Lives of the fellows

Thomas Winston

b.1575 d.24 October 1655
MA Cantab(1602) MD Padua MD Cantab(1608) LRCP(1609-10) FRCP(1614-5)

Thomas Winston, MD, was born in 1575, and educated at Clare hall, Cambridge, of which house he was a fellow. He took the degree of MA in 1602, and then went abroad for improvement in physic. He attended the lectures of Fabricius ab Aquapendente and Prosper Alpinus at Padua, and those of Caspar Bauhine at Basil. He graduated doctor of medicine at Padua, and on his return to England was, in 1608, incorporated on that degree at Cambridge. He was admitted a Licentiate of the College of Physicians 9th March, 1609-10, Candidate 10th September, 1613, and Fellow 20th March, 1614-15. I meet with him as Censor in 1622, 1623, 1624, 1630, 1631, 1632, 1634, 1635, 1636, 1637, and on the 20th May, 1636, he was named Elect in place of Dr William Clement, deceased.

Dr Winston was chosen professor of physic in Gresham college 25th October, 1615, and retained his office until 1642, during which period he acquired a handsome fortune. He then, by permission of the House of Lords, went over to France, and this without having settled his affairs or provided for the security of his estate. The cause of this hasty departure seems to have been some apprehensions from the Parliament, whose party then began to prevail, and whom he had probably offended by the discovery of some secrets entrusted to him. Dr Hamey says he withdrew himself “præ metu Angeronæ sæpius læsæ et jam pœnas minitantis.”

His professorship at Gresham college thus becoming vacant, Dr Paul de Laune was chosen in his place after he had been six months absent. Dr Winston remained abroad about ten years, and having by the interest of his friends accommodated matters with the persons in power, returned to England in 1652, and was restored to his professorship and estate. Of this affair, Whitelocke, in his “Memoirs,” gives the following account. “July 10, 1652. Dr Winstone, a physician, in the beginning of the late troubles, by leave of the House of Lords went over into France, and there continued until very lately that he returned into England. In his absence, none being here to look after his business for him, his estate was sequestered as if he had been a delinquent, and his place and lodgings of physic professor in Gresham college were taken from him, though he had never acted anything against the Parliament, but had been out of England all the time of the troubles. Whereupon application being made to the Committee of Sequestrations, an order was procured for his being restored to his place and lodgings in Gresham college, and the sequestration of his estate, which was 500l per annum, was taken off.”

From the expression “had never acted anything against the Parliament,” explained as this is by the words of Hamey, it would appear, as Ward(1) observes, that his offence had consisted in words only and not in actions. At the time of his leaving England he was, as before stated, one of the Elects of the College, and his place having been forfeited by absence, he was, as we see from the following entry, rechosen in June, 1653: “Anno 1653, Jun. 25. Dr Winston per mortem Dris Clerke in Electorum ordinem, quo diu moratus in Galliis exciderat, restitutus est.” Dr Winston did not long survive this favourable change in his circumstances.

He died on the 24th October, 1655, being then 80 years of age. He was much valued as a gentleman and a scholar, and was termed by Meric Casaubon “the great ornament of his profession.”(2) Dr Winston did not publish anything; but after his death a treatise appeared, entitled, “Anatomy Lectures at Gresham college, by that eminent and learned physician, Dr Thomas Winston,” 8vo. Lond. 1659. The editor supposes, from certain expressions, that these lectures were also read by the author in his appointed course at the College of Physicians. They comprehend an entire body of anatomy, with the improvements down to his own time, which include the discoveries of Harvey, and were considered the most complete and accurate then extant in the English language.

William Munk

[(1) Lives of the Gresham Professors.
(2) “Erat Winstonus fabri lignarii filius; e solido quidem ligno, sed valdè nodoso, nec unquam satis affabrè dedolato. Maturè medici locum in Londinensium collegio Gressamensi obtinuit, ubi in tanto emporio, res literaria, ita viget coliturque ut solent pleræque arbores exoticæ, in alieno solo; ad pompam nimirum magis famamque quam ad fructum. Tali quadam ratione ibidem Winstonus per spatium duarum admodum indictionum, artis nostræ professor audiit; ac inter practicos urbis celebriores habitus est: commendabant eundem porrò semper decorus commodusque vestitus et tonsura gravis, fuitque hujusmodi, in ordine nostro, ut artem suam nec depreciaret adulatoriis officiis erga ægrotos, nec turpi reverentiâ cujuscunque Pharmacopœi. Hoc genus hominum uni solum se addixit, ac heriliter imperavit, cæterorum odium ferens, contemnens, superansque quod dum seriùs observarunt reliqui Socii passim hodiè in re valetudinis; divisum imperium Pharmacopæus habet cum Medicis” * * * * * “Ut igitur ad Winstonum revertamur; si omnes illius exemplo, manûs operam in praxi, ad unumr estrinxissemus, hodiè cum pancioribus saltem hostibus conflictaremur; qui, ut ob vagum sui usum, nullô non loco, nidulantur; ita e loco quovis dissito, obtentu alicujus necessitudinis, nostris bonis impunè imperant longoque usu, vicatim ita invaluerunt ut jam sine specie alienæ injuriæ nobis in nosmetipsos non liceat esse justis, contra vim tanti mali potuisset dudum exemplar defuncti, nobis alicui fuisse subsidio; quinimmo hodiè porro solo merito et memoriâ sui tam utilis documenti; potuisset Winstonus, qui alicubi totus sepultus facet, etiamuum superesse in nostro Collegio ac in aliqua classe benefactorum nostrorum collocari.” Bustorum aliquot Reliquiæ authore Bald. Hamey.]

(Volume I, page 160)

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