Glynn, Robert (DNB00)

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GLYNN, ROBERT, afterwards Clobery (1719–1800), physician, eldest and only surviving son of Robert Glynn of Brodes in Helland parish, near Bodmin, Cornwall, who married Lucy, daughter of John Clobery of Bradstone, Devonshire, was born at Brodes on 5 Aug. and baptised at Helland Church on 16 Sept. 1719. After some teaching from a curate named Whiston, he was placed on the foundation at Eton. In 1737 he was elected scholar of King's College, Cambridge, where he took the degrees of B.A. 1741, M.A. 1745, and M.D. 1752, and became a fellow. His medical tutor at Cambridge was the elder William Heberden of St. John's College. Glynn himself announced in March 1751 a course of lectures at King's College on the medical institutes, and next year gave a second course on anatomy. For a short time he practised at Richmond, Surrey, but soon returned to Cambridge, and never again left the university. In 1757 he competed successfully for the Seatonian prize out of dislike for one Bally, who gained the same prize in 1756 and 1758. He did not attempt poetry again, and it was unfairly insinuated that he was not the author of his own poem. On 5 April 1762 he was admitted a candidate, and on 28 March 1763 became a fellow, of the College of Physicians at London. He accepted no further distinctions, though the second William Pitt (whom he had attended in the autumn of 1773, when Lord Chatham wrote a letter of congratulation on the patient's recovery from sickness, with the hope that he was 'enjoying the happy advantage of Dr. Glynn's acquaintance, as one of the cheerful and witty sons of Apollo, in his poetic not his medical attributes') offered him in 1793 the professorial chair of medicine at Cambridge. He was at the close of his life the acknowledged head of his profession in that town, and his medical services were in great repute at Ely, where he regularly attended every week. Late in life Glynn inherited a considerable property from a maternal uncle, and with it took the name of Clobery, though still called Glynn by others. He died at his rooms in King's College, Cambridge, on 6 Feb. 1800, and, according to his own direction, was buried in the vault of the college chapel by torchlight, between the hours of ten and eleven at night on 13 Feb., in the presence of members of the college only. A tablet to his memory was placed in the chapel, in a little oratory on the right hand after entering its south door. Though he was in good practice and lived economically as a fellow, he was too generous to be rich. He left his lands in Holland to the Rev. John Henry Jacob, sometime a fellow of King's College, and son of John Jacob of Salisbury, M.D., a particular friend. The college received a legacy of 5,883l. 6s. 8d. stock. It was chiefly expended on some buildings erected under superintendence of Wilkins the architect about the years 1825-30; but a prize of 20l. a year, annually divided between two scholars 'for learning and regularity of conduct,' was also provided. To the Rev. Thomas Kerrich of Magdalene College, Cambridge, his friend and executor, he bequeathed the sum of 5,000l. His portrait, an extremely good likeness, was drawn by Kerrich. An engraving, now scarce, was executed by J. G. and G. S. Facius in 1783. Glynn was eccentric in manner and dress. Professor Pryme describes him as usually wearing 'a scarlet cloak and three-cornered hat; he carried a gold-headed cane. He also used pattens in rainy weather.' Another contemporary, Sir Egerton Brydges, records the doctor's pride' on saying whatever came uppermost into his mind.' His tea parties were famous, and frequented by many undergraduates. As a physician he showed judgment and attention, but with characteristic eccentricity he almost invariably ordered a blister,' emplasma vesicatorium ampluin et acre.' He resolutely refrained from prescribing opium, cathartics, or bleeding. He recommended and practised an open air life. He was very friendly with Mason and attended Gray in his last illness. Bishop Watson was one of his patients in 1781, when he unfortunately gave his opinion that recovery was hopeless. He gave advice gratis to patients from the Fens, and would take no fee from a Cornishman or an Etonian. His kindness to one of his poor patients was celebrated by a younger son of Dr. Plumptre, president of Queens' College, in verses called 'Benevolus and the Magpie.' An anecdote imputing inhumanity to him in Parr's 'Works,' i. 41, doubtless arises from a misapprehension. His poem of 'The Day of Judgement' was printed at Cambridge in 1757, 2nd edit. 1757, 3rd edit. 1758, and again in 1800. It was included in the various impressions of the 'Musæ Seatonianæ,' Davenport's' Poets,' vol. lviii., Park's 'Poets,' vol. xxxiii., and in many similar publications. Some stanzas by him beginning 'Tease me no more' appeared in the 'General Evening Post,' 23 April 1789, and have been reprinted in the 'Poetical Register' for 1802, p. 233, and H. J. Wale's 'My Grandfather's Pocket-Book,' pp.299-300. He believed in the authenticity of the Rowley poems, and his faith was confirmed by a visit to Bristol in 1778. The Latin letter introduced by William Barrett [q. v.] into his history of Bristol (preface p. v) is said to have been written by him, and on Barrett's death the original forgeries by Chatterton were presented to Glynn, who bequeathed them to the British Museum, where they are now known as Addit. MSS. 5766, A, B, and C. He had a bitter quarrel with George Steevens over these manuscripts; the particulars of an interview which took place between them at Cambridge in 1785 are given in a letter from Mansel to Mathias, printed in 'Notes and Queries,' 2nd ser. x. 283-4. The essay of Mathias in the Chatterton controversy is said to have been augmented by the learning of Glynn, who is referred to more than once with profound respect in the 'Pursuits of Literature,' particularly in dialogue iv. 599-600. Gilbert Wakefield used to say (according to Samuel Rogers) that 'Rennell and Glynn assisted Mathias' in this satire, and Roger's was accustomed to add that 'Wakefield was well acquainted with all three' (Table Talk of Rogers, p. 135). Three letters from Glynn to Hardinge are in Nichols's 'Illustrations of Literature,' iii. 221-3. Wadd in his 'Nugæ Chirurgicæ' quotes a poetical jeu d'esprit on Glynn as a physician. Horace Walpole called him in 1792 'an old doting physician and Chattertonian at Cambridge,' and professed to believe that some falsehoods current about himself had been invented or disseminated by Glynn (Letters, ix. 380-3). His library was sold in 1800, and many of the books were said to abound 'with MS. notes by the late learned possessor.'

[Nichols's Lit. Anecd. viii. 211-15, 520, 632, ix. 687-8; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. viii. 555; Munk's Coll. of Phys. (1878), ii. 247-50; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. vols. i. and iii.; Gray's Works, ed. Gosse, iii. 296; Gosse's Gray, p. 205; Bishop Watson's Autobiog. i. 142; Pryme's Autobiog. p. 46; Gent. Mag. 1800 pp. 276-8, 1814 pt. ii. 323; Jesse's Etonians, ii. 86-8; Notes and Querias, 2nd ser. xii. 221, 5th ser. ix. 321-2; Gunning's Reminiscences, ii. 96-103; Carlyon's Early Years, ii. 1-49; Jeaffreson's Doctors, i. 197, ii. 179; Maclean's Trigg Minor, ii. 32, 66-7, 74; Wordsworth's Scholæ Acad. pp. 173-7; Autobiog. of Sir E. Brydges, i. 64; Chatham Corresp. iv. 309; Harwood's Alumni Eton. p. 326; European Mag. 1800, pp. 355-7.]

W. P. C.