Lives of the fellows

Charles Combe

b.23 September 1743 d.18 March 1817
FRS(1776) MD Glasgow(1784) LRCP(1784)

Charles Combe, M.D. — This accomplished scholar and estimable man was the son of a respectable apothecary, and was born in Southampton-street, Bloomsbury-square, 23rd September, 1743. He was educated at Harrow under Dr. Thackeray; and, having risen to the sixth form, left the school when between sixteen and seventeen years of age, with the intention of proceeding forthwith to Queen’s college, Oxford. His elder brother, who was then assisting his father in the business, being in a bad state of health, and soon afterwards dying, Dr. Combe remained at home; and, having gone through the usual education at the London hospitals, in 1768 succeeded to his father’s business. His taste for antiquities, more especially numismatics, was early manifested, and introduced him to the notice of Dr. William Hunter, whose esteem and friendship he soon succeeded in obtaining. At his death in 1783, Dr. Hunter left him, jointly with Dr. George Fordyce and Dr. David Pitcairn, executor and trustee to his museum. Dr. Combe’s attainments as a scholar and antiquary were by this time generally known and appreciated. He had been elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1771; and a fellow of the Royal Society in 1776; and in 1784 the university of Glasgow conferred on him the degree of doctor of medicine. Dr. Combe then commenced practice as an obstetric physician, and on the 5th of April,1784, was admitted by the College of Physicians a Licentiate in Midwifery. He was elected physician to the British Lying-in hospital in 1789; and, on resigning that office in 1810, was, at a special general court convened for that purpose, unanimously appointed consulting physician. Dr. Combe died at his house in Vernon-place, Bloomsbury-square, 18th March, 1817, in the seventy-fourth year of his age, and was buried in Bloomsbury cemetery, Brunswick-square. His portrait was painted by Medley, and engraved by N. Bran-white. Dr. Combe had made a very valuable collection in Materia Medica, and this the College purchased shortly after his death. He contributed various papers to the periodical publications of the time, but the works by which he is best known, and on which his reputation now rests, are the following:—
Index Nummorum omnium Imperatorum Augustorum et Cæsa-rum, a Julio Cæsare ad Postumum, qui tam in Româ et Coloniis, quam in Græciâ, Egypto, et aliis locis ex Ære magni moduli sig-nabantur. 4to. Lond. 1773.
Nummorum veterum Populorum et Urbium qui in Museo Gulielmi Hunter asservantur Descriptio, figuris illustrata. 4to. Lond. 1782.

In 1793 Dr. Combe brought out, conjointly with Mr. Homer, fellow of Emmanuel college, Cambridge, a splendid edition of Horace in two volumes, quarto, a magnificent specimen of typography, enriched with a judicious selection of notes, and the best index to the works of Horace which had ever appeared. This led to the publication of a pamphlet entitled—
A Statement of Facts relative to the Behaviour of Dr. Parr to the late Mr. H. Homer and Dr. Combe. 8vo. Lond. 1793.
A Catalogue of a Collection of Prints, formed with a view to elucidate and improve the History of Engraving from the earliest period of the Art till the year 1700. 8vo. Lond. 1803.

William Munk

(Volume II, page 337)

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