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Collins, Samuel (1619-1670) (DNB00)


COLLINS, SAMUEL (1619–1670), author of the ' Present State of Russia,' born in 1619, was the eldest son of Samuel Collins, vicar of Braintree, Essex, who appears to have surrendered his living in 1661, died 2 May 1667, and is not to be confounded with Samuel Collins (1576-1651), provost of King's College, Cambridge [q. v.] Collins was admitted to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 1635; took no degree in that university; afterwards graduated M.D. at Padua; and was incorporated M.D. of Oxford 24 June 1659. It would appear that about 1660 he met in Holland Gebden, the commissary of the Russian court, who was gathering a band of celebrated men to serve the Czar Alexis, father of Peter the Great, at Moscow. Collins accepted Gebden's invitation to settle in Russia, and for nine years he acted as the czar's physician. Many honours and rewards were given him, but in 1669 he left Moscow for England. He soon afterwards made a journey to France, and died at Paris on 26 Oct. 1670. A brass mural tablet containing an inscription to his memory was set up, in accordance with the instructions in his will, outside the eastward of Braintree Church. Collins's only book 'The Present State of Russia, in a Letter to a Friend at London, written by an eminent person residing at the Great Tzar's Court at Mosco for the space of nine years. Illustrated with many copper plates' was first published in London after the author's death in 1671. It is a very entertaining account of life in the Russian court, and was issued in a French translation in 1679. Dorman Newman, the original publisher, according to his own statement, received the manuscript from ' a gentleman that attended upon the learned Dr. C. all the time of his being with the emperor of Russia.' It was distributed into chapters and sections by 'some that were learned and skilful,' but the doctor's death before 'it came to press' compelled Newman to employ 'another worthy person' to transcribe the manuscript and see it through the press. Although the title-page bears no author's name, Collins is stated to be the writer in the publisher's advertisement at the end of the book. Collins has often been erroneously identified with another physician of the same name [see Collins, Samuel, M.D., 1617–1685].

[Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. x. 42 (by Messrs. C. H. and Thompson Cooper); Munk's Coll. of Phys. (2nd edit.), i. 265; Wright's Essex, ii. 22; Collins's Present State of Russia; Wood's Fasti Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 221, where both Wood and Bliss fail to distinguish accurately between three seventeenth-century physicians all named Samuel Collins; information kindly supplied by Rev. J. W. Kenworthy, vicar of Braintree.]

S. L. L.