Lives of the fellows

Walter Needham

b.? d.16 April 1691
MD Cantab(1664) Hon FRCP(1664) FRS(1671) FRCP(1687)

Walter Needham, MD, was a native of Surrey, educated at Westminster school, whence he was elected to Trinity college, Cambridge, in 1650. He proceeded doctor of medicine, as a member of Queen’s college, 5th, July, 1664; and was admitted an Honorary Fellow of the College of Physicians in December, 1664. Prior to this he had been invited to practise at Shrewsbury; but after a short stay in that town was attracted to Oxford by the fame of its anatomical school. He there attended, the lectures of Willis, Lower, and Millington, and then removed to London; was admitted a fellow of the Royal Society, 6th April, 1671, and on the 7th November, 1673, was appointed physician to the Charterhouse.

Dr Needham lived in Great Queen-street, and not in the Charterhouse, as by the rules of the foundation he ought to have done. He was created a Fellow of our College by the charter of king James II; was admitted 12th April, 1687; and dying on the 16th April, 1691, was buried obscurely at St Giles-in-the-Fields; “executions,” as Wood tells us, “being out to seize both body and goods.” In Sydenham’s epistle dedicatory to Dr Mapletoft, allusion is made to their common friendship for Dr Walter Needham, and he is styled “tam medicæ artis quàm rei literariæ decus et laus.”

He was the author of a standard work -
Dissertatio Anatomica de Formato Fœtu.. 8vo. Lond. 1667,
reprinted shortly afterwards at Amsterdam, and again by Mangetus, in his Bibliotheca Anatomica, and characterised by Haller(1) as “egregius liber et per experimenta natus.” A paper of his is to be seen in the “Philosophical Transactions;” and Birch, in his History of the Royal Society, gives a dissertation from his pen on the blood, bile, lymph, and other animal fluids.

William Munk

[(1) Boerhaave Method Studii Medici. Vol. i, p. 391.]

(Volume I, page 472)

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