Lives of the fellows

Robert Glynn Clobery

b.5 August 1719 d.1800
AB Cantab(1741) AM(1745) MD(1758) FRCP(1763)

Robert Glynn Clobery, M.D. "This great, distinguished, virtuous, and consummate scholar and physician," of one of his eulogists; (1) the "dilectus lapis—
"The loved lapis on the banks of Cam;
of another (2), was born on the 5th August, 1719, at Kelland, near Bodmin, co. Cornwall, of an ancient and very respectable family, and was educated at Eton, upon the foundation. He was admitted a scholar of King’s college, Cambridge in 1737; subsequently became a fellow of that society; and proceeded A.B. 1741; A.M. 1745, and M.D. 1758. He was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians 5th April, 1762, and a Fellow 28th March, 1763. Dr. Glynn commenced practice at Richmond, but soon returned to Cambridge, where he continued to reside and perform the active duties of his profession until his death in 1800. He changed his name from Glynn to Clobery, in pursuance of the will of a relative who left him some property, but he was usually addressed and known by his paternal name. His life was one uniform course of integrity and benevolence. Though his practice for a long series of years was very extensive, and his establishment confined within the walls of a college, on a plan of most temperate and strict economy, his effects scarcely exceeded l0,000l., including the bequest of his relative. In what manner he applied the principal part of his professional emoluments was known to those who were supported or assisted by his beneficence. His faculties were clear and vigorous within a very short time of his decease. During his illness, sensible of his gradual decay, he expressed nothing but resignation and kindness, and expired without a struggle or a groan on the 8th of February, 1800, in the eighty-first year of his age. Agreeably to Dr. Glynn’s repeated directions, he was interred in the vault of King’s college chapel in a private manner, between ten and eleven o’clock at night. On this occasion, in compliance with his wishes, the members of the college only attended. But public feeling demanded that some more eminent mark of respect should be paid to his memory. The vice-chancellor, Dr. Mansel, of Trinity college, subsequently bishop of Bristol, communicated, therefore, to the gentlemen of the university his intention to accompany the friends of Dr. Glynn, in mourning, from Trinity college to St. Mary’s church, on the following Sunday. The procession consisted of the heads of houses, the noblemen, and a numerous body of masters of arts. The sermon on this occasion was preached by the Rev. John Henry Michell, fellow of King’s college. Dr. Glynn bequeathed the bulk of his property to King’s college, the larger portion towards the improvement of the college (on buildings then in progress); and a sum to be annually divided between such two scholars of the college as in the course of the year have been most distinguished for learning and regularity of conduct. To mark their sense of such munificence, the fellows of King's college erected an elegant tablet on the south side of their chapel, with the following inscription:—
M. S.
Roberti Glynn Clobery, M.D.
et veteri in agro Cornubiensi prosapiâ oriundi,
hujus Collegii LXIII. Annos Socii,
Morum antiquorum et literarum bonarum
Cultoris, Patroni, Vindicis;
qui Collegio
amplissimam pecuniæ summam
ad studia juventutis promovenda,
ad naves ædes astruendas
legavit.
Obiit viii. Id. Feb. MDCCC. Æt. LXXXI.
Hanc tabulam
in pietatis et desiderii testimonium
P. C.
ex publico decreto
Collegium.

The materials for composing the story of Dr. Glynn’s life are confined to little more than brief records of his goodness, his integrity, his benevolence, and the sagacity and humanity displayed by him in the exercise of his professional calling. Of long and distinguished celebrity in the university of Cambridge, eminent on account of his abilities, but still more eminent on account of his virtues, this venerable philanthropist continued to enjoy to the end of his days the heartfelt reverence and affection, not only of the middle-aged and advanced in years, but also of the young. For many years his tea table was frequented by young men of the highest rank and character, who subsequently attained to the highest offices in church and state. The suggestions of his experience were so tempered by the urbanity of his manners, that his society had a very visible influence upon the direction of their studies and conduct. (3) Dr. Glynn’s eccentricities were long remembered at Cambridge. He is said to have been eminently successful as a practitioner, and was implicitly trusted in and for a wide circuit around Cambridge. In his practice he relied much on counter irritation and a "vesicatorium amplum et acre" (the phraseology is his own), was a part of the prescription from which few of his patients suffering under acute disease escaped at one or other period of its course. He seldom employed either opium or mercury, and was convinced that syphilis might be cured without the last-named medicament. Being taken seriously ill, when at some distance from home, he sent for a neighbouring physician, to whom he said, "I am going to be very ill, and commit myself to your care, but on no account give me any of that vile drug, opium, or any preparation of it." On his recovery he said he hoped his friend had complied with his request, but begged he would inform him whether he had given him any opium or not. "If I had not," said his friend, " you would not have been here to ask the question." (4)

There is a fine and scarce portrait of Dr. Glynn engraved by J. G. and G. S. Facius, after a drawing by the Rev. Thomas Kerrick, to whom, as his friend and executor, he bequeathed a handsome legacy.

William Munk

[(1) Pursuits of Literature, vol. iv, p. 444.
(2) Jesse’s Memoirs of Celebrated Etonians, vol. ii, p. 86.
(3) Nichol’s Literary Anecdotes of the 18th Century, vol. viii, p. 215.
(4) Jesse’s Memoirs, ut supra]

(Volume II, page 247)

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