Walter Charleton 1619-1707

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Walter CHARLETON 1619-1707

Biographical Note

Born in Shepton Mallet, son of the Rector there. Matriculated Magdalen Hall 1635; D.Med. 1643, and appointed physician to Charles I the same year. Settled in London 1650 to practice as a physician, retaining the title of royal physician (to Charles II in exile), which continued after the Restoration. One of the earliest Fellows of the Royal Society (1662); Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians 1676, President 1689-91. Briefly left London after 1691 and lived in Nantwich, but returned and died there. Wrote numerous medical treatises; it is evident from these and from his commonplace book (BL ms Sloane 3413) that he was widely read.


His life and writings suggest someone with a sizeable private library, although known examples are relatively few and scattered (e.g. British Library 542.d.9, 1173.f.10, Ames 7/473; Cambridge UL Keynes A.3.26; Peterhouse, Cambridge K.8.13; Quaritch catalogue 1199 (1994)/48). John Moore acquired a number of books from Charleton’s library, now in Cambridge University Library. The British Library holds a number of manuscripts written by him, particularly in the Sloane collection.

Charleton's inscription, from the titlepage of F. Cites, Opuscula medica, 1639, British Library 542.d.9

Characteristic Markings

Charleton inscribed his name on titlepages, and sometimes the year of acquisition; his books sometimes contain his annotations and marginalia.

Charleton's marginalia, from the same book