Lady Mary Hastings to the Muscovite Prince for his seventh wife. Happily for the lady the Czar died before the conclusion of the strange matrimonial negotiations, which were begun with the sanction of Queen Elizabeth.(2) Dr. Jacob returned to England very soon after the death of Ivan.

William Munk

[(1) This physician is called by Dr. Goodall, in his Epistle Dedicatory to Dr. Whistler, Dr. Robert James, on the supposition, as I suppose, that his name in the Annals and in the letters of Queen Elizabeth, to be mentioned presently, had been translated (as was then customary) into Latin. In this, however, Dr. Goodall was mistaken. Our physician was entered at Cambridge and graduated there as Robert Jacob; was known, and is still remembered, in Russia as Dr. Jacob, and is so mentioned by the late Sir George Lefevre, M.D., in his “Sketch of the Origin and Present State of Medicine and of Medical Institutions in Russia.” There was, moreover, a Fellow of the College, John James, M.D. (p.87), contemporary with Dr. Jacob, who invariably appears in the Annals as Dr. James, and whose name would, as the senior, probably have appeared in the Latin garb rather than the junior.
(2) “British and Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Review,” October, 1862, p.291.]

[His will is at Somerset House (42 Rutland) Dr Jacob “died beyond seas & probate was granted 5th June 1588.” Mr J C C Smith’s Notes.]

[P. Israel Jacob, apothecary, & Dr William Jacob, both of Canterbury, mentioned in State Papers, 1653, p.180.]

(Volume I, page 88)

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