Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Betts, John

BETTS, JOHN, M.D. (d. 1695), physician, was son of Edward Betts by his wife Dorothy, daughter of John Venables of Rapley in Hampshire. He was born at Winchester, and educated there in grammar learning, was elected a scholar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in February 1642–3, and took the degree of B.A. on 9 Feb. 1646–7. Being ejected by the visitors appointed by the parliament in 1648, he applied himself to the study of medicine, and accumulated the degrees of M.B. and M.D. at Oxford on 11 April 1654. He was admitted a candidate of the College of Physicians on 30 Sept. 1654 and a fellow on 20 Oct. 1664. Dr. Betts practised with great success in London, chiefly among the Roman catholics, he himself being a member of their church. Afterwards he was appointed physician in ordinary to King Charles II. His position in the College of Physicians appears to have been influenced by his religious opinions and the varying tendencies of the times in which he lived. For instance, Dr. Middleton Massey in his manuscript notes speaks of ‘Joannes Betts, qui ob suam in Pontificis Romani superstitione contumaciam, Collegio exclusus fuit anno 1679, sed 1684 restitutus.’ Betts was censor of the college in 1671, 1673, 1685, and 1686, and was named an elect on 25 June 1685. On 1 July 1689 he was returned to the House of Lords as ‘a papist,’ and on 25 Oct. 1692 was threatened with the loss of his place as an elect if he did not take the oath of allegiance to the king. Although he did not take the oath, he was allowed to remain undisturbed in his position, probably on account of his age. He was dead on 15 May 1695, when Dr. Hulse was named an elect in his place; and he was buried at St. Pancras.

He published: 1. ‘De ortu et natura Sanguinis,’ London, 1669, 8vo. Dr. George Thompson animadverted on this treatise in his ‘True way of Preserving the Blood in its integrity.’ 2. ‘Medicinæ cum Philosophia naturali consensus,’ London, 1692, 8vo. 3. ‘Anatomia Thomæ Parri annum centesimum quinquagesimum secundum et novem menses agentis, cum clariss. viri Gulielmi Harveii aliorumque adstantium Medicorum Regiorum observationibus.’ Wood says that this account was drawn up by Dr. Harvey. His son, Edward Betts, also became a doctor of medicine, acquired a high reputation as a physician, and died on 27 April 1695.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iv. 611; Wood's Fasti, ii. 90, 183; Biog. Brit. (Kippis), ii. 297; Dodd's Church Hist. iii. 270; Munk's College of Physicians (1878), i. 318, 460; Lysons's Environs, iii. 354; Addit. MS. 22136, f. 8.]

T. C.