On this day in 1578 – William Harvey was born

William Harvey was born on 1st April 1578 in Folkestone to Thomas Harvey.

Harvey’s educational life began in Folkestone before studying at Canterbury and then Cambridge. Upon graduation Harvey continued his studying in Europe where he achieved a Bachelor of Arts from Caius in 1597 and entered the University of Padua two years later. Harvey graduated from Padua in 1602 as a Doctor of Medicine.

Harvey returned to London and joined the College of Physicians and in 1607 he was employed by St Bartholomew’s Hospital, where he remained until he died. As a physician Harvey was required to see his patients and give a full analysis of them and simply write a prescription to help their ailments.

In 1615 Harvey was elected to be a Lumleian lecturer and gave lectures to spread the knowledge of the anatomy of the body throughout England. Harvey’s lecture notes are now in the possession of the British Museum.

In 1618 Harvey received the highest appointment he could ever dream of when he was given the position of Physician Extraordinary to King James I.

In 1628 Harvey had his works published in Frankfurt about the circulation of the blood, the first physician to discover the circulatory system within the human body. Harvey was able to further his research when he was appointed Physician in Ordinary to King Charles I. The King loved hunting and as a result Harvey was able to access many deer carcasses and could continue learning about the anatomy and how the body worked.

Harvey found himself with King Charles I during the English Civil War and in Oxford in 1645; this was the end of his royal career. Harvey began withdrawing from public life.

Harvey died childless at the home of his brother on 3rd June 1657. Harvey was buried in Hempstead, Essex and in his will left a substantial amount of money to the College of Physicians.

William Harvey