Charleton, Rice (DNB00)

CHARLETON, RICE, M.D. (1710–1789), physician, was educated at Oxford, where he took the degrees of M.A., M.B., and M.D. He paid some attention to chemistry, and was elected F.R.S. 3 Nov. 1747. He settled in practice at Bath, and in 1750 published ‘A Chemical Analysis of Bath Waters.’ The book describes a series of experiments to determine the mineral constituents of the thermal springs at Bath. The chemical system of Boerhaave is followed, and the inquiry is carefully conducted on scientific principles. Charleton was elected physician to the Bath General Hospital 2 June 1757, and then lived in Alfred Street. He published a second tract, ‘An Inquiry into the Efficacy of Bath Waters in Palsies,’ and reprinted it in 1774, with his first publication and ‘Tract the Third, containing Cases of Patients admitted into the Hospital at Bath under the care of the late Mr. Oliver, with some additional Cases and Notes,’ the whole making an octavo of 258 pages. The volume is dedicated to Thomas, duke of Leeds, who was one of the editor's patients. It contains some interesting cases, and demonstrates that part of the reputation of the Bath waters as a cure for palsy was due to the large number of cases of paralysis from lead poisoning who arrived with useless limbs, and were cured by abstinence from cyder having lead in solution, and by frequent bathing. Under the head of palsies ‘from cyder and bilious cholics’ Charleton has 237 cases, of which only five are classed as ‘no better.’ He belonged to the London College of Physicians, and retired from the Royal Society in 1754. He seems to have given up his chemical pursuits and to have devoted himself to practice. He resigned his post at the hospital 1 May 1781, and died in 1789.

[Works; Stranger’s Guide to Bath. 1773; Thomson's History of Royal Society, 1812; MS. Records of Bath Mineral Water Hospital.]

N. M.