Battie, William (DNB00)

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BATTIE, WILLIAM (1704–1776), physician, son of Edward Battie, rector of Modbury, Devonshire, was born there in 1704. He was a king's scholar at Eton, and in 1722 entered King's College, Cambridge. In 1724 he was a candidate for the Craven scholarship, and, the electors being equally divided, the appointment lapsed after a year to the founder's family, when Lord Craven gave it to Battie. Battie in 1747 founded a similar scholarship at Cambridge worth 20l. a year, which was called after him, and he nominated the scholars during his lifetime. He graduated B.A. in 1720, M.A. in 1730, and M.D. in 1737. He began to practise physic at Cambridge, and gave anatomical lectures at King's College (H. Walpole, Letters, i. xii.). In 1728 he published an edition of Aristotle's ‘Rhetoric,’ and in 1729 one of Isocrates' ‘Orations.’ The latter was ridiculed in some verses by Dr. Morell, published in the ‘Grub Street Journal,’ 1730; it was republished, with additions, in two volumes in 1749. He afterwards settled at Uxbridge. On one occasion Godolphin, the provost of Eton, although in good health, sent a coach and four for him in order to raise his reputation. He made 500l. at Uxbridge, and then settled in London, where he soon gained a large practice. In 1738 he married the daughter of Barnham Goode, under-master at Eton. A fortune of over 20,000l. was left to him soon afterwards by some cousins. He became fellow of the College of Physicians in 1738; censor in 1743, 1747, and 1749; Harveian orator in 1746; and president in 1764. He was Lumleian orator from 1749 to 1754. He was physician to St. Luke's Hospital for some years, resigning the post in 1764, and was proprietor of a large private lunatic asylum. In 1750 he took part in the dispute between the College of Physicians and Dr. Schomberg, which involved an expensive litigation; he was attacked for his part in this affair in the ‘Battiad,’ 1751 (by Moses Mendez), which is reprinted in Dilly's ‘Repository,’ 1776. In 1763 he was examined with Dr. Monro before a committee of the House of Commons on the regulation of private madhouses; his evidence contributed to the bill on the subject which was passed in 1774. He died on 13 June 1776, and was buried at Kingston, Surrey. According to Horace Walpole, he died worth 100,000l. (H. Walpole, Letters, ii. 366). Besides the editions of Aristotle and Isocrates, Battie published a Harveian oration in 1746; his Lumleian lectures (‘De Principiis Animalibus’) in twenty-four separate parts between 1751 and 1757, in which year a collected edition of the whole was issued; a ‘Treatise on Madness’ in 1758, which was attacked by Dr. John Monro in a pamphlet published in the same year; and ‘Aphorismi de cognoscendis et curandis Morbis’ in 1760. Battie seems to have been an eccentric humorist. He left three daughters, one of whom married Sir George Young, a distinguished admiral.

[Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, iv. 599–612, 727; Harwood's Alumni Eton. 304–9; Munk's Roll, ii. 139–43; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Brit. Mus. Cat.]