Lives of the fellows

Henry Sampson

b.1629 d.23 July 1700
MD Leyden(1668) Hon FRCP(1680)

Henry Sampson, MD, was the son of Mr William Sampson, “a religious gentleman,” of South Leverton, Nottinghamshire. He received a good preliminary education at Coventry, whence he was transferred to Pembroke hall, Cambridge, where he took the two degrees in arts, and was elected a fellow of his college. Having served various offices in his college, he was, after a few years, presented to the living of Framlingham. While Sampson was at Framlingham he published an edition of Thomas Parker’s Methodus Gratiæ Divinæ and there, and also at Coventry, where Sampson often officiated for Dr Obadiah Grew, he preached “with great acceptance,” and in both places acquired a reputation which was long remembered. But this was in the time of rebellion and the protectorate; and when Charles II returned, bringing conformity and uniformity in his train, Sampson’s conscience compelled him to forsake all and begin the world anew.

He now turned his thoughts to physic; and, going first to Padua, and afterwards to Leyden, at the latter proceeded doctor of medicine 12th July, 1668. (DMI de celebri Indicationum fundamento, contraria contrariis curari. 4to.) He then settled in London, and on the 30th September, 1680, was admitted an Honorary Fellow of the College of Physicians. His practice is said to have been extensive, but confined almost entirely to a particular class of persons, the connections of those who, like himself, had been ejected by the Bartholomew act. Sampson not merely regretted the times gone by, but determined to vindicate them. He set himself to collect materials for a history of Puritanism and Nonconformity; and as he passed day by day from house to house of his ejected friends and patients, he gathered up facts, and tales, and anecdotes, many of which he intended to use in his meditated book. He entered these materials in his diaries, together with the register of his medical practice; recipes for potions and plasters, blisters, and black draughts, stood side by side with pious reflections, witty repartees, and curious histories, medical, theological, and biographical. These books would now be invaluable, but they are not known to exist. Some volumes of them were handed over to Calamy, who explained Sampson’s scheme, and used his materials in the abridgement of Baxter's Life and Times. 2 vols. 8vo. 1713, and afterwards in the Nonconformist’s Memorial. Some extracts from others of Sampson’s diaries found their way into the possession of Ralph Thoresby. The latter were bought at the sale of Thoresby’s MSS, and now form part of the Birch or Additional MSS, British Museum, 4460. Sampson was singularly unfortunate in his literary designs. Whilst at Cambridge, he made some collections for a history of the eminent men of that university; but these, like the former, have long been lost.(1)

Dr. Sampson died 23rd July, 1700, aged 71, and was buried at Clayworth, Nottinghamshire, where a monument to his memory presents the following inscription:-
Levertoniæ ad Austrum natus,
Coventriæ bonis literis et linguis institutus,
Aulæ Pembrochianæ apud Cantabrigienses Socius,
Lugduni Batavorum in Medicinâ Doctor creatus,
Collegii Medicorum quod Londini est Socius Honorarius:
Theosophiæ quæ primo pura indè et pacifica studiosus:
unà cum senectâ, asthmate etiam sævo,
tanquam mari turbido, jactatus, quassus, fractus,
Claworthum tandem appulit et portum invenit,
ubi exuvias deposuit;
ossa scilicet juxta Filii ossa sita.
Alteram sui partem, quæ nec carnem habet nec ossa,
immortalitatem spirantem, Patri spirituum,
qui solus immortalitatem habet, sursum redidit,
Die 23 Julii, Anno Domini 1700, ætat. suæ 71.
In memoriam tam chari capitis
hoc marmor mœrens posuit
Conjux viduata tedis
Anna Sampson.

William Munk

[(1) Gent. Mag. for April, 1851.]

(Volume I, page 410)

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