Lives of the fellows

James Jurin

b.1684 d.29 March 1750
AB Cantab(1705) AM(1709) MD(1716) FRCP(1719) FRS

James Jurin, M.D., was born in London, and educated at Christ’s hospital, whence he proceeded to Trinity college, Cambridge, of which society he became a fellow. He took the two degrees in arts, A.B. 1705, A.M. 1720. On the 2nd November, 1720, he was entered on the physic line at Leyden, and on the 23rd January following was appointed master of the grammar school of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. During the period he was master there he published
Burnhardi Varenii Geographia Generalis, in qua affectiones generales Telluris explicantur. Adjecta est Appendix, præcipua recentiorum inventa ad geographiam spectantia continens. Cantab. 1712. Dedicated to Dr. Bentley.

Jurin’s early attachment to those philosophical studies which he afterwards cultivated with so much success, was evident during his residence at Newcastle, where, according to Brand, he gave lectures on experimental philosophy, and saved a thousand pounds, which enabled him to prosecute the plans he had formed, namely, to resign his mastership—which he did in 1715—return to Cambridge, and take the degree of doctor of medicine. This he did in 1716, soon after which he settled in London, was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians 25th June, 1718; and a Fellow 25th June, 1719. He was soon elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and was appointed secretary 30th November, 1721, resigning that office on St. Andrew’s day, 1727. In his capacity of secretary he edited the 31st and three following volumes of the " Philosophical Transactions." Dr. Jurin was appointed physician to Guy’s hospital 21st April, 1725, but resigned it, on account of his steadily increasing professional engagements, 31st March, 1732. He was one of the Censors of the College in 1723, 1730, 1731, 1735, 1744; Elect, 17th July, 1744; Consiliarius, 1748, 1749; and finally, on the death of Dr. Tyson, was elected President 19th January, 1750. Dr. Jurin survived this honour for a few weeks only : he died at his house in Lincoln’s-inn-fields, 29th March, 1750, in the sixty-sixth year of his age, and was buried at St. James’s, Garlick-hill, on the south wall of which is a monument of neat workmanship, bearing the following inscription:—
In this corner of the church
are deposited the remains of
James Jurin, M.D.
Ob: 29 March 1750 æt. 65.
Mary his wife ob: 5 July 1784.
James their only son, of the Hermitage in
Northumberland, esq., ob: s.p. July, 1782.

Out of the ample fortune Dr. Jurin had acquired by his profession, he bequeathed a considerable legacy to Christ’s hospital. A bust of this distinguished physician, placed there by his son, is in the library of that noble foundation.(1)

Dr. Jurin’s merits as a mathematician were of the highest order, and his papers in the "Philosophical Transactions" are, perhaps, the most satisfactory examples we possess of the application of mathematical science to physiology. His paper "De Potentiâ Cordis," in No. 358, and his essay in defence of it in No. 362, addressed to Dr. Mead, and written in very choice Latin, were in opposition to the views of Dr. Keil of Northampton. His conduct towards that eminent man was most polite and handsome; and it has been well observed that he preserved throughout the sermonum honos et vivax gratia, so desirable in all literary contests. Dr. Jurin also wrote, "On the Causes of Distinct and Indistinct Vision;" "On the Momentum of Running Waters; " and " On Moving Bodies," which respectively led him into controversy with Robins, Michelotti, and some of the followers of Leibnitz. In "The works of the Learned" for 1737, 1739, he carried on a controversy with Dr. Pemberton, in defence of Newton, signing himself there "Philalethes Canta-brigiensis." By Voltaire in the Journal de Scavans he was styled "the famous Jurin." His efforts in behalf of inoculation were indefatigable, and in the highest degree judicious. The perusal of his carefully-written and cautiously-reasoned papers on this subject could scarcely fail to carry conviction of the efficacy, safety, and propriety of the practice to all not blinded by prejudice or obstinately set on not being convinced. His only separate publication was on this subject, and is entitled,
A Letter containing a comparison between the Mortality of the Natural Small Pox and that given by Inoculation. 8vo. Lond. 1723.

And in 1752, there appeared,
An Abstract of the Case of James Jurin, M.D., written by himself, as relates to his Lixivium for the Stone and Gravel. 8vo. Lond.

William Munk

[(1) "Nec deerit inter laudes, Jurino etiam aliquod et loci et gloriæ; quem credo non pœnituit, cæteris Academiæ disciplinis satis imbutum, perfectam insuper geometriae scientiam ex uberrimis ejus fontibus affluentius hausisse et in rebus Physicis inclarescere potuisse, vivente etiam atque regnante Physicorum Principe Newtono. Tali instructus apparatu cum ad medicinam tractandam accessisset, spinas eas et asperitates quibus omnis fere obstructa est cognitio facile superavit victor; et, certiora figens vestigia festinavit impiger ad summam in re medica præstantiam. Magna mihi est copia memorandi plurima tum doctrinæ ejus multiplicis monumenta, tum pietatis in hanc domum præclara edita indicia. Sed illa nota, dicta pervolgata sunt omnia. Id vero quod ego Illi palmariam deputo Insitivarum dico variolarum artificium ejus potissimum experimentis et auctoritate confirmatum, iniquissimus essem si præterirem. Quod sane cum tam felici exitu fortunaverit Deus; cum, ejus ope frequentissma mortis janua obstrui fere et obsignari videatur, num dubitabimus adhuc mortales an hoc tantum boni quod divinitus oblatum est et datum ad conservandos homines et amplificandam Dei gloriam certatim conferamus? Crediderim equidem nullam fore in terris regionem artium modo et humanitatis commercio aliquo expolitam apud quam illius artificii usus non sit invaliturus." Oratio ex Harvæi instituto habita 1761 auctore Geo. Baker p. 24]

(Volume II, page 64)

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