Bulleyn, William

, a learned English physician and botanist, was descended from an ancient family, and born in the isle of Ely, about the beginning of Henry the Eighth’s reign. He was bred up at Cambridge, as some say, at Oxford according to others; but probably both those nurseries of learning had a share in his education. We know, however, but little of his personal history, though he was famous in his profession, and a member of the college of physicians in London, except what we are able to collect from his works. Tanner says, that he was a divine, as well as a physician; that he wrote a book against transubstantiation; and that in June 1550 he was inducted into the rectory of Blaxhall, in Suffolk, which he resigned in November 1554. From his works we learn that he had been a traveller over several parts of Germany, Scotland, and especially England; and he seems to have made it his business to acquaint himself with the natural history of each place, and with the products of its soil. It appears, however, that he was more permanently settled at Durham, where he, practised physic with great reputation; and, among others of the most eminent inhabitants, was in great favour with sir Thomas Hilton, knight, baron of Hilton, to whom he dedicated a book in the last year of queen Mary’s reign. In 1560, he went to London, | where, to his infinite surprise, he found himself accused by Mr. William Hilton of Biddick, of having murdered his brother, the baron aforesaid; who really died among his own friends of a malignant fever. The innocent doctor was easily cleared, yet his enemy hired some ruffians to assassinate him, and when disappointed in this, arrested Dr. Bulleyn in an action, and confined him in prison a long time; where he wrote some of his medical treatises. He was a very learned, experienced, and able physician. He was very intimate with the works of the ancient physicians and naturalists, both Greek, Roman, and Arabian. He was also a man of probity and piety, and though he Jived in the times of popery, does not appear to have been tainted with its principles. He died Jan. 7, 1576, and was buried in the same grave with his brother Richard Bulleyn, a divine, who died thirteen years before, in the church of St. Giles, Cripplegate. There is an inscription on their tomb, with some Latin verses, in which they are celebrated as men famous for their learning and piety. Of Dr. Bulleyn particularly it is said, that he was always as ready to accommodate the poor as the rich, with medicines for the relief of their distempers. There is a profile of Bulleyn, with a long beard, before his “Government of Health,” and a whole-length of him in wood, prefixed to his “Bulwarke of defence.” He was an ancestor of the late Dr. Stukeley, who, in 1722, was at the expence of having a small head of him engraved.

He wrote, 1. “The Government of Health,1558, 8vo. 2. “Regimen against the Pleurisy,1562, 8vo. 3. “Bulwark of defence against all sickness, soreness, and wounds, that daily assault mankind,” &c. 1562, folio. This work consists of, first, The book of compounds, with a table of their names, and the apothecaries rules or terms; secondly, The book of the use of sick men and medicines. These are both composed in dialogues between Sickness and Health. Then follows, thirdly, The book of simples, being an Herbal in the form of a dialogue; at the end of which are the wooden cuts of some plants, and of some limbecks or stills; and, fourthly, a dialogue between Soreness and Chirurgery, concerning impostumations and wounds, and their causes and cures. This tract has three wooden cuts in it; one representing a man’s body on the forepart full of sores and swellings; the other, in like manner, behind; the third is also a human figure, in which | the veins are seen directed to, and named, which are to be opened in phlebotomy. 4. A dialogue both pleasant and pitiful, wherein is shewed a godly regimen against the plague, with consolations and comfort against death, 1564, 8vo. Some other pieces of a smaller nature are ascribed to Dr. Bulleyn, but of very little consequence.

Dr. Pulteney is of opinion that Bulleyn’s specific knowledge of Botany seems to have been but slender; but his zeal for the promotion of the useful arts of gardening, the general culture of the land, and the commercial interests of the kingdom, deserve the highest praise, and for the information he has left of these affairs, in his own time, posterity owe him acknowledgements. His travels, and the great attention he had paid to the native productions of his own country, had given him a comprehensive view of the natural fertility of the soil and climate of England; which, from the tenour of his writings, seems to have been, at that time, by some people musch depreciated. He opposes this idea with patriotic zeal and concern, and alleges various examples to prove, that we had excellent apples, pears, plums, cherries, and hops, of our own growth, before the importation of these articles into England by the London and Kentish gardeners, but that the culture of them had been greatly neglected. 1


Biog. Brit.—Tanner.—Ath. Ox. I.—Pulteney’s Sketches.—Aikin’s Biographical Memoirs of Medicine, 8vo. p. 142, &c