Barwick, Peter (DNB00)

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BARWICK, PETER (1619–1705), physician in ordinary to King Charles II, was the younger brother of John Barwick, dean of St. Paul's. Like his elder brother, he was educated at Sedbergh school, and St. John's College, Cambridge, where he was a foundation scholar. He was appointed by Bishop Wren to the fellowship at St. John's, in the gift of the Bishop of Ely, but could not be admitted ‘through the iniquity of the times.’ He was driven from Cambridge by the civil war, and became tutor to Mr. Ferdinando Sacheverell, of Old Hayes, in Leicestershire, who left him by will a legacy of 20l. a year. He returned to Cambridge in 1647 to take his M.A. degree, and when there applied himself diligently to the study of medicine. In 1651 he was at Worcester, holding personal intercourse with Charles II, and receiving tokens of his favour; and all through the rebellion he cordially supported his brother in his efforts for the royal cause. In 1655 he received his M.D. degree, and in 1657 took a house in St. Paul's Churchyard. Here he was joined by his brother, who repaired at his own expense an oratory which he found there, in which John daily read the proscribed service of the church in the presence of a few royalists. About this time Peter married a Mrs. Sayon, a merchant's widow and a kinswoman of Archbishop Laud. At the Restoration he was made one of the king's physicians in ordinary, and became highly distinguished in his profession throughout the city, being particularly famous for his treatment of the small-pox and all sorts of fevers. He supported Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood, and he is said to have written one of the best contemporary treatises on the subject. He was elected fellow of the College of Physicians 26 June 1655. He was as staunch a churchman as his brother John; and it must have been a proud moment for him when, in 1661, Sheldon, bishop of London, and the other bishops, deans, and archdeacons, met at his house, and proceeded thence to St. Paul's to open the first session of convocation for the revising of the prayer book. When the plague broke out, in 1665, he was one of the few physicians who manfully stayed at their posts; and he is mentioned by Dr. Hodges in his account of the plague as one who did great service in London. He kept his house for the convenience of attending the daily service at the cathedral, which he never neglected all through the plague. In fact he seems to have kept the officiating clergy up to their duty during that trying time, for we find one of the ‘petty canons’ writing to Dean Sancroft: ‘Dr. Barwick asked, as all others, if I heard anything concerning the monthly communion, to which I could say little;’ and again a week later: ‘Dr. Barwick is the constant frequenter of our church, sometimes three times a day.’ Tillotson also writes to Sancroft: ‘I have acquainted Dr. Bing with your intentions of charity to the poor [about St. Paul's], and shall take Dr. Barwick's advice before it be disposed of’ [Ellis]. Though the plague could not drive him from his home, the fire did (1666). His house was burned down with St. Paul's, and he removed to the neighbourhood of Westminster Abbey that he might attend the daily services there, as he had before attended them at St. Paul's. Here he lived for many years, and the story of his life is one of touching simplicity. He began every day by attending the six o'clock prayers; he then attended the poor professionally, prescribing for them gratis, furnishing them with medicines at his own expense, and ‘charitably relieving their other wants.’ The rest of his time he divided between his professional and literary work and the society of his friends, one of the chief of whom was his neighbour, Dr. Busby, of Westminster school. He was censor of the College of Physicians in 1674, 1684, 1687, and ‘elect’ from 26 March 1685 to 6 Nov. 1691. In 1694 his eyesight entirely failed him, and he was obliged to give up his practice; but he lived on for eleven years, ‘giving himself to contemplation and the conversation of a few friends.’ He died 4 Sept. 1705. Dr. Peter Barwick is now chiefly known for his interesting life of his brother, the dean, which he commenced in 1671, writing it in Latin, chiefly, it is said, for the sake of inserting the Latin disputation which his brother wrote for his D.D. degree; the thesis of it was ‘That the method of imposing penance and restoring penitents in the primitive church was a godly discipline, and that it is much to be wished it was restored.’ To the ‘Life’ he added an appendix vindicating the royal authorship of the Εἰκὼν Βασιλική. The ‘Vita Joannis Barwick’ was published in 1721 by Hilkiah Bedford, the nonjuror, who also wrote, and published in 1724, an excellent English translation of the work, and enriched it with copious notes on the various people mentioned therein; these notes are very valuable to the student of the history of the period. The manuscript of the life, with papers used in it, was deposited in the library of St. John's College, Cambridge.

[Life of Peter Barwick, attached to the English Translation of the Life of John Barwick by Hilkiah Bedford; Vita Joannis Barwick; Ellis's Original Letters, 2nd series, vol. iv.; Munk's Roll, i. 352–4.]