Record

Authorised form of nameLettsom; John Coakley (1744 - 1815); physician and philanthropist
Other forms of nameLettsome; John Coakley
SurnameLettsom
ForenamesJohn Coakley
Dates1744 - 1815
NationalityBritish
Dates and placesBirth:
Little Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands, Greater Antilles, North and Central America (22 November 1744)
Death:
His house, Sambrook Court, Basinghall Street, London, England, United Kingdom (01 November 1815)
Burial:
The Friends' Burying-ground, Coleman Street, Bunhill Row, London, England, United Kingdom
ActivityProfession:
Physician; author; philanthropist; abolitionist
Research field:
Medicine; natural history; agriculture
Education:
Born in a Quaker colony in the Britsh Virgin Islands and sent to school in Lancashire, England age 6; apprenticeship to Yorkshire apothecary and surgeon Abraham Sutcliff (1761-1766); University of Edinburgh (1768); Leyden University, MD (1769); licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians (1770) though excluded from Fellowship as a Quaker
Career:
Practiced medicine on Tortola, British Virgin Islands (1767); son of a plantation and slave owner, became an abolitionist and freed the enslaved people he inherited on his father's death (1767); set up a successful medical practice at Basinghall Street, London (from about 1770); wrote for the Gentleman's Magazine under the name of "Mottles"; wrote his medical thesis on the undesirable effects of tea drinking; founder of the Medical Society of London (1773); founder of the General Dispensary; built Grove Hill House, botaical gardens, museum, library and greenhouses in Camberwell (1779), later sold; helped establish the Royal Sea-bathing Infirmary at Margate (1791), for rehabilitation of tuberculous patients; physician to the Camberwell volunteer infantry (1803); wrote on a wide number of subjects including social commentary, education, nutrition and bee keeping as well as medicine; supporter of mass inoculation for smallpox and aided in the foundation of the Society for General Inoculation; involved in the introduction of the mangel-wurzel into agricultural cultivation; predeceased by his son Pickering Lettsom and inherited the fortune his son made in the West Indies shortly before his own death
Memberships:
FSA (1770); Medical Society of London (founder member 1773, President 1775-1776, 1784-1785, 1808-1811 and 1813-1815); Royal Humane Society (founder member 1774); Royal Jennerian Society (for vaccination); Philosophical Society of London (President 1812); American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1788)
Royal Society activityMembership:
Fellow
Election Date:
18/11/1773
RelationshipsSon of Edward Lettsom and Mary nee Coakley; Married (31 July 1770) Anne Miers; father of father-in-law of John Elliot FRS (1811); grandfather of Charles Morgan Elliot FRS (1851); friend of Benjamin Franklin (FRS 1756); enjoyed patronage of John Fothergill MD (FRS 1763)
Published workshttps://www.worldcat.org/identities/lccn-n84803084/
SourcesSources:
Bulloch's Roll; DNB; Wikipedia; UCL LBS
References:
A D Atkinson, 'Dr Johnson and the Royal Society' in NR 1953 vol 10 pp 131-138
N G Coley, 'George Pearson MD, FRS (1751-1828): 'The greatest chemist in England'? in NR 2003 vol 57 pp 161-175
T Pettigrew, 'Memoirs of the life and writings of the late John Coakley Lettsom : with a selection from his correspondence' (London) 1817
'Dr John Coakley Lettsom', Legacies of British Slave-ownership database, http://wwwdepts-live.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146649667 [accessed 15th July 2020]
Virtual International Authority Filehttp://viaf.org/viaf/49990442
Royal Society codeNA7114
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
EC/1773/28Lettsom, John Coakley: certificate of election to the Royal Society
IM/002724Lettsom, John Coakleynd
MM/2/2Letter from John Coakley Lettsom, Sambrook House, to Joseph Banks30 December 1783
L&P/8/179Paper, 'History and dissection of an extraordinary introsusception' by John Coakley Lettsom1786
MS/709/33Letter from John Coakley Lettsom, Sambrook Court, , to [James] Sowerby, 2 Mead Place, Lambeth30 March 1813
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