Croone, William (DNB00)

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CROONE or CROUNE, WILLIAM, M.D. (1633–1684), physician, was born in London on 15 Sept. 1633, and admitted into Merchant Taylors' School on 11 Dec. 1642. He was admitted on 13 May 1647 a pensioner of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where, after taking his first degree in arts, he was elected to a fellowship. In 1659 he was chosen professor of rhetoric in Gresham College, London, and while holding that office he zealously promoted the institution of the Royal Society, the members of which assembled there. At their first meeting after they had formed themselves into a regular body, on 28 Nov. 1660, he was appointed their registrar, and he continued in that office till the grant of their charter, by which Dr. Wilkins and Mr. Oldenburg were nominated joint secretaries. On 7 Oct. 1662 he was created doctor of medicine at Cambridge by royal mandate. He was chosen one of the first fellows of the Royal Society on 20 May 1663, after the grant of their charter, and he frequently sat upon the council. On 25 June the same year he was admitted a candidate of the College of Physicians. In 1665 he visited France, where he became personally acquainted with several learned and eminent men.

The Company of Surgeons appointed him, on 28 Aug. 1670, their anatomy lecturer on the muscles, in succession to Sir Charles Scarborough, and he held that office till his death. Soon after his appointment to it he resigned his professorship at Gresham College. On 29 July 1675, after having waited twelve years for a vacancy, he was admitted a fellow of the College of Physicians. He was highly esteemed as a physician, and acquired an extensive and lucrative practice in the latter part of his life. Ward says ‘he was little in person, but very lively and active, and remarkably diligent in his inquiries after knowledge; for which end he maintained a correspondence with several learned men both at home and abroad.’ He died on 12 Oct. 1684, and was buried in St. Mildred's Church in the Poultry. His funeral sermon was preached by John Scott, D.D., canon of Windsor, and afterwards published.

He published ‘De ratione motus Musculorum,’ London, 1664, 4to, Amsterdam, 1667, 12mo; and read many papers to the Royal Society, including ‘A Discourse on the Conformation of a Chick in the Egg before Incubation’ (28 March 1671–2). Dr. Goodall states that Croone ‘had made most ingenious and excellent observations de ovo, long before Malpighius's book upon that subject was extant.’

He married Mary, daughter of Alderman John Lorymer of London. She afterwards became the wife of Sir Edwin Sadleir, bart., of Temple Dinsley, Hertfordshire, and died on 30 Sept. 1706.

Croone left behind him a plan for two lectureships which he had designed to found. One lecture was to be read before the College of Physicians, with a sermon to be preached at the church of St. Mary-le-Bow, the other to be delivered yearly before the Royal Society upon the nature and laws of muscular motion. But as his will contained no provision for the endowment of these lectures, his widow carried out his intention by devising in her will the King's Head Tavern in Lambeth Hill, Knightrider Street, in trust to her executors to settle four parts out of five upon the College of Physicians to found the annual lecture now called the Croonian lecture; and the fifth part on the Royal Society. Lady Sadleir also, out of regard for the memory of her first husband, provided for the establishment of the algebra lectures which were afterwards founded at Emmanuel, King's, St. John's, Sidney, Trinity, Jesus, Pembroke, Queens', and St. Peter's colleges at Cambridge. The fine portrait of Croone in the censors' room at the College of Physicians, painted by Mary Beale, was presented to the college on 13 June 1738 by his relation and grandson Dr. Woodford, regius professor of physic at Oxford.

[Ward's Gresham Professors, with the author's manuscript notes, p. 320; Robinson's Register of Merchant Taylors' School, i. 153; Munk's Coll. of Phys. 2nd ed. i. 369; Cole's Athenæ Cantab. C. i. 197; Birch's Royal Society, iv. 339.]

T. C.