Jacob de Castro Sarmento

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Jacob de Castro Sarmento
Jacob de Castro Sarmento.jpg
Bragança, Kingdom of Portugal
Died14 September 1762 (1762-09-15) (aged 69)
London, United Kingdom
OccupationPhysician, naturalist, poet

Jacob Henriques de Castro Sarmento (1692 in Bragança, Portugal – 14 September 1762 in London) was a Portuguese estrangeirado, physician, naturalist, poet and Deist.[1]

Early life[edit]

At the age of seventeen he entered the University of Évora to study philosophy, and later studied medicine at Coimbra, receiving his baccalaureate in 1717. In order to escape the persecutions of the Portuguese Inquisition, Henrique — so-called as a Marrano — went into voluntary exile in London in 1720. There he continued his studies in medicine, physics, and chemistry, and passed his examinations in the theory and practice of medicine. He became a member of the Royal College of Physicians and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1730, in recognition of his having introduced a new medicine for curing fevers.[2]


In 1731 he elaborated a plan for a botanical garden in Coimbra. Castro Sarmento corresponded with many scholars, among others with Prof. João Mendes Sachetti Barbosa of Lisbon, who reported to him the terrible earthquake that destroyed the capital of Portugal in 1755, and with the Jesuit B. Soares, who communicated to him his astronomical observations made in the Portuguese colony of Brazil. He was a strong proponent of Newtonianism and made efforts to integrate it with Jewish theology.[3] He published Theorica verdadeira das marés, conforme à philosophia do incomparavel cavalhero Isaac Newton (Treatise on the true theory of tides, according to the philosophy of the incomparable gentleman Isaac Newton), the first book in Portuguese to advocate Newton ideas (London, 1737).[4]

Literary Activity[edit]

The literary activity of Castro Sarmento began with a treatise on vaccination, Dissertatio in Novam, Tutam, ac Utilem Methodum Inoculationis seu Transplantationis Variolorum (London, 1721; German translation, Hamburg, 1722; Supplement, London, 1731; anonymously, Leyden). Other works are: Historia Medica Physico-Hist.-Mechanica, part i, London, 1731; part ii, London 1735; Syderohydrologia ó Discurso das Aguas Mineraes Espadañas ou Chalibeadas, London, 1736, identical with Da Uso, e Abuso das Minhas Agoas da Inglaterra, London, 1756; and a Portuguese translation of the treatise of the surgeon Samuel Sharp: Surgical Operations, with Plates and Descriptions of the Instruments Used (London, 1744).

In recognition of his services to medicine the University of Aberdeen awarded him a medical degree in July 1739. Castro Sarmento was also a poet and a preacher. He published Exemplar de Penitencia, Dividido en Tres Discursos Para ó dia Santo de Kipur (London, 1724); "Sermão Funebre as Memorias do . . . Haham Morenu a R. e Doutor David Neto" (London, 1728); and in Spanish, Extraordinaria Providencia Que el Gran Dios de Ysrael Uso con su Escogido Pueblo en Tiempo de su Mayor Afflicion por Medio de Mordehay y Ester Contra los Protervos Intentos del Tyrano Aman, Deducida de la Sagrada Escritura en el Sequinte Romance (London, 1728).


  1. ^ Brooke, John, "Modernity at the Margins", Minerva, vol. 44, no. 4, December 2006, pp. 463-467.
  2. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  3. ^ Goldish, Matt, "Newtonian, Converso, and Deist: The Lives of Jacob (Henrique) de Castro Sarmento" Archived 2006-08-08 at the Wayback Machine., Science in Context, vol. 10, no. 4, Dec. 1997
  4. ^ (in Portuguese) De Rerum Natura