Lives of the fellows

John Cooke

b.? d.1 January 1838
MD Leyden LRCP(1784) FRCP(1807)

John Cooke, M.D., was descended from a respectable family settled at Edith Weston, in Rutlandshire, but was born in Lancashire, and educated at a seminary at Northampton, founded by the celebrated Dr. Doddridge, and in high estimation among dissenters. He was originally bred to the ministry, and in that capacity was for a short time at Rochdale and at Preston;(1) but he soon turned his attention to physic, his study of which was commenced at Guy’s hospital, continue at Edinburgh, and completed at Leyden, where he proceeded doctor of medicine (D.M.I. de usu Corticis Peruviani in Morbis non Febrilibus). Settling in London, he was appointed physician to the General dispensary, and on the 18th April, 1784, was elected to the more important office of physician to the London hospital—an institution which he served with great zeal for more than twenty years. Upon his resignation in September, 1807, he received the thanks of all connected with the charity, accompanied by expressions of their deep regret at his departure.

Dr. Cooke was admitted a Licentiate of the College of Physicians 25th June, 1784, and a Fellow (speciali gratia) 25th June, 1807. He was Censor in 1811, 1820, Croonian lecturer in 1819, 1820, 1821, and Harveian orator in 1828. He was named an Elect 3rd January, 1832, but on account of ill-health declined the office. In 1799, great alarm was occasioned in the city by the sudden death of two men who had been employed in landing cotton; and a suspicion was engendered that they had imbibed the infection of plague from it. The fears of the government were excited, and the lord mayor was directed to order a searching inquiry into the facts of the case. He applied to Dr. Cooke, who, after a full investigation, drew up a report which at once tranquil-lised the public mind, and showed by the symptoms, the appearances on dissection, and the collateral circumstances of those employed along with the two men in question, that no such malady could exist as that which had excited such alarm.

Dr. Cooke was one of the Committee of Fellows appointed to superintend the publication of the Medical Transactions. He was a fellow of the Royal and Antiquarian Societies and president of the Medico-Chirurgical Society in 1822 and 1823. He was an accomplished classical scholar, and a passionate lover of Homer, his Glasgow edition of which he had interleaved and enriched with many notes. From declining health he had for some years prior to his death relinquished all practice, and withdrawn in great measure from society. Dr. Cooke died from disease of the bladder, at his house in Gower-street, on the 1st January, 1838.

"His manners were those of a gentleman and a scholar, entirely devoid of pedantry, and marked by a kind and proper deference for the opinions entertained by others. Independent in every sense of the word, he was always ready freely to express and manfully to maintain his opinions. An enemy to flattery and little solicitous of popular applause, the course of study pursued throughout his whole life gave to him a tone of mind, a clearness of conception, and a consequent decision of character much to be admired. He mingled largely in the society of men of all ranks, opinions, and pursuits, and all have been proud to consider him as their friend."(2)

Dr. Cooke was the author of a learned and justly-esteemed work—
A Treatise on Nervous Diseases. 2 vols. 8vo. Lond. 1820

William Munk

[(1) Christian Reformer, N.S., vol. xii, p. 358.
(2) Pettigrew’s Biographical Memoirs of the most celebrated Physicians and Surgeons. Vol. I.]

(Volume III, page 53)

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