ADDENBROOKE, John (1680-1719)
[MEDICINE] John Addenbrooke, philanthropist and physician : autograph letter signed, dated July 26, 1716.
Manuscript in ink on a single leaf of watermarked wove paper, 227 x 156 mm; written in London and dated ‘July 26 1716, From the lamp, in Salisbury Court Square’, the letter is to an unidentified correspondent, presumably an apothecary, and is addressed simply ‘Dear Sir’; it gives advice concerning the treatment of a patient, a Dr. Ferrari, for a kidney stone, for which is recommended a combination of clysters and opiates; signed at the foot ‘Yr. most Humble Servant J. Addenbrooke’; spike hole just left of centre, and a small marginal perforation upper right; otherwise the letter is complete, clean and legible.
John Addenbrooke (1680-1719), a medical doctor and fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, left in his will £4,500 ‘to hire and fit up, purchase or erect a small, physical hospital in the town of Cambridge for poor people’. One of the first voluntary hospitals in England, Addenbrooke’s Hospital opened in Trumpington Street in 1766. Today it is a major teaching hospital.
The present letter, written by Addenbrooke at Salisbury Court, off Fleet Street, has not previously been published, and was unknown to Rook and Martin, who assert that only three of Addenbrooke’s letters survive (Rook, Arthur and Martin, Laurence. John Addenbrooke, M.D. (1680-1719), in: Medical History, 1982, 26 : 169-178). One of those three letters, dated 4 August 1716 – a mere nine days after July 26 – appears to have been written to the same recipient as the present letter, and to belong to the same group of correspondence. Rook and Martin describe the content of the 4 August 1716 letter thus: ‘… written to an apothecary, [it] was presented to Addenbrooke’s Hospital by (then) Mr Maynard Keynes C.B.. It concerns the treatment of a patient with a probable ulcer in the rectum, but it also contains remarks about a doctor with a stone in the bladder and it is not clear whether the letter concerns one or two patients’ (ibid., p. 176). That letter is photographically reproduced in Rook and Martin’s article (ibid., p. 178), and, remarkably, we can see that it appears originally to have been filed on the same letter spike as the present letter, the spike hole in both being in precisely the same position.