J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Cockburn’s Cure

Westminster Abbey explains:
William Cockburn, a wealthy physician of St James Street Westminster, was buried in the middle aisle of the nave of Westminster Abbey, near the entrance to the Choir, on 24 November 1739, aged 70. He has no monument or marker. His first wife, a widow called Mary de Baudisson, was buried on 12 July 1728.

He was born in 1669 and educated in Edinburgh and Leiden. Nothing is known of his parents. In London he had a wealthy patron and published several books on physic. He was a member of the Royal College of Physicians and physician to the Royal Navy's blue squadron. His secret remedy for dysentry made his fortune.

In 1729 he married secondly Lady Mary Fielding, daughter of the Earl of Denbigh. The story goes that on a visit to Lady Mary he found her weeping saying she could no longer afford to live in the town and would have to go into the country away from her friends. He said he hoped he was one of her friends, and she agreed, and he said “if an old man and £50,000 can be acceptable to you, you may put off your journey...”. After ten days they were married. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and was physician to Greenwich Hospital.
But really.

5 comments:

John L. Smith said...

Some things never change...even over centuries. Old guys and money + young girls = marriages of true love.

Chaucerian said...

All right, I'll be the doofus -- is it true that Cockburn was his actual name? And not a pseudonym related to his area of study? Or did he go into that field having been pushed there by horrible jokes? Inquiring minds want to know . . . .

Marshall Stack said...

What an unfortunate last name...

J. L. Bell said...

Yes, Dr. William Cockburn was a real doctor—and quite a respected one. He published many pamphlets and articles on medical subjects. This particular one just seems unfortunately apropos.

Derek Beck said...

Unfortunate for Dr. Cockburn it seems, but fortunate for those of us that needed a chuckle ;)