Nathaniel Fairfax

(1637—1690) physician and antiquary

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Nathaniel Fairfax was born in Rumburgh, Suffolk on 24 July 1637 and died in Woodbridge, Suffolk on 12 June 1690. He was the son of an ejected minister, and became himself a lifelong nonconformist. Fairfax was educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (MA, 1661), but was also, during the Commonwealth, perpetual curate of Willisham in Suffolk, from which position he was ejected in 1662 for failing to conform. He then turned to medicine to provide himself with a livelihood, graduating MD from Leiden in 1670 and establishing a practice at Woodbridge in Suffolk. He was a great admirer of the Royal Society, although he never became a Fellow, and contributed a few articles to the Philosophical Transactions on curiosities of nature. His philosophical interest is confined, however, to one book, A Treatise on the Bulk and Selvedge of the World (1674), which deals with the nature of bodies. The book is noteworthy for its style: Fairfax, like the Fellows of the early Royal Society, is concerned to write plain English, unencumbered with technical jargon and scholastic Latin. In this he resembles propagandists for the Royal Society such as Thomas Sprat.


From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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