Levett, Henry (DNB00)

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LEVETT, HENRY, M.D. (1668–1725), physician, son of William Levett or Levet of Swindon, Wiltshire, was born in 1668. He was sent to the Charterhouse, which he left in 1686, entering 12 June at Magdalen Hall, Oxford. In the following month he was elected a demy of Magdalen College, and was present during the contest about the king's visitorial power in the autumn of 1687. He was probably expelled with most of the other demies during the winter, and on 30 June 1688 was elected a fellow of Exeter College. He graduated B.A. 24 Nov. 1692, M.A. 7 July 1694, M.B. 4 June 1695, and M.D. 22 April 1699. He settled in London, and was elected a fellow of the College of Physicians 23 Dec. 1708. On 29 April 1707 he was elected physician to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and on 5 Jan. 1712–13 became physician to the Charterhouse, where he lived till his death on 2 July 1725. He rebuilt, at his own cost, the physician's house by the great gate in Charterhouse Square. The house is still standing, and the beautiful oak carving and panelling which he put up remain in the rooms. It is now the residence of the surgeon-apothecary to the foundation. He was censor of the College of Physicians in 1717 and treasurer for five years. Among his friends were Dr. William Wagstaffe [q. v.] and Dr. John Freind [q. v.], and he was throughout life an adherent of the high church party. Hearne wrote of him at the time of his death as ‘a sweet-tempered man, a most excellent physician, well-beloved, very honest as a complyer, and had an excellent study of books.’ His tomb, with an elegant Latin inscription commemorating his love for the Charterhouse, is in the chapel of the brethren in the Charterhouse, London. His widow remarried in 1729 Andrew Tooke (1673–1731), head-master of Charterhouse.

On 10 June 1710 Levett wrote, at Dr. Freind's request, a letter on the treatment of small-pox. In this he relates two cases, and expresses an opinion in favour of the use of cathartics. The letter, which is in Latin, is printed in the Latin edition of Dr. Freind's collected works, published in 1733. It seems probable that he also wrote the short memoir of Dr. Wagstaffe, prefixed to the first edition of the latter's ‘Miscellaneous Works’ in 1725. In the second edition (1726) the author of Wagstaffe's ‘Character’ is described as an ‘eminent Physician, no less valued for his skill in his profession, which he shewed in several useful treatises, than admired for his Wit and Facetiousness in Conversation.’

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. ii. 22; Freind's Opera Medica, 1733; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ix. 167; Wagstaffe's Works; Bloxam's Reg. of Magdalen College, Oxford, vi. 53; Hearne's Coll. ed. Doble (Oxf. Hist. Soc.); Boase's Reg. Exeter Coll. pp. 82–3.]

N. M.