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Johnson, William

1. Dates
Born: location unknown, England, c.1610
Died: London, 1665
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 55
2. Father
Occupation: Gentry
The case is not clear, but it appears that he came from a family of gentry.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: English
Career: English
Death: English
4. Education
Schooling: No University
No records of education. Since there are no records, I will leave it this way; however, there is good reason to believe that Johnson was a member of the clergy before the Commonwealth, and this would probably have meant university education.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Anglican
The fact that he left the clergy upon the outcome of the Civil War strongly suggests that he was Anglican.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Iatrochemistry, Pharmacology
Johnson was considered an iatrochemist, though he was at odds with other English iatrochemists. He published Three Exact Pieces of Leonard Piorovant, 1652, and in that same year Lexicon chemicum, drawn from Ruland, Basil Valentine, and Van Helmont. Though an iatrochemist, as an employee of the College of Physicians he wrote a defense of Galenic pharmacology (Some Brief Animadversions, 1665) against the attack of George Thomson.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Personal Means, Apothecary
Secondary: Church Life, Scientific Society
He is said to have inherited wealth from his gentry family.
He was an apothecary, doing business from the premises of the College of Physicians.
He became the Operator of the College of Physicians, at least by 1651, preparing chemical medicines and ingredients as samples and for sale, and instructing fellows in their preparation. He remained in this post until his death.
In a publication of 1652, Johnson seemed to state clearly that for eight or nine years he was a member of the clergy. Apparently, when the outcome of the Civil War disrupted the church, he turned to pharmacology and chemistry.
8. Patronage
Type: Physician
Johnson dedicated his Lexicon to Francis Prujean and other fellows of the College of Physicians.
For Some Brief Animadversions, 1665, the College voted him a gratuity of 100.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Pharmacology
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Society of Apoth
Society of Apothecaries, 1654-65.
  1. G.N. Clark, History of the Royal College of Physicians, (London, 1964). Patricia P. McLachlan, Scientific Professionals in the 17th Century, Ph.D. thesis, Yale University, 1968, pp. 61-83.
  2. Cecil Wall, A History of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London, p.335.
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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