Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Elliott, John (1736-1786)

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The ODNB, which spells the surname Eliot, say that the publications are to be presumed a confusion with a John Elliot M.D. (1747–1787).

ELLIOTT, Sir JOHN, M.D. (1736–1786), physician, son of a writer to the signet, was born in Edinburgh in 1736, and, after education under Nathaniel Jesse, became assistant to a London apothecary, and after a time sailed as surgeon to a privateer. Having obtained plenty of prize-money in this service, he determined to become a physician, graduated M.D. at St. Andrews 6 Nov. 1759, and was admitted a licentiate of the College of Physicians of London, 30 Sept. 1762. A brother Scot, Sir William Duncan, then the king's physician, gave him help, and he soon made a large income. In 1776 he was knighted, was created a baronet 25 July 1778, and became physician to the Prince of Wales. When attending the prince during an illness in 1786 'Sir John Elliott told the queen that he had been preaching to the prince against intemperance as any bishop could have done;' to which the queen replied, 'And probably with like success' (Dr. Lort to Bishop Percy, 26 March 1786). On 19 Oct. 1771 he married Grace Dalrymple [see Elliott, Grace Dalrymple], who ran away with Lord Valentia in 1774. Elliott obtained 12,000l. damages.

He lived in Great Marlborough Street, London. He died, 7 Nov. 1786, at Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, the seat of his friend Lord Melbourne. He was buried in the parish church of Bishops Hatfield, and a tablet to his memory, with some lines by Jerningham on it, was put up by his uncle, William Davidson. He wrote 'The Medical Pocket-Book, containing a short but plain account of the Symptoms, Causes, ana Methods of Cure of the Diseases incident to the Human Body,' London, 1781. It is a series of alphabetically arranged notes. They are nearly all taken from books, and show him to have made few medical observations. He thought millipedes good for scrofula. He says that he drew up the notes for his own use in practice, and they prove that the stores of medical knowledge in his mind were small indeed. His other works are altogether compilations. They are: 1. 'Philosophical Observations on the Senses of Vision and Hearing,' 1780. 2. 'Essays on Physiological Subjects,' 1780. 3. 'Address to the Public on a Subject of the utmost importance to Health,' 1780. 4. 'Fothergill's Works, with Life,' 1781. 5. 'An Account of the Principal Mineral Waters of Great Britain and Ireland,' 1781. 6. 'Elements of the Branches of Natural Philosophy connected with Medicine,' 1782.

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. 1878, ii. 239; Works; Burke's Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies of England, 1838, p. 181; Clutterbuck's History of the County of Hertford, 1821, ii. 371; Nichols's Lit. Illustrations, viii. 240-1; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. X. 161-2.]

N. M.