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The Life of Sir Charles Scarburgh: Royal Patronage and Family Life

Michael Molinsky (University of Maine at Farmington)

After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Scarburgh became the physician to King Charles II. In recognition of his service and dedication to the monarchy, Scarburgh was knighted by Charles II in 1669. Scarburgh also served as the physician to the king’s brother, both while he was the Duke of York and after his coronation as King James II in 1685. Scarburgh continued in his position for the new monarchs William and Mary when they took over in 1689 [Munk 1878, 253].

Scarburgh married and had two sons, Charles (b. 1653) and Edmund (b. 1659), and three daughters. Both sons followed the family tradition of attending Caius College in Cambridge. The eldest son, Charles, eventually earned his law degree and was well respected as a scholar, but Edmund did not receive the same academic acclaim; for example, Charles II had to issue a royal mandate to force Caius College to provide Edmund with a fellowship in 1682, and the opposition to Edmund was so strong a second royal letter was required before the college would give in to the royal demand. Edmund eventually left Caius and served in various positions of the Church of England [Keevil 1952, 119].

Sir Charles Scarburgh finally retired from his medical practice in 1691, and he passed away on February 26, 1694. A monument dedicated to his memory by his wife hangs on the wall in St Dunstan’s Church in Cranford, a western suburb of London. The panel includes the phrase “Inter Medicos Hippocrates / Inter Mathematicos Euclides” (Among the Physicians, Hippocrates; among the Mathematicians, Euclid) [Munk 1878, 254].

Michael Molinsky (University of Maine at Farmington), "The Life of Sir Charles Scarburgh: Royal Patronage and Family Life," Convergence (June 2021)