SCARBURGH, Sir Charles (1615-94), of Paved Alley, Blackfriars, London and Whitehall.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



11 Sept. 1685

Family and Education

bap. 29 King’s Dec. 1615, 2nd s. of Edmund Scarburgh (d.1635) of Westminster by w. Hannah Butler. educ. St. Paul’s c.1629-33; Caius, Camb. 1633, BA 1637, MA 1640; MD Merton, Oxf. 1646. m. 5 July 1649, Mary, da. of Thomas Daniel of Newbury, Flitton, Beds., 2s. 3da. Kntd. 14 Aug. 1669.1

Offices Held

Fellow of Caius 1642-9, Coll. Physicians 1650-91; physician for the Tower of London by 1663-?85, to the Duke of York 1670-85, to the King 1673-Dec. 1688, to Queen Mary 1689-?d., to Prince George of Denmark 1694; gov. Christ’s Hospital by 1673.2

FRS 1663-6.


Scarburgh’s father, of Norfolk origin, emigrated to Virginia, where he was a member of the House of Burgesses in 1629, and his elder brother Edmund took a prominent place in colonial society. Scarburgh himself was educated in England, becoming a fellow of Caius on the eve of the Civil War. He took pupils, but devoted his spare time to the study of medicine and mathematics. His library, according to Evelyn, eventually became ‘the very best collection, especially of mathematical books, that was, I believe, in all Europe’, despite spoliation during the Civil War. As a Royalist he left Cambridge, and retired to Oxford where he became the friend and assistant of William Harvey, then warden of Merton. After losing his fellowship in 1649 he went to London and was elected a fellow of the college of physicians, in which he remained active and held many offices for most of his life.3

Scarburgh joined the Court in exile and returned with the King. He complained to the Privy Council in 1664 of divers persons in Blackfriars ‘of fanatic principles and dangerous practices’. He became physician to the Duke of York in 1670 and in this capacity narrowly escaped drowning in the wreck of the Gloucester in 1682. After a ‘struggle ... for a plank’ with ‘the Duke’s dog Mumper’ he was picked up ‘almost dead and spent with struggling in the water and cold’. He attended Charles II during his last illness of which he left an account in manuscript, possibly written at the request of James II to refute rumours of poisoning. Scarburgh stated that at the autopsy nothing abnormal was found in the King’s abdomen. He remained first physician to James II after his accession, when his salary was increased to £400 p.a. Returned at a by-election for Camelford to the 1685 Parliament, he was appointed to no committees. In 1688 he was one of the doctors who attended at the birth of James II’s son, and Sunderland ordered him to stand for Grampound for the abortive election. He resigned from the college of physicians in 1691, and died on 26 Feb. 1694. He was buried at Cranford, Middlesex, the only member of the family to enter Parliament.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Beds. N. and Q. ii. 337; E179/147/627, f. 280; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 226; Bodl. Rawlinson mss 896, f. 15; CSP Dom. 1682, p. 241.
  • 2. Munck’s Roll, i. 252-5; CSP Dom. 1673, p. 325; LS13/23/20.
  • 3. DNB; Aubrey, Brief Lives, i. 299; ii. 107, 108; Evelyn Diary, v. 206.
  • 4. Pepys Diary, 24 May 1660; PC2/57/174; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 341; Cal. Treas. Bks. vi. 558; vii. 753; x. 1035; Dalrymple, Mems. i. pt. 1, p. 129; R. Crawford, Last Days of Chas. II, 9-10, 54; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 276.