Chamberlen, Hugh

, an eminent man-midwife, was grandson to Dr. Peter Chamberlen, who, with his fathers and uncles, were physicians to the kings James I. Charles I. and II. James II. William, and queen Anne. He was born in 1664, and educated at Trinity college, Cambridge, where he took his master’s degree in 1683, and that of M. D. in 1690. He has a Latin poem in the “Hymenæus Cantabrigiensis,” on the marriage of prince George of Denmark with the princess Anne, 1683. He, his father, and brothers, invented among them an obstetric forceps, with which they were enabled to deliver women with safety in cases where, before this discovery, the child was usually lost. In 1672 he went to Paris, but happening to be unsuccessful in a case there, he thought it adviseable to remove to Holland, where he is said to have succeeded better. Here he imparted his secret to two eminent practitioners, and received a considerable reward. On his | return to London he had great practice, and realized a handsome fortune. In 1683 he published his translation of “Mauriceau’s Midwifery,” a work in great request, and republished as late as 1755. Mauriceau mentions him often in some of his works, but always with the littleness of jealousy. Chamberlen’s forceps, improved by Smellie and some other practitioners, continues in use, and gives the inventor an honourable rank among the improvers of art. In 1723 we find him attending bishop Atterbury in the Tower, in lieu of Dr. Freind, who was himself a prisoner. He died at his house in Covent-garden, June 17, 1728; and a very fine marble monument was erected to his memory in Westminster-abbey at the expence of Edmund, duke of Buckingham. The long Latin epitaph, the production of bishop Atterbury, records, besides his skill, his benevolence, liberality, and many other amiable personal characteristics. Dr. Chamberlen was thrice married; and his widow, the daughter of sir Willoughby Aston, bart. was afterwards married to sir Thomas Crew, of Utkinton, in Cheshire, knight, who also left her a widow, but she died suddenly, April 6, 1734, and that year Dr. Chamberlen’s library was sold by Fletcher Gyles. 1


Nichols’s Atterbury’s Correspondence.—Rees’s Cyclopædia.