Lives of the fellows

John Wigan

b.31 January 1694/5 d.5 December 1739
AB Oxon(1718) AM(1720) MD(1727) FRCP(1732)

John Wigan, M.D., was born 31st January, 1694-5, and was the son of the Rev. William Wigan, rector of Kensington. When fifteen years of age he was admitted to Westminster school, and was elected thence to Christ church, Oxford, in 1714. Some verses of his occur among the academical lamentations on the death of queen Anne in 1714, and of Dr. Radcliffe in 1715; besides which, he wrote the lines on the death of dean Aldrich, which are published in V. Bourne’s edition of the dean’s poems, and four at least of the exercises in the Carmina Quadrigesimalia are ascribed to him. As a member of Christ church, he graduated A.B. 6th February, 1718; A.M. 22nd March, 1720; and then, accumulating his degrees in physic, proceeded M.D. 6th July, 1727. On the 5th October, 1726, he was admitted principal of New Inn hall, Oxford, and about the same time was appointed secretary to the earl of Arran, the chancellor of the university. He was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians the 12th April, 1731, and a Fellow 3rd April, 1732, when he resigned his office at New Inn hall, and settled in London. He was elected physician to the Westminster hospital in 1733, and retained his office there until 1737. In 1738 Dr. Wigan accompanied his friend Mr. afterwards Sir Edward, Trelawny (son of Sir Jonathan Trelawny, one of the seven bishops committed to the tower by James II) to Jamaica, in the double capacity of physician and secretary. They there married two sisters, daughters of John Douce, a planter in the island. Mary, who was married to Dr. Wigan, was the widow of Philip Wheeler, of Jamaica. They had one daughter, Mary Trelawny Wigan; she married Rose Herring May, esq., one of H.M. counsel for Jamaica. Dr. Wigan died in Jamaica 5th December, 1739, aged forty-three. His memorial still exists in the cathedral church of St. Catherine, Spanish town, Jamaica. It is a black marble slab, simply inscribed—
Doctr. John Wigan, obiit 5 Decr. 1739, ætat. 43.

Dr. Wigan’s name will always be held in respect by the admirers of Aretæus, for his splendid edition of that author in folio, which issued from the Clarendon press in 1723. Maittaire compiled the index to it at the request of Dr. Freind, who, it would seem from Dr. Wigan’s dedication of the book to him, defrayed great part of the expense; for the editor says that it was "tuo hortatu inchoatam, tuâ ope absolutam." When Boerhaave published his handsome edition of the same author in 1735, he availed himself of the labours both of Wigan and Maittaire, and in his dedication made the following handsome acknowledgment to the former: "Addidi dein ilia omnia, quæ eximius Wiganus summâ diligentiâ, successu felicissimo, illustrando Aretæo protulerat, pulcherrima ad literarum studia, artemque medicam; sola exceptâ versione, quam elaboravit optimam: quia jamdudum fuerat absoluta impressio textûs nostræ editionis priusquam prodiret Wiganiana."

Dr. Wigan had a share in editing Dr. Freind’s works; and besides writing the life of Freind in choice Latin, he translated the "History of Physick " into Latin and prefixed to the folio edition of 1732 a long alcaic ode, dated 15th July, 1727, which he had composed on Freind’s appointment as physician to the queen.(1) Dr. Wigan’s portrait, a three-quarter life size, by Hogarth, is in the possession of the Rev. W. W. Harvey, rector of Ewelme, Oxfordshire, who is descended ex parte materna from Dr. Wigan, and to whom I am indebted for many of the facts stated above.

William Munk

[(1) Vide Alumni Westmonasterienses, p.232]

(Volume II, page 121)

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