COLE, WILLIAM (1626–1662), botanist, was born in 1626 at Adderbury, Oxfordshire, being the son of John Cole. He entered New College, Oxford, in 1642, and was soon after made a postmaster of Merton College, by his mother's brother, John French, senior fellow and registrar of the university. He graduated B.A. on 18 Feb. 1650, having become a public notary, and having already devoted much attention to botany. He afterwards resided at Putney, Surrey, 'where he became the most famous simpler or herbalist of his time' (Athenæ Oxon.) He became B.D. and fellow of New College, and in 1660 was made secretary to Duppa, bishop of Winchester, in whose service he died in 1662. His works are: 1. 'The Art of Simpling, or an Introduction to the Knowledge and Gathering of Plants,' London, 1656, pp. 123, 12mo, with which was bound 2. 'Perspicillum Microcosmologicum, or a Prospective for the Discovery of the Lesser World. Wherein Man is in a Compendium, theologically, philosophically, and anatomically described, and compared with the Universe.' 3. 'Adam in Eden, or Nature's Paradise. The History of Plants, Herbs, Flowers, with their several, . . names, whether Greek, Latin, or English, and . . . vertues,' London, 1657, pp. 629, fol. His name, given by Wood, Rose, and others as Cole, appears as Coles on the title-pages of both his works.
[Athena; Oxon. ed. Bliss, 1817, in. col. 621-2.]
COLE, WILLIAM (d. 1701), naturalist, was surveyor of customs at Bristol, and the owner of an estate at Bradfield, in the parish of Hullavington, Wiltshire, where he died on 30 Aug. 1701. There are in the British Museum (Addit. MSS. 18598, 18599) two folio volumes of letters, chiefly upon subjects of natural history, addressed to him by Sir Robert Southwell, president of the Royal Society and principal secretary for Ireland, and by his eldest son Edward Southwell, with drafts of Cole's letters in reply.
[Aubrey and Jackson's Wiltshire, p. 249; Additions to the MSS. in Brit. Mus. (1848-53), 119.]
COLE, WILLIAM (1635–1716), physician, born in 1635, was educated at Gloucester Hall, Oxford, as a member of which society he graduated M.B. 7 Aug. 1660, and M.D. 9 July 1666 (Wood, Fasti). He practised first at Worcester, where, as appears from his writings, he was consulted by persons of distinction, and was probably successful. From Worcester he wrote in 1681 to Sydenham (though personally unknown to him) the letter which called forth the latter's well-known 'Dissertatio Epistolaris.' The personal reference to Cole in this work shows that he was already well known by his medical writings. About 1692 he removed to London, and was admitted 26 June 1693 a candidate, and 25 June 1694 a fellow of the College of Physicians. Some time before his death he appears to have retired to the country. He died 12 June 1716, and was buried at Allesley, near Coventry, where his grave with memorial inscription still exists (Munk). His portrait, drawn and engraved by R. White, adorns some of his books.
Cole enjoyed in his day great repute as a medical writer, his works being several times reprinted on the continent. Sydenham speaks of him with respect. Haller calls him 'iatro-mathematicus et hypothesium inventor,' and by his writings Cole belongs unmistakably to the mechanical school of medicine, though he did not meddle with mathematics. But he early recognised the practical superiority of Sydenham's more natural method, and readily adopted that great physician's treatment for the small-pox. His first work, 'De Secretione Animali,' is chiefly physiological, giving an explanation of secretion on mechanical principles, but it is entirely deductive or conjectural, not experimental. His 'New Hypothesis of Fevers' is very wild in the theoretical part, but in the practical advocates the use of Peruvian bark. In his work on apoplexies he attributes much to the effect of cold, and dates the supposed frequency of such attacks from the severe winter of 1683. This is the only work Cole wrote in English, and among other excuses for using the vernacular he modestly pleads his deficiency in the learned languages, as shown in his former works. His last tract on a case of epilepsy was written in answer to Dr. Thomas Hobart of Cambridge, who, after the fashion of the day, asked his advice in a Latin letter.
Cole's works deal so little in actual observation of disease, and so much in explanations based on hypotheses long since exploded, that they are now of small value. He wrote: 1. 'De Secretione Animali cogitata,' Oxford, 1674, 12mo; The Hague, 1681, 12mo (Haller); (with R. Morton's works), Geneva, 1696 and 1727, 4to; Lyons, 1737, 4to. 2. 'Novæ Hypotheseos ad explicanda Febrium Intermittentium Symptomata Hypotyposis,' London, 1694, 8vo; Amsterdam, 1698, 8vo; (with R. Morton's works), Geneva, 1696 and 1727, 4to; Lyons, 1737, 4to. 3. 'Physico-medical Essay concerning the late Frequency of Apoplexies,' Oxford, 1689. 4. 'Consilium Ætiologicum de Casu quodam Epileptico; annexâ Disquisitione de Perspiratione Insensibili,' London,