Thomas Coxe

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Thomas Coxe (1615–1685) was an English physician.


The son of Thomas Coxe, he was born in Somerset. He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he matriculated in 1633, graduating B.A. 1635, and M.A. 1638. He took his M.D. degree at Padua 12 December 1641, and was later incorporated at Oxford, in 1646.[1][2] A physician in the parliamentary army during the First English Civil War, Coxe is supposed to have pointed Thomas Sydenham in the direction of medicine while attending his brother.[3] He associated with the Hartlib circle.[4] He also visited Sarah Wight, one of Henry Jessey's congregation who undertook a 75-day fast in 1647, and was then connected with radical religious groups.[5]

Coxe became a fellow of the College of Physicians on 25 June 1649.[2] Around 1655 he took on the Puritan John Janeway as a tutor in his household, a short-lived post.[6] In the later 1650s he was in touch with Henry Oldenburg at Oxford.[7] He contributed to Robert Boyle's unpublished Essay of Poisons of this period.[8] Early in 1658 he was consulted by the family of Robert Rich, 3rd Earl of Warwick on the Earl's health; Coxe summoned Richard Wiseman, who pronounced that Warwick was not in danger.[9] In 1660 he delivered the Harveian oration, and in 1662 was on the first list of Fellows nominated by the council of the Royal Society.[2]

From 1676 to 1680 Coxe was treasurer of the College of Physicians, and in 1682 was elected president.[2] Coxe, with Edward Alston and John Micklethwaite, ensured the College took a generous line in licensing nonconformist ministers to practice medicine.[10] As a close friend of William Waller, Coxe acted as executor of his will, which included legacies to Thomas Case and Gabriel Sangar.[11] While Coxe became a physician to Charles II in 1665, his views were unpopular, and his presidency of the College in the 1680s lasted only one year as he was marked out as an early Whig.[12] One of his acts as president was to order the printing, unusual at this period, of lectures of Walter Charleton, covering the theories of Giovanni Alfonso Borelli on the heart (without due acknowledgement).[13]

Coxe ran into difficulties in his old age, and, avoiding his creditors, died of apoplexy in France in 1685.[2]


From 1665 a group in the Royal Society followed up the possibility of blood transfusion, at the suggestion of John Wilkins, and Coxe worked first on pigeons.[14] Following a demonstration with Edmund King in November 1666,[15] Coxe in Philosophical Transactions for 1667 reported on a transfusion experiment he had carried out on dogs, from a spaniel to a mongrel. The language of this paper was later picked up in The Virtuoso by Thomas Shadwell.[16]


Coxe's son Thomas was also a Cambridge graduate and physician.[12][17] His daughter Mary married Thomas Rolt of Milton Ernest, and was mother of the Member of Parliament Samuel Rolt;[18] she then married Sir Thomas Rolt of Sacombe, and was mother of Edward Rolt, also an MP.[19] Richard Baxter published in 1680 his funeral sermon for Coxe's wife, Mary.[20] In the dedicatory epistle Baxter makes it clear that he was one of Coxe's patients.[21]


  1. ^ "Coxe, Thomas (CKS632T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ a b c d e  Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1887). "Coxe, Thomas". Dictionary of National Biography. 12. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  3. ^ Kenneth Dewhurst (1966). Dr. Thomas Sydenham (1624-1689): His Life and Original Writings. University of California Press. p. 15. GGKEY:93CBNAW75NF. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  4. ^ S.-J. Savonius-Wroth; Jonathan Walmsley; Paul Schuurman (6 May 2010). The Continuum Companion to Locke. Continuum. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-8264-2811-0. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Jane Shaw (2006). Miracles in Enlightenment England. Yale University Press. pp. 100–3. ISBN 978-0-300-11272-6. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  6. ^  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1892). "Janeway, John". Dictionary of National Biography. 29. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  7. ^ Nicholas Tyacke (1997). Seventeenth-century Oxford. Oxford University Press. p. 505. ISBN 978-0-19-951014-6. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  8. ^ William R. Newman; Lawrence M. Principe (1 June 2005). Alchemy Tried in the Fire: Starkey, Boyle, and the Fate of Helmontian Chymistry. University of Chicago Press. p. 227. ISBN 978-0-226-57702-9. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  9. ^ Charlotte Fell-Smith, Mary Rich, Countess of Warwick (1625-1678): her family and friends (1901); pp. 263–4;
  10. ^ Birken, William. "Micklethwaite, Sir John". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/18662.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  11. ^ Donagan, Barbara. "Waller, William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28561.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  12. ^ a b Symons, John. "Coxe, Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6539.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  13. ^ Emily Booth (20 January 2006). A Subtle and Mysterious Machine: The Medical World of Walter Charleton (1619-1707). Springer. p. 179. ISBN 978-1-4020-3378-0. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  14. ^ Pete Moore (2003). Blood and Justice: The Seventeenth-Century Parisian Doctor Who Made Blood Transfusion History. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 67–8. ISBN 978-0-470-84842-5. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  15. ^ John Carey (1997). Eyewitness to Science. Harvard University Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-674-28755-6. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  16. ^ Thomas Shadwell (1966). The Virtuoso. U. of Nebraska Press. p. xxiii. ISBN 978-0-8032-5368-1. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  17. ^ "Coxe, Thomas (CKS658T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  18. ^, Rolt, Samuel (c.1671-1717), of Epsom, Surr.
  19. ^, Rolt, Edward (1686-1722), of Sacombe, Herts., Harrowby, Lincs., and Spye Park, nr. Chippenham, Wilts.
  20. ^ William Orme (1831). The Life and Times of the Rev. Richard Baxter: With a Critical Examination of His Writings. Crocker & Brewster. p. 303. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  21. ^ Richard Baxter; William Bates (1766). Biographical collections: or, Lives and characters from the works of ... Mr. Baxter and Dr. Bates (and Mr. Howe). p. 67. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainStephen, Leslie, ed. (1887). "Coxe, Thomas". Dictionary of National Biography. 12. London: Smith, Elder & Co.