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Highmore [Heighmore], Nathaniel

1. Dates
Born: Fordingbridge, Hampshire, 6 Feb. 1613
Died: Sherborne, Dorset, 21 March 1685
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 72
2. Father
Occupation: Cleric
Also Nathaniel Highmore, the father was (from the time his son was one year old) Rector of Purse Caundle, Dorset.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: English
Career: English
Death: English
4. Education
Schooling: Oxford, M.A., M.D.
Sherborne School.
Oxford University; initially Queen's College, but Trinity after 1632; 1631-43; B.A., 1635; M.A., 1638; M.B., 1641; M.D., 1643 by royal mandate (though Highmore was actively studying toward that degree).
5. Religion
Affiliation: Anglican
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Anatomy, Embryology, Physiology
Subordinate: Botany, Medicine
Corporis humani disquisitio anatomica, 1651, Highmore's most important work, was the first anatomical textbook to accept the circulation of the blood. In it he described the antrum of Highmore, which (obviously) still bears his name.
The History of Generation, 1651, was the result of Highmore's collaboration with Harvey in Oxford. It contains references to a microscope, which he (in contrast to Harvey) may have used in embryology. This work also has important observations of plants.
Both of his masjor works in 1651 contain a great amount of physiology. The Disquisitio clothes anatomy in the physiology of circulation.
Highmore wrote a number of medical works--Discourse of the Cure of Wounds by Sympathy, 1651 (printed with History of Generation); De passione hysterica et de affectionae hypochondriaca, 1660 (a work which engaged Highmore in a controversy with Willis); Short Treatise . . . of Dysenteria, 1658; papers in the Philosophical Transcations (though Harvey was not a fellow), including one on the medicinal springs in East Somerset.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine
Medical practice, Sherborne, possibly beginning in 1643 but certainly by 1651, extending until his death in 1685.
8. Patronage
Type: Court Official
He may have attended the young prince Charles during a bout of measles in 1642; he was certainly mandated to receive the M.D. in 1643.
Highmore dediccated his Disquisitio, 1651 to Harvey (and apparently also to Boyle). I cannot find any favors those two men bestowed on him, and in this case I think the dedications should be regarded as expressions of admiration.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Informal Connections: Friendship with Harvey beginning in 1642. They had an agreement to publish the conclusions derived from their joint experiments in embryology, and they did.
He knew many of the men who organized the Royal Society, but isolated in Dorset, he was not himself a member.
  1. J. Elise Gordon, "The Highmore family of Dorset," Journal of the Sherborne History Society, 3 (1966), 2ff.
  2. _____, "Nathaniel Highmore, Physician and Anatomist, 1614-1685," The Practitioner, 196 (1966), 851-7.
  3. Alumni Oxonienses, 2, 708.
  4. Dictionary of National Biography (repr., London: Oxford University Press, 1949-50), 9, 829-30. Anthony Wood, Athenae oxonienses (Fasti oxonienses is attached, with separate pagination, to the Athenae), 4 vols. (London, 1813-20), 4, 165. Geoffrey Keynes, Life of William Harvey, (Oxford, 1966).
  5. A.T.H. Robb-Smith, "Harvey at Oxford," Oxford Medical School Gazette, 9 (1957), 70-6.
  6. Robert G. Frank, Harvey and the Oxford Physiologists: A Study of Scientific Ideas, (Berkeley, 1980), pp. 97-101.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. J. Elise Gordon, "Nathaniel Highmore," Midwife and Health Visitor, 5 (1969), 364ff.
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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