Lives of the fellows

Baldwin Hamey

b.24 April 1600 d.4 May 1676
MD Leyden(1626) MD Oxon(1629/30) FRCP(1633/4)

Baldwin Hamey, junior, the most munificent of all the benefactors of our College, was the son of Baldwin Hamey, M.D., already mentioned, who died in 1640, and bequeathed to the College 20l. The subject of our present notice was born in London on the 24th April, 1600, and received his rudimentary education at one of the public city schools. In May, 1617, he was entered on the philosophy line at Leyden, the college in which his father had been educated, and resided there many years, availing himself of the very full curriculum of classical, philosophical, and medical studies then taught in that distinguished university.

Hamey himself tells us (1) that he was first sent to Leyden, and then to Oxford; the dates of his admission to the latter was, as we learn from Wood, 1621, when "he was admitted a student into the public library". He returned to Leyden in August, 1625, and there proceeded doctor of medicine, the 12th August, 1626 (2). Dr Hamey then passed on into Germany, France, and Italy, making some stay at each of the universities of Paris, Montpelier, and Padua, availing himself of every opportunity of improvement, and seeking the acquaintance of the most celebrated scholars and physicians.

He married Anna Petin, the daughter of a considerable merchant of Rotterdam, a person of "great politeness and discretion, well skilled in several languages, and of great judgment and parts."

Dr Hamey was incorporated at Oxford on his Leyden degree, 4th February, 1629-30; was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians, 28th June, 1630; and a Fellow, 10th January, 1633-4. I meet with him as Censor in 1640, 1642, 1643, 1644, 1646, 1648, 1652, 1654: Registrar, 1646, and again 1650 to 1654 included; Elect, 1st March, 1653-4 Consiliarius, 4th June, 1658, in place of Sir Maurice Williams, deceased, and thence on to 1666; Treasurer, 1664, 1665, 1666.

Dr Hamey delivered the anatomical lectures at the College in 1647, and acquitted himself in a manner highly satisfactory to his hearers. His relative and biographer, Mr. Palmer, tells us (3) that "in these lectures appears such a noble spirit and ardour of science and ingenuity, that the anatomist seems to contend with the wit, the Grecian and Latinist with both, which shall excell. His instructions in them were as entertaining, as advantageous and improving to his auditors; wherein are discernible a thorough intimacy with the writings of the ancient philosophers, orators, historians, and poets, as well as the capital writers in all the branches of physic, both Greek and Latin, and he so blends their sayings with the matters he treats of, that one would think those very passages to have been written by them for the very purpose he designs them." The MS of these lectures, in the writing of Dr Hamey, is in the possession of the College, to which it was presented by Dr Monro.

Dr Hamey, by a sedulous course of study, and a masterly comprehension of the two great authorities in physic, Hippocrates and Galen, had fitted himself for that success in practice which marked his future career. As a faithful member of the church of England, and a devoted royalist, he was dismayed by the political events which marked the early years of his practice, and at one time, though then getting into full professional employment, had serious thoughts of quitting London. At this juncture a circumstance occurred which determined him to remain in town. "It pleased God", writes Mr Palmer, "to visit him personally, at this unhappy juncture, with a severe fit of illness, a peripneumonia, which confined him a great while to his chamber, and to the more than ordinary care of his tender spouse. During this affliction he was disabled from practice, but the very first time he dined in his parlour afterwards, a certain great man in high station came to consult him on an amorous case, 'ratione vagi sui amoris,' says Dr Hamey, and he was one of the godly ones too of those times. After the doctor had received him in his study, and modestly attended to the long religious preface, with which he introduced his ignominious circumstances, and Dr Hamey had assured him of his fidelity, and given him hopes of success in his affair, the generous soldier (for such he was) drew out of his pocket a bag of gold, and offered it all, in a lump, to his physician. Dr Hamey, surprised at so extraordinary a fee, modestly declined the acceptance of it, upon which the great man, dipping his hand into the bag, grasped up as much of his coin as his fist could hold, and generously put it into the doctor's pocket, and so took his leave.

Dr Hamey returned into his parlour to dinner, which had waited for him all that time, and smiling, whilst his lady was discomposed at his absence so long, emptied his coat pocket into her lap. This soon altered the features of her countenance, who, telling the money over, found it to be thirty-six broad pieces of gold. At which she being greatly surprised, confessed to the doctor that this was surely the most providential fee he ever received, and declared to him that she, during the height of his severe illness, had paid away (unknown to him) on a state levy, towards a public supply, the like sum in number and value of pieces of gold, lest under the lowness of his spirits it should have proved a matter of vexation, unequal to his strength at that time to bear; which, being then so remarkably reimbursed to him by Providence, was the properest juncture she could lay hold on to let him into the truth of it. Dr Hamey, highly commending her prudence in this piece of conduct, as well as mindful religiously of this tenderness of Providence over him, again fluctuating as he was till now between his stay in or departure from the populous and turbulent, but wealthy city, hence took courage and resolution to stand the hazard of the times; 'hoc in faustum interpretatus omen,' says Hamey, 'heic manendi et medicæ artis præstituræ temporum injuriis.' The recovery of this patient brought many more of the same cast, so that the committees for public levies were seldom without one or another of them, who always, when Dr Hamey appeared upon their summons thither, feigned some near relative's or friend's extreme illness, for which he was immediately dismissed with contentment, as the lawyers say. And the more to serve his purpose, he thought it sometimes necessary to move with the stream, and went to hear, what he hated - aarber perhaps, or a cobler hold forth; but always took care that his servant should carry for him an Aldus edition of Virgil upon vellum, in binding and bulk resembling an octavo Bible, to entertain himself with, or a duodecimo edition of Aristophanes, canonically bound too in red Turkey leather, with clasps, resembling a Greek Testament."

Hamey's sympathies, though he was practising among the leading men of the Commonwealth, and basking in their favour, were wholly with the exiled royal family. He remitted to Charles II several sums of money during the hardships of his exile. "I have," says Mr Palmer, "a receipt by me under king Charles the Second's own hand, all written by himself at Breda, in which, for a blind he makes the money received of BHP ie BHP - Baldwin Hamey, physician." On the Restoration Dr Hamey presented to the king a valuable relic of Charles I, a diamond ring, which had been plundered from the royal martyr, on which was curiously cut the arms of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, and had cost the doctor 500l.

Charles II, in recognition of these services, and of Dr. Hamey's eminence in the profession, offered him a knighthood, and the appointment of physician in ordinary to himself, honours which our physician begged permission respectfully to decline. Dr Hamey was then getting into years, and had for some time contemplated retiring from practice. This he did in 1665, removing to Chelsea the year before the great fire, and thus saving his library, MSS, and household furniture.

Inheriting a good patrimony, possessing for many years a large and lucrative practice, having no family, but few personal wants, and careful, though not parsimonious, in his domestic expenditure, Dr Hamey accumulated abundant means for the exercise of his very benevolent and charitable disposition. He was a liberal benefactor to many poor but deserving scholars: he assisted largely in the repairs of the old metropolitan church of St Paul's; of that of Allhallows, Barking, where his parents were buried; of his own parish church, St Clement's-in-the-East; and to the restoration of St Luke's, Chelsea. To the last-named he contributed between three and four hundred pounds, besides giving the great bell, upon which he caused to be cast the following inscription -
Baldvinus Hamey, Phil-Evangelicus Medicus, Divo Lucæ Medico Evangel. DDD.

In gratitude for these benefactions, Dr Adam Littleton, at that time rector of Chelsea, appended to his Latin dictionary some verses in praise of our physician. But the College of Physicians was the chief object of Dr Hamey's solicitude and care; he vies, indeed, with his contemporary Dr Harvey in the frequency, and rivals him in the extent, of his benefactions to the institution. In 1651, when the spoliation of church property commenced, the College was situated in Amen comer, on ground belonging to the cathedral church of St Paul. It was thus liable to confiscation at any moment. Dr Hamey at this juncture, with a generosity which does him immortal honour, redeemed the property out of his own private purse, and forthwith made it over in perpetuity to his colleagues. His munificence on this occasion was gracefully acknowledged by, Dr Prujean, the President, at the opening of the new Harveian Museum in February, 1653-4. It is further explicitly recorded in the following extract from the Annals: "1651, Septemb. 12. Baldvinus Hamey, Baldvini filius, avertendo cuivis illiberali domino, has ædes Collegii, in communi sectione bonorum Ecclesiæ, sub hastâ positas, tempestivè redemit: easdemque, ne cujuspiem superstruendæ munificentiæ deesset, vivens adhuc valensque, Sociis suis in perpetuum donavit, anno 1651." To give more public expression to their sense of gratitude or his benefactions to the College, the assembled Fellows, at the quarterly Comitia, held the 1st October, 1658, unanimously voted the erection of a tablet to Dr Hamey's honour in the Harveian Museum: "Omnibus Collegis præsentibus, bonum factum visum est, ut, in gratitudinis testimonium, Tabula Marmorea in honorem Dris Hamæi (utpote insignis Benefactoris) in Bibliothecâ Harveianâ extruatur."

Dr Hamey contributed liberally to the fund for rebuilding the College after the fire of 1666, and in addition, at his own sole cost, amounting, as Mr Palmer tells us, to some hundreds of pounds, wainscoted the Cœnaculum with fine Spanish oak, with fluted pilasters, ornamented capitals, an elegantly carved cornice, and his coat of arms and crest finely cut, immediately over the entrance (4). A portion of this wainscoting was removed from Warwick lane to the present College in Pall Mall, and adds greatly to the ornament of the Censors' room. The last act of Hamey's benevolence to the College was similar to, and in imitation of Harvey. In 1657 Hamey had purchased the estate and manor of Ashlins, near Great Ongar, in Essex, which, on the 13th May, 1672, he settled on the College of Physicians, in trust for certain purposes to be presently mentioned. The settlement was made revokable at Dr Hamey's pleasure, but by his last will and testament he confirmed it to the College for ever. The objects he had in view in this donation were the following: to increase the salaries of such of the physicians to the three royal hospitals who should be chosen in obedience to the nomination of the College; to double the premium to the Harveian orator, and to furnish certain gratuities to the President, Elects, and Fellows; whilst the remainder was to be applied to the general purposes and advancement of the College.

Dr Hamey died at his house at Chelsea, on the 14th May, 1676, aged 76, and was buried on the 18th, just within the chancel of Chelsea church. By his own direction he was buried ten feet deep; his body was enveloped in fine linen cloth, wrapped round and round over, and it was consigned to its mother earth, without lead to enclose or vault to receive it. Over him was placed a black marble slabe, upon which was cut, by his own direction, simply this, "When the breath of man goeth forth, he returneth unto his earth," (Psalm cxlvi, v 4), with his name and the date of his death. Some years afterwards, the inscription having been obliterated, a mural monument of black marble, with gilt letters and moulding, and his arms properly emblazoned, was placed close by it, with the following inscription - MS In ipso Ecclesiæ adyto sub lato marmore juxta deponitur Baldvinus Hamey, MD Academiæ Lugdunensis Batavorum, Oxoniensis Anglorum. Collegiique Medicorum Londinensis, deliciæ, decus, et desiderium, eruiditorum olim, facultatis lumen, vera encyclopædia, ex animo phil-evangelicus Medicus, Anglus. Obiit 14 Maii, anno restauratæ Salutis 1676, ætatis 76.

The College, in memory of his benefactions, caused the following to be entered in the Annals: "1676. Julii xiij. Sciant posteri, quòd Baldvinus Hamæus, Baldvini filius Musarum ac Apollinis, dum viveret, deliciæ erat: tam sciens Latinæ litiguæ; non ipsum Latium magis Latinum fuerat: tam Græcæ, non ipsæ Athenæ magis Atticæ. Moribus ac vivendi regulâ ad amussim compositus. Olim diuque hujus Collegii Socius, tandem sæpius Censor, denique Regestarius, Præsidis munus sæpiùs oblatum, semper noluit. Equitis aurati à Regiâ potestate non semel obtinendum titulum cum gratiis non voluit ne Doctoratûs excellentiam contaminaret: acceptis simul ac repudiatis honoribus inclytus, Sub hastâ Collegium iniquitate temporum positum pater hic, non sibi, sed Collegio, magno impendio redemerat, postulante necessitate in omnibus sumptibus faciendis publicæ utilitati, cum primis magnificum se ostendebat. Totum Cœnaculi nostri intestinum opus tam ornatè tam affabrè extructum, propriis sumptibus consummavit. Supremis tabulis Collegium nostrum lautissimorum duorum prædiorum hæredem reliquit, ne vita nimium desideraretur."

As to his person," writes Mr Palmer, "Dr Hamey was but of low stature yet of a comely mien and his aspect engaging. He had full beautifull and black eyes wherein sat majesty and gracefulness in conjunct dominion, his hair was black which he always wore, nor long, nor short but not curling. He had a well turned face and a very gracefull elevation in the carriage of his head east and free too without stiffness or affectation and every feature of his countenance was good. Dr Hamey was a faithfull son of the Church of England as by law established, a lover of the laws and constitutions as well as the prosperity of his country, a most dutyfull subject, a faithfull friend, and a most charitable man."

A bust of Hamey, executed at the expense of the College, was placed there in 1684, but has long disappeared: "1684. Postr. Palmarum, Effigie capitas Dris HamæI è marmore affabrè exculpta, Collegii sumptu comparata, in memoriam immortalem beneticiorum à tanto viro societati præstitorum, senatui offerebattur" (5).

Hamey, though he wrote largely, I believe published nothing but his inaugural dissertation at Leyden, on quinsy. An essay from his pen, "On the Oath of Hippocrates," was printed in 1688, after the doctor's death, by his friend Dr Adam Littleton. His remaining MSS are all in the possession of the College of Physicians. They are - Bustorum aliquot Reliquiæ; ab anno 1628, qui mihi primus fuit conducti, seorsim a Parentibus, non inauspicato, hospitii:
a series of sketches of his contemporaries, which had been of great assistance to me in the preparation of this volume.
Universa Medicina:
a small folio in double columns - being an epitome of his knowledge and reading on medical subjects.
Notes and Criticisms on Aristophanes -
Dr Atterbury, bishop of Rochester, to whom these notes were submitted, thought so favourably of them, that at his suggestion they were offered to Kuyster, who was engaged in bringing out an edition of Aristophanes in Holland. Kuyster's work had already gone to press, and was so far advanced that he could then make no use of them. The MS was, therefore, returned to Mr Palmer, who then presented it to the College. The half-length portrait of Dr Hamey (6), in his 74th year, with the heads of his two favourite authors, Hippocrates and Aristophanes, before him, now in the library of the College was painted by Snelling and, I believe, presented by Mr Palmer.

William Munk

[(1) Bustorum aliquot Reliquiæ
(2) Theses Inaugurales de Angina, 4to, Lugd.,Bat.,1626.
(3) MS Life of Hamey in the College. This MS was presented to the College by Mr Gundry, of Richmond, whose note to Sir Henry Halford, dated 20 November, 1824, is now before me. In it Sir Henry adds, "Mr Gundry has delivered the Antimonial cup to Mr (Sir Henry) Ellis and requests the acceptance of it by the, College." This refers to the Antimonial cup now in the College which belonged to Hamey. Mr Gundry's wife, whose maiden name was Palmer, was thought to be the last of the elder Dr Hamey's descendants. So said Mr Ellis of the British Museum in a letter to Sir Henry Halford, dated 15th November, 1824, but I that the blood of the Hameys still exists in the Ellacombes of Clyst St George, co. Devon, and of Bitton, co. Gloucester.
(4) Under his arms was the following inscription - Hoc totum opus intestinum, benevolis Sumptibus senioris nostri Collegæ Baldvini Hamey, Bald. fil., acceptum ferimus.
(5) In the Treasurer's book, under date 1684, April 12th, I read - "Dr Hamey's head of marble 50.00.00, Porter that brought it 00.05.00."
(6) Baldwinus Hamæus, vir omni laudum genere præstantissimus qui summas ingenii dotes, liberalibus disciplinis excoluerat, qui non solum medicinam sed omnes Apollineas artes feliciter excercebat; qui omnibus Collegi officiis, honeste et diligenter perfunctus, supremum detrectavit: hujusmodi viro liberali, sapiente provido, indigebant res nostræ tunc temporis concussæ per duas calamitates, omnium maximus; Bellum civile, bonis artibus semper infestum et incendium voraz quod nos, atque nostros concives parîter afflixerat, et cum sacris non pepercerit ædibus, nostras etiam prostravit lares; hisce malis succurrens Hamæus, non solum nos suis adjuvabat opibus, sed subsidium satis magnum a benevelo cive impetrvit, Collegium sub hasta positum sua redemit pecunia, cœnaculum ornavit, nostræque simul existimationi et ægrotorum saluti æque prospiciens, nosocomiorum Medicis, è gremio hujus Collegii eligendis, stipendia ampla locavit, et parvi faciens beneficia a se vivo tributa, post mortems nos prædiorum suorum hæredes reliquit. Oratio Harveiana die xviii Octobre AD 1729 habita auctore Johanne Arbuthnot p17.]

(Volume I, page 207)

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