Cowper, William

, a celebrated surgeon and anatomist, the youngest son of Richard Cowper of Hampshire, esq. was born in 1666, probably at Bishop’s Sutton, near Alresford in that county, where he lies interred. After a medical education, he practised in London, where his first work, “Myotomia reformata, or a new administration of all the Muscles of the Human Body,” was published in 1694, 8vo, and reprinted in a splendid folio, by Dr. Mead in 1724, several years after the death of the author, with an introductory discourse on muscular motion, and some additions; but the figares, although elegant, are said to be somewhat deficient in correctness. In 1697, the author published at Oxford, in folio, “The Anatomy of Human Bodies,” many of the plates of which were purchased by some London booksellers in Holland, and belonged to Bidloo’s anatomy. The dispute which this occasioned, we have already noticed (see Bidloo), and may now add that it terminated very little to Cowper’s credit. Bidloo complained of the theft to the royal society, and wrote a very severe pamphlet, entitled “Gul. Cowperus citatus coram tribunali.” Cowper, instead of acknowledging the impropriety of his conduct, published a virulent pamphlet, entitled “Vindiciae;” in which he endeavours to shew that they were not really Bidloo’s figures, but hacl been engraved by Swammerdam, and purchased by Bidloo from Swammerdam’s widow, a malicious charge which some | subsequent writers have been malevolent enough to propagate and defend. Cowper has the merit of giving a description of some glands, seated near the neck of the bladder, which have obtained the name of Cowper’s mucous glands. He was also author of several communications to the royal society, on the subjects of anatomy and surgery, which are printed in their Transactions, and of some observations inserted in the “Anthropologia” of Drake. He is said to have ruined his constitution by severe labour and watchings, and was seized at first with an asthmatic complaint, and afterwards with the dropsy, of which he died March 8, 1709. 1


Thomson’s History of the Royal Society. Epitaph at Bishop’s Sutton. Rees’s Cyclopædia.