Lives of the fellows

George Joyliffe

b.c.1618 d.11 November 1658
AB Oxon(1640) AM(1643) MD Cantab(1652) FRCP(1658)

George Joyliffe, MD, was born at East Stower, in Dorsetshire. In the early part of 1637 he was entered a commoner of Wadham college, Oxford, where he remained about two years, and then removed to Pembroke college, as a member of which he took the two degrees in arts, AB 4th June, 1640; AM 20th April, 1643, being about that time a lieutenant for the king under Ralph Lord Hopton.

He then entered on the study of physic, pursued anatomy with the utmost diligence, and, “with the help” (as Wood says) “of Dr Clayton, master of his college, and the king’s professor of physick, made some discovery of that fourth set of vessels, plainly differing from veins, arteries, and nerves, now called the lymphatics.” Of Dr Clayton’s part in the matter nothing is known; and Joyliffe, it is admitted, at most but shares the merit of discovery with two eminent foreign anatomists. It would seem that the lymphatic vessels were observed at about the same period (1651 and 1652), and so far as can now be established, wholly independently of one another, - by Rudbeck, a Swede; by Bartholine, a Dane; and by our own Dr Joyliffe. Rudbeck saw them first in a dog in January, 1651, and published an account of his observations in 1653. Bartholine saw them for the first time, also, in a dog, in December, 1651, and published about them in 1653. As to Dr Joyliffe, he, while examining the spermatic vessels, accidentally observed the lymphatics, and on the occasion of his going to Cambridge in the early part of 1652 for his doctor’s degree, before either Rudbeck or Bartholine had made their discovery public, mentioned his to Dr Glisson, then regius professor of physic in that university, one of the most accurate of anatomists and a most competent observer. Dr Joyliffe did not publish anything on the subject, or take any steps to make his observations known; but Glisson, in his work “de Hepate,” which appeared in 1654, gave an account(1) of Joyliffe’s discovery, about which Dr Timothy Clark wrote at some length in the Philosophical Transactions of 1668.(2) Having proceeded doctor of medicine at Cambridge in 1652 as a member of Clare hall, Dr Joyliffe settled in London; was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians 4th April, 1653; and a Fellow 25th June, 1658. Dr Joyliffe lived in Garlick hill; and, as I learn from Hamey, died 11th November, 1658, being then barely forty years of age.

William Munk

[(1) Cap xxxi.
(2) Thomson’s History of the Royal Society, p. 108. Elliotson’s Human Physiology. 5th edit. 8vo. Lond. 1840, p. 142.]

(Volume I, page 280)

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