Fothergill, John

, an eminent physician, son of John and Margaret Fothergill, quakers, was born March 8, 6r, according to Dr. Thompson’s account, Oct. 12, 1712, at Carr End in Yorkshire, where his father, who had been a brewer at Knaresborough (after having travelled from one end of America to the other), lived retired on a small estate which he cultivated. The eldest son Alexander, who studied the law, inherited that estate. John was the second son. Joseph, the third son, was an ironmonger at Stockport, in Cheshire, where he died a few years ago. Samuel, the fourth son, went to America, and became a celebrated preacher among the quakers. There was also a sister, Anne, who lived with the doctor, and survived him. John received his education under the kind care of his grandfather Thomas Hough, a person of fortune in Cheshire (which gave him a predilection for that county), and at Sedburg in Yorkshire. About 1718 he was put apprentice to Benjamin Bartlett, apothecary, at Bradford, whence he removed to London, Oct. 20, 1736, and studied two years as a pupil of doctor (afterwards sir Edward) Wilmot, at St. Thomas’s hospital. He then went to the university of Edinburgh, to study physic, and there took his doctor’s degree. His Thesis was entitled, “De emeticorum usu in variis morbis tractandis;” and it has been republished in a collection of theses by Smellie. From Edinburgh he went to Leyden, whence, after a short stay, he travelled through some parts of France and Germany, and, returning to England, began his practice in London about 1740, in a house in Whitehart-court, Lombard-street (where he resided till his removal to Harpur-street in 1767), and acquired both reputation and fortune. He was admitted a licentiate of the college of physicians of London, 1746, and in 1754, fellow of Edinburgh, to which he was a considerable benefactor. In 1753, he became a member both of the royal and antiquarian societies; and was at his death a member of the royal medical society at Paris. He continued his practice with uninterrupted success till within the last two years of his life, when an illness, which he had brought on himself by his unremitted attention, obliged him greatly to contract it. Besides his occupation in medical science, he had imbibed an early taste for | natural history, improved by his -friend Peter Collinson, and employed himself particularly on the study of shells, and of botany. He was for many years a valuable contributor to the Gentleman’s Magazine; which in return considerably assisted his rising fame. His observations on the weather and diseases were begun there in April 1751, and discontinued in the beginning of 1756, as he was disappointed in his views of exciting other experienced physicians in different parts to imitate the example. Though, his practice was very extensive, he did not add to his art any great or various improvements. His pamphlet on the ulcerous sore throat is, on every account, the best of his publications, and that owes much of its merit to the information of the late doctors Letherland *


See Mr. Chandler’s Treatise on a Cold, 1761, p. 53, where the method of treating this new disorder is absolutely given to Dr. Letherland; who with that modesty which was his distinguishing characteristic, when the doctor’s ms. was shewn to him, expressly forbad any mention of his name in it.

or Sylvester. It was first printed in 1748, on the re-appearance of that fatal disorder whick in 1739 had carried off the two only sons of Mr. Pelham. It may be here added, that 0r. Wilmot preserved lady Catherine Pelham, after her sons had died of it, by lancing her throat; a method which, he said, he had once before pursued with the same success. In 1762, Dr. Fothergill purchased an estate at Upton in Essex, and formed an excellent botanic garden, with hot-houses and green-houses, to the extent of 260 feet. In 1766, he began regularly to withdraw, from Midsummer to Michaelmas, from the excessive fatigue of his profession, to Lee Hall, near Middlewich in Cheshire; which, though he only rented it by the year, he had spared no expence to improve. During this recess he took no fees, but attended, to prescribe gratis at an inn at Middlewich once a week. Some time before his death he had been industrious to contrive a method of generating and preserving ice in the West Indies. He was the patron of Sidney Parkinson, and drew up the preface prefixed to his account of the voyage to the South Seas. At his expence also was made and printed an entire new translation of the whole Bible, from the Hebrew and Greek originals, by Anthony Purver ,

This man deserves to be added to the list of unlearned mechanics, who by dint of application have acquired a knowledge of the learned languages, beginning with the Hebrew, and proceeding to the Greek and Latin. He was bred a shoemaker, with a serious turn and desire of inquiring into the religious sentiments he had imbibed in his youth. This work is said to have cost the doctor not less than 2000l.

| a quaker, in two volumes, 1764, folio, and also, in 1780, an edition of bishop Percy’s “Key to the New Testament,” adapted to the use of a seminary of young quakers, at Acworth, near Leeds, which the doctor first projected, and afterwards endowed handsomely by his will. It now contains above 300 children of both sexes, who are clothed and instructed. Among the other beneficent schemes suggested by Dr. Fothergill, was that of bringing fish to London by land carriage, which, though it did not in every respect succeed, was supposed to defeat a monopoly; and, that of rendering bread much cheaper, though equally wholesome, by making it with one part of potatoes, and three parts of household flour. But his public benefactions, his encouragements ef science, the instances of his attention to the health, the police, the convenience of the metropolis, &c. are too numerous to specify *. The fortune which Dr. Fothergill acquired, was computed at 80,000l. His business when he was in "full practice, was calculated at near 7000l. per annum. In the Influenza of 1775 and 1776*, he is said to have had sixty patients on his list daily, and his profits were then estimated at 8000l. The disorder which hastened his death was an obstruction in the bladder, occasioned by a delicacy which made him unwilling to alight from his carriage for relief. He died at his house in Harpur-street, Dec. 26, 1780; and his remains were interred, Jan. 5, in the quakers burying-ground at Winchmore-hill. The executors, who were his lister, and Mr. Ghorley, linen-draper, in Gracechurch-street, who married one of his nieces, intended the burial to be private; but the desire of the quakers to attend the funeral rendered it impossible. Only ten coaches were ordered to convey his relations and friends, but there were more than seventy coaches and post-chaises attending; and many of the friends came above 100 miles, to pay their last tribute of

In the contests between the fellows and licentiates of the college of physicians Dr. Fothergill took an active part, nd subscribed five humlrtd pounds towards bringing it to a legal decision, His observations on the subjects of poice, we are told, could they be coli together, would constitute an auj^le and useful volume-. He i> said to have written nearly an hundred letters in the Gazteerer on the subject of guineas. Uit Mw ptvencut; and he was con santly communicating useful hints for the improvement of this great city. Of his kindness and bounty to individuals it will be sufficient to mention one instance, in the case of his worthy but unfortunate friend, the late Dr. Gowin Knight who applied to Dr. Fothergill in a moment of pecuniary distress, and resumed with a heart set at ease by the noble benefaction, of a. thousaad

| respect. The doctor by his will appointed, that his shells, and other pieces of natural history, should be offered to the late Dr. Hunter at 500l. under the valuation he ordered to be taken of them. Accordingly, Dr. Hunter bought them for 1200l. The drawings and collections in natural history, which he had spared no expence to augment, were also to be offered to Mr. (now sir Joseph) Banks, at a valution. His English portraits and prints, which had been collected by Mr. John Nickolls of Ware, and purchased by him for 80 guineas, were bought for 200 guineas by Mr. Thane. His books were sold by auction, April 30, 1731, and the eight following days. His house and garden, at Upton, were valued at 10,000l. The person of Dr. Fothergill was of a delicate rather than an extenuate4 make. His features were all expressive, and his eye had a peculiar brilliancy. His understanding was comprehensive and quick, and rarely embarrassed on the most sudden occasions. There was a charm in his conversation and address that conciliated the regard and confidence of all who employed him; and so discreet and uniform was his conduct, that he was not apt to forfeit the esteem which he had once acquired. At his meals he was uncommonly abstemious, eating sparingly, and rarely exceeding two glasses of wine at dinner or supper. By this uniform and steady temperance, he preserved his mind vigorous and active, and his constitution equal to all his engagements.

Dr. Fothergill’s writings, with the exception of his inaugural thesis “De Emeticorum Usu,” and his “Account of the putrid sore-throat,” consist principally of papers printed in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, and in the “Medical Observations and Inquiries,” a work of which six volumes were published, and which is known and highly esteemed wherever medical science is successfully cultivated. Besides the numerous essays in this excellent collection to vThich the name of Dr. Fothergiil is prefixed, we learn that he was the author of the three anonymous papers in the fourth volume, which constitute the 8th, 10th, and 17th articles. He also published, as already remarked, several little essays, on the weather And reigning diseases, on the Simarouba, and other subjects, in the Gentleman’s Magazine, anil other periodical publications, which, however, were written in haste, and not publicly avowed. These works have been collected | and reprinted by Dr. Elliott, 1781, 8vo, and by Dr. Letttorn, 1784, 4to. 1


Life by Drs. Thomson, Lettiom, and Elliot. —Gent. Mag. see Gen. Index.