Bullein, William (DNB00)

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BULLEIN, WILLIAM (d. 1576), physician, was born early in the reign of Henry VIII. His own writings are the chief authority for his biography. In the ‘Book of Simples’ (fol. xxi b) he speaks of the isle of Ely as his ‘native country.’ There is no evidence to show that he studied at Oxford or Cambridge, but it is not improbable that he belonged to both universities. Wood claims him for Oxford, while the authors of ‘Athenæ Cantabrigienses’ suppose that he was educated at Cambridge. On 9 June 1550 he was instituted to the rectory of Blaxhall in Suffolk, where some of his kinsmen resided. This preferment he resigned before 5 Nov. 1554. He afterwards travelled on the continent to study medicine, and it is supposed that he took the degree of M.D. abroad. His name is not found on the roll of the Royal College of Physicians. In 1558–9 Bullein published ‘A newe booke entituled the Gouernement of Healthe, wherein is vttered manye notable Rules for mannes preseruacion, with sondry symples and other matters, no lesse fruiteful than profitable: colect out of many approued authours. Reduced into the forme of a Dialogue, for the better vnderstanding of thunlearned. Whereunto is added a sufferain Regiment against the Pestilence,’ n.d., London, 8vo, black letter. The treatise was dedicated to Sir Thomas Hilton, knight, baron of Hilton and captain of Tynemouth Castle. Following the letter of dedication is a copy of verses by William Bullein in seven-line stanzas ‘against surfeting,’ to which are appended some commendatory verses by R[ichard] B[ullein]. On the next page is a rough woodcut profile of the author, and then follows an address ‘To the general reader.’ At the end of the book is an address ‘Agayne to the gentle Reader,’ dated 1 March 1558–9. A second edition appeared in 1595; it concludes with a prose ‘Epilogue,’ dated 1 March 1558–9, but agrees in other respects with the earlier edition. In 1562–3 appeared ‘Bullein's Bulwarke of defẽce againste all Sicknes, Sornes, and woundes that dooe daily assaulte mankinde, which Bulwarke is kepte with Hillarius the Gardiner, Health the Phisician, with their Chyrurgian to helpe the wounded soldiors. Gathered and practised frō the moste worthie learned, both old and newe: to the greate comforte of mankinde. Doen by Williyam Bulleyn, and ended this March, Anno Salutis 1562,’ London, folio, black letter; second edition, 1579. The treatise is dedicated, from London, to Lord Henry Carey, baron of Hunsdon. In the ‘Gouernement of Healthe’ Bullein had mentioned that he was engaged on a ‘booke called the “Healthfull Medicines.”’ From the address ‘To the good reader,’ prefixed to the ‘Bulwarke,’ we learn that the manuscript of the ‘Healthful Medicines’ was lost at sea. After relating how this misfortune occurred, the writer proceeds to tell a strange story, which is repeated with more fulness in the body of the work (Book of Simples, fol. lxxxiv b). It appears that he had been residing in the family of Sir Thomas Hilton at Tynemouth (or Hilton Castle). On leaving his patron he took ship for London and was wrecked on the voyage, losing not only the manuscript of his ‘Healthful Medicines,’ but also a portion of his library. No sooner had he reached London than he was accused by William Hilton, his patron's brother, ‘of no lesse crime then of moste cruell murder of his own brother (Sir Thomas Hilton), which died of a feuer (sent onely of God) emong his owne friendes; finishyng his life in the christen faith. But this William Hilton, causing me to be arrayned before that noble prince the Duke's grace of Norfolke, for the same: to this ende to haue had me died shamefully: that with the couetous Ahab he might haue through false witnesse and periurie obtained by the counsaill of Jezabell a vine yard by the price of blood. But … his wicked practise was wisely espied, his folie derided, his bloodie purpose letted, and finally I was with iustice deliuered.’ Bullein afterwards married Sir Thomas Hilton's widow, and was in London with her in 1561, as we learn from a letter (dated 13 Oct. 1561), preserved among the ‘State Papers,’ of Bishop Pilkington to Cecil. The persecution was continued with much malignity, for his enemy contrived to have him arrested for debt and thrown into prison, where he employed himself in writing his ‘Bulwarke.’ The treatise is divided into four parts: (1) ‘Booke of Simples,’ (2) ‘Dialogue betwene Sorenes and Chyrurgi,’ (3) ‘Booke of Compounds,’ (4) ‘Booke of the Vse of sicke men and medicens.’ Parts 1 to 3 have a separate pagination, that of part 4 is continuous from part 3. There is a full-length woodcut portrait, presumably of the author, on aaa. The ‘Booke of Simples’ is of considerable interest, as being one of the earliest of English herbals. Bullein travelled much and made minute observations wherever he went; but his descriptions of what he observed are more valuable than his explanations. He garnishes his pages freely with precepts and homilies, and shows a naïve anxiety to impress his readers with the fact that he is pursuing his investigations with a view to promoting the practical welfare of the community. In the ‘Dialogue betwene Sorenes and Chyrurgi’ he inveighs vehemently against the race of quacksalvers; elsewhere in the same dialogue he gives a long list of eminent English chirurgeons, mentioning the achievements of each. From the ‘Bulwarke’ we learn some personal facts about Bullein. Speaking, in the ‘Booke of Simples’ (fol. lxxv), of the salt made in England, he tells us that he had a share in the salt-pans at ‘the Shiles’ (Shields) by Tynemouth Castle. When he is discoursing of the virtues of the daisy (ib. fol. xxxix b), the Latin name of the flower, ‘bellis,’ gives him occasion to relate how he ‘did recouer one Bellises [of Jarowe in the Bishopricke, marg. note], not onely from a spice of the palsie, but also from the quarten. And afterwards the same Bellises, more vnnaturall than a viper, sought divers ways to haue murthered me: taking parte against me with my mortall enemies.’ In fol. ii b of the ‘Booke of Simples’ he explains how he cured Sir Thomas Hilton's wife of a tympany; in fol. xl he relates a cure that he had worked on Sir Richard Alie, a knight famed for skill in fortifications; in fol. lx he speaks of some Suffolk witches that he had known; from fol. lxxv b we learn that he was for some time under the patronage of Sir John Delaval. In 1564–5 Bullein published a very remarkable book entitled ‘A Dialogue bothe pleasaunte and pietifull, wherein is a goodly regimente against the fever Pestilence, with a consolacion and comfort against death. Newly corrected by Willyam Bulleyn, the autour thereof. Imprinted at London by Ihon Kingston. Marcii, Anno salutis m.d.lxiiii.,’ small 8vo, black letter. Of this edition only one copy (in the Britwell collection) is known. The words on the title-page, ‘newly corrected,’ do not necessarily show that there had been an earlier edition; for there is evidence to prove that such announcements were sometimes made by publishers (to promote the sale) in the first edition of a book. Other editions appeared in 1573 and 1578. The ‘Dialogue’ combines passages of exalted eloquence with humorous anecdotes and sharp strokes of satire. The writer's purpose was not merely to prescribe remedies against the sweating-sickness (imported from Havre in 1564), but to encourage his countrymen in their affliction. The ‘Dialogue’ consists of a number of separate scenes or colloquies. The second colloquy is between a rich usurer, Antonius, and Medicus, who in the 1564 edition is styled Antonius Capistrinus, but who in later editions bears the name Dr. Tocrub, probably intended for a Dr. Burcot, mentioned in the ‘State Papers.’ He is satirised in succeeding dialogues. The ‘Dialogue’ kept its popularity for several years. In the ‘Address to the Reader,’ prefixed to ‘Haue with you to Saffron Walden,’ 1596, Nashe says: ‘I frame my whole Booke in the nature of a Dialogue, much like Bullein and his Doctor Tocrub.’ Bullein died on 7 Jan. 1575–6, and was buried on 9 Jan. at St. Giles's, Cripplegate. In the same grave lie buried his brother Richard, the divine, and John Foxe, the martyrologist. Over the tomb is a plated stone with a Latin inscription, commemorating the virtues of all three.

In addition to the works already mentioned, Bullein wrote: 1. ‘A comfortable Regiment and a very wholsome order against the moste perilous Pleurisie, whereof many doe daily die within this Citee of London and other places …,’ London, 1562, 12mo, black letter. Dedicated to Sir Robert Wingfield of Lethringham, knight. 2. ‘A briefe and short discourse of the Vertue and Operation of Balsame. With an instruction for those that haue their health to preserue the same. Whereunto is added Doctor Bullin's Diet for Health,’ London, 1585, 8vo, black letter. Some verses by Bullein are prefixed to Sadler's translation of Vegetius, 1572. ‘An Almanack and Prognostication of Master Bulleins’ was licensed to Abraham Vele in 1563–4 (Arber, Transcripts, i. 233), and ‘Serten prayers of Master Bullion’ were licensed to Christopher Barker in 1569–70 (ib. i. 390). Bullein's portrait has been engraved by William Stukeley (who claimed, without the slightest authority, to be descended from Bullein), and by W. Richardson. Mr. A. H. Bullen, in conjunction with his kinsman, Mr. Mark W. Bullen, is preparing an annotated edition of the ‘Dialogue against the Fever Pestilence.’

The Rev. Richard Bullein, brother of William Bullein, is described in the ‘Dialogue betwene Sorenes and Chyrurgi’ (fol. xlviii) as ‘a zealous louer in Physicke, more for the consolacion and help of thafflicted sicke people beyng poore, than for the lucre and gaine of the money of the welthie and riche.’ He wrote an unpublished treatise, which is highly commended by his brother, ‘On the Stone.’ He died on 16 Oct. 1563, and was buried at St. Giles's, Cripplegate.

[Works; Biog. Brit.; Wood's Athenæ Oxon., ed. Bliss, i. 538; Strype's Annals, ed. 1824, II. ii. 307–8, iii. ii. 513; Add. MS. 19100, p. 190, verso (Davy's Suffolk Collections); Tanner's Biblioth. Angl. Hibern.; Pulteney's Progress of Botany in England, 77–83; Atkinson's Medical Bibliogr. 309; Granger; Cooper's Athenæ Cantab. i. 343–4; Herbert's Ames, 629, 632, 835, 839, 862, 868, 1289, 1343, 1796; Waldron's Appendix to the Sad Shepherd, 1783; Collier's Bibliogr. Catalogue; information from Mr. Mark W. Bullen.]

A. H. B.