Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wigan, John

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WIGAN, JOHN (1696–1739), physician and author, son of William Wigan, rector of Kensington, Middlesex, was born on 31 Jan. 1695–6. In 1710 he was admitted to Westminster school, and thence proceeded to Christ Church, Oxford, where he matriculated on 15 June 1714. He graduated B.A. on 6 Feb. 1718–19, M.A. on 22 March 1720–1, and M.B. and M.D. (6 July) in 1727. Some verses of his occur among the academical lamentations on the death of Queen Anne in 1714, and of Dr. Radcliffe in 1715; besides these he wrote the lines on the death of Dean Aldrich which are published in Vincent Bourne's edition of the dean's poems, and four at least of the exercises in the ‘Carmina Quadragesimalia’ (i. 8, 57–8, 62–3, and 104–5) are ascribed to him. On 5 Oct. 1726 he was admitted principal of New Inn Hall, Oxford, and about the same time was appointed secretary to the Earl of Arran, the chancellor of the university.

He was admitted a candidate at the College of Physicians on 12 April 1731, and a fellow on 3 April 1732, when he resigned his office at New Inn Hall and settled in London. He resided in Craig Court. He was elected physician to Westminster Hospital in 1733, and retained his office there until 1737. In 1738 he accompanied his friend Mr. (afterwards Sir Edward) Trelawny [q. v.] to Jamaica, in the double capacity of physician and secretary. He there married Mary, daughter of John Douce, a planter in the island, and widow of Philip Wheeler of Jamaica, and by her had one daughter, Mary Trewlawny Wigan. He died in Jamaica on 5 Dec. 1739, aged 43. His memorial, a black marble inscribed slab, still exists in the cathedral church of St. Catherine, Spanish Town. His portrait, a three-quarter length by Hogarth, is in the possession of the Rev. W. W. Harvey, rector of Ewelme, Oxfordshire.

Dr. Wigan was well known in his day as a writer. As early as 1718 he published a translation of a treatise upon the cure of fevers, from the original of Longinus (‘De Curandis Febribus continuis Liber,’ edited by J. W., 1718, 8vo). His name will always be held in respect by admirers of Aretæus, for his splendid folio edition of that author, which was issued from the Clarendon Press in 1723. Maittaire compiled the index to it, and a great part of the expense was defrayed by Dr. Freind, to whom it is dedicated. When Boerhaave published his edition of the same author in 1735, he availed himself of Wigan's labours, and made a handsome acknowledgment of the circumstance. Wigan compiled the index to P. Petit's ‘In tres priores Aretæi Cappadocis libros Commentarii,’ 1726, 4to; and had a share in editing Dr. Freind's works (Opera Omnia Medica, edited by J. W., 1733, fol.). Besides writing the ‘Life of Freind’ in choice Latin, he translated the ‘History of Physick’ into Latin and prefixed to the folio edition of 1732 a long alcaic ode, dated 15 July 1727, which he had composed on Freind's appointment as physician to the queen.

[List of Queen's Scholars of St. Peter's, Westminster, by Joseph Welch; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Carmina Quadragesimalia; Cat. Brit. Mus. Libr.; Munk's Coll. of Phys.]

W. W. W.