|College of Physicians. ||132
some to the irreparable Damage of the Commonwealth, so by their Skill and
Knowledge of the Things of Nature, the Diseases and Maladies, to which Mankind
so subject, may be stopt and cured; to the redress of grievous Pains, and the
Preservation of the Lives of useful Men. Therefore in former Times, before such
Corporation was established, choice was wont to be made (when Princes lay ill)
their Privy Council, among the Plenty of Pretenders to this Art, of some of the
Learneder and better Sort, whether of Physicians or Chirurgeons: such a tender
as Life (and sometimes of such Concern to the Publick) lying at Stake.
This was practised in the 32. of Hen. 6. when that King lay sick, which the
Council thought a Matter fit to be taken into their Consideration; and assigned
Physicians, named John Arundel, John Saleby, and William Hatcliff; and two
Surgeons, named Marshal and Warren, to administer freely about his Person. And
there is a Roll of that Tenor, mentioned by the Lord Coke in his Institutes.
Physicians appointed by the Council for K. Hen. 6.
Institut. Part IV. P. 251.
There was no Restraint by Law for the Practice of Physick, till the Third Year
Henry VIII. when a Law was Enacted that none should exercise the Faculty of
or Surgery within the City of London, or within Seven Miles of the same, unless
he were examined, approved and admitted by the Bishop of London, or the Dean of
Paul's, calling to him or them Four Doctors of Physick, and for Surgery other
Persons in that Faculty, upon pain of Forfeiture of 5l. for every Month they
occupy Physick or Surgery, not thus admitted and allowed.
Practice of Physick when first restrained by a Law.
And for this Cause, as is mentioned in the Preamble of the said Law, because the
Science and Cunning of Physick and Surgery, (to the perfect Knowledge whereof be
requisite both great Learning and ripe Experience) was daily within this Realm
exercised by a great Multitude of ignorant Persons; of whom the greater Part had
manner of Insight in the same, nor in any other kind of Learning. Some also can
no Letters on the Book. So far forth that common Artificers, as Smiths,
Women, boldly and accustomably took upon them great Cures, and Things of great
Difficulty, in the which they partly used Sorceries and Witchcraft, and partly
such Medicines unto the Diseased, as were very noyous, and nothing meet
the high Displeasure of God, &c. and Destruction of many of the King's Liege
The Reason of the said Law.
Yet was there no Society or College of such Men, directed by, and circumscribed
within Laws and Orders, and formed into a Corporation, till the 10th of Henry
when that King granted a Charter, Dated the 23. of Sept. at Westminster, to
certain Physicians in one Body, and perpetual Commonalty or Fellowship of the
Faculty of Physick; and to have a perpetual Succession, and a common Seal, and
chuse Yearly a President, to Oversee, Rule, and Govern the said Fellowship in
of the same Faculty. By Vertue whereof, they were enabled to purchase and
Fee, and Perpetuity, Lands, Tenements, and Rents, and any other Possession; that
might implead and be impleaded; that they might make Statutes and Ordinances for
wholsome Government and Correction of the College, and of all Persons practising
Physick within Seven Miles of the City. And within that Compass, none to
well as in the City, unless first allowed by the President and Fellowship, upon
Forfeiture of an 100 Shillings for every Month; that Four be chosen Yearly by
President and College,
who should have the Supervising, Search, Examination, and Government of all the
Physicians of the City, and Suburbs within Seven Miles; and to punish them for
Offences, in not performing, making, and neglecting their Medicines and
that by Fines, Amerciaments, and Imprisonment: That neither the President, nor
the Members of this College be summoned, or put in any Assizes, Juries,
The first Charter granted to the Physicians by K. Hen. 8.
And that the first Movers and Procurers of so good a Fellowship, for the Safety
Lives of Men, may be preserved; and the Causes that moved the King to grant it
known, they are both signified to us in the said Kings Letters Patents; where it
appeareth, that the Suit was made by John Chambre, Thomas Linacre, and Fernandes
de Victoria, all the King's Physicians, and three other Physicians, namely, Nic.
Halliwel, John Francis, and Robert Yarly; and chiefly by the Intercession of
Wolsey, Lord Chancellor. And the Causes that inclined the King appeared in the
Preamble to the said Letters Patents; beginning thus,
The Procurers and Cause of this Chart.
Cum Regii Officiis nostri munus arbitremur, Ditionis nostræ Hominum
omni ratione consulere, id autem vel imprimis fore, si improborum Coratibus
tempestivè occurramus, &c. That is,
"Since we esteem it a Part of
Royal Office, by all Means to consult the Happiness of such as are under our
Jurisdiction, and that the Way to do it will especially be, if we seasonably put
a Stop to
the Endeavours of evil Men; We have thought it highly necessary to restrain the
Boldness of some wicked People, who shall profess Physick more for their own
Covetousness, than out of any good Conscience; whence many Inconveniences may
arise to the ignorant and credulous common Sort: Therefore partly imitating the
Example of well instituted Cities in Italy, and in many other Nations; partly
the Request of certain grave Men, &c."
This Charter, they who were the chief Procurers, got confirmed and ratified by
Parliament, Anno 14. Hen. 8. upon this Consideration, as the Act ran;
making the said Corporation meritorious, and very food for the Commonwealth of
Realm, it was necessary to provide, that no Person of the said Politick Body and
Commonalty, be suffered to exercise Physick, but only those Persons that be
Profound, Sad, and Discreet, groundly Learned, and deeply Studied in Physick;
for the enlarging of further Articles for the said Commonwealth to be had and
Confirmed by Act of Parliament.
In the 32. of Hen. 8. by another Act of Parliament, they were exempted from
Watch and Ward, and from being chosen Constables, or into other Offices within
City and Suburbs, as they had many times before been compelled to their great
Fatigation and Unquieting, and to the Peril of their Patients. By the same Act,
Physicians were to be chosen Yearly to search the Apothecaries Wares, Drugs, and
An Act for the Physicians, 32. H. 8.
Q. Mary, Anno 1. confirmed the College's Charter.
1 Ma. I.
Q. Elizabeth gave them a Charter, Dated at Westminster, Feb. 4. Anno Regni 7. to
Yearly for ever, One, Two, Three, or Four Human Bodies, to Dissect or Anatomize,
having been condemned and dead.
This College of Physicians, in the Year 1575, (that is above an 140 Years ago)
consisted of these Members; as I have it from an Authentick Paper sent to Court:
very few in comparison of the Number that now maketh it up.)
Names of the College Members, Anno 1575.