Authorised form of nameCharleton; Walter (1620 - 1707); physician and natural philosopher
Other forms of nameCharlton, Walter
Dates1620 - 1707
Dates and placesBirth:
Parsonage House, Shepton Mallett, Somerset, England, Europe (2 February 1620)
London, England, Europe (24 April 1707)
Research Field:
Natural philosophy; medicine; chemistry
Educated by his father; Magdalen Hall, Oxford (matriculated 1635; MD 1643)
Physician-in-ordinary to Charles I and Charles II; occasional assistant to senior Royal Physician Sir Theodore Turquet de Mayerne; practised in London (1650-1691); published 'A Ternary of Paradoxes', 'Deliramenta catarrhi', and 'Spiritus gorgonicus' (1650); appointed physician-in-ordinary to exiled Charles II; Harveian orator (1680; 1705); retired to Nantwich, Cheshire (1692); returned to London and was appointed College of Physician's Harveian librarian (1706)
Royal College of Physicians (Honorary Fellow 1664; Fellow 1676-1677; President 1689-1691)
Royal Society activityMembership:
Original Fellow
Election Date:
Proposed 23 January 1661.
Admitted 15 May 1661.
Committee appointments include:
Anatomical Committee (1664)
Committee for Collecting all the Phenomena of Nature hitherto observed (1664)
Other RSActivity:
Involved in thermal and poison-related experiments and observations (1661).
Interested in echoes and sonic phenomena, in particular in relation to the whispering gallery at Gloucester Cathedral (1662).
Wrote a paper on the fulmination of Gold and on the velocity of sounds (1662).
RelationshipsParents: Walter Charlton and Susannah Jeay
Married: 1) Ann Parsons; 2) Dorothy Waterman
Published worksRCN: 32804
RCN: 32803
RCN: R82295
RCN: 32805
General contextCharleton's work was influenced by the theory of iatrochemistry, a branch of chemistry and medicine with its roots in alchemy. His translation work of Van Helmont's work further painted him as a representative of this field. For these views, he faced criticicsm from more orthodox colleagues. He was further introduced to mechanical philosophy through association with Sir Kenelm Digby (FRS 1663) and Thomas Hobbes. It is also theorised that Charleton's support of Epicureanism was a hindrance in some career moves, as it was considered to be closely associated with atheism and immorality.

Charleton W, IM006601.jpg

Bulloch's Roll; DNB; DSB; Munk's Roll; Foster; ODNB
Penelope M Gouk, 'Acoustics in the Early Royal Society 1660-1680' in NR 1981-82 vol 36 pp 155-175
Michael Hunter, 'The Social Bias and Changing Fortunes of an Early Scientific Institution: An Analysis of the Membership of the Royal Society, 1660-1685' in NR 1976-7 vol 31 pp 9-114
P M Rattansi, 'The Intellectual Origins of the Royal Society' in NR 1968 vol 23 pp 129-143
Name spelt 'Charleton' in DNB, DSB and by Michael Hunter. Aternative birth and death dates (13 Feb, 6 May) provided by DSB. Birth date given as 1619 in Munk.
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA8167
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
CLP/4i/10Paper, 'Certain experiments concerning freezing of snow, not unworthy exact tryal' by Dr [Walter] Charleton1663
CLP/11i/2Paper, 'Pulvis condiendis avium cadavinbus utilissimus' by Dr Charlton [Walter Charleton][1662]
CLP/16/18Figure and explanation of the stone circle at Avebury, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, by Dr Charlton18 July 1663
CLP/4i/3Paper, 'Observation of the force of lightning on a boy of 14 years of age, who was therewith struck dead, in the field near Nantwich in Cheshire' by W [Walter] Charleton[1662]
CLP/2/35Paper, 'Apparatus phonocampticus or what enquiries are principally to be made by such, who would attain to the certain knowledge of the nature of eccho's' by Walter Charleton1662
DM/5/72'Desiderata recommended to Dr Charleton'c.1663
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