Browne, John (1642-1700?) (DNB00)
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Browne, John (1642-1700?)
|Browne, John (1741-1801)→|
BROWNE, JOHN (1642–1700?), surgeon, was born in 1642, probably at Norwich, where he lived in the early part of his life. He was of a surgical family, being, as he says, 'conversant with chirurgery almost from my cradle, being the sixth generation of my own relations, all eminent masters of our profession.' Among these relations was one William Crop, an eminent surgeon in Norfolk. He was acquainted with the celebrated Sir Thomas Browne of Norwich [q.v.], who wrote commendatory letters prefixed to two of his namesake's books, but there is no mention of any kinship between them. Browne studied at St. Thomas's Hospital, London, under Thomas Hollyer, but after serving as a surgeon in the navy settled down at Norwich. In 1677 he published his book on tumours, and in the following year migrated to London, being about the same time made surgeon in ordinary to King Charles II. On the occasion of a vacancy for a surgeon at St. Thomas's Hospital, the king sent a letter recommending him for the appointment, and he was elected by the governors on 21 June 1683, 'in all humble submission to his majesty's letter,' though the claims of another surgeon, Edward Rice, who had taken charge of the hospital during the plague of 1665, when all the surgeons deserted their posts, were manifestly superior. This royal interference did not in the end prove a happy circumstance for Browne. In 1691 complaints arose that the surgeons did not obey the regulations of the hospital, and pretended that being appointed by royal mandamus they were not responsible to the governors. In the changed state of politics, and under the guidance of their able president, Sir Robert Clayton, the governors were determined to maintain their authority, and on 7 July 1691 they 'put out' the whole of their surgical staff, including Browne, and appointed other surgeons in their place. Browne appealed to the lords commissioners of the great seal, and the governors were called upon to defend their proceedings. The decision apparently went in their favour, for in 1698 Browne humbly petitioned the governors to be reinstated, though without success. Browne managed to continue in court favour after the revolution, and was surgeon to William III. He died probably early in the eighteenth century.
Browne was a well-educated man, and in all likelihood a good surgeon, as he was certainly a well-trained anatomist according to the standard of the day. His books show no lack of professional knowledge, though they are wanting in originality. The most notable perhaps is 'Charisma Basilicon, or an Account of the Royal Gift of Healing,' where he describes the method pursued by Charles II in touching for the 'king's evil,' with which as the king's surgeon he was officially concerned. Though full of gross adulation and a credulity which it is difficult to believe sincere, it is the best contemporary account of this curious rite as practised by the Stuart kings, and gives statistics of the numbers of persons touched (amounting between 1660 and 1682 to 92,107). His treatise on the muscles consists of six lectures, illustrated by elaborate copper-plates, of which the engraving is better than the drawing. It is probably the first of such books in which the names of the muscles are printed on the figures. Browne's portrait, engraved by R. White, is prefixed in different states to each of his books.
- 'A Treatise of Preternatural Tumours,' 8vo, London, 1678 (with plates).
- 'A Complete Discourse of Wounds,' 4to, London, 1678 (plates).
- 'Adeno-Choiradelogia, or an Anatomick-Chirurgical Treatise,' &c., 8vo, London, 1684; in three parts with separate titles, viz. (1) 'Adenographia, or an Anatomical Treatise of the Glandules;' (2) 'Chreradelogia, or an exact Discourse of Strumaes or King's Evil Swellings;' (3) 'Charisma Basilicon, or the Royal Gift of Healing Strumaes, &c., by Contact or Imposition of the Sacred Hands of our Kings of England and of France.'
- 'Myographia Nova, or a graphical description of all the Muscles in the Human Body; with one and forty copper-plates,' London, 1684; 2nd ed. Lugd. Batavorum, 1687; 3rd ed. London, 1697; 4th ed. London, 1698.
- 'The Surgeon's Assistant,' 8vo, London, 1703.
[Browne's Works; Archives of St. Thomas's Hospital.]