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Wotton, Edward

1. Dates
Born: Oxford, 1492
Died: London, 5 October, 1555
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 63
2. Father
Occupation: Miscellaneous
Richard Wotton was Beadle of the Univ. of Oxford.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: English
Career: English
Death: English
4. Education
Schooling: Oxford; Padua, M.D.
Educated at the Grammar School adjoining Magdalen College, and at Magdalen College, Oxford, 1506-14. B.A., 1514.
Studied medicine at Padua, 1524-6. M.D., 1526.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
I did not find any statement of how he stood on the Reformation. On the one hand, he dedicated his book to Edward VI, and Edward's ambassador to France was his patron. On the other hand, he was personal physician to Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Zoology, Entomology
His reputation rests on De differentiis animalium libri decem, (Paris, 1552), a compilation, in the style of the day, from ancient sources rather than from observation of nature. Apparently it was used, for want of anything better at the time, by later naturalists. Book IX, on insects, was certainly influential with later entomologists.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine
Secondary: Academia, Patronage
Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, 1516-26.
Socio Compar of Corpus Christi College and reader of Greek upon the foundation of the college, 1523-6. The implication of that status, bestowed because the fellowship at Magdalen was incompatible with another fellowship at Corpus Christi, is that Wotton continued to hold the Magdalen fellowship.
Medical practice in London, 1526-55. Physician to Duke of Norfolk and Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, from whom he received an annuity of 60 shillings.
Wood and early sources that follow Wood state that Wotton was physician to Henry VIII, but later historians have not found any evidence to support the assertion.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Aristrocrat, Government Official, Eccesiastic Official
Dedicated his major book to Edward VI.
Duke of Norfolk and Countess of Salisbury; see above.
Bishop Foxe made him Socio Compar of Corpus Christi College and gave him leave to travel in Italy for 3-5 years to improve his learning.
Sir John Mason, French Secretary to Henry VIII, encouraged Wotton and published his book in Paris, where Mason was Edward's ambassador.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Medical Practice, Pharmacology
He devoted part of Book IX, on insects, to their medicinal use (sic!).
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Medical College
Influenced by John Claymond, President of Magdalen, and followed him to Corpus Christi College in 1523.
Royal College of Physicians, 1528; Elect, 1531; Consiliarus, 1531, 1547, 1549; President, 1541-3; Censor, 1552-3, 55.
  1. Dictionary of National Biography (repr., London: Oxford University Press, 1949-50), 21, 903-4. William Munk, The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 2nd ed., 3 vols. (London, 1878), 1, 27-9.
  2. Anthony Wood, Athenae oxonienses (Fasti oxonienses is attached, with separate pagination, to the Athenae), 4 vols. (London, 1813-20), 1, 226-7.
  3. C.E. Raven, English Naturalists From Neckam to Ray, (London, 1947), pp. 40-2. G. Sarton, The Appreciation of Ancient and Medieval Science During the Renaissance (1450-1600), (Philadelphia, 1955).
  4. John Aikin, Biographical Memoirs of Medicine in Great Britain from the Revival of Literature to the Time of Harvey, (London, 1780), 66-8.
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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