Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Morton, Richard

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1338411Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 39 — Morton, Richard1894Bertha Porter

MORTON, RICHARD (1637–1698), ejected minister and physician, was the son of Robert Morton, minister of Bewdley Chapel, Worcestershire, from 1635 to 1646. Baxter speaks of the father as 'my old friend.' Richard was baptised at Ribbesford, the parish to which Bewdley belonged, on 30 July 1637 (par. reg.) He matriculated at Oxford as a commoner of Magdalen Hall on 17 March 1653–4, migrated to New College, whence he proceeded B.A. 30 Jan. 1656–7, and soon after became chaplain to his college. On 8 July 1659 he proceeded M.A. At the time he was chaplain in the family of Philip Foley of Prestwood in Staffordshire, and was appointed by him to the vicarage of Kinver in Staffordshire. The parish registers of Kinver show a distinct handwriting from 1659 to 1662, which is doubtless that of Morton. Being unable to comply with the requirements of the Act of Uniformity, he was ejected from his living in August 1662, when he turned his attention to medicine. On the nomination of the Prince of Orange he was created M.D. of Oxford on 20 Dec. 1670, and afterwards settled in London. He was admitted a candidate of the College of Physicians on 20 March 1675–6, and a fellow on 23 Dec. 1679. In 1680 he was incorporated at Cambridge on his doctor's degree. Morton was one of four fellows of the College of Physicians, whose names were omitted in the charter of James II in 1686, but he was restored to his position in 1689. He was censor in 1690, 1691, 1697, and was one of the physicians in ordinary to the king. He resided in London in Grey Friars Court, Newgate Street. He died on 30 Aug. 1698, and was buried in the middle aisle of Christ Church, Newgate Street, on 7 Sept.

Baxter says of him that he was 'a man of great gravity, calmness, sound principles, of no faction, an excellent preacher, of an upright life.'

Morton had at least three children, a son, Richard (noticed below), and two daughters, Sarah born in 1685, and Marcia in 1689.

He published two important medical works: 1. 'Phthisiologia: seu Exercitationes de Phthisi,' London, 1689; Frankfort, 1690; London, 1694 (in English); London, 1696; Ulm, 1714; London, 1720 (in English); Helmstadt, 1780. 2. 'Πυρετολογία: seu Exercitationes de Morbis Universalibus Acutis,' London, 1692; 1693; Berne, 1693. Second part, entitled 'Πυρετολογίας pars altera, sive exercitatio de Febribus Inflammatoriis Universalibus,' Bremen, 1693; London, 1694. The first part was reviewed in No. 199 of the 'Philosophical Transactions,' xvii. 717–22, 1694. Morton's works, with others by Harris, Cole, Lister, and Sydenham, were published as 'Opera Medica,' Geneva, 1696; Amsterdam, 1696; Leyden, 1697; Lyons, 1697; Amsterdam, 1699; Geneva, 1727; Venice, 1733, 1737; Lyons, 1739, 1754; Leyden, 1757.

Morton's 'Phthisiologia' is a treatise of the highest value. Following the method of Sydenham, it is based on his own clinical observations, with very little reference to books. All the conditions of wasting which he had observed are described without regard to the anatomical origin of the wasting. The word phthisis Morton uses in a very wide sense. He not only describes the wasting due to tubercle in the lungs, to which the term is now generally restricted, but also the wasting effects of prolonged jaundice, gout, continued and intermittent fever, and other ailments. His 'Pyretologia,' a general treatise on fevers, is less original, but contains many interesting cases, among them an account of his own illness in 1690. Among the Rawlinson MSS. in the Bodleian Library are several methods of preparing Peruvian bark, one of which is said to be by Morton (c. 406 [5]). In the same collection are printed prospectuses, dated London, February 1680, of a work never published, but which appears to have been the first form of 'Phthisiologia' and Πυρετολλογία (c. 406 [7], and c. 419 [4]).

Morton's portrait, from a painting by B. Orchard, has been frequently engraved, and is prefixed to several editions of his works, as well as to the notice of him in 'Lives of Eminent and Remarkable Characters in Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk,' and in Manget's 'Bibliotheca Scriptorum Medicorum' (1731).

Richard Morton (1669–1730), his only son, was born in 1669. He was entered at Exeter College, Oxford (as of Enwood, Surrey), on 16 March 1685–6, and matriculated on 19 March of the same year. Leaving Oxford on 17 Oct. 1688, he migrated to Catharine Hall, Cambridge, where he was admitted fellow commoner on 22 Nov. 1688. He proceeded B.A. in 1691, and M.D. per literas regias in 1695. He was admitted a candidate of the College of Physicians on 22 Dec. 1695, and fellow on 22 Dec. 1707. He was appointed physician to Greenwich Hospital in April 1716, and died at Greenwich on 1 Feb. 1730, and was buried at Plumstead. Some verses of his appear among several eulogies by Clopton Havers [q. v.] and others on his father, prefixed to the first edition of the second volume of the Πυρετολογία (London, 1694).

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. i. 398–9, ii. 20; Sylvester's Reliq. Baxterianæ, pt. iii. p. 96; Lives of Eminent and Remarkable Characters in Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk; Burton's Hist. of Bewdley, pp. 26, xxix, App.; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), vol. ii. cols. 191, 220, 326; Addit. MS. 19165, ff. 579, 581; Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial, iii. 235; Post Boy 1–3 Sept. 1698; Eloy's Dict. Historique de la Médecine; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Catalogues of Libraries of Surg. Gen. (Washington); Trin. Coll. Dublin, Med. and Chir. Soc.; Macray's Cat. of Rawlinson MSS. in Bodleian Library; information from the Rev. E. H. Winnington Ingram of Ribbesford, the Rev. John Hodgson of Kinver, and (as to medical works) from Norman Moore, esq., M.D.; Registers of Exeter College, per the Rev. C. W. Boase; Records of Greenwich Hospital, per G. T. Lambert, esq.]

B. P.