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Geoffroy, Étienne-François

1. Dates
Born: Paris, 13 Feb. 1672
Died: Paris, 6 Jan. 1731
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 59
2. Father
Occupation: Pharmacist, Magistrate
Matthieu-François Geoffroy (who has an entry in the DBF), was a wealthy and prominent pharmacist, who had been a Paris alderman (1685) and a consul (whatever that was). Although he was not the royal apothecary, he was once summoned to Versailles by Louis XIV and the Dauphin. The father was the fourth generation of a prominent family of Parisian pharmacists that went back to 1584.
I accept the report--wealthy.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: Montpelier; Paris, M.D.
He learned from his father, the fourth in a respected dynasty of pharmacists. Such scientists as Wilhelm Homberg, Joblot, Verney, and J.D.Cassini visited his home, giving demonstrations and lectures that suplemented his education. In 1692 he went to Montpellier for a year as a journeyman to learn pharmacy from Pierre Sanche. Apparently the apothecaries Jeoffroy and Sanche traded sons as assistants.
When he was in Montpellier he began to attend courses at the medical school without matriculating. After he retured to Paris in 1694, he became a master apothecary. He later turned to the study of medicine. He earned the bachelor's degree in Paris in 1702, and eventually graduated M.D. at Paris in 1704.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
His father attended a Jesuit school.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Chemistry, Pharmacology
Codex medicamentarium seu pharmacopoeia parisiensis, published by the Faculty of Medicine in 1732, was largely his work. it contained many chemical remedies, in addition to the traditional galenicals.
He read 17 papers to the Académie des Sciences. Many of them are treatises in experimental chemistry.
All of his major books are on materia medica. It does not appear that he made any contributions to medical science as distinct from pharmacology.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia, Personal Means, Government
Secondary: Apothecary, Medicine, Patronage
1694, Master Apothecary and ran the family busines for a few years.
He practiced medicine for a few years after his degree. In 1698 he travelled to England as physician to Count de Tallart, Marshal of France.
1699, associate chemist at the Académie, replacing Lémery.
1700, travelled to Italy as "physician" to Abbé de Louvois.
1704, after receiving his M.D., his personal wealth enabled him not to search for rich patients but to treat rich and poor alike. It it not clear that Geoffroy ever really practiced medicine much, though he may have for a few years abter he graduated. When his father died in 1708, he left Geoffroy a considerable amount of money, further asugmenting his personal means.
1707, demonstrator at the Jardin du Roi.
1709-1731, professor of medicine at the Collège Royal.
1712, lecturer in chemistry at the Jardin du Roi.
1712-1730, professor of chemistry at the Jardin du Roi.
1715, pensionnaire chemist the the Académie.
1726/7-1728/9, dean of the Paris Faculty of Medicine.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristrocrat, Eccesiastic Official
While still a student he was chosen as medical adviser by the Comte de Tallart, French ambassador extraordinary to England.
He became friendly with Hans Sloane in 1698, and was made a fellow of the RS, of which Sloane was secretary. I'll leave this information in, but it seems too tenuous to count as patronage.
He accompanied the Abbé de Louvois as personal physician.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Medical Practice, Pharmacology
It is not clear that he ever practiced much, but there do seem to be definite references to some practice.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: Royal Society, 1698-1731 Académie Royal des Sciences, 1699-1731
He was elected to the AR as the student of Homberg in 1699, became an associate later in 1699, and pensionaire in 1715.
  1. Bernard de Fontenelle, "Éloge de M. Geoffroy", in Histoire de l'Académie royale des sciences for 1731, 1733, pp.93-100.
  2. P.Dorveaux, "Étienne-François Geoffroy", Revue d'histoire de la pharmacie, 2, (1931), pp.118-126.
  3. J.P.Contant, L'enseignement de la chimie au jardin royal des plants de Paris, (Paris, 1952).
  4. J.A.Hazon, ed., Notice des hommes les plus célèbres de la Faculté de Médecine en l'Université de Paris, (Paris 1778), pp. 198- 201.
  5. Dictionnaire de biographie française, 15, 1134-5.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

©1995 Al Van Helden
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