Lives of the fellows

Edward Browne

b.1644 d.28 August 1708
MB Cantab(1663) AB Oxon(1666) MD(1667) FRS(1667) MD Cantab(1670) FRCP(1675)

Edward Browne, M.D., was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Browne, M.D., the author of the Religio Medici and was born at Norwich in 1644. He was educated at the free school of Norwich, and on the 27th October, 1657, was entered at Trinity college, Cambridge, where he proceeded bachelor of medicine in 1663. In the autumn of that year he returned to Norwich, and there, under this father’s directions, pursued his studies in medicine and natural philosophy.

In the following year he commenced his travels, first spending a short time in London among his relations and friends, and at this period he seems to have formed his first acquaintance with Dr. Terne, whose daughter he afterwards married. From London he proceeded to Paris, and thence to Italy, visiting Genoa, Rome, Naples, Bologna, Venice, and Padua, returning to Paris through Montpelier. He travelled in company with Sir William Trumbull, afterwards Secretary of State, Sir Samuel Tuke, Sir Christopher Wren, and other distinguished characters. At Paris he made the acquaintance of Guy Patin, one of his father’s earliest critics, who received him with great urbanity, and spoke in the most courteous terms of his father. A portion of this tour has been printed at the end of the folio edition of his travels; the whole is preserved in his journal. (MSS. Sloane, 1906.)
Affinis et susceptor meus ad sacrum fontem
Collegii nostri olim Socius dignissimus
Anatomicus celeberrîmus
Motuum musculorum indagator acerrimus
Universæ naturalis scientiæ peritissimus
nec non ob beneficia in Collegium nostrum erogata
perpetuo colendus.
Dignemini, ora, hoc pignusculum Amoris mei
erga vos ipsos, hoc Pietatis meæ erga suscep-
torem monumentum benigne ex me accipere
et affige facere parietibus Cœnaculi Collegii nostri
in perpetuam Croonii memoriam
Ita vovet Gul: Woodford Med: Prof. Reg. Oxon
et Coll. Reg: Med: Lond. Socius
Dabam Oxonii prìdie Nonas Maii
Anno MDCCXXXVIII.

On his return to England he went to Oxford; was incorporated, on his bachelor’s degree, 19th June, 1666; and proceeded doctor of medicine, as a member of Merton college, 4th July, 1667, on which degree he was incorporated at Cambridge in 1670. In 1667 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and on the 16th March following (1668) was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians.

In August, 1668, he commenced those travels which contributed so much, and on the whole, so justly, to his reputation: “For through” (says Mr. Wilkins, to whose account I am indebted for nearly the whole of this sketch) “he did not inherit his father’s high intellectuality, he was, like him, ardent in the pursuit of knowledge, and strongly attached to the studies to which he made his travels prinicipally subservient; and his literary attainments, as might be supposed, were considerable. But, above all, he was an accurate observer, and a veracious narrator of what he met with. He was, in short, a conscientious traveller, not supplying from imagination what was wanting in the reality. His pen was under the guidance of his senses, not carried away by his fancy. Hence, notwithstanding the somewhat contemptuous terms in which his travels are mentioned by Dr. Johnson [This reference of doubtful validity – probably a confusion with something else Johnson said (Dr. J Spillane FRCP, March 1982)], who neither understood nor cared for the subjects on which Browne wrote, he acquired by his work, and has retained to the present day, a character for which travellers are not proverbial, viz., that whatever he has related may be received with implicit confidence.

Having embarked at Yarmouth 14th August, he landed at Rotterdam, and thence proceeded through Delft, the Hague, Leyden, and Haarlem to Amsterdam; through Utrecht, Breda, and Dort to Flushing, and up the Scheldt to Antwerp, Brussels, and to Aix-la-Chapelle, which he reached on the 7th October. From Aken he went direct to Julliers, and onwards along the Rhine to Mayence, Frankfort; and thence, through Darmstadt, Heidelburg, Ratisbon, and Lintz to Vienna, which he reached 20th November. There he passed the winter of 1668-9, visiting and examining every object within and around it worthy of his notice, and making excursions in various directions. Very early in the spring of 1669 he started through Baden to Mannersdorf, across the Newsidler Sea to Raab and Komora, and thence, after visiting the marble quarry at Dotis, he went to Leopoldstadt, to the gold and silver mines of Cremnitz, Newsol, &c., and returned to Vienna in the middle of April. His next excursion was through Styria, Carinthia, &c., to see the Zirchnitzer lake and quicksilver mines at Idria, whence, after again visiting Padua, he returned to the imperial capital at the close of July. His last tour was to the Ottoman court, which was then held at Larissa in Thessaly. This occupied from the 1st September to the end of October, when he regained Vienna to take a final leave of it.

Early in November he started on his journey homeward through Prague and Dresden, at which latter city he took particular notice of the king of Saxony’s collections both in natural history, mechanics, and the fine arts. He then visited the silver and sulphur mines of Freiburg, and, after passing through Leipsic and Madgeburg, he embarked at Hamburg, and reached England at the close of 1669.”

Dr. Browne soon proceeded to London, where, after some hesitation, he determined to fix his permanent residence. On the 30th April, 1672, he married Henrietta Susan, the daughter of Dr. Christopher Terne, a Fellow of our College, residing in Lime-street. There Dr. Browne lived till the decease of his father-in-law, 31st December, 1673, soon after which he removed to Salisbury-court, Fleet-street.

In the summer of 1673 he went over to Germany with Sir Joseph Williamson and Sir Leoline Jenkins, the English plenipotentiaries who were sent to Cologne to negotiate a treaty of peace between England, France, and Holland. This, although but an excursion of pleasure, probably enabled him to make some valuable additions to his circle of influential and titled friends. Having terminated his travels (which he never subsequently resumed), he brought out his first account of them, in quarto, under his father’s advice; and four years afterwards published a second collection.

On the 14th June, 1675, Dr. Browne was chosen lecturer at Surgeons’ hall; and on the 29th July, 1675, was admitted a Fellow of the College of Physicians. He was Censor in 1678, 1683, 1685, 1686, 1698, 1699, 1701; Elect, 29th December, 1683, in place of Dr. Brooke, deceased; Consiliarius, 1694, 1697, 1698, 1699, 1700; Treasurer from 1694 to January 22nd, 1703-4; when, on the death of Sir Thomas Millington, he was elected President, an office which he continued to hold to his death, on the 28th August, 1708. This event occurred in his 64th year, after a short illness, at his seat at Northfleet, near Gravesend, and is thus recorded in the Annals: “This day, Dr. Edward Browne, after having sat President of this College for four years and a half successively, departed this life. He was the worthy son of the famous Sir Thomas Browne, author of the ‘Religio Medici,’ who he imitated in the genteelness of his humour, learning, and manner of practice.

He died at Northfleet, an estate of his in Kent, which he bequeathed between the College of Physicians and St. Bartholomew’s hospital, in case of failure of issue to his son, Dr. Thomas Browne, and his daughter Brigstock.” [Dr. T.B. married his cousin. He “is not well spoken of in ‘Le Neve’s pedigrees of Knights’ (Harveian Soc.)” (Corres. 1954 Brigstocke).] [Mrs O. Brigstocke (E.B.’s daughter) lived in Queen Sq., but died at Carmarthen. (ibid)]

Dr. Browne was buried in the church of Northfleet, where a monument with the following inscription was erected to his memory: -
H.S.E
EDWARDUS BROWNE Nordovicensis, M.D.
Thomæ Browne militis et medici celeberrimi
Filius, patre non indignus.
Quippe qui in Arte suâ usque adeo excelluit
ut Regi Carolo IIdo
e medicius primariis fuerit unus,
et Collegii Medicorum, quod est Londini,
summâ cum laude profuerit.
Qui etiam scriptis suis,
(in quibus Itinera sua per præcipuas Europæ regiones,
et res ubique notatu digniores,
pulchrè pariter ac fideliter descripsit,)
magnam ab omnibus literatis inivit gratiam.
De cæteris animi dotibus, si quæras,
cum summâ eruditione parem semper modestiam conjunxit;
laudi ac dignitati haud nimium,
pecuinæ ac divitiis parum aut nihil studuit,
aliis vero quàm maximè potuit benefacere:
hæc res ei summæ fuit voluptati.
Quàm non tantum suorum privato commodo,
verum etiam publicæ utilitati consuluit,
verba ex testamento infra descripta
præclaro erunt documento.
Obiit vicesimo octavo die mensis Augusti
Anno Domini MDCCVIII. Ætatis LXCIIII.

There follows the passage from his will. I need only add, that Dr. Browne was physician to St. Bartholomew’s hospital, to which office he was elected 7th September, 1682, in place of Dr. Micklethwaite, deceased; and that he was one of the physicians in ordinary to king Charles II., who paid him the high compliment of saying, “he was as learned as any of the College, and as well bred as any at court.” Dr. Browne was in high esteem with the aristocracy. He attended the celebrated earl of Rochester, at Woodstock park, in his last illness in 1680, and was the ordinary medical attendant on the marquis of Dorchester – a patron and amateur of the profession, and a Fellow of our College – who had long been his warm friend, to whom he dedicated his first travels in 1672, and with whom he had sufficient influence to prevail on his lordship to bequeath his valuable library to our College.

Dr. Browne’s published writings are as follows: -
A Translation of a Discourse of the original Country, Manners, Government, and Religion of the Cossacks, with another of the Præcopian Tartars, and the History of the Wars of the Cossacks against Poland. 12mo. Lond. 1672.
A brief account of some Travels in Hungaria, Styria, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Thessaly, Austria, Servia, Carynthia, Carniola, and Friuli. 4to. Lond. 1673.
To an edition published in 1677, he added an account of several travels through a great part of Germany, and in 1685 it was represented in folio as -
A brief account of some Travels in divers parts of Europe, &c., &c.
This was translated into French and recommended by Du Fresnoy; and in 1696 it was translated into Dutch by Jacob L. Dirkx.

Dr. Browne translated the Life of Themistocles in 1683, and that of Sertorius in 1684, for the edition of Plutarch’s Lives, published in 5 vols. 8vo. Dr. Browne’s portrait was in the collection of the earl of Buchan and has been engraved [by Harding].

William Munk

[P. Was he the E.B. who englished Scultetus?]

(Volume I, page 372)

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