Lives of the fellows

Thomas Muffett

b.? d.1604
AB Cantab(1572/3) AM(1576) MB Basil(1578) FRCP(1588)

Thomas Muffett, MD - Wood(1) supplies us with the following account of this physician – “He was born in London, in or near St Leonard’s, Shoreditch, as I conceive, because his name and relatives lived in that parish. After he had been educated in grammar learning in that city, he spent some time in this University (Oxford), afterwards travelled into divers countries in Europe, where he became known to the most eminent men, especially physicians and chemists, and was doctorated in physick in some noted university in his travels. After his return, he fell into very great practice within the city of his nativity, become much honoured and beloved by Peregrine Bertie, Lord Willoughby of Eresbie, and esteemed the famous ornament of the body of physicians, and the true pattern of all polite and solid literature. In his latter days he lived much at Bulbridge, near Wilton, in Wilts, as a retained of the Pembrochian family, from which he had a yearly pension allowed to him to his last day, mostly by the favour of that incomparable lady Mary, Countess of Pembroke. He concluded his last day towards the later end of Queen Elizabeth, and was, as I have been credibly informed by one or more ancient men that belonged to the said family, buried at Wilton.”

From the Athenæ Cantabrigienses and the College Annals, I gather that Dr Muffett was matriculated in May, 1569, as a pensioner of Trinity College, Cambridge; that, migrating to Caius College, he proceeded AB 1572-3, and, returning to Trinity, that he commenced AM in 1576. On quitting Cambridge, he went abroad and became acquainted with many distinguished physicians and alchemists. He graduated doctor of medicine at Basil in 1578. “De Anodinis Medicamentis Theses in Medicor. Basiliens. Gymnasio propositæ;” and was incorporated at Cambridge 27th October, 1582. In that year he accompanied Peregrine Bertie, Lord Willoughby, when he carried the Order of the Garter to Denmark. Dr Muffet resided for a time at Ipswich, but soon settled in London. He was admitted a Candidate 22nd December, 1585, and a Fellow of the College of Physicians the last day of February, 1588, in which year, at the general election of officers, he was appointed Censor. In July, 1586, he was in medical attendance on Anne, Duchess of Somerset, widow of the famous protector, and he and Dr Penny attested her will. He was also with her in her last illness. In 1591 he accompanied the Earl of Essex in his expedition to Normandy. He represented Wilton in the parliament of 24th October, 1596. The latter part of his life was spent at Bulbridge, near Wilton. He died there in 1604, and was buried in Wilton Church. Dr Craig was admitted a Fellow 25th June, 1604, “in loco Dris Muffet nuperrimè defuncti.”

He has written, says Wood –
De Jure et Præstantia Chemicorum Medicamentorum, dialogus apologeticus. Francof. 1584.
Epistolæ quinque Medicinales.
Most of which were written to one whom the author calls Philalethes, a German chemist.
Nosomantica Hippocratea; sive, Hippocratis prognostica cuncta, ex omnibus ipsius scriptis methodicè digesta. Francof. 8vo. 1588.
Health’s Improvement, or rules comprising and discovering the nature, method, and manner of preparing all sorts of Food used in this nation.
This was corrected and enlarged by Christopher Bennett, MD Lond. 4to. 1655.

Muffett also enlarged and finished Insectorum sive Minimorum Animalium Theatrum, olim ab Edw. Wotton, Conrado Gesnero, Thomaque Pennion inchoatum, which book the author leaving behing him in MS at his death, it came some years after into the hands of Sir Theodore de Mayerne, MD, who published it in folio, London, 1634.

William Munk

[(1) Athenæ Oxon., vol.i, p.200]

(Volume I, page 91)

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