DR. JOHN RADCLIFFE, founder of the magnificent Library at Oxford which bears his name, was born at Wakefield in the year 1653, and educated at the Grammar School, from whence he removed to Oxford, where he was a Student at University College in 1666.
Soon after taking the degree of B.A., he was elected Fellow of Lincoln College, and then commenced the necessary studies preparatory to his becoming a Physician.
The professional works he appears to have principally consulted, were those of Dr. Willis, at that time a Physician of remarkable eminence in London; but books do not seem to have claimed much of his notice, for it is reported that being once asked by a friend to shew him his library, he pointed to a skeleton and a herbal and said "these are my library."
In 1675 he began to practise, having then proceeded to Bachelor of Physic, and immediately commenced a mode of treating his patients so entirely different from that of the other physicians, that he was called by them the empiric, which insult he retorted by styling them old nurses.
He was so successful in his practice, that in less than two years his reputation was equal to that of the oldest of his opponents.
It has been thought that his wit and vivacity had greater weight than his learning in securing to him so great a share of public favour, but in more than one instance this disposition of temper produced a contrary effect; indeed he lost his fellowship at Lincoln in consequence of having levelled some jests against Dr. Marshall, Rector of that College, who, to punish him, refused a faculty to dispense with his taking orders, without which he could no longer hold that appointment.
He accordingly resigned it in 1677, and in 1682 took the degree of M.D. After this he continued to reside at Oxford two years, during which period his wealth and reputation rapidly increased.
Leaving Oxford, he went to London, and settled in Covent Garden, where his abilities soon introduced him into very extensive practice. In 1686 he was appointed Physician to the Princess Anne, of Denmark.
To the day of his death, which took place on the 1st of November, 1714, Dr. Radcliffe continued to increase in wealth and reputation. He was 64 years old when he died, and it is generally imagined that his death was accelerated by his vexation at having, in a moment of ill-humour, neglected the request of the Privy Council to attend Queen Anne in her last illness.
He was buried with great solemnity in St. Mary's Church at Oxford, to which University he was a most liberal Benefactor, having bequeathed to it £40,000 for the purpose of building the Library which bears his name, together with a Salary of £150 per annum for the Librarian; £100 to purchase books; and £100 to keep them in repair.
He also founded two fellowships "for persons to be elected out of the University of Oxford when they are M.A., and entered on the Physic line." These fellowships are tenable for ten years, and produce £300 per annum each. The foundation of the Library was laid in June, 1736, and the building was opened on the 13th of April, 1749, in grand procession by Dr. Radcliffe's Trustees and the Heads of houses.
He also left sufficient funds to build and furnish a Public Infirmary on the North Side of the City of Oxford, and an Observatory, both of which bear his name and add to the advantages which that University so largely enjoys from his munificence.
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids