Chamberlen, Paul (DNB00)

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CHAMBERLEN, PAUL, M.D. (1636–1717), empiric, second son of Peter Chamberlen, M.D. (1601-1683) [q. v.], was born in the parish of St. Anne's, Blackfriars, on 22 Oct. 1635. The possession of the family secret gave him the opportunity of growing rich as an obstetrician. Like his father and brother, Hugh Chamberlen the elder [q. v.], Paul had also his project for the welfare of mankind. In a petition to parliament he states that he 'hath several years imploy'd his Thoughts how he might be most serviceable to his Country, and humbly hopes he has fall'n upon some demonstrable Ways, whereby the Govemment may be supply's at all Times with whatsover sums of Mony they shall have occasion for without Annual Interest, and without alienating any more Branches of the Publick Revenue' (undated quarto sheet in Guildhall Library). The proposal did not commend itself to parliament, and Chamberlen had to seek for fame and gain by less ambitious methods. He is best known as the inventor of the 'celebrated Anodyne Necklace, recommended to the world by Dr. Chamberlen for children's teeth, women in labour, etc.,' and as the author of various publications wherein the virtues of his invention are detailed not without a certain speciousness of reasoning nor some show of learning. Of these literary efforts perhaps the most amusing is what professes to be 'A Philosophical Essay,' 70 pp. 8vo, London, 1717, which, although stated in the preface to have been the work of an anonymous admirer, was in reality from the doctor's pen, and dedicated with consummate impudence to 'Dr. Chamberlen and the Royal Society.' The necklace was of beads artificially prepared, small, like barleycorns, and cost five shillings (Notes and Queries, 6th ser., ix. 132, x. 877). For years after the death of Paul Chamberlen, as we learn from Dr. Aveling (The Chamberlens and the Midwifery Forceps, pp. 180-3), all sorts of quack medicines were sold 'up one pair of Stairs at the Sign of the Anodyne Necklace next to the Rose Tavern without Temple Bar.' Chamberlen had married Mary Disbrowe, who came from the family of Major-general John Disbrowe or Desborough, the well-known parliamentarian and brotner-in-law to the Protector. He died at his house in Great Suffolk Street, Haymarket, on 3 Dec. 1717 (Hist. Reg. 1717, p. 47), and was buried in the parish church of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. His will, bearing date 24 May 1713, was proved by his relict on 19 Dec. 1717 (Reg. in P. C. C. 227, Whitfield). Mrs. Chamberlen dying in July of the following year, 1718, was buried with her husband (Will reg. in P. C. C. 138, Tenison).

Their only son, Paul, if we may judge from the tone of his parents' wills, would appear to have led no very reputable life. He subsisted principally as a hack writer, and published in 1730 a translation of the 'Anecdotes Persanes' of Madame de Gomez. His other works were: 1. 'Military History of Prince Eugene and the Duke of Marlborough,' folio, London, 1736. 2. 'An Impartial History of the Life and Reign of Queen Anne, . . . also the most material Incidents of the Life of the Duke of Ormond. In Three Parts,' folio, London, 1738. Of this no more than the first part was ever published. 3. 'History and Antiquities of the Ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans, Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Grecians, and Carthaginians,' folio, London, 1738 (an abridgment of Rollin). Some personal and political satire of much obscenity has also been attributed to his pen.

[Authorities as above.]

G. G.