The History of the Church and Manor of Wigan/Thomas Lynacre

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On 10th October, 1519, Thomas Lynacre (or Linacre) Doctor of Medicine, was admitted to the church of Wigan, vacant by the resignation of Mr. Richard Wyott, Sacræ Theologiæ Professoris, on the presentation of Thomas Langton, Esq.[1]

Linacre was a man of great learning and refinement. Erasmus, the great European scholar, entertained the highest opinion of him, and asks, when writing about his English friends, "What can be more acute, more profound, or more refined than the judgment of Linacre?" Dr. J. N. Johnson, his biographer, goes the length of saying that to Linacre's labours "England stands indebted for the knowledge of the finest language of antiquity and medicine owes its elevation to that rank amongst liberal arts from which it had long been estranged by the ignorance or cupidity of its professors."[2] Linacre was born about the year 1460, at Derby, according to Holinshed, who is followed by Weever and Fuller, but Dr. J. N. Johnson prefers to look upon Canterbury as his birthplace, on the authority of Dr. Caius, the president and early annalist of the College of Physicians founded by Linacre, who describes him as Cantuariensis. If not born at Derby, however, as is most probable, there is but little doubt that he was of Derbyshire extraction, being descended from an ancient family who were owners of Linacre, a hamlet or subordinate manor to that of Chesterfield, and the fact of his leaving a benefaction to the town of Derby seems to imply some connection with that locality.

The first instructions he received in Grammar were obtained at the public school in the monastery of Christ Church, at Canterbury. The master at that time was an Augustine monk, named William Tilly, otherwise called Selling, from the place of his birth, a man of learning and research, who had studied Greek in Italy, where that language had been cultivated for several years. From this master, who is supposed to have been in some way connected with him by birth, and who seems to have taken an affectionate interest in his education, Linacre acquired a taste for a higher class of learning than was usually taught in the English schools. He went up to the University of Oxford in 1480, when he had reached his 21st year (a later age than was customary for the entrance of students to the University in those days), and in 1484 he was elected to a fellowship at All Souls. While at Oxford he is understood to have become the pupil of Cornelio Vitali, an Italian of noble birth, who had been forced to leave his native country, and who is believed to have been the first to give instruction in Greek, not only at the University, but anywhere in England.[3] At this period of his life Linacre is said to have applied himself to the study of Greek, and laid the foundation of that perfection in it which he so amply displayed at a later period of his life, in opposition to the studies which were then sanctioned by the statutes and customs of the place.[4] Here, too, he made the acquaintance of William Grocyn and William Latimer, who shared with him his devotion to the "new learning"; and one of whom, Grocyn, survived to form part, with Linacre himself, of that brilliant circle of Oxford scholars, who excited the admiration of Erasmus.[5] About the year 1485 or 1486 he availed himself of an opportunity that was then presented to him of going into Italy, where he met with great facilities for improving himself in his favourite studies. His former tutor Selling, the prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, being sent by King Henry VII. on an embassy to the court of Rome, offered to take Linacre with him as a friend and companion. Leland says that he was to have occupied a subordinate position in the embassy, but if so his plans were altered, for they travelled together no further than Bologna, where they fell in with Angelo Politiano, whose friendship Selling had made on a former occasion. To him Linacre was introduced by Selling, who left him at Bologna to profit by the introduction, while he himself proceeded on his mission to Rome. The University of Bologna then held a high rank among the schools of Europe; but Linacre did not make any long stay there. For after Politian had left it he followed him to Florence, where he became his pupil. These were the days of Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael Sanzio; and Florence, under the rule of Lorenzo de Medici, was the favoured home of the arts and sciences. The chief instruments in the encouragement of classical learning, at that time, were Politian and Demetrius Chalcondylas, with both of whom Linacre became intimate, and by whom he was introduced to Lorenzo the Great. These two had been jointly appointed tutors to Lorenzo's sons Pietro and Giovanni de Medici, of whom the latter afterwards became Pope under the title of Leo X. The superiority of Linacre's attainments, and the modesty of his demeanour, won for him the approbation of Lorenzo, and procured for him the privilege of being associated with the young princes in their studies, and residing with them as their chosen companion in their hours of relaxation and amusement.

After a residence of more than twelve months at Florence, Linacre proceeded to Rome, in order to avail himself of the superior advantages which the Christian capital afforded to the advanced scholar. Here he was fortunate enough to form a friendship with the famous Hermolaus Barbarus, the friend of Pope Innocent VIII., whose acquaintance he accidentally made in the library of the Vatican. From Barbarus he learned much, and from him he is said to have acquired ideas which considerably influenced his future life and character. The residence of Barbarus was then practically an academy, to which the learned resorted for instruction and gratification, and Linacre became a frequent visitor at his house, and participated in the intellectual entertainments which were held there. After staying several months at Rome he went to Venice, and here made the valuable acquaintance of the great printer, Aldus Manutius Romanus, who was then engaged in bringing out the editiones principes of some of the most important Greek classics, by which he earned the gratitude of scholars, and who afterwards printed some of Linacre's own works.[6] Aldus appears to have treated the English scholar with great kindness, which is acknowledged as a personal favour by his friend Grocyn, in a letter to Aldus, which must have been written shortly after Linacre's return from Italy.[7] This letter was prefixed by Aldus to Linacre's translation of Proclus "On the Sphere," printed by him in the year 1499. The book is dedicated to Albertus Pius, Prince of Carpi, and in his dedication Aldus speaks highly of Linacre's scholarship, saying that he "has translated this work with elegance and learning." He also implies that an intimate friendship existed between Linacre and the Prince of Carpi on which account the work, he says, will be the more welcome to his patron. The Aldine editio princeps of Aristotle likewise contains an interesting allusion to Linacre, which seems to shew that he had something to do with the editing or correcting of that great work. This second volume, to which the dedication is prefixed, is dated February, 1497, while the first volume is dated in 1495, which is quite reconcileable with the time when Linacre is believed to have been in Venice.[8]

From Venice he went to Padua, then celebrated for its schools of medicine. Here he is said to have taken the degree of Doctor of Medicine, and to have greatly distinguished himself in the disputations that were held in the schools. The tradition of Linacre's successful disputation at Padua is preserved in a dialogue by Richard Pace, where Grammar and Rhetoric are made to dispute as to the respective merits of Theodore Gaza and Thomas Linacre. Grammar first claims Linacre as her own; Rhetoric contends that he was by right her son, and that Grammar was only the occupation of his leisure moments. On one occasion, says Rhetoric, he condescended to dispute with some Grammarian on certain minutiæ connected with the vocative case, but gained a more brilliant victory when he defended his theses for graduation at Padua, "Nam quum in gymnasio Patavino professionis artis medicæ ei (ut nunc moris est) darentur insignia, publice non sine summâ laude disputavit, et seniorum medicorum adversaria argumettta accuratissime refellit."[9]

From Padua Linacre turned his steps homewards, passing through Vicenza, Verona, Brescia, Bergamo and Milan. While at Vicenza he attended the lectures of Nicolaus Leonicenus, a celebrated physician and scholar, best known as the author of the earliest treatise on Syphilis but also celebrated for having translated several works of Galen from the Greek, one of which, viz., the treatise "De motu Musculorum," was afterwards published by Linacre with some of his own.[10]

His departure from Italy was accompanied by those proofs of friendship which the learned in that age were accustomed to exchange. Dr. J. N. Johnson gives examples of some of the Latin odes that were then addressed to him. On his return to England he seems to have resumed his residence at All Souls' College, Oxford. The English universities used, at this period, to recognize the honours conferred upon their members by foreign academies, and the degree of Doctor of Medicine which he had received at Padua was confirmed to him at Oxford by an act of incorporation immediately after his return home.

It is believed that this incorporation by his own university was followed by a similar act at Cambridge. It has been suggested that the cause of his migration to Cambridge may have been one of those visitations of the sweating sickness which overtook the city of Oxford during the reign of King Henry VII. It is known that many Oxford men went to Cambridge to avoid the consequences of it. In 1496, the Cambridge Senate, by a decree, gave leave for certain persons, members of the sister University, to be incorporated amongst them, whenever they should come thither, either during term or vacation, and Linacre may well have been one of those who availed themselves of this act of grace. John Caius, the historian of Cambridge, however, says that he migrated to Cambridge in order to avail himself of the superior reputation and learning of that University.[11] But he does not appear to have stayed there long, for it was certainly at Oxford, in the year 1497, that he made the acquaintance of Erasmus, who became his pupil in Greek, and with whom he formed a friendship which only ended with his life. Among his other pupils may also be mentioned the gentle and amiable Thomas More, afterwards Sir Thomas, the Lord High Chancellor of England. During this period of his career Linacre was actively engaged, with his friend Grocyn and others, in forming at the University a taste for ancient literature. Up to this time the schools were almost entirely in the hands of the different sects of logicians; and it is to the efforts of Linacre and his associates that we may attribute the important reforms that followed, so that they may be considered as the regenerators of the University system.

His translation into Latin of "The Sphere" of Proclus was probably the first translation of a Greek author into Latin made by an Englishman. It seems to have been made partly in Italy, and completed or revised during his residence at Oxford, in the interval between his return from that country and his invitation to the King's Court in 1501. There is no record of his having practised medicine at Oxford, and his time there seems to have been fully occupied in teaching Greek and preparing his translations. In the year 1501, Arthur, Prince of Wales, came up to Oxford, and resided for a short time at Magdalen College, under the care of Richard Mayhew, the President. It was settled that, after the marriage contract with the Infanta, Catherine of Arragon, had been completed, the Prince, now in his fifteenth year, should be placed under the charge of a tutor. For this important post Linacre was selected and sent for to London; and Tanner speaks of him as "præceptor in linguâ Italicâ" to both Prince Arthur and Princess Catherine. He is also said to have been "Archiater," or chief medical attendant, of the King.[12] The unsettled state of physic as a science before the revival of learning in the fifteenth century rendered the practice of it rather a necessary accomplishment to the priesthood, with which it was generally united, than a distinct art cultivated on fixed and certain principles. To the ecclesiastics of the Middle Ages degrees in medicine conferred equal privileges with those in their proper faculty; but they gave to the possessor no claim to public confidence or to a remuneration for their services as practitioners.[13] The practice of medicine was in those days chiefly confined to men of no scholastic learning, and was closely allied to the arts of alchemy and necromancy.[14] The fitness and ability of Linacre to discharge the duties of his new appointment had been shewn by his recent translation of the "Sphere" of Proclus, the first edition of which he dedicated to his Royal pupil.

The early death of Prince Arthur, on 2nd April, 1502, in the sixteenth year of his age, disappointed the high hopes that were entertained of his future career, and terminated the engagement of Linacre within a year of his accepting it The loss he thus sustained, however, afforded him greater leisure for the renewal of his own studies, and allowed him to enter upon the practice of his medical profession without interruption from his official duties at Court.

The death of King Henry VII., on 21st April, 1509, and the accession of Henry VIII., which was hailed with joy by the nation, brought with it a change in Linacre's life. His immediate connection with the Court had probably ceased from the death of Prince Arthur, in 1502; for his office of physician to King Henry VII., if he ever really held it, could have been little more than a nominal one, and he had subsequently fallen in that King's estimation on account of the insinuations of Bernard André, an Augustine friar, his rival to the post of tutor to the young prince, who accused him of piracy from an earlier translation of Proclus. At the commencement of the new reign Linacre had returned to Oxford, where he read a shagling lecture.[15] His talents, and the valuable services he had rendered to the University were now fully recognised, and a laudatory address was made to him, by members of the University, apologising for their past remissness, and thanking him for all he had done for them. The young King Henry VIII., who extended his patronage to the most eminent scholars of the age, and in forming a new Court was not unmindful of those who had held office in the former reign, paid Linacre the compliment of appointing him Physician to His Majesty. In this capacity he enjoyed the King's favour and confidence, and occupied a high position. His friend Lilly speaks of him as "conspicuous among the chief persons of the Court, in a purple robe and a hood of black silk."[16] The King's palace being then at Bridewell, in the City of London, Linacre seated himself in the same neighbourhood, which was rendered all the more agreeable to him by its vicinity to the precincts of St. Paul's, where Colet, his friend and former companion at Oxford, was now residing as Dean, for at this time they were great allies, though, unhappily, they afterwards quarrelled. By Sir Thomas More, on whom the highest offices of State were about to devolve, he was still retained as preceptor; and More expresses himself, on one occasion, to Colet, as devoting his time to the society of Grocyn, Linacre, and Lilly; the first he calls the master of his life, the second the director of his studies, and the third the dear companion of his affairs.[17] Linacre's reputation as a physician was now at its height, and amongst his patients were Sir Reginald Bray, K.G., the Lord High Treasurer, to whose will he was a subscribing witness in 1503, Cardinal Wolsey, Archbishop Warham, and Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester. He appears to have kept up a connection with Cambridge, to which he afterwards became a benefactor, and it is probable that he visited it more frequently whilst his friend Erasmus was in residence there. In a letter from the latter to Andreas Ammonius (who was secretary to Henry VIII.), dated at Cambridge iij.Non. Oct. 151 1, he incidentally mentions Linacre as being with him at that time. He says that after mass he heard the tramp of horsemen, and being himself engaged in writing he begged Linacre to look out, and was told that Ammonius was leaving.[18]

A strange story has been told of a doubt respecting the truths of Christianity which Linacre is said to have conceived in consequence of his theological studies. The earlier part of his life is reported to have been passed, in common with most of the laity, in a neglect or total ignorance of the sacred writings; and when he took up the New Testament for the first time, and came to that part of St. Matthew's Gospel which contains the Lord's Sermon on the Mount, he had no sooner read the command "Swear not at all" than he threw away the book with violence, exclaiming, "either this is not the Gospel or we are not Christians." Fuller, when relating the story, says the speech is capable of "a charitable sense, as taxing men's practice so much different from God's precepts."[19] If the story has any foundation of truth this is probably the proper interpretation of it : but the whole statement looks like invention ; and it is rendered unlikely by Linacre's known habits of moderation, and by his many ecclesiastical friendships, which, with the single exception of Dean Colet, were preserved without interruption till his death. This story rests on the sole authority of Sir John Cheke, Professor of Greek at Cambridge, in a letter to Bishop Gardiner, Chancellor of the University, written in 1555, many years after Linacre's decease. And the object seems to have been to flatter Gardiner at the expense of Linacre, whom Cheke may have regarded as a rival Greek scholar.

It is not clear when, or from whom, Linacre received his deacon's orders; but I should suppose that he was ordained in or before the year 1509; for on the 23rd October of that year he was collated by the Primate, Archbishop Warham, to the Rectory of Mersham, in Kent, which, however, he resigned within little more than a month:[20] and on the 14th September of the same year he had been installed prebend of Easton in Gardano in the cathedral church of Wells.[21]

In the following year he was admitted to the vicarage of Hawkhurst, in Kent, on the presentation of the Abbot and Convent of Battel, which he retained until 1524,[22] the year of his death. We can hardly imagine that he was not even in deacon's orders all this time, but there is no record of his ordination, and the church discipline of that date was exceedingly lax.

He appears to have accepted some preferment also in 1515; for Erasmus, in a letter to Ammonius, written from Dover on 10th April of that year, sends his congratulations to Linacre, of whom he says, he had heard something at the archbishop's not without pleasure.[23] And Ammonius, in his reply, dated at London 19th May, 1515, says Linacre has a living; "sacerdotio auctus est;"[24] from which, I suppose, we are simply to understand that he had taken the name and position of a clerk or clergyman, for certainly he did not receive his priest's orders until some years later.

Sir Thomas More, writing to Erasmus in 1516, tells him that Linacre had been speaking highly of Erasmus, as he heard from some who were present at a supper given by the King, where the praises of Erasmus were sung.[25]

In this year also Erasmus writes to Linacre a letter, dated from St. Omer, on 5th June, 1516, in which he complains of a slight fever which had prevented his sailing, and begs him to send a prescription which had done him good when he was last in London, but which his servant had left at the druggist's. In the same letter he expresses himself anxious to see Linacre's "Lucubrations;" and, alluding to his own edition of the New Testament which had just been published in Greek, he says "the New Testament gives such satisfaction to the learned, even among divines, that the unlettered are silent for shame."[26]

In the latter years of his life Linacre devoted himself to the study of theology, of the new views of which he had doubtless heard much from his friend Colet, who had been at Florence during the agitation and enthusiasm excited by the preaching of Savonarola, with which he was deeply impressed. It is probable that the painful disease with which he was afflicted greatly interfered with his practice as a physician, and to this cause may in some measure be attributed his turning himself to the faculty of Divinity. It must be remembered that Law, Physic, and Divinity, the three grave professions as they were called, were in those days more closely united, and physicians were readily admitted to holy orders. It appears, too, from Linacre's dedication of his translation of Galen "de Naturalibus Facultatibus" to Archbishop Warham, that in devoting himself to the sacred profession he hoped to find more leisure for his literary work. All these causes may have actuated him to seek admission to the priesthood, but it was some time before he was actually ordained to that holy office.

It is clear that Linacre had not given up the practice of his medical profession at this time, for among the King's annual expenses there is, in June, 1516, an entry of £12 10s. for one quarter's wages to Dr. Lunacre;[27] and many similar entries of such payments afterwards occur therein.' He was also physician to the Queen at this time.

By the King's letters, under the Privy seal, dated at Windsor, 19th Aug., and by his letters patent of 24th August, 1517,[28] Thomas Linacre, clerk, was nominated to a canonry and prebend in the collegiate chapel of St. Stephen, Westminster, in the place of Andreas Ammonius, deceased. By letters patent of 6th March, 1517-8, he was presented to the Church of Hollesworth (Holsworthy) in the county of Devon;[29] and on 7th October, 1518, he became prebendary of South Newbold in York Minster, which he only held for about six months.[30]

In a letter from Erasmus to William Latimer, written from Antwerp in 1518, he says that if he had such men as Linacre and Tunstal for his preceptors, not to speak of Latimer himself, he would not wish for an Italian to teach him Greek.[31] There is also extant a letter from Linacre to Budaeus (Budé), written from London on 10th June, 1518, in which he tells Budé that he thinks of his past favours with gratitude; of the books he received from him; and his care in revising his "Lucubrations." He has sent him some rings (cramp rings) consecrated by the King, as a charm against spasms.[32] In his reply, dated at Paris, on 10th July, Budé acknowledges the receipt of his letter with the rings on 6th July. He had just drawn on his boots for a ride, and would not answer in haste, as it was written in such an elegant style, and he did not like to be outdone. He finds by his letter that Linacre desires to thank him for a copy of his book "De Asse" which he had presented to him when he was at Paris in the suite of Queen Mary, and for the services he had rendered to him in overlooking his lately published work. His services were not a gift but a fee to purchase the advocacy of Linacre in England. He cannot regret the time he employed in Linacre's version of "De Sanitate Tuendâ" He has distributed among the wives of his relatives and friends the eighteen rings of silver and one of gold he received from him, telling them that they were amulets against slander and calumny.[33]

In another letter written from Paris on 9th September of the same year, Budé thanks him for his present, but more for his letter. He knows that he has little leisure for correspondence, admits his excuse, and hopes to be excused, in his turn, for not having written to Linacre. He has been extremely busy with matters very different to his former employments. Lupset has shewn him Linacre's specimen of Galen, of which Budé highly approves. He thinks the French Embassy will be in England at the time Linacre receives this letter; wishes Linacre to let them know that he is intimate with Budé; and commends to his notice Beraldus, in the suite of the Bishop of Paris.[34]

The college of physicians in which Linacre had taken such a lively interest was incorporated by charter of 23rd September, 1518, at the request of John Chamber, Thomas Linacre, and Fernand de Victoria, the King's physicians; Nicholas Halswell, John Francis, and Robert Yaxley, physicians; and Thomas Archbishop of York, chancellor. The college was permitted to acquire lands to the value of £12 yearly; and no person was to be allowed to practice in the medical profession within the city of London, or seven miles round, without the licence of the President and College.[35]

On 29th April, 1519, Linacre became precentor of York,[36] which he resigned in the following November to Dr. Richard Wyot , late Rector of Wigan, after having been himself admitted to the Rectory of Wigan on 10th October of that year.

Up to this time, however, he was not in priest's orders, and he must have held his previous appointments as a deacon, or possibly some of the earlier ones as a layman. It has been conjectured that he received from Pope Leo X., his old school companion and friend, a dispensation from the necessity of passing through the inferior clerical degrees; and that this may have been the kindness to which he alludes in the dedication of his translation of Galen's "De Temperamentis" in which he refers to some recent and striking proof of the Pontiff's munificence, shared by him in common with others, who had been also his school-fellows at Florence. But, as Dr. Payne says, "if there were any such dispensation, it is more likely that it was one enabling him to hold a benefice, while still a deacon, or perhaps even a layman, since we find that Linacre's first clerical preferment was given him in the year of Henry the Eighth's accession, which must have been that of Linacre's appointment as Court Physician, and it seems highly improbable that his ordination should have taken place almost simultaneously with this appointment." There is no authority for supposing that such a dispensation was given him; but there is nothing to make it improbable. It was enacted in the Parliament of 3 Hen. VI. (1425) that any one then holding a spiritual benefice should be made a priest within twelve months after the close of the said Parliament, failing which it should be lawful for the patron to make a new presentation, "notwithstondyng the plenerte of tyme be vi moneths ;" and for the future, any man, who should have any spiritual benefice, of any man's presentation, must become a priest within twelve months of the time of his induction, subject to the same penalty.[37] This would seem to imply that it was not uncommon at that time for a spiritual benefice to be held by one who was not in priest's orders, and therefore Linacre may well have received a papal dispensation extending the time within which he must necessarily proceed to the order of the priesthood.

The following extract from the Register of Richard Fitz James, Bishop of London from 1506 to 1551, proves that he was ordained to priest's orders on 22nd December, 1520, to which his Rectory of Wigan gave him a title: "Et a MDXX. 22 Dec, ad dioces. Cov. et Licit. spectans ordinabatur presbyter ad titulum ecclesiæ suæ de Wigan y cujus Rector extitit."[38]

He was still acting as King's physician at that time, for there is an entry of the payment of £12 10s. to him for a quarter's wages among the household expenses in 1520.[39]

In March, 1521, Sil[vester de Gigles], Bishop of Worcester, writing from Rome[40] to Pace, says "The Pope will comply with Linacre's wishes, the King's Physician."[41] And on May 7th of the same year Christopher Longolius, writing from Padua to Linacre refers to his generosity when Longolius was in England the previous year.[42]

On 12th May, 1521, Pace writes to Pope Leo X. from London, saying that the Pope has laid him under such a debt of gratitude as he can not even express. He says "Aloysius Gibraelon, my agent at Rome, has told me how promptly your Holiness not only granted to Thomas Linacre, the King's physician, what I had asked, but also added much to lay me under still greater obligations." He can only offer his prayers for the Pope's prosperity. As to the affairs of Luther, he has only proved himself a true ecclesiastic.[43]

On 25th Aug., 1521, Erasmus, writing to Linacre from Bruges, expresses his sorrow on hearing of his declining health; urges him to publish his writings, and not deprive the world of the fruits of many years' labour.[44]

On 8th March, 1522, the King's writ is issued for Thomas Linacre, the King's physician, to have a canonry in St. Stephen's Westminster, vice Thos. Waren, deceased;[45] and on 29th November, 1522, Edward Fynch, M.D.,has the King's writ for a prebend in the collegiate church or chapel of St. Stephen, Westminster, in the place of Dr. Linacre, who has resigned.[46]

It was probably in 1523 that Linacre, in writing to Archbishop Warham, excuses himself for not having dedicated to his Grace, according to his promise, the last volume of his translation of Galen's "De Naturalibus Facultatibus". He had been commanded by the King, in the presence of Mr. John Chamber, to dedicate it to his Highness. In this letter he acknowledges himself indebted to the liberality of the Archbishop for the opportunity of devoting himself to letters.[47]

It is clear that he never could have resided at Wigan. Soon after his admission to it he was appointed preceptor to the young Princess Mary, afterwards Queen, to whom he dedicated his "Grammaticæ Rudimenta" intended to help her in her studies. Moreover, his duties at Court, as physician to the King and Queen, will have exempted him from residence on his benefice, and made it necessary for him to live in London. The house which he occupied was situated in Knightrider Street, in the parish of St. Benedict, Paul's Wharf. It was distinguished by the name of The Stone House, probably from the material of which it was built, which was then rare and costly, and but seldom used for private mansions during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This house he afterwards assigned to the Medical College of his own foundation, retaining a part for the use of himself and his family during his life. The disease from which he suffered was the stone, and to this complaint his constitution at length succumbed after much suffering, the immediate cause of his death being an ulceration of the bladder. He died at his own house, in Knightrider Street, on 20th October, 1524, in the 64th year of his age; and was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral, before the rood of the North door, a spot chosen by himself and expressly specified in his will. His grave was marked by no memorial until the year 1557, when, after a lapse of 33 years, a comely monument was erected to his memory by Dr. John Caius, then president of the College, with the following inscription on a brass plate :—

"Thomas Lynacrus, Regis Henrici VIII. medicus, vir & Græcé & Latinè atque in re medicâ longe eruditissimus: multos ætate suâ languentes, & qui jam animam desponderant, vitæ restituit: multa Galeni opera in Latinam linguam, mirâ & singulari facundiâ vertit: egregium opus de emendatâ structurâ Latini sermonis, amicorum rogatu, paulo ante mortem edidit. Medicinæ studiosis Oxoniæ publicas lectiones duas, Cantabrigiæ unam, in perpetuum stabilivit. In hâc urbe Collegium Medicorum fieri suâ industriâ curavit, cujus & Præsidens proximus electus est. Fraudes dolosque mirè perosus: fidus amicis: omnibus ordinibus juxta clarus: aliquot annis antequam obierat Presbyter factus. Plenus annis ex hâc vitâ migravit, multum desideratus, Anno Domini 1524, die 20 Octobris.

Vivit post funera virtus.
Thomæ Lynacro Clarissimo Medico.
Johannes Caius posuit, anno 1557.

This monument remained till the year 1666, when it was destroyed by the great fire of London. Dr. F. N. Johnson gives the following copy of Lynacre's will, which is preserved in the Registry of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury:[48]

"Testament of Thomas Lynacre, Doctor in Medicine.

In the name of God, Amen. The xixth day of Juyñ, in the yere of our Lord God a thousande fyve hundred and xxiiij, and the xvj yere of the reigne of Kyng Henry the Eighť, I, Thomas Lynacre, doctour of phesike, being hole of mynde and in good memory, lawde and praysing be vnto almighty god, make, ordeyn, and dispoase this my present testament and last will, in manner and fourme following: that is to witt, ffirst, I bequẽth and recomende my soul vnto Almighty, &c., and my body to be buried within the cathedrall churche of Saint Poule, of London, before the rode of North dore there, bitwene the longe forme and the wall directly over agaynst the saide rode. And I bequeth for my buriall there to be had suche convenient sume of money as shalbie thought by the discrecions of myn executours. Item, I bequeth to the high awter of Saint Benet, where I am pishen, for my tithes forgotten in discharge of my soule and conscience, xiijs iiijd. Item, I bequeth to the high awter of Saint Stephyns, in Walbroke, for my tithes there forgotten in discharge of my soule and conscience, yjs viijd. Item, I woll that suche due detts as I owe of right or of conscience to any maner psone or persones shall be well and truely contented and paid. Item, I woll that Alice, my suster, shall yerely during hir lyfe have of the londes to be bought for my lectour at Cambridge, syx pounds sterlinge to be paide to hir halfe yerely. And I woll that Joane, my suster, shalhave during hir lyfe fyve pounds sterlinge of the landes to be bought for the said lector, in like maner and fourme to be paide, or ells the said sumes to be yerely xceyved of the profits of my lands in Kent or in London, after the discrecions of my Lorde of London [Bp Tunstall], Sir Thomas More, knyght, and Maister John Stokesley, Prebendary of Saint Stevyns at Westmynster. Item, I bequeth to Thomas Lynacre, my brother, xls. Item, I bequeth to my two neses, Agnes and Margaret, eche of them a bedde, with all things to it complete, after the discrecions of myn executours, so that Margaret shalhave the better. Item, I bequeth Mr. William Dancaster a fether bed and two Irishe blanketts, with a bolster. Item, I bequeth to John Plumtre these boks, Palax, Thucchiddes, wt that that foloweth, Theoder and Apolones, Libanius Declamacions, Theocritas with the coment, Pyndarus with the coment, the coment upon Omer. Item, I woll that my funeralls and burying shall be doon in moderat maner, after the discrecions of myn executours. Item, I bequeth to Richard my serunt, a blak gowne of iijs a yarde, and xls in money, for the good service that he hath doon to me. Item, I bequeth to eche of John Appulby and Edward Tagge, my serunts, a blak gowne a pece of iijs a yarde and vis viijd a pece; and I woll that all my serunts and housholde have mete and drynke for a moneth next after my decesse. Item, I bequeth to my cosyn, Robert Wright of Chester, a doblet cloth of blak satyn, beyng in the keping of my sister Alice. Item, I bequeth to Richard Wright a black gowne and xxs in money. Item, I bequeth to Elizabeth, my mayde serunt, a blak gowne and hir wages after the rate of xxvjs viijd by yere. The residue of all my goodes, whatsoever they be after that my detts be paide, my funerall charges doon, and these my legacies and bequets expressed in this my present testament and last Wille fulfilled and perfourmed, I woll shalbe solde by myn executours; and the money comyng of the sale of the same to be applyed for and towards the pformauns and fulfilling of this my present testament and last Wille. And of this my present testament and last Will I make and ordeyn my Lord Cuthbert, Bishop of London, Sir Thomas More, knyght, and Maister John Stokesley, Prebendary of St. Stevyne at Westmynster, myn executours, desiring and requiring them to substitute and make som honest proctour vnder them, to take the labours aboute the pforming of this my testament; and the same proctour to be rewarded for his diligence in that behalfe wt parte of my goodes, after the discrecons of my said executours. These witnesse, Maister William Dancaster, clerk, William Latymer, clerk, John Wylford, Notary, Richard Hardyng, John Appulby."

The said will was proved on 18th July, 1525. It is remarkable that his brother should have borne the same Christian name as himself, but this was not very unusual.

"The character of Linacre," says Johnson, his biographer, "has been drawn in high but not undeserved terms by those who were best qualified to give an opinion of his merits. It has been questioned whether he was a better Latinist or Grecian, a better grammarian or physician, better as a scholar or as a man for his moral deportment. For his accurate skill in the Greek and Latin tongues, and in other sciences, as well as in his own profession of medicine, he was esteemed the ornament of his age. By his endeavours Galen speaks better Latin in the translation than he did Greek in the original;[49] and Aristotle shines not more in his Attic than in his Latin garb."[50]

"In private life he had a detestation of everything that was dishonourable; he was a faithful friend, and was valued and beloved by all ranks in life. He showed a remarkable kindness to young students in the medical profession; and those whom he found distinguished for ingenuity, modesty, learning, good manners, or a desire to excel, he assisted with his advice, his interest, and his purse.[51] In short" (to use the words of Dr. Friend) "he was, in his own time, reckoned by the best judges a man of bright genius and a clear understanding, as well as of unusual knowledge in different parts of learning; and his works, which are now extant, will fully satisfy us that he deserved this character. He was one who, both living and dead, by his writings and benefactions, has done great honour not only to his profession but also to his country." Linacre was evidently a lover of nature, and it is reported of him that he first brought into England that prince of flowers, the damask rose.[52]

The following is a list of his published works as given by Dr. Payne, with the order and dates of their publication :—

1. Translation of Proclus de Sphœrâ. Venice, by Aldus Romanus, 1499; folio.

2. Translation of Galen, De Sanitate Tuendâ. Paris, Gulielmus Rubeus, 1517.

3.     „     „   Methodus Medendi. Paris, Desiderius Maheu, 1519.

4.     „     „   De Temperamentis et de inaequali intemperie. Cambridge, Siberch, 1521; 4to.[53]

5.     „     „   De Naturalibus Facultatibus. London, Richard Pynson, 1523; 4to.

6.     „     „   De Pulsuum Usu, &c. London, in ædibus pinsonianis sine anno; 4to.

7.     „     „   De Symptomatum Differentiis; et Causis. London, Pynson, 1524; 4to.

8. Rudimenta Grammatices. London, in ædibus pinsonianis sine anno; 4to.

9. De Emendatâ Structurâ Latini Sermonis. London, Pynson, 1524; 4to.

Of these the 2nd and 3rd were dedicated to the King, and the 4th to Pope Leo X.

The Royal College of Physicians in London was founded by Linacre within two years of his death, and endowed by him with his lands in Kent and in London. Of this College he became the first president, and his house in Knightrider Street, which he gave them, was for many years their place of assembly. He is said to have made a charitable donation to the town of


  1. Lichfield Diocesan Register.
  2. Life of Thomas Linacre by John Noble Johnson, M.D., edited by Robert Graves, 8vo., 1835.
  3. Johnson's Life of Linacre, p. 13.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Dr. Payne's Introduction to Linacre's translation of Galeni Pergamensis de Temperamentis, (1881,) p. 7.
  6. Aldus, in a dedication to M. Musurus, a learned Greek, prefixed to an edition of Statius, printed by him, speaks of the residence of many strangers in Italy at that time, and says "Habemus Grocinum Sacerdoteni and Thomam Linacrum (Medicum) Britannos; viros undecunque doctissimos, qui diu Florentiæ sub Demetrio Chalcondyla, Græcis literis incubuerunt," (Lives of Leland, Hearne and Wood, Oxford, 1772, vol. I. p. 7.)
  7. Payne's Introduction as before, p. 9.
  8. Ibid., p. 11.
  9. Payne's Introduction, p. 12. Life of Thomas Linacre, by John Noble Johnson, p. 144 note.
  10. Payne's Introduction, p. 13.
  11. Johnson's Life of Linacre p. 154 note.
  12. Tanner's Biblio. Brit. Hibernica, p. 482.
  13. Dr. J. N. Johnson's Life of Linacre, p. 163.
  14. Some curious information on this score was given in evidence at Archbishop Grindal's visitation of the college at Manchester in 1571. Nicholas Danayell deposed of his brother-fellow, Sir Edward Holt, who kept an ale-house himself, frequented ale-houses, and was a drunkard, that "he doth minister a dirmatorye in physicke to dyvers, which all do dye after the same; and also he doth let blode and cut vayne of divers, whoe after the same be done they dye; and when he should serve God he runneth about his phisicke and surgerye." (ex inƒ, J. E. Bailey, Esq.) On Linacre's monument in St. Paul's Cathedral it is said of him that he was "Fraudes dolosque mirè perosus." It is highly probable that this bears some reference to the tricks of the medical practitioners, and is intended to distinguish him from the ordinary travelling "physicians" and mountebanks of the day.
  15. ' Dr. Bliss, in a note in the Athen. Oxon. vol i. p. 43, says that these lectures were "such as were extraordinary, or temporary, allowed either by public authority, common consent, or recommendations." It was a favourite word with Ant. à Wood (the Author of the Athenæ and Fasti Oxon.), who again uses it of Edmund Crispyne of Oriel College, "lately a shagling lecturer of physic, now (1547) one of the proctors of the University." Fasti Oxon., vol i. p. 126.
  16. Dr. Payne's Introduction, p. 18.
  17. Johnson's Life of Linacre, p. 183.
  18. Brewer's Letters and Papers Foreign and Domestic, temp. Hen. VIII., vol. i., 285.
  19. Worthies of Derbyshire, fol., p. 236.
  20. Dr. J. N. Johnson's Life of Linacre, p. 192.
  21. Cooper's Athenæ Caniabrigienses, vol. i. p. 31. According to Dr. J. N. Johnson he received this stall in December, 1509, but no authority is given. Le Neve's list of the prebends of this stall does not commence till 1517.
  22. Johnson's Life of Linacre, p. 192.
  23. Letters and State Papers Foreign and Domestic, vol. i. p. 100.
  24. Ibid. p. 136.
  25. Ibid. p. 430.
  26. Ibid., vol. ii. p. 1534, Appendix.
  27. Letters and State Papers Foreign and Domestic, vol. ii. p. 1472.
  28. Rymer xiij. p. 597; Letters and Papers Foreign and Domestic, vol. ii. p. 1147, No. 3624.
  29. Pat. 9, Hen. VIII, p. i, m. 12.
  30. Willis' Cathedrals. His name is not given in Le Neve's Fasti.
  31. Letters and Papers Foreign and Domestic, vol. ii. p. 1219, No. 3910.
  32. Ibid. p. 1310, No. 4223. These rings were much sought after. The time for blessing them was Good Friday. Anne Boleyn sent four of them to Peter Vannes and the other Ambassadors who were working the divorce at Rome. Queen Mary blessed hundreds of them, and they were in good request at the Emperor's Court. (Ex. inf. J. E. Bailey, Esq.) Guillaume Budé (Budaeus) was master of the Court of Requests, and Librarian to King Francis I., and one of the greatest scholars of the age. Linacre had formed his acquaintance at Paris, when he attended King Henry VIII. and the Princess Mary to France, at the time of her marriage to King Louis XII.
  33. Letters and Papers Foreign and Domestic, vol. ii. p. 1331, No. 4305.
  34. Ibid., vol. ii. p. 1360, No. 4422. I have given the date of this letter from the Opera Budai (as furnished to me by Mr. Chancellor Christie), where it is given in full and dated postridie natalis diva Dei parentis. It probably alludes to a later present and letter of Linacre.
  35. Rymer, vol. xiii. p. 364. Letters and Papers Foreign and Domestic, vol. ii. p. 1367, No. 4450.
  36. Le Neve's Fasti.
  37. Rot. Parl. vol. iv. p. 291.
  38. Tanner's Bibliotheca Britannico Hibernica, p. 482. Wood's Athenæ, Ed. Bliss, vol. i. p. 46.
  39. Letters and State Papers Foreign and Domestic, vol. iii. p. 408.
  40. He died at Rome on 16 April, 1521, when Julius de Medicis, a Cardinal, afterwards Pope Clement VII., was made Administrator of the See of Worcester by the Pope's Bull, dated 31 July, 1521, and so continued for about a year.
  41. Letters and State Papers Foreign and Domestic, vol. iii. p. 453
  42. Ibid. 481.
  43. Ibid. 485.
  44. Ibid., 618.
  45. Ibid., 898.
  46. Ibid., 1133.
  47. Fuller's Worthies of England, ed. of 1840, vol. i. p. 374, where the letter is given in full from the original in Linacre's own handwriting, but it is without date.
  48. Bodfield 21, fol. xxxvi. His arms were, sable, a chevron between 3 escallops argent, on a chief or, as many greyhounds' heads erased of the field. (Cooper's Athen. Cantab.)
  49. Fuller's Worthies.
  50. Letters of Erasmus :— "Tandem apud nos præstare capiy Galenus a Linacro versus, qui mihi supra modum placet. Posthac et medicum fieri juvat. Mitto dono libros Galeni operâ Linacri melius Romane loquentes quam antea Græce loquebantur." (Erasmi Epistolæ apud Froben, p. 363.) "Apud Britannos studio Thomæ Linacri sic nuper disertus cæpit esse Galenus, ut in suâ linguâ parum disertus videri possit, Ejusdem operâ sic Latine legitur Aristoteles, ut licet Atticus vix in suo sermone parem habeat gratiam." (Ibid. Lib. 15, 'Ep. 17, p. 494.)
  51. The anonymous editor of Linacre's translation of Galen de Symptomatibus gives the following encomium of the translator:— "Linacrus—vir ut utriusque linguæ doctissimus ita reconditarum artium cum primis eruditus: qui studiosos omnes [dum vixerat] ad meliorem illam mentem non modo adhortabatur verum etiam maximis muneribus et fovere et alere solebat ut non immerito tanquam alter Mæcenas doctis hominibus haberetur."
  52. Hasted's Kent, vol. iv. p. 743 note.
  53. This was probably the first book printed in England in which Greek type was used. It was re-produced at Cambridge in 1881, from Siberch's Cambridge edition of 1521, with an introduction by Joseph Frank Payne, M.D., Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, with a portrait of Linacre. The Aldine Edition {princeps) of Aristotle makes allusion to Linacre: "Thomas Anglicus, homo et græce et latine peritissimus præcellens que in doctrinarum omnium disciplinis." His own copy, with his autograph, is in New College, Oxford (ex inf. J. E. Bailey, Esq.).