William Harvey was a seventeenth century doctor credited with discovering the circulation of the blood in humans and animals
When and Where was he Born?
1st April 1578, Folkestone, Kent, England.
William Harvey was the son of a merchant who was Mayor of Folkestone in 1600.
King’s School, Canterbury. Caius College, Cambridge. Padua University, Italy where he studied medicine.
Timeline/Biography of Sir William Harvey:
1597: Harvey leaves Cambridge University and travels through France and Germany on his way to go to Italy.
1599: He arrives in Padua.
1602: Returned to England from his medical studies at the University of Padua in Italy where he was taught by Fabricius. Worked as a physician. Studied medicine again at Cambridge.
1604: He joined the Royal College of Physicians.
1607: Harvey became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.
1609: Appointed physician to St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Lived in Ludgate at this period.
1613: Harvey was elected as “Censor of the Royal College of Physicians”.
1615: He is appointed as Lumleian Lecturer in August, which meant he was commissioned to give lectures for a period of seven years with the aim of “spreading light” and increasing the general knowledge of anatomy throughout the country.
1616: Harvey’s research was furthered through the dissection of animals. He first revealed his findings at the College of Physicians in 1616. Began his series of lectures.
1618: Harvey was appointed “Physician Extraordinary” to King James the First and his son Charles. He also treated aristocrats such as the Lord Chancellor Francis Bacon. when he became king.
1625: He was re-elected for the second time as “Censor of the College of Physicians”.
1628: He published his theories in a book entitled ‘Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus’ (‘An Anatomical Study of the Motion of the Heart and of the Blood in Animals’) in Frankfurt. in it he explained how the heart propelled the blood around the body on a continuous path with valves which only allowed a one way flow. Ever since Galen before this blood was thought to have been continuously made by the liver. This book was panned by some of the other physicians at the time but he still managed to take on more patients.
1629: Harvey was re-elected as ‘Censor’ of the College of Physicians.
1630: Accompanied the Duke of Lennox on his journey through France and Spain during the Mantuan War and its subsequent Plague.
1632: Returned to England and accompanied King Charles the First wherever he went. On hunting trips he would collect dead deer for anatomical experiments.
1642: Harvey witnessed the Battle of Edgehill in Warwickshire, the first major battle of the English Civil War, where he tended the wounded. Appointed Doctore of Physick to King Charles the First at Oxford.
1645: He was Warden of Merton College, Oxford for a short time. At the surrender of Oxford to the Parliamentarians he returned to London and lived in the houses of his brothers Eliab and Daniel.
1651: “On the Generation of Animals” showed that mammals reproduce from a sperm and an egg.
1628: “Anatomical Treatise on the Movement of the Heart and Blood in Animals”.
1651: “On the Generation of Animals”.
1604: To Elizabeth Brown, Daughter of Lancelot Browne, physician to Queen Elizabeth the First and King James the First.
When and Where Did he Die?
3rd June 1657, Roehampton, London, England in the house of his brother Eliab of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Age at Death:
Site of Grave:
St. Andrew’s Church, Hempstead, Essex, England. He was placed in his own chapel with no coffin but surrounded by lead next to his two nieces. On 18th October 1883, Harvey’s remains were re interred in a sarcophagus with some of his works and lined with the leaden case at a ceremony performed by Fellows of the College of Physicians.
Places of Interest:
British Museum holds his notes.