Theophilus Metcalfe 1690-1757

From Book Owners Online

Theophilus METCALFE 1690-1757

Biographical Note

Son of Samuel Metcalfe of London. Matriculated at Hart Hall, Oxford in 1706. B.A. in 1710, M.A. in 1713, B.Med. in 1716, D.Med. in 1724. Practised medicine in the vicinity of Ambrosden, Oxfordshire, where he died. Metcalfe’s precise connection with the institution to which his medical books were bequeathed is unclear, but he appears as ‘M.D. of Queen’s College’ in a list of subscribers to Jeremiah Seed, Discourses (1743), and his will highlights the college’s importance in his life in ways additional to this bequest.


Metcalfe bequeathed ‘all my Books in the Art of Medicine and of natural and Mechanical Philosophy’ to Queen’s College Oxford. This collection of over a thousand items ranges from the early sixteenth century to the mid-eighteenth, with three quarters of them published after 1650, and over four-fifths of them in Latin. Many of the items bear Metcalfe’s armorial bookplate on the front paste-down (Franks: 20418). Some contain his annotations, and further provenance evidence. Presentation copies of titles by Richard Mead and George Cheyne suggest he maintained good connections with the London medical world, and there is evidence from annotations that he was still purchasing medical material in London in his late fifties.

Metcalfe’s will also made provision for his non-medical books. Two specific bequests reflect his interests in engraving: Sanderson Miller was to receive ‘Pozzo’s Architecture’, and ‘the Lady Vandyput’ to receive ‘Perrier’s Book of Statues’. To Sir Edward Turner, 2nd bart, in whose house (designed by Miller) he resided, Metcalfe left ‘all my other Books of what Nature or kind soever’, requesting that he ‘Give and Dispose of so many of them to … Miss Molly Leigh [of Adlestrop] as he shall think fit and proper for a Lady’s Closett’.