Thomas Burnet (physician)

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Sir Thomas Burnet (1638–1704)[1] was a Scottish physician, known for his appointment to successive British monarchs, and as an author in the tradition of Early Modern learned medicine.[2]


A son of Robert Burnet, Lord Crimond, he was a brother of Gilbert Burnet. He studied and graduated in medicine at the University of Montpellier, when already M.A., and the theses which he defended for his degree on 26–28 August 1659 show that his medical knowledge was mainly based on Galen and Hippocrates. He returned to Edinburgh and practised there.[3]

Burnet is named in the original charter of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, granted in 1681, as a fellow.[3] He was physician to Charles II, James II, William and Mary and Queen Anne.[2]

Burnet was knighted some time before 1691. His son, Thomas Burnet, graduated M.D. at the University of Leyden in 1691.[3]


Burnet's reputation was spread by his books, especially the Thesaurus Medicinæ, often reprinted, a compendium of the knowledge of the time. An abridgment was published by the author himself in 1703. His Hippocrates Contractus is an abridgment in Latin of the most important works of Hippocrates. He wrote also:[3]

  • ‘Currus Iatrikus triumphalis, &c. … ad Apollinarem laudem consequendam’ (theses for obtaining a license), Montpellier 1659.
  • ‘Quæstiones quatuor cardinales pro supremâ Apollinari daphne consequenda,’ also 1659, for his doctor's degree.
  • ‘Thesaurus Medicinæ practicæ ex præstantissimorum medicorum observationibus collectus,’ London, 1672 and later editions, one in French (1691) by Daniel Puerarius of Geneva.[4]


  1. ^ Bevan, Michael. "Burnet, Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/4066.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b Elizabeth Lane Furdell (2001). The Royal Doctors, 1485-1714: Medical Personnel at the Tudor and Stuart Courts. University Rochester Press. p. 186. ISBN 978-1-58046-051-4. 
  3. ^ a b c d  Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1886). "Burnet, Thomas (1632?-1715?)". Dictionary of National Biography. 7. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  4. ^ Thomas Burnet; Puerarius (1691). Le trésor de la pratique de médecine. H. Baritel. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainStephen, Leslie, ed. (1886). "Burnet, Thomas (1632?-1715?)". Dictionary of National Biography. 7. London: Smith, Elder & Co.