Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Scarburgh, Charles

SCARBURGH, Sir CHARLES, M.D. (1616–1694), physician, son of Edmund Scarburgh, gentleman, of the parish of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, London, was born in London in 1616, and was sent to St. Paul's School, whence he proceeded to Caius College, Cambridge. He entered as a sizar on 4 March 1633, graduating B.A. in 1637 and M.A. in 1640. He was elected a fellow of his college in 1640 and studied medicine. He was also devoted to mathematics, which he studied with Seth Ward [q. v.] of Emmanuel. He and Ward used Oughtred's 'Clavis Mathematica' as their text-book, and Oughtred was much pleased by their visiting him at Aldbury in Surrey to ask an explanation of difficulties with which they had met in their study of his book [see Oughtred, William]. They afterwards lectured on the 'Clavis' at Cambridge, where it became what Goodwin's 'Course of Mathematics' afterwards was in the university. In the great rebellion Scarburgh was ejected from his fellowship, and entered at Merton College, Oxford, where he became the friend of his fellow collegian, William Harvey, M.D. [q. v.], and worked with him on the generation of animals. He was created M.D. at Oxford on 23 June 1646 as a member of Merton College, having letters testimonial from Harvey. He was incorporated M.D. in his own university in 1660. From Oxford he went to London, was admitted a candidate or member of the College of Physicians on 25 Jan. 1648, and was elected a fellow on 26 Sept. 1650. He was censor in 1655, 1664, and 1665. When Henry Pierrepont, marquis of Dorchester [q. v.], was admitted a fellow, Scarburgh, at the request of the president, Sir Francis Prujean [q. v.], presented him to the college in a Latin speech which was deservedly applauded. On 8 Oct. 1649 he was elected anatomical reader by the Barber-Surgeons' Company, and on 27 Feb. 1650 the company ordered his portrait, with that of his demonstrator, Edward Arris, to be painted, and paid Greenbury the artist 9l. 10s. for the picture in 1651. It represents Scarburgh, in a scarlet gown, lecturing on a subject which has been dissected by Arris, who stands by; it hangs in the present hall of the society in Monkwell Street, London. Scarburgh succeeded Harvey as Lumleian lecturer at the College of Physicians in 1656, and was one of the original fellows of the Royal Society (Thomson, History). Harvey bequeathed 'my velvet gowne to my lovinge friend, Mr. Dr. Scarburgh,' as well as 'all my little silver instruments of surgerie.' After the Restoration Scarburgh was appointed physician to Charles II. He dined on 24 May 1660 with Pepys, who records that he said that children used the eyes separated till they learnt the art of using them in combination, and on 28 Feb. 1663 Pepys went with him to the dissection of a seaman lately hanged for robbery. Scarburgh was knighted on 15 Aug. 1669. He accompanied the Duke of York to Scotland in the Gloucester in 1682, and when that ship struck and sank on 5 May he was a long time in the water, and when taken up by Pepys's ship was nearly spent with struggling. Scarburgh was in attendance during Charles II's last illness, of which he left an account in manuscript, preserved in the library of the Society of Antiquaries, which is chiefly interesting as a picture of the consultations of the time. He was member of parliament for Camelford in Cornwall from 1685 to 1687. He became physician to James II, to Queen Mary, and to Prince George of Denmark.

Scarburgh published a short guide to human dissection, 'Syllabus Musculorum,' which was a text-book for many years, and he wrote an elegy on Cowley. He knew other poets, and Waller consulted him as to the meaning of the dropsy which had appeared in his legs. 'Sir,' replied Scarburgh, 'your blood will run no longer' (Johnson, Life of Waller). He left materials for an English edition of Euclid, and his son Charles published the work in folio in 1705. He had a fine mathematical library, of which a catalogue was printed in 1695. He was fond of natural history, and Sir Thomas Browne [q. v.] sent him a great northern diver and an eagle. He kept the eagle, which came from Ireland, in the College of Physicians in Warwick Lane for two years. He retired from active life in 1691, and died on 26 Feb. 1693–4, after a gentle and easy decay. He was buried at Cranford, Middlesex, where there is a monument to him in the parish church erected by his widow.

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. i. 252; Young's Annals of the Barber-Surgeons; Sir Thomas Browne's Works, ed. Wilkin, i. 394, 400; Pepys's Diary; Venn's Register of Caius College, p. 184; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Oldham's Poems, 1854, p. 180; Oughtred's Clavis Mathematica, ed. 1652.]

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