Thomas Willis

(1621—1675) physician and natural philosopher

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John Wilkins (1614—1672) theologian and natural philosopher

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Thomas Willis was born in Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire on 27 January 1621 and died of pneumonia in London on 11 November 1675. The oldest son of Thomas Willis, steward of the manor at Great Bedwyn, he moved with his family to North Hinksey in Berkshire when he was about nine years old. He then went to Edward Sylvester's school in Oxford and matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford in 1637. He took his BA in 1639 and the MA in 1642. Being a staunch Royalist, Willis remained in Oxford, where Charles I established his court during the civil war, and joined a regiment of volunteers on the king's side. With the defeat of the royal cause Willis abandoned thoughts of a career in the Church of England and turned to medicine. Due to the exigencies of the time University regulations were often breached and he received his B.Med. and licence to practise after about six months, in December 1646, rather than the usual three years. He became a prominent member of the Oxford ‘Philosophicall Clubb’, a group of experimental philosophers usually seen as a forerunner to the Royal Society of London, during the 1650s, where he worked with John Wilkins, William Petty, Ralph Bathurst, Robert Boyle, Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke.


From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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