Simmons, Samuel Foart (DNB00)

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SIMMONS, SAMUEL FOART (1750–1813), physician, born at Sandwich in Kent on 17 March 1750, was the only son of Samuel Simmons (1724–1766), town clerk of Sandwich, by his first wife, Katherine, daughter of Josiah Foart of the same town. After being educated at a seminary in France, he proceeded to study medicine at Edinburgh and at Leyden, where he obtained the degree of doctor of physic in 1776. He next visited in Friesland Professor Camper, who possessed one of the finest anatomical museums in Europe; and journeyed in turn to each of the great German universities. Passing into Switzerland, he made the acquaintance of Haller at Berne, and at Ferney paid his respects to Voltaire. He returned to London by way of Paris, and in September 1778 was admitted a licentiate of the College of Physicians. In 1779 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. In the following year he was chosen physician to the Westminster General Dispensary, and in 1781 physician to St. Luke's Hospital. In the same year he became editor of the ‘London Medical Journal,’ a new magazine, which was continued under the name of ‘Medical Facts and Observations’ until 1800.

Simmons took advantage of the opportunities which his hospital practice afforded to make a close study of mental diseases, and his reputation as an authority in cases of insanity led to George III being intrusted to his care in 1803. This post he held for six months, until the king's recovery, when he was appointed one of his majesty's physicians-extraordinary. In 1811 the king became permanently insane, and Simmons was again in attendance and gave evidence before the House of Lords on the probability of the king's recovery. In the same year he resigned his post of physician of St. Luke's Hospital, and was appointed by the directors consulting physician, a post specially created for him. He died on 23 April 1813, at his house in Poland Street, and was buried on 2 May in St. Clement's churchyard at Sandwich. By his wife Susannah he left one son, Richard, a physician.

In 1791 Simmons was elected a member of the Society of Antiquaries. He was also a fellow of the academies of Nantes, Montpellier, and Madrid; of the College of Physicians of Lorraine; and of the Royal Society of Medicine at Paris, as well as honorary member of the Medical Society of Edinburgh and the Philosophical Society of Manchester.

He was the author of: 1. ‘Disputatio Inauguralis de Rubeola,’ Leyden, 1776, 4to. 2. ‘Elements of Anatomy and the Animal Economy, translated from the French of M. Perron,’ London, 1775, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1781. 3. ‘Tænia or Tapeworm,’ London, 1778, 8vo. 4. ‘Anatomy of the Human Body,’ London, 1780, 8vo. Only the first volume was published. 5. ‘Observations on the Treatment of Consumptions,’ London, 1780, 8vo. 6. ‘Gonorrhœa,’ London, 1780, 8vo. 7. ‘Account of the Life and Writings of William Hunter,’ London, 1783, 8vo. He also contributed many articles to the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ and the ‘London Medical Journal.’

[Gent. Mag. 1811 i. 285, 388, 1813 i. 587; Munk's Coll. of Phys. ii. 318; Boys's Hist. of Sandwich, p. 489; Thomson's Hist. of Royal Society, App. p. lvii.]

E. I. C.