Lives of the fellows

William Oliver

b.1659 d.4 April 1716
MA MD LRCP(1692) FRS(1703/4)

William Oliver, MD - Of the education, general or medical, of this physician, I can recover few particulars. He was descended from the old and very respectable family of his name, settled at Trevarnoe, co Cornwall. He was entered on the physic line at Leyden, 17th December, 1683, aged twenty-four years. The first occasion on which we meet with him in a professional capacity is as one of the surgeons to the duke of Monmouth’s invasion of England in 1685. He was present at the fight of Sedgemoor, but, more fortunate than his colleague, Benjamin Temple (p. 393), escaped from the field with the duke, lord Grey, and a few others, whom he accompanied for about twenty miles in their flight. He then concealed himself among his friends, and planned his escape to the continent. After the Bloody Assize, he travelled in disguise to London, in company with no less a personage than judge Jeffrey’s clerk, to whom he had been recommended by a tory gentleman who had afforded him shelter. On reaching London, he made a rapid escape to the continent, and retired to Holland, whence he returned to England as an officer in William III’s army in 1688.

Being then a master of arts, but of what university is not stated, he was, on the 30th September, 1692, admitted a Licentiate of the College of Physicians. He was physician to the Red Squadron, having, along with Dr Alvey, been recommended for that appointment by the College 27th April, 1693. In 1702, he settled as a physician at Bath, and on the 5th January, 1703-4, was admitted a fellow of the Royal Society. He remained at Bath until 1709, when he was appointed physician to the hospital at Chatham, and in 1714 to the royal hospital at Greenwich. He died 4th April, 1716.

The chief events of his life are recorded in the following inscription on his monument in the abbey church at Bath:-
In memory of
WILLIAM OLIVER, MD, FRS.
He was descended from the family of Trevarnoc,
in the co of Cornwall.
While he was prosecuting the study of physick in foreign universities,
the miseries of his country called aloud for deliverance.
He was ambitious of contributing his mite to so great a work.
He came into England, an officer in king William’s army, in 1688;
he was appointed Physician to the Fleet in 1693;
and continued in that station till the year 1702.
He was appointed Physician to the hospital
for sick and wounded seamen at Chatham, 1709;
and in the year of 1714
he had the pleasure to have his old fellow sailors committed to his
care,
he being then appointed Physician to the Royal Hospital at
Greenwich,
in which honourable appointment he died a bachelor, April 4th, 1716.
His love to this city, where he practised physic many years, appears
in his writings.

He was the author of
An Essay on Fevers. 12mo. Lond. 1704.
A Relation of a very extraordinary Sleeper at Tinsbury, near Bath; with a dissertation on the doctrine of Sensation, the Powers of the Soul, and its several Operations. 12mo. Lond. 1707.
A Practical Dissertation on the Bath Waters. 8vo. Lond. 1707.

William Munk

(Volume I, page 493)

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