Nettleton, Thomas

, a physician and miscellaneous writer, the son of John Nettleton, was born in 1683, at Dewsbury, and settled at Halifax, in Yorkshire, where he practised physic for several years with great success, having taken the degree of M. D. at Utrecht. He and Mr. West, of Underbank, near Penniston, in Yorkshire, were the first who instructed professor Sanderson in the principles of mathematics; and Dr. Nettleton used to say, that the scholar soon became more knowing than his master. We find several communications from Dr. Nettleton in the Philosophical Transactions, as “An account of the height of the Barometer at different elevations above the surface of the earth;” and two papers on the small-pox. It appears that he had inoculated sixty-one persons, when the whole amount of persons inoculated by other practitioners was only one hundred and twenty-one. In 1729, | he published a pamphlet, entitled “Some thoughts concerning virtue and happiness, in a letter to a clergyman,” 8vo, which he afterwards much enlarged. It was reprinted at London in 1736 and 1751, both in small octavo, but the former of these is the most valuable, because it had the author’s finishing hand. The design is to shew that happiness is the end of all our actions; but that it must be founded on virtue, which is not only the support and ornament of society, but yields the greatest pleasure, both in its immediate exercise, and in its consequence and effects. Dr. Nettleton *


The following story is told of Dr. Nettleton, that being in company with several gentlemen, one of them was laying great stress on the popular account of Cromwell’s selling himself to the devil before the battle of Worcester; affirming, that the bargain was intended to be for twenty-one years, but that the devil had put a trick upon Oliver, by changing the 21 into 12; and then, turning hastily to the doctor, asked him, “What could be the devil’s motive for so doing?” The doctor, without hesitation, answered, “That he could not tell what was his motive, unless he was in a hurry about the Restoration!

married, in March 1708, Elizabeth Cotton, of Haigh-hall, by whom he had several children. He died Jan. 9, 1742, at Halifax, and was buried at Dewsbury, with a Latin epitaph on the south wall of the church. To the account of his publications, not noticed in our authority, we may add his thesis on taking his degree, “Disput. de Inflammatione,Utrecht, 1706; and his “Account of the success of inoculating the Smallpox.” Lond. 1722, 4to; neither of which his biographer appears to have seen. 1

Watson’s Hist. of Halifax.