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Wharton, Thomas

1. Dates
Born: Winston-on-Tees, Durham, 31 August 1614
Died: London, 15 Nov. 1673
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 59
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
John Wharton; there is certainly a suggestion that he was gentry, but it is not explicit. I list him as Unknown.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: English
Career: English
Death: English
4. Education
Schooling: Cambridge; Oxford, M.D.
Cambridge University, Pembroke College, 1637-42. I assume a B.A.
Oxford University, Trinity College, 1642, 1646-7; M.D.1647. When hostilities began, Wharton moved from Oxford to London, where he studied medicine. He returned to Oxford upon the Parliamentary victory and took the M.D. the following year. Rather, he was created M.D. by virtue of a letter from Sir Thomas Fairfax. In 1652 he incorporated the degree at Cambridge.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Calvinist, Anglican
While nothing is said about his religion, he was clearly on the Parliamentary side in the Civil War and received aid from the Puritan authorities in obtaining his medical degree. Again nothing is said, but he seems clearly to have conformed in 1660. He was buried in an Anglican church.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Anatomy, Physiology
Adenographia, 1656, the fist thorough and comprehensive account of all the glands in the body, with research into their functions. He discovered the duct of the submaxillary salivary gland and the jelly of the umbilical cord, both of which are named for him. He gave the first adequate account of the thyroid gland, which he named.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine
Secondary: Patronage
In Oxford in the early 40s Wharton was for a time tutor to John Scrope, the natural son of Emmanuel Lord Scrope. Munk implies that Scrope was the reason Wharton moved from Cambridge to Oxford.
Practice in London, 1647-73. We are told that it was a large and important practice. Wharton stayed at his post through the plague when most physicians fled.
Physician to St. Thomas's Hospital, 1659-73.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristrocrat, Government Official
Lord Scrope above.
After he returned to Oxford in 1646 with the Parliamentary victory, a letter from Sir Thomas Fairfax, the Parliamentary general, helped him obtain his medical degree.
For his service during the plague Wharton received a promise of the first vacant appointment of physician in ordinary to the King. I'll leave the information, but this is too tenuous to count. In fact the King reneged on the promise.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Medical College
Informal Connections: Professional relationship with John French, Thomas Frapham, Francis Glisson, George Ent, Francis Prujean, Edward Emily and others.
Royal College of Physicians, 1650; Censor 6 times, 1658- 73. Gulstonian Lecturer, 1654.
  1. Dictionary of National Biography (repr., London: Oxford University Press, 1949-50), 20, 1327-9. K.F. Russell, British Anatomy, 1525-1800, 2nd ed. (Winchester, 1987). William Munk, The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 2nd ed., 3 vols. (London, 1878), 1, 255-8.
  2. J.F. Payne, "On Some Old Physicians of St. Thomas's Hospital," St. Thomas's Hospital Reports, n.s. 26 (1897), 1-23.
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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