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Nathaniel Johnston

(1624—1705) political theorist and antiquary


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Nathaniel Johnston died in London. He was educated at St Leonard's College, St Andrews and King's College, Cambridge, where he gained an MD in 1656. He practised medicine at Pontefract but was more interested in the antiquities and natural history of Yorkshire than in his practice. He planned to publish a history of the antiquities of Yorkshire on the model of Sir William Dugdale's well-received The Antiquities of Warwickshire (1657). His researches attracted the favourable attention of some of the greatest antiquaries of the age: the ubiquitous Ralph Thoresby, Abraham de la Pryme, Anthony Wood and Thomas Hearne. He wrote over 130 volumes of notes but the work never appeared. His medical practice collapsed and he moved to London in 1686 to write Royalist tracts. James II rewarded him with a Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians in 1687. But he was never far from poverty and his chances for preferment were considerably curtailed by the 1688 Revolution. The notoriety surrounding his Jacobite attack on the revolutionary regime and the future Duke of Marlborough in The Dear Bargain (1690) reduced his remaining chances to nil. By the mid-1690s, he was in hiding and being maintained by the volatile and similarly impecunious third Earl of Peterborough. At his death, his property in Yorkshire was sold by order of the Court of Chancery.

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From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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