The Galileo Project
site map

Jonston, John

1. Dates
Born: --
Died: 72
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
His father was Simon Johnston, who emigrated with two brothers from Scotland to Poland.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Sambter, Posen, Poland
Career: Mostly Poland
Death: Liegnitz, Silesia, Poland
4. Education
Schooling: St. Andrews; Wittenberg, Leipzig, Frankfurt; Franeker, M.A.; Frankfurt; Leiden,
M.D.; Cmb, M.D., Ph.D.
He attended the school of Bohemian Brothers in Ostrorog (from 1611), then the Schoenaichianum in Beuthen a.O., and the gymnasium at Thorn in Prussia (from 1619). He was sponsored in these studies by his paternal uncle.
He travelled extensively, sometimes as a private tutor, and attended various universities. He attended St. Andrews (1622- 1625; M.A. 1623), studying theology, scholastic philosophy, and Hebrew; he was supported in St. Andrews by primate John Spotswood among others. The M.A. was the basic degree in a Scottish university; I count it as equivalent to a B.A.
1628, foreign travels to Wittenberg, Leipzig, and Frankfurt.
Franeker (M.A. 1629); Cambridge (1630), taking botany and medicine; Frankfurt; and Leiden (matriculated 1630).
He received an M.D. from Leiden in 1634, and the same degree ad eundem from Cambridge later that year.
1634, Ph.D. in Leiden and Cambridge, on basis of his disseretation De febribus.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Calvinist
He was a Calvinst, and as such the Catholic University of Cracow was closed to him. He was specifically active as a member of the community of Czech Brethren at Leszno.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: NHs. Med
He published Enchiridion historiae naturalis in the period 1625-8. (Trans into English, 1657.)
1642, Idea universae medicinae practicae in Amsterdam. English trans. in 1652; various Latin editions after 1644.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Patronage, Medicine
Secondary: Schoolmastering
1625-1628, he returned to Poland and took the position of a tutor in the house of the Kurtzbach-Zawadski family in Lissa [Leszno]. During these years he published Enchiridion historiae naturalis. (Trans into English, 1657.)
1628-1630, travelled and attended various universities.
1631, assumed a position he had accepted in 1630 as a tutor in the house of Raphael Leszczynski, palatine (wojewoda, a royally appointed post) of Bielsk. Jonston's student was Boguslaw Leszczynski, Rafal's son. He chose this appointment in prefernce to the chair of philosophy at Deventer, which was offered to him at the same time.
1632, he travelled with Boguslaw Leszczynski and sons of other Polish magnates to various universities. Their first stop was Franeker (1632), then Leiden. In 1632 Jonston published Thautomatographia naturalis in Amsterdam. In 1634, they went to England. After this they toured around Europe until news of Raphael Leszczynki's death summoned them home in 1636. Jonston settled in Lissa (Leszno) and remained in the service of the Leczczynkis as "Archiater et Civitatis Lesnensis Physicus Ordinarius."
He was an active pedagogue at the Leszno academy, which was under the direction of his friend Commenius.
He turned down the offer of the chair in medicine at Frankfurt a.O. in 1642. He also turned down offers from Heidelberg and Leiden.
He was well enough to do that he purchased an estate at Ziebenburg in 1652.
1665, the circumstances of the Polish-Swedish war forced him to move to an estate at Ziebendorff near Leignitz which he had inherited a few years before. He remained here for the rest of his life.
He was a practicing physician for most of his life.
8. Patronage
Type: Aristrocrat
The elector of Brandenburg offered him the chair at Frankfurt.
The Leszczynski family were clearly important patrons for most of his life.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
He was a practicing physician for most of his working life.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Dictionary of National Biography (repr., London: Oxford University Press, 1949-50), 10, 968-9. T. Bilikiewicz, "Johann Jonston (1603-1675) und seine Taetigkeit als Arzt," Suddhoffs Archiv, 23 (1930), 357-81.
  2. _____, "Jonston, Jan (1603-1675)," Polski Slownik Biograficzny, 268-70.
  3. Andrzej Dzieczkowski, "Jonston, Jan (1603-1675)," Wielkopolski Slownik Biograficzny, ed. Antoni Gasiorowski and Jerzy Topolski, (Panstwowe Sydawnictwo Naukowe), p. 302.
  4. Roman Pollack, Bibliografia literatury polskiej. Pismiennictwo staropolskie. (Warsaw: Panstwowy Instytut Wydawn., 1963-65), 2, 293-5.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Niceron, Memoires pour servir l'histoire des hommes illustres, 41 (1740), 269-76.
  2. J. Arnold, "Wiadomosc o zyciu i dzielack J. Jonstona," Roczn.
  3. Tow. Przyj. Mauk Warsz, 7, (1811).
  4. H. Barycz, "Rozwoj nauki w Polsce w dobie Odrodzenie," Odrodzenie w Polsce. Materialy Sesji Nauk. PAN 25-30 Pazdziernika 1953 r. T. 2: Historia Nauki. Cz. 1 w-wa 1956 pp. 61-2; 135-6.
  5. Osob. pt. Dzieje nauki w Polsce w epoce Odrodzenia.
  6. "Jan Jonston--lekarz i uczony XVII wieku. Materialy Sumpozjum Naukowego. Leszno--Lublin 6-8 Czerwca 1975. Sumpozjum zorg.
  7. Leszczynskie Tow. Kult. oraz Inst Hist Nauki, Oswiaty i Techn.; Studia i Matialy z Dziejow Nauki Polskiej. Ser. B.
  8. Redn. nauk. zesz: Jozef Babicz, Helena Ostromecka, Aleksander Piwon.
  9. Stanislaw Szpliczynski, "Jan Jonston z Szamotoul, Tytaniczny trud barokowego erudyty w swietle wielkiej dydaktyki," Slaski Kwartalnik Historyczny Sobotka, 31 (1976), nr. 2, 223-9.
  10. J.J. Rembowska, "Jan z Szamotoul Jonston, przyrodnik XVII v," Arh. Historii i Filoz. Medycyny, 8 (1928), 20. Hist. Nauki, Leszno, 1971.
  11. J. Schwann, "Jan Jonston--wielki lekarz XVII wieku," Zycie i Kultura, (1954) nr. 41.
  12. B. Swiderski, "Dr. Jan Jonston, wybitny uczony dawnego Leszna," (Leszno, 1935). Nauka w Wpolska, p. 1973.
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
Last updated
Home | Galileo | Biography | Chronology | Family | Portraits |
Science | Christianity | Library | About | Site Map | Search

Please note: We will not answer copyright requests.
See the copyright page for more information.