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HAMEY, Baldwin (1600-1676)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0113 MS-HAMEB
Held at: Royal College of Physicians
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Full title: HAMEY, Baldwin (1600-1676)
Date(s): 1611-c.1660
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 17 volumes
Name of creator(s): Hamey | Baldwin | 1600-1676 | physician


Administrative/Biographical history:

Baldwin Hamey was born in London on 24 April 1600, the eldest son of Baldwin Hamey, the Flemish physician. He received his early education at one of the public city schools. He entered the University of Leyden as a student of philosophy in May 1617, and then went to Oxford in 1621 and studied humanities in the public library. In the winter of 1622-23 he was apprenticed to his father in London, whereupon his real medical education began. Hamey returned to Holland in the summer of 1625 and graduated MD at Leyden on 12 August 1626. His thesis, De Angina, was to be his only published work.

He returned to London and continued his apprenticeship, gaining some necessary clinical experience. He then traveled in Europe, visiting the universities of Paris, Montpelier, and Padua, before returning to Southwark to marry Anna de Pettin of Rotterdam in May 1627. Later that year they moved from his parents' house in Sydon Lane, to a house in St Clement's Lane, and Hamey began to practice under the patronage of Simeon Foxe, physician and President of the Royal College of Physicians. At this time he enjoyed many hours of leisure. He began to record the biographies of his friends and contemporaries. Hamey was incorporated MD at Oxford, 4 February 1629/30, and then admitted a Candidate of the Royal College of Physicians of London in June 1630. He became a Fellow of the College in January 1633/4.

He was generous with his wealth throughout his life, and was `a liberal benefactor to many poor but deserving scholars' (Munk's Roll, 1878, p.211). In 1634 he financed the education of one such man, John Sigismund Clewer. Hamey performed many unpaid roles within the Royal College of Physicians, and was unfailing in his attendance at College events. He was a censor on several occasions between 1640 and 1654, and registrar in 1646, and 1650-54. In 1647 he delivered the anatomical Goulstonian Lectures at the College.

During the Interregnum, 1649-60, Hamey, a royalist and faithful member of the Church of England, considered leaving London, but an attack of inflammation of the lungs prevented him. Whilst convalescing he agreed to consult a puritan soldier who, much satisfied with the service, handed Hamey a bag of gold as payment. Hamey politely refused the generous gesture, whereupon the soldier took a handful of gold coins from the bag and placed them in the physician's pocket. On Hamey's producing the coins to his surprised wife he learnt that during his illness, to avoid troubling him, she had paid that exact sum, 36 pieces of gold, to a state exaction executed by another puritan soldier. Hamey perceived the providential incident as an omen against his leaving the capital. So he remained in London, where his burgeoning practice grew to include a number of parliamentarians.

Hamey became wealthy and his generosity continued unabated. In 1651 the Royal College of Physicians' building at Amen Corner, which stood in grounds belonging to St Paul's cathedral, was in a vulnerable position. Hamey, `with a generosity which does him immortal honour', bought the property and made it over in perpetuity to the College (ibid, p.212). Remaining a faithful royalist despite his apparent neutrality, Hamey also purchased a diamond ring of Charles I bearing the royal arms, for 500, which he presented to Charles II at the Restoration in 1660. During the Interregnum Hamey had sent Charles II a number of gifts. In recognition of his services the king offered him a knighthood and the position of physician in ordinary to himself, honours which an ageing Hamey respectfully declined.

Hamey was treasurer at the Royal College of Physicians in 1664-66. He retired from his practice in 1665, the year before the Great Fire of London, after having remained in London to fight the Plague. He went to live in Chelsea. After the fire he donated a large sum of money to the rebuilding of the College, and wainscoted the dining room with carved Spanish oak (which is still preserved in the Censor's Room of the present building). In 1672 he gave the College an estate near Great Ongar in Essex. The rents arising from the lands were to pay annual sums to the physicians of St Bartholomew's Hospital, provided that the hospital accepted the nominees of the College. He also donated 100 towards the repair of St Paul's Cathedral, and contributed to the upkeep of All Hallows, Barking, where his parents were buried, of his own parish church, St Clement's, Eastcheap, and to the restoration of St Luke's, Chelsea.

Hamey died in Chelsea on 14 May 1676, aged 76. He was buried in the parish church with a simple black marble slab. A gilt inscription, with his arms, was laid years later. Hamey and his wife, who had died in 1660, had had no children. A major benefactor of his inheritance was the Royal College of Physicians, to whom he confirmed forever the bequest of his estate in Essex. His friend, Adam Littleton, lexicographer, printed his essay On the Oath of Hippocrates (1688).

De Angina (1626)
On the Oath of Hippocrates, Adam Littleton (ed) (1688)

Publications by others about Hamey:
The Stranger's Son, John Keevil (London, 1953)


Scope and content/abstract:

Hamey's papers, 1611-c.1660, include his copy of Caspar Bartholinus' (1585-1629) Anatomicae Institutiones Corporis Humani (1611), with annotations in Hamey's hand, 1611-c.1640s; Large volume of Hamey's notes on medical subjects made whilst an apprentice, 1624; Manuscript copy of his Goulstonian Lectures, in his hand, 1647/8; Commentaries on the plays of Aristophanes (c.445-c.386 BC), with indexes on Vespas, Aves, Acharnenses, Equites, and Ranas, c.1650, with critical notes and an index on Plutus, 1650, with explanatory notes and an index on Nubes, c.1650; Commentary on the Greek poets, c.1650; Biographic sketches of 85 of his contemporaries, mostly physicians but also laymen, such as Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), c.1660; Medical notes, suggested to be corrections to the Pharmacopoeia, 17th century; and notes on the College, 17th century.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
Latin, Greek and English

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

All requests should be referred to the Archivist

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Although the provenance of the collection is not recorded at the Royal College of Physicians, it is stated in Keevil's biography of Hamey, The Stranger's Son (1953), that on Hamey's death his manuscripts went to Ralph Palmer, Hamey's great nephew. At least some of the collection, his apprenticeship notes on medical subjects, his Goulstonian lectures, and his biographic sketches, were found amongst Lord Verney's books (see 3.2.4)

Immediate source of acquisition:

His apprenticeship notes on medical subjects, his Goulstonian lectures, and his biographic sketches, were given to the Royal College of Physicians by Dr John Monro, 25 June 1783, after they were purchased at the sale of Lord Verney's books; His commentary on the Greek poets was presented by Ralph Palmer, Hamey's great-nephew, after sending it in 1710 to Ludolphe Kuyster in Holland who was writing on Aristophanes; The immediate source of transfer of the rest of the collection is not recorded (see 3.2.3)

Allied Materials

Related material:

There is also material relating to Hamey held elsewhere in the College archives, including a copy of Hamey's 54 medical biographies, in an anonymous hand (MS309); Letters to and about Hamey, collected by his great-nephew Ralph Palmer (1668-1755), including poetry about Hamey by Palmer, 1701 (MS310), and a biography of Hamey by Palmer, 1733 (MS337); Greek verse by Hamey in Sir George Ent's (1604-1689) 'Apologia pro Circuitione Sanguinis...' [1641?] (MS129); Reference to Hamey in Allan George Williams Whitfield's notes on the first 37 Registrars of the College, 1979-81 (MS799/9), and specifically to his antimony cup, 1979 (MS799/9b).

There is a large amount of material amongst the College's own papers about Hamey, including a copy of the Treasurer's book covering a period which included Hamey's term of office, 1664-84 (MS2077), and reference to him as Treasurer, with extracts from the Treasurer's book, in a College accounts book, 1664-1709 (MS2073); His bequests to the College, including an extract from the Annals of the College about his benefactions, in his hand, 17th century (MS2002/35); Details of his bequests in an abstract of donations to the College, 17th-18th century (MS2074a); Legal opinions regarding Hamey's estates, 1694- 18th century, in a file on College property (MS2009/1-2); Papers regarding the estate of Ashlyns Farm (MS2005), such as a list of the trustees of the estate, 1736 (MS2005/5) and discussion of Hamey's gift in a talk given by Adair Stuart Mason, 1989 (MS2005/119); Reference is also made to Hamey's deed of settlement regarding the appointment of physician to St Bartholomew's Hospital, 1780 (MS516/54-55), and Christ's Hospital, 1774 and 1885 (MS516/56-59).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Dictionary of National Biography, vol. XXIV, Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee (eds.) (London, 1890) [DNB, 1890, pp.131-32]; The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 1518-1700, William Munk (London, 1878) [Munk's Roll, 1878, pp.207-16]; The Stranger's Son, John Keevil (London, 1953); `The Hameys in the Netherlands, Russia, London, and Chelsea, 1568-1676', John Keevil, Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of London, vol. XIX, No. 1, 1953 (pp.27-55).
Compiled by Katharine Williams

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives, Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Compiled May 2003

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