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American Medical Biographies/Brickell, John (1710–1745)

Brickell, John (1710?–1745)

John Brickell, M. D., author of "The natural history of North Carolina" (Dublin, 1737; with altered title page, Dublin, 1743; reprinted, 1911), is believed to have been a native of Ireland, and to have returned to that island after his brief residence in America. Little is known of the details of his life. The plausible suggestion has been made that he came to North Carolina with Governor George Burrington in 1724. While in North Carolina his home was at Edenton. About 1730 he was one of a party of ten who, with two Indian guides, spent nearly two months in the exploration of the interior country of the province; they penetrated the mountains, and it has been claimed that they reached what is now eastern Tennessee. In 1731 Brickell was still at Edenton, but soon afterward left the colony.

The book upon which his reputation rests has been severely criticized, because he copied into it, without credit, a large part of John Lawson's earlier "History of Carolina" (1714). It must be remembered, however, that Lawson's book was well known, and was the only earlier work of similar scope, so that Brickell might reasonably have been expected to incorporate anything of value that it contained and may have considered the giving of specific credit under the circumstances quite superfluous; besides, Brickell added much information that he had gathered at first hand.

Besides his book, Brickell is said to have published, at Dublin, a "Catalogue of American trees and plants which will bear the climate of England" (1745).

Ann. Rep. Am. Hist. Asso., S. B. Weeks, 1895, 232–235.
Nat. Cyclop. of Amer. Biog., 1897, vol. vii, 278.
Brickell, Nat. Hist. of North Carolina (reprint), 1911, prefatory note, J. B. Grimes.
Rhodora, 1916, B. L. Robinson, vol. xviii, 225–230.