Wagstaffe, William

, a physician, whose writings, as well as his indolent habits of life, seem to have very strongly resembled those of the facetious Dr. William King | of the Commons, was related to the preceding Wagstaffes, and descended from a very ancient family, who were lords of the manor of Knightcote in Warwickshire. He was born in 1685, and being the only son of his father the rector of Cublington in Buckinghamshire, he was educated with great care, and sent early to school at Northampton. In his sixteenth year he was removed to Lincoln college, Oxford, where he was soon distinguished, not only for talents and learning, but for a facetious humour which made his conversation very acceptable to persons of superior rank and standing in the university. After taking his degree of B. A. in 1703, he had some, thoughts of entering into the church, from no better motive, however, than the hopes of being preferred by a relation; but after taking his degree of A. M. in 1707, he left the university, and coming up to London, visited another relation, the rev. Thomas Wagstaffe, who then was a physician; and marrying this gentleman’s daughter some time afterwards, resolved on medicine as a profession, in which his wife’s relations did their utmost to assist him. After her death, he formed a second eligible union with the daughter of Charles Bernard, esq. sergeant-surgeon to queen Anne. Not long after this marriage, he completed his degrees in physic, in 1714, and returning to town was admitted fellow both of the college of physicians, and in 1717 of the Royal Society. Business gradually increasing, he was chosen one of the physicians of St. Bartholomew’s hospital, which trust he discharged with great reputation, as to skill and humanity. He appears, however, to have been a man of indolence, and of some irregular habits, which brought on lowness of spirits, and decay of health. In hopes of recovery he went to Bath in March 1724-5, but died there May 5, in the fortieth year of his age. His works were the same year collected under the title of “The Miscellaneous Works of Dr. William Wagstaffe, physician to St. Bartholomew’s hospital,” &c. 8vo. Their contents are characteristic of the author’s peculiar humour, and his opinions of his contemporaries. 1. “A comment upon the History of Tom Thumb,” in ridicule of Addison’s papers on “Chevy Chase.” 2. “Crispin the Cobler’s confutation of Ben H(oadly), in an. epistle 10 him.” 3. “The Story of the St. A(lba)n’s ghost,” &c. 4. “The testimonies of the citizens of Fickleborough, concerning the life and character of Robert Huish, commonly called Bob, &c.” 5. “The representation of the | loyal subjects of Albinia.” 6. “The character of Richard St(ee)le, esq.:” not a very just one. 7. “The state and condition of our Taxes considered.” 8. “The Plain Dealer,” 16 numbers. 9. “Preface to the complete history of the treaty of Utrecht.” 10. “A Letter from the facetious Dr. Andrew Tripe, at Bath, to his loving brother the profound Greshamite, &c.” Most of these tracts were written in his early years, and without his name. He was also the author of two scarce little volumes, called “Annotations on the Tatler,” frequently quoted in the variorum editions of that periodical paper. 1


Nichols’s Bowyer. Tatler, vol. II. Spectator, vol. I, edit. 1806, 8vo.