Lives of the fellows

Christopher Johnson

b.? d.July 1597
MA Oxon MD(1571) FRCP(1580)

Christopher Johnson, M.D., “a most excellent Latin poet, philosopher, and physician,” says Anthony Wood,(1) “was born at Kiddesley, in Derbyshire, educated in Wykeham’s school, Winchester, made perpetual fellow of New College, Oxford, in 1555, left it after he was M.A., and in 1560 became chief master of the said school in the place of Thomas Hyde, where, by his industry and admirable way of teaching, were many good scholars sent to the universities. All the time that he could get at vacant hours he spent upon his beloved study of physic, which he practiced in the city of Winchester, but not to the neglect of his school. At length, taking the degree of doctor of that faculty (23rd June, 1571), he shortly after resigned his school, and, repairing to London, practiced with good success in the parish of St. Dunstan’s in the West.” Dr. Johnson was admitted a Fellow of the College of Physicians about the year 1580; was Censor in 1581, 1582, 1583, 1587, 1589, 1590, 1591, 1592, 1593; Elect, 28th May, 1594; Consiliarius, 1594, 1595, 1596; Treasurer, 1594, 1595, 1596. He died in the beginning of July, 1597, in St. Dunstan’s above mentioned, and was buried, Wood thinks, in that parish [Munk strikes out the words ‘Wood thinks, in that parish’ and replaces them with ‘there on the 7th of that month’.]. He died wealthy; left several sons and daughters behind him; and Mr. John Heath, his son-in-law, a student in physick, his executor, who had all his physical and philosophical books, and succeeded him in his practice. His poetical writings are as follows: -
Ortus atque vita Gulielmi Wykehami Wintoniensis Episcopi
Ranarum et Murium pugna, Latina versu donata ex Homero
. 4to. Lond. 1580.
Custodum sive Præsidum Collegii Winton. Series.
Didascalorum Collegii Winton. omnium Elenchus.

In this he wrote thus of himself:
Ultimus hic ego sum, sed quàm bene quàm male nolo
Dicere; de me qui judicet, alter erit.

His successor in the school, Thomas Bilson, subsequently bishop of Worcester, and then of Winchester, added -
Ultimus es ratione loci, re primus, Iohnson,
Sed quis, qui de te judicet, aptus erit;
Tam bene, quàm nullus qui te præcesserit anteè,
Tam male, posteritas ut tua pejus agat.

Tanner(2) says of him, “poetis omnibus coætaneis facile antecelluit.”

To Dr. Johnson’s pen we also owe -
Counsel against the Plague, or any other infectious disease. 8vo. Lond. 1577.
Question: Whether a man for preservation may be purged in the Dog-days or no? Printed with the Counsel.

William Munk

[(1) Athenæ Oxon., vol. i, p.251.
(2) Bibl. Brit., 442.]

(Volume I, page 76)

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