Lives of the fellows

James Primrose

b.? d.December 1659
MD Oxon(1628) LRCP(1629)

James Primrose, MD, was born in France of Scotch parents. He was educated at Bordeaux, where he graduated master of arts, but proceeded doctor of medicine at Montpelier, and was incorporated at Oxford in March, 1628. He was admitted a Licentiate of the College of Physicians 10th December, 1629. He was married in 1640 at the Walloon church in London, to Louise de Hankmont.(1) “This learned doctor, says Wood, was the son of Dr Gilbert Primrose, a Scotchman, was born in the city of St Jean d’Angely, in province of Xantoigne in France, and afterwards lived and practised his faculty at Hull, in Yorkshire, where, and in most parts of that country, he was esteemed an eminent physician.”

Dying in December, 1659, he was buried on the 20th of that month at Holy Trinity church, Hull. Dr Primrose was a voluminous writer “contentiosus veterum defensor,” says Haller, and from the first opposed himself to the teaching of Harvey. He had been a pupil of Riolanus, professor of anatomy in the university of Paris, and had doubtless listened to his master’s demonstration of the absurdity of the Harveian doctrine of the circulation. On settling in England, he set himself down, by way apparently of attracting attention to himself and of exercising his ingenuity, to try the question, not by fact and experiment, but by the precepts he had imbibed from his teacher and the writings of the ancients. The essay of Primrose, Exercitationes et Animadversiones in librum Gulielmi Harvæi, &c., may be regarded, says Dr Willis,(2) “as a defence of the physiological ideas of Galen against the innovations of Harvey. It is remarkable for any characteristic rather than that of a candid spirit in pursuit of truth; it abounds in obstinate denials, and sometimes in what may be termed dishonest perversions of simple matters of fact, and in its whole course appeals not once to experiment as a means of investigation.” Harvey, of course, deigned him no reply.

Among Dr Primrose’s numerous publications the following, as the most important, may be enumerated:-
Exercitationes et Animadversiones in librum Gulielmi Harvæi de Motu Cordis et Circulatione Sanguinis. 4to. Lond. 1630.
Academia Monspeliensis descripta. Ejusdem laurus Monspeliaca. Ad Thomam Claytonum apud Oxon. Reg. Prof. Oxon. 4to. 1631.
Animadversiones in J Walæi Disputationem quam pro Circulatione Sanguinis proposuit. 4to. Amst. 1639.
Animadversiones in Theses quas pro Circulatione Sanguinis in Academiâ Ultrajectensi D Henr. le Roy disputandas proposuit. 4to. Leidæ, 1640.
Antidotum adversas spongiam venenatam Henr. Regii. 4to. Leidæ, 1640.
De Vulgi in Medicina Erroribus, Libri iv. Lond. 12mo. 1638. Translated into English by Rob. Wittie, Doctor of Physick of Hull. 8vo. Lond. 1651.
Aphorismi necessarii, nec non questiones quædam, ad doctrinam Medicinæ acquirendam perutiles, &c. 4to. Lugd. Bat. 1647.
Enchiridion Medicum practicum de Morbis Communibus. 8vo. Amstel. 1650.
Ars Pharmaceutica methodus brevissima de eligendis et componendis Medicinis. 12mo. Amst. 1651.
De Mulierum Morbis et Symptomatis Libri v, in quibus plurimi tam veterum tum recentiorum errores breviter indicantur et explicantur. 4to. Roterod. 1655.
Destructio Fundamentorum Vopisci Fortunati Plempii. 4to. Roterod. 1657.
De Febribus. Lib. iv. 4to. Roterod. 1658.
Partes Duæ de Morbis Puerorum. 12mo. Roterod. 1659.

William Munk

[(1) Burn’s History of the French, Walloon and other foreign Protestant Refugees. 8vo. Lond. 1846, p. 32.
(2) Life of Harvey, p.42.]

(Volume I, page 197)

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