Authorised form of nameWillis; Thomas (1621 - 1675); physician and natural philosopher
Dates1621 - 1675
Place of birthGreat Bedwyn, Wiltshire, England, Europe
Date of birth27 January 1621
Place of deathSt Martin's Lane, London, England, Europe
Date of death11 November 1675
Dates and placesBaptism:
St Mary the Virgin, Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, England, Europe (14 February 1621)
Westminster Abbey, London, England, Europe
Research fieldMedicine
Edward Sylvester's School at Oxford; Christ Church, Oxford (BA 1639; MA 1642; BMed 1646; DMed 1660)
Assisted Mrs Iles, wife of one of the Canons of Christ Church, in making medicines; licensed to practice medicine (1646); practised in Oxford, opposite Merton College; Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy, University of Oxford (1660-1675); practised in London (1666-1675); discovered saccharine diabetes
Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (1664)
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election18/11/1663
Other Royal Society activityCorrespondent to Henry Oldenburg (1667); Asked to contribute to the building of a Society College (1668)
RelationshipsParents: Thomas Willis and Rachel Howell
Married: 1) Mary Fell; 2) Elizabeth Calley (née Nicholas)
Published worksRCN: R65141
RCN: R65143
RCN: R65144
RCN: R65140
RCN: 35439
RCN: R65145
RCN: R65142
RCN: R65146
RCN: R65147
General contextTowards the beginning of the Civil War, Willis served in an auxiliary regiment of university members organised by the Earl of Dover to defend Oxford. In his professional life and his focus on iatrochemistry, Willis was assisted in his experiments by Robert Hooke (FRS 1663), and he also moved in the same Trinity College circles as John Aubrey (FRS 1663) and the same Wadham College circles as Christopher Wren (FRS 1660) and John Locke. Willis, alongside William Petty (FRS 1660), actually gained a reputation as a physician with the resuscitation of Ann Green in 1650.
Related imagesDiscover a selection of related images in our picture library

Willis T, IM006100.jpg

Bulloch's Roll; DNB; DSB; Foster; Aubrey; ODNB
Marie Boas Hall, 'Dispenser of Restoration Medicine', review of J Trevor Hughes, Thomas Willis 1621-1675: His Life and Work in NR 1993 vol 47 pp 141-142
D R Oldroyd, 'Some "Philosophicall Scribbles" Attributed to Robert Hooke' in NR 1980 vol 35 pp 17-32
Robert G Frank, Jr, 'John Aubrey, FRS, John Lydall, and Science at Commonwealth Oxford' in NR 1972-3 vol 27 pp 193-217
A Rupert Hall and Marie Boas Hall, 'The Intellectual Origins of the Royal Society - London and Oxford' in NR 1968 vol 23 pp 157-168
L G Wilson, 'William Croone's Theory of Muscular Contraction' in NR 1961 vol 16 pp 158-178
Sir Charles Symonds, 'Thomas Willis, FRS (1621-1675)' in NR 1960 vol 15 pp 91-97, plate
G H Turnbull, 'Samuel Hartlib's Influence on the Early History of the Royal Society' in NR 1953 vol 10 pp 101-130
L Jardine, 'The 2003 Wilkins Lecture: Dr Wilkins's boy wonders' in NR 2004 vol 58 pp 107-129
Admitted 13 November 1661 (JB).

Willis was first elected on 13 November 1661 (JBO), prior to the Society receiving its Royal Charter and was not officially re-elected FRS of the incorporated Royal Society until the date stated above (18 November 1663) at which time the JBO states: 'Dr Willis was chosen, having been forgot to be chosen again, at the time, when, upon the Renewall of the Charter, the Councill, according to the power granted them therein, did receive and admitt in to the Society, such persons, as had been Election Date Fellows afore, upon the first Charter'. Willis is therefore not considered an original Fellow of the Royal Society, a classification reserved for those named in the 1663 charter or elected within the subsequent two months, the period allowed in the charter for the declaration of Fellows. Elections like Willis's that predated this were no longer recognised and had to be reconfirmed. The date of any subsequent re-election is given in this database as the official election date.
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA8032
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
IM/004945Willis, Thomas2001
IM/004862Willis, Thomasnd
EL/W3/9Letter, from Thomas Willis to Henry Oldenburg1667
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