Noah Biggs

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Noah Biggs was an English medical reformer[1] and alchemical writer of the middle of the seventeenth century. In his Chymiatrophilos, mataeotechnia medicinae praxes: The Vanity of the Craft of Physick,[2] from 1651, he attacked pretentious and quack medical theories of his time. He also implied that Galenists in the College of Physicians opposed the Parliamentarian regime.[3] He is credited with introducing the words 'febrile'[4] and 'obesity'.

His book borrowed from John Milton's Areopagitica, and the Advancement of Learning of John Hall. He called for better diet, and criticised bleeding and other remedies of the period.;[5] and warned against lead poisoning.[6] It was addressed to Parliament, and asked for reform of the universities.[7][8][9] evidences this attitude in his sharp attack on the universities of his day. It argued that medical practice should be open to all, a point also taken up by William Walwyn.[10]

He is associated with the Paracelsians,[11] and the followers of Joan Baptista van Helmont.[12]


  1. ^ Christopher Hill, Milton and the English Revolution, p. 229.
  2. ^ Extract at [1], [2].
  3. ^ Hill, Change and Continuity in Seventeenth-Century England (1974), p. 164.
  4. ^ Glossary of Colloquialisms (Starting with "F")
  5. ^ Hill, Change and Continuity, p. 173.
  6. ^ PDF, p. xv.
  7. ^ Hill, Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution, p. 298: The radicals (Webster, Biggs), from whom the most violent attack on the universities came, inherited the craftsmen's alchemical tradition and the doctors' astrological tradition.
  8. ^ Chemistry and the Universities in the Seventeenth Century (PDF), pp. 177-8, cites Biggs and Webster.
  9. ^ A blunt Puritan, Robert K. Merton, see [3].
  10. ^ Aims of the Project
  11. ^ PDF, p. 236.
  12. ^ The late 1640s and early 1650s saw an increasing interest in van Helmont in England, Sir Cheney Culpeper, Walter Charleton, and Noah Biggs were all enthusiastic about van Helmont, before Starkey's arrival in England. William R. Newman and Lawrence M. Principe, Alchemy Tried in the Fire: Starkey, Boyle, and the Fate of Helmontian Chymistry (2002), p. 222.