Alchemy: a workshop with furnaces and apparatus,
the alchemist in the foreground tying up a leather
bag. Watercolour, 1934, by V. Kalibaafter K.
Stapfer after a 17th century MS.
I made some new discoveries about my 11th great-grandfather Dr. Patrick Saunders while I was making a little project page for mom's birthday. As far as I know he is the only doctor out of all of my ancestors. But, you never know. That could change.
I am intrigued now more than ever with our doctor. Before he earned his medical degree from the University of Franeker in August of 1619 he was a pupil studying under the wing of John Dee who was a "mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occult philosopher, imperialist and adviser to Queen Elizabeth I. He devoted much of his life to the study of alchemy, divination and Hermetic philosophy."
Patrick started his tutelage under Dee about 1603. At the time of Dee's death in 1608 Patrick was one of his assistants and ended up with several of his manuscripts.
Patrick has been given different titles:
- disciple of the famous Doctor Dee
- alchemical assistant
- a scryer with a reputation for seeing visions in crystals
- medical physician
He certainly ran in famous circles. Besides John Dee his friends and colleagues included the likes of Henry Percy, the “Wizard Earl” of Northumberland, Elias Ashmole, John Pontois, Joachim Morsius, John Woodall, Arthur Dee, and Richard Napier.
The following are excerpts taken from Physicians and Irregular Medical Practitioners in London 1550-1640 Database:
- 10 Sep 1613 - Entry: S[aunders] had studied medicine for 10 years, though he'd only been in university for 2 months. He 'practised among friends only'. Action taken: Warned. Verdict: guilty Sentence: Warned to abstain
- 1 Dec 1615 - Entry: S[aunders] was charged by Moundeford with giving a clyster and letting blood in Crooked Lane. Initiator of the complaint: college member Action taken: To reappear. Verdict: case not completed Number of crimes: 1
- 25 Nov 1617 - Entry: S[aunders] failed to appear. Attitude of the accused: absent Action taken: Failed to appear.
- 5 Dec 1617 - Entry: S[aunders] presented himself for examination. He had no degree, though he had 'passed a while' at Christ Church, Oxford. He had practised in London for 4 years, following Polish and German ('quacks') methods. He had read some Galen & gave several replies to anatomical questions (details in Annals). But though 'not without learning' he refused to give his sources. He was advised to study medicine more carefully. Action taken: Not approved, though not unlearned. Prohibited from practice. Verdict: guilty Sentence: Prohibited from practice. Not licensed
- 2 June 1620 - Entry: S[aunders], now MD Franeker (28 Aug 1619), had been incorporated at Oxford on 2 Dec 1619. He was examined and approved for the first time. Action taken: Approved on first examination.
- 7 July 1620 - Entry: S[aunders] was examined and approved for the second time. Action taken: Approved on second examination.
- 1 Sep 1620 - Entry: S[aunders] was examined and approved for the third time. Action taken: Approved on third examination.
- Michaelmas 1620 - Entry: S[aunders] was examined and approved for the fourth time. Action taken: Approved on fourth examination and elected CRCP.
- m Palm Sun 1623 - Entry - Patrick SAUNDERS 648, a Candidate, accused John Glassington, of Knightsbridge, of having given courses of physic, for instance to Mrs. Jone Jacob of Horsey Downe, unction and diet for cancer of the uterus.
- m Palm Sun 1623 - Entry - SAUNDERS (qv, 648) reported that Mrs Nokes of Wapping, a midwife, had obtained julep and cordials from Robert Holland in Fan Church Street, and had given them to Mrs Southen of Wapping.
- 2 March 1627 - Entry - Richard Edwards was accused, but Dr Saunders (?his accuser) was not present, so the matter was deferred.
- 2 Nov 1627 - Entry - Robert Holland, called Henry Holland erroneously (according to a note in the margin of the next entry), was charged by Dr Clarke and Dr Saunders with practice in the case of the late Mr Buffield, of Mr Haslewood's son, of Mr Gardiner, of John Hide and of one Throckmorton. H was ordered to appear.
- 22 Nov 1627 - Entry - Robert Holland appeared and was accused by Dr Goulston, Dr Spicer, Dr Saunders and (especially) Dr Clarke of malpractice and of passing himself off as a physician. His defence was inept and all the 21 Fellows present undertook to boycott him.
- 7 Dec 1627 - Entry - Robert Holland was gravely charged by Dr Saunders and others.
- 28 Jan 1631 - Entry - Dr Saunders said that Richard Edwards had given Mrs Ward of St Helens a violent course of medicine, and that she later died. Dr Rand confirmed this. Dr Saunders also reported [that E had given] medicines to a scorbutic penitentiary and to a boy with hectic fever.
- 28 Jan 1631 - Entry: S[aunders] accused George BUTLER (135, qv) of giving mercury pills to the wife of Captain Paparelli of Redriff, causing severe salivation. (Goulston knew about the case.) Action taken: ?
- 23 Sep 1631 - Entry S[aunders] accused George BUTLER (135, qv) of giving 8-10 mineral pills to Mr Askue of Bridwell dock. Action: taken ?
John Dee was also referred to as a "wizard". According to Jason Louv he was the 16th century's real-life Gandalf. Do I dare say that that would make my 11th great-grandfather like a sorcerer's apprentice.
Could this be the reason why I am so drawn to wizards and crystals? The things that make me go hmmm...
- Physicians and Irregular Medical Practitioners in London 1550-1640
- Medical Conflicts in Early Modern London: Patronage, Physicians, and Irregular Practitioners, 1550-1640
- John Dee's Occultism: Magical Exaltation through Powerful Signs
- John Dee and the Secret Societies