Chambre, John (DNB00)

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CHAMBRE, JOHN (1470–1549), physician, whose name is also spelt Chamber, Chambyr, and Chambers, born in Northumberland, studied at Oxford, where he was elected fellow of Merton College in 1492, and, having taken orders, was presented to the living of Tichmarsh in Northamptonshire. He proceeded M.A., visited Italy, studied medicine there, and graduated in that faculty at Padua. On his return he became physician to King Henry VII, and fulfilled the duties of that difficult situation so well that he was as much in favour with the prince as he had been with the old king, and was physician to Henry VIII throughout his reign. He received the degree of M.D. at Oxford in 1531. When the College of Physicians was founded in 1518, Dr. Chambre was the first named in the charter of those who were to form the body corporate, and he is also associated with the incorporation of surgery in this country, for in Holbein's picture of the granting of a charter to the barber surgeons in 1541, Dr. Chambre is depicted kneeling first of the three royal physicians on the king's right hand, witnessing the giving of the sealed charter into the hand of Thomas Vicary. He wears a gown trimmed with fur, and has a biretta-like cap on his head. He has a straight, but somewhat short, nose, well-marked eyebrows, a very long clean-shaven chin, and an almost severe expression of face. Chambre was censor of the College of Physicians in 1523. He wrote no medical book, but some of his prescriptions for lotions and plasters are preserved in manuscript (Sloane MS, 1047, Brit. Mus. ff. 25-9, and 84-6), and a letter signed by him on the health of Queen Jane Seymour is extant. His first preferment was an ecclesiastical one, and he received much advancement in the church. In 1508 he was given the living of Bowden in Leicestershire, from 1494 to 1509 he held the prebend of Codringham in Lincoln Cathedral, and from 1509 to 1549 that of Leighton Buzzard in the same, and in the same diocese, as then constituted, he held the archdeaconry of Bedford from 1525 to 1549, while he was also treasurer of Wells 1510 to 1543, and in 1537 canon of Wiveliscombe; he was precentor of Exeter 1524 to 1549, canon of Windsor 1509 to 1549, warden of Merton College, Oxford, 1525 to 1544, archdeacon of Meath 1540 to 1542, and dean of the collegiate chapel of St. Stephen's, Westminster. Thus in 1540 this royal physician was also head of a college at Oxford, and held preferments in one Irish and three English dioceses. He built the beautiful cloisters of St. Stephen's chapel at his own cost, but lived to see them demolished while he himself acquiesced in the changes of the times. He died in 1549, and was buried in St. Margaret's, Westminster.

[Le Neve, Fasti, 1854; Cotton's Fasti Ecclesiæ Hibernicæ, iii. 127; Brodrick's Memorials of Merton College, Oxf. Hist. Soc. 163-4; Munk's Coll. of Phys. 1878. i. 11; Picture at Barbers' Hall, London; original charter of Henry VIII at College of Physicians.]

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