Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wharton, Thomas (1614-1673)

478775Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 60 — Wharton, Thomas (1614-1673)1899Bertha Porter

WHARTON, THOMAS (1614–1673), physician, only son of John Wharton (d. 10 June 1629) by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Roger Hodson (d. 10 March 1646) of Fountains Abbey, was born at Winston-on-Tees, Durham, on 31 Aug. 1614. He was admitted at Pembroke College, Cambridge, on 4 July 1638, and matriculated two days later. He afterwards migrated to Trinity College, Oxford, where he acted for some time as tutor to John Scrope, natural son of Emanuel, lord Scrope. In 1642 he went to Bolton, where he remained three years studying; and then, having decided upon his future profession, removed to London and studied medicine under John Bathurst [q. v.] In 1646 he returned to Oxford, and was created M.D. on 7 May 1647. He was entered as a candidate of the Royal College of Physicians on 25 Jan. 1648, chosen fellow on 23 Dec. 1650, incorporated at Cambridge on his doctor's degree in 1652, and held the post of censor of the Royal College of Physicians in 1658, 1661, 1666, 1667, 1668, and 1673. Wood states, though apparently incorrectly, that between 1650 and 1660 he was one of the lecturers at Gresham College. He obtained the appointment of physician to St. Thomas's Hospital on 20 Nov. 1659, and retained it till his death in 1673. Wharton was one of the very few physicians who remained at his post in London during the whole of the outbreak of the plague of 1665. His services were recognised by a promise of the first vacant appointment of physician in ordinary to the king. When, however, a vacancy occurred and he applied for the fulfilment of the promise, he was put off with a grant of honourable augmentation to his paternal arms, for which he had to pay Sir William Dugdale 10l.

Wharton died at his house in Aldersgate Street on 15 Nov. 1673, and was buried on the 20th in the church of St. Michael Bassishaw in Basinghall Street. He married Jane, daughter of William Ashbridge of London, by whom he had three sons: Thomas, father of George Wharton (see below), Charles, and William; the last two died young. His wife predeceased him on 20 July 1669, and was buried at St. Michael Bassishaw on the 23rd. When, early in 1897, the church of St. Michael's was dismantled, special care was directed to be taken of Wharton's tomb.

A portrait of him is in the censors' room of the Royal College of Physicians, and a small watercolour copy by G. R. Harding is in the print-room of the British Museum. An engraving by White representing a man with long hair, and a large band with a tassel, is judged by Granger to represent the anatomist.

Wharton was a noted anatomist. He described the glands more accurately than had previously been done, and made valuable researches into their nature and use. He did not trust much to theory, but a great deal to dissection and experiment. He was the discoverer of the duct of the sub-maxillary gland for the conveyance of the saliva into the mouth, which bears his name. He made a special study of the minute anatomy of the pancreas. William Oughtred [q.v.], in the epistle to his 'Clavis Mathematicae' (London, 1648), speaks of Wharton's proficiency in this and other sciences; and Walton, in his 'Compleat Angler,' expresses his indebtedness to Wharton in the 'philosophical discourse' of the historical survey of his subject, and calls him 'a dear friend, that loves both me and my art of angling.' He wrote four English verses under a fanciful engraving prefixed to a translation by Elias Ashmole [q.v.], entitled 'Arcanum, or the Grand Secret of Hermetic Philosophy,' and published in his 'Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum' (London, 1652). Wood calls Wharton 'the most beloved friend' of Ashmole. The friendship, however, sustained some interruption, owing, Ashmole says, to Wharton's 'unhandsome and unfriendly dealing ' with him. A complete reconciliation took place before Wharton's death.

Wharton published 'Adenographia; sive glandularum totius corporis descriptio,' London, 1656 (best edition on account of the plates); Amsterdam, 1659; Oberwesel, 1664, 1671,1675; Dusseldorf, 1730. Large portions of the work were printed in Le Clerc and Mangot's 'Bibliotheca Anatomica,' Geneva, 1699 (i. 200-3, ii. 755-73). Hieronimus Barbatus in his 'Dissertatio Elegantissima de Sanguine,' Paris, 1667, makes considerable use of Wharton's work.

His grandson, George Wharton (1688-1739), born at Old Park, Durham, on 25 Dec. 1688, was the eldest son of Thomas Wharton (1652-1714), a physician, by his wife Mary, daughter of John Hall, an alderman of Durham. He matriculated from Pembroke College, Cambridge, on 6 July 1706, and proceeded M.B. in 1712 and M.D. on 30 Sept. 1719. He was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians on 30 Sept. 1720, was censor in 1725, 1729, 1732, and 1734, and held the post of treasurer from 1727 till his death on 21 March 1739 in his house in Fenchurch Street. He married Anna Maria, daughter of William Petty; but dying childless, the estate of Old Park passed to his younger brother, Robert, mayor of Durham. George Wharton presented his grandfather's portrait to the Royal College of Physicians.

[Foster's Pedigrees recorded in the Visitations of Durham, p. 325; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 17001714; Wood's Athenae, ed. Bliss, iii. 1000; Munk's Coll. of Phys. i. 255-7, ii. 74; Smyth's Obituary, pp. 82, 100; Stow's Survey, ed. Strype, vol. i. bk. iii. p. 68: Boerhaave's Methodus Studii Medici; Ward's Professors of Gresham College, pref. p. xix; Wood's Hist, and Antiq. ed. Gutch, ii. ii. 968; Granger's Biogr. Hist. iv. 222; London Gazette, 8 May 1897; Admission Registers of Pembroke College, Cambridge, per the Master; University Registers, per the Registrary; Parish Register of Winston-on-Tees; Court Book of St. Thomas's Hospital, ff. 123, 169; P.C.C. 166 Pye; Tanner MS. in the Bodleian Library 41, f. 129; Ashmolean MSS. 339 ff. 89, 1007, 1136 ff. 21, 45, 49 b, 139.]

B. P.