Lives of the fellows

Thomas Short

b.? d.28 September 1685
AB Cantab(1653) MD(1668) FRCP(1675)

Thomas Short, MD, was born in Suffolk, and was the son of the Rev William Short of Easton in that county. He received his early education at the grammar school of Bury St Edmund’s. He was admitted at St John’s college, Cambridge, 25th February, 1649, and as a member of that house proceeded AB 1653; was created MD by mandate, 26th June, 1668; admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians 22nd December, 1668; and a Fellow 29th July, 1675. Dr Short was a Roman catholic, and, as we are informed by Wood,(1) got into very extensive practice after Dr Lower espoused the Whig cause. Lower, it seems, had succeeded to extensive business on the death of Dr Willis, so that in 1675 “he was esteemed” (to use the words of Wood,) “the most noted physician in Westminster and London; and no man’s name was more cried up at court than his. At length, upon the breaking out of the Popish plot in 1678, he closed with the Whigs, supposing that party would carry all before them. But, being mistaken, he thereby lost much of his practice at and near court, and so consequently his credit. At that time a certain physician, Thomas Short, a Roman catholic,(2) struck in, carried all before him there, and got riches as he pleased; but he dying in the latter end of 1685, most of his practice devolved on Dr Radcliffe.”

Dr Short, who is represented by Dodd(3) as in all respects a person of singular parts and merit, actually died 28th September, 1685, and was buried in the entrance to St James’s chapel. His merits as a physician are certified to as on the all sufficient testimony of Sydenham, who dedicated to him the Tractatus de Podagra et Hydrope. Bishop Burnet gives countenance to the opinion that Dr Short met with his end by unfair means. “Short,” he says, “another physician who was a Papist, but after a form of his own, did very much suspect foul dealing (in the death of Charles II) and he talked more freely of it than any of the Protestants durst do at that time. But he was not long after taken suddenly ill upon a large draught of wormwood wine, which he had drank in the house of a Popish patient that lived near the Tower, who had sent for him, of which he died. And, as he said to Lower, Millington, and some other physicians, he believed that he himself was poisoned for his having spoken so freely of the king’s death.”

William Munk

[(1) Athenæ Oxon. vol. ii, p.652.
(2) Allatum fuit et coram Præside ac Censoribus perlectum, magnatum in superiori præsentis Parliamenti domo congregatoram, decretum, sive Senatus-consultam de distinguendis et ejiciendis è Collegio omnibus iis qui fidei Romanæ non renunciaverint.
Ordinatum ac statutum ut Bedellus quamprimum mittatur ad D D Joan. Betts et Thomam Short Collegii Socios et papismi suspectos; qui iis nomine ac authoritate præsidis imperet ut Comitiis Majoribus 14 die praæsentis mensis celebrandis adsint, deque fide suâ testimonia requisita exhibeant.
Comitiis Aprilis trimestribus 14o Apr: 1679. Comparuit D Short. Ob defectum justi numeri Statuti pro pleno Collegio discessum est.
(3) Church History, vol. iii, p. 460.]

(Volume I, page 377)

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