RADCLIFFE, John (1653-1714), of Wolverton, Bucks., and Carshalton, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1690 - 1695
1713 - 1 Nov. 1714

Family and Education

bap. 23 Jan. 1653, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of George Radcliffe, attorney, of Wakefield, Yorks. by Anne Loder or Lowder of Wakefield.  educ. Queen Elizabeth g.s. Wakefield; Northallerton g.s.; Univ. Coll. Oxf. 1666, BA 1669; fellow, Lincoln 1670–7, MA 1672, BM 1675, MD 1682. unmsuc. fa. 1674.

Offices Held

Physician to Princess Anne 1686–95; commr. Greenwich Hosp. 1695, taking subscriptions to land bank 1696, building 50 new churches 1711–d., taking subscription to S. Sea Co. 1711.1

Fellow, Coll. of Physicians 1687.

Gov. St. Bartholomew’s Hosp. 1690–d., freeman, Bath 1703.2


An obituarist wrote of Dr John Radcliffe in 1714 that he should be ‘accounted the most eminent physician this England has ever produced. He was a man of good sense, sound judgement, and admirable skill in his art, chiefly founded on the best mistress, experience.’ For much of his life Radcliffe was never far from public view. His unrivalled success as a ‘society’ doctor, buoyed by his colourful personality, provided him with a captive audience before whom he often indulged a weakness for publicity and for speaking his mind. The acquaintanceships he established among the famous and powerful were perhaps his greatest satisfaction. His closest companions were Tory notables, particularly High Tories like himself, and not a few spirited Jacobites. The impression is gained of a man who in his blustering liked at times to be thought of as a Jacobite sympathizer, but only as a means to vaunt the high degree of social independence that came with a self-awareness of immense wealth and professional indispensability. This pugnacious exterior turned him into a figure of satire and vilification, but it is possible to glimpse a different personality behind his public image. Away from company and drink, both of which he needed in large quantities, he was a man of isolation and reflection – indeed, in later life, he concerned himself with theological issues, especially the preservation of the Church of England. In public, however, he was apt to make light of learning, and this together with his weakness for conviviality led critics such as Thomas Hearne to dismiss him as ‘illiterate’, although others readily appreciated that his gifts were empirical rather than learned. Similarly, his detractors read into his academic gifts and endowments to Oxford University a vain obsession with the survival of his name after death, and there must be little doubt that this was part of a psychological need for attention and gratitude which he evidently failed to find in private life.

Radcliffe was born and brought up in Wakefield where his grandfather had been curate before becoming dean of Doncaster. His father, an attorney and an ardent Republican, had been appointed governor of Wakefield’s house of correction in 1647, a post he lost soon after the Restoration. At Oxford Radcliffe earned early distinction in his studies. After obtaining his degree he became a fellow at Lincoln College where he turned to the study of medicine. He was forced to abandon this fellowship in 1677, partly to avoid taking Holy Orders, as was required by the college statutes, and partly because he had quarrelled with the rector, Dr Thomas Marshall; thereupon he set up practice in the town. It seems that he had plans to establish himself in London in 1682 as soon as he had taken his MD, but remained in Oxford for another two years. At this time he successfully restored to health the wife of Sir Thomas Spencer†, an Oxfordshire gentleman. The couple were connected with several noble families and their recommendations of his ability played an important part in launching him into the beau monde. Moving to London in 1684, Radcliffe established himself in Bow Street, Covent Garden where in a short time he took over several lucrative practices. His treatments were unorthodox and challenged the conventional wisdom of most of his fellow practitioners whom he never hesitated to ridicule. He also took a particularly strong line against ‘quacks’ and ‘intermeddlers’ who had encouraged the practice of diagnosis and cure based solely upon sight of a patient’s urine. His accurate diagnosis and lively conversation, unfailingly laced with sharp wit and brusqueness, attracted persons of quality and fashion in their droves. On one occasion he is supposed to have told a certain hypochondriac peer who complained of ‘singing in the head’ that the most effective cure was ‘wiping your a[r]se with a ballad’.3

In 1686, during one of her pregnancies, Princess Anne appointed Radcliffe as her first physician, probably on the advice of her father, who may have been acting on the recommendation of Obadiah Walker, master of University College. As a gifted undergraduate in the later 1660s Radcliffe had been much influenced by Walker, then senior tutor at the college, and their association developed into friendship. Walker had declared his Catholic leanings soon after James II’s accession, and in January 1686 the King summoned him for advice regarding changes in university personnel. Walker’s efforts to convert Radcliffe to the Roman Catholic church at about this time were firmly rebuffed by his former pupil who in turn advised him to read Tillotson’s disquisitions on ‘the real presence’. In a letter to Walker dated 25 May 1688, probably intended as a final word on the matter, Radcliffe emphasized his steadfast devotion to the Church of England, and his refusal to change his religion as a way of paying court to the King:

The advantages you propose to me may be very great for all that I know: God Almighty can do very much, and so can the King; but you will pardon me if I cease to speak like a physician for once, and with an air of gravity, am very apprehensive, that I may anger the one, in being too complaisant to the other. You cannot call this pinning my faith on any man’s sleeve; those that know me, are too well apprised of quite a contrary tendency. As I never flattered a man myself, so it is my firm resolution, never to be wheedled out of my real sentiments; which are, that since it has been my good fortune to be educated, according to the usage of the Church of England established by law, I shall never make myself unhappy, as to shame my teachers and instructors, by departing from what I have imbibed from them.

Their friendship was preserved, however, and after Walker’s ejection from Oxford and eventual pardon, Radcliffe provided him with material assistance as a mark of his longstanding gratitude, and in the extremities of old age took him under his own roof. During the unfolding events of November 1688, Radcliffe encountered James II near Andover making his return to London from Salisbury, and treated the King for one of his famous nose-bleeds. With Dr George Clarke*, Radcliffe had set out from London to Salisbury, but once he had seen and treated the King, he and Clarke briefly joined the Prince of Denmark before leaving to make other local visits. Radcliffe had planned to rendezvous a little later with the Prince and the Duke of Ormond at Highclere, but missed them and returned immediately to London. He was then required to attend Princess Anne, then pregnant, in her flight from the capital, but it is doubtful if he actually journeyed with her to Nottingham, having expressed concern about the number of patients awaiting him. Radcliffe remained Anne’s physician, and in a short time was also being consulted regularly by King William, whose asthmatic condition demanded the frequent ministrations of a capable doctor. Radcliffe had first come to the King’s notice through his Dutch intimates, Bentinck and Zuylestein (later created earls of Portland and Rochford respectively), both of whom he had relieved of illness, and William granted him 500 guineas from the privy purse. In the winter of 1689–90, after bringing the King through a serious attack of asthma, he was offered a generously salaried position as court physician, but refused, because, it was said, he considered the new settlement might yet be unsafe. The month he spent at Badminton towards the close of 1689 attending the Duke of Beaufort (Henry Somerset†), who had not reconciled himself to the new regime, may have raised eyebrows at court, but he continued to enjoy William’s confidence, earning, he claimed, some 600 guineas a year from royal attendance. He also watched over the Duke of Gloucester, the sickly infant son of Princess Anne: when he saved the prince from near death in 1691, Queen Mary granted him 1,000 guineas in gratitude.4

As his practice flourished and his years of royal patronage began, Radcliffe obtained a seat in Parliament. He was elected in 1690 for Bramber, a particularly venal borough, but there is no indication that he was even modestly active in proceedings. He was classed as a Court Tory by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) on the eve of the new Parliament; featured in Robert Harley’s* list of the Country party in April 1691, although marked merely as ‘d[oubtful]’; and appeared in another list of Court supporters in 1694–5. The only matter on which he is known to have passed comment was the ‘self-denying’ or place bill of 1692. On its passing the Commons in December, he wrote to Dr Arthur Charlett, a life-long Oxford friend: ‘I hope the L[or]ds will pass it, if it be but for the jest sake’. An increasing fortune gave him a strong taste for all kinds of money-making ventures, although his boldest outlays did not always pay off. In 1692 he lost his £5,000 stake in a ship when it was captured by the French on its way back from the East Indies. However, he maintained his East India interests, and invested in stocks, government loans and lotteries. The appointment of Charlett in July 1692 as master of University College, Oxford allowed Radcliffe to strengthen his cherished connexions with the university, and in particular with the college of his undergraduate days to which over the years he donated large sums. A letter of his to Charlett of December 1692 shows him operating at this time in the role of string-puller for the university: Charlett had asked him to intercede with the authorities concerning a troublesome regiment in the town, but it was ordered away before Radcliffe could act. He did, however, persuade Sir John Trevor*, one of the commissioners of the great seal, to appoint Charlett to the magisterial bench for both the town and county of Oxford together with another close friend, Dr Henry Aldrich, the vice-chancellor, and Dr William Jane, regius professor of divinity and dean of Gloucester. ‘If good men are not put in now’, he told Charlett, ‘you will find a strange set of justices for the university.’ Radcliffe was anxious that Charlett ensured they performed their new responsibilties, ‘for I would not have them refuse to do it especially now when there is that scarcity of able and honest men upon the bench’.5

In August 1694 Radcliffe was a guest at a political gathering organized by the Earl of Sunderland at Althorp, but the significance behind the invitation to Radcliffe, if any, remains unclear. At the end of the year the Queen fell critically ill and Radcliffe was called in. Bishop Burnet’s later accusations against him, that his ‘negligence and unskilfulness’ had hastened the Queen’s death, were baseless: the full account of her last illness, written by her own physician, Dr Walter Harris, shows that Radcliffe was not summoned until Mary was at the point of death, when he claimed that her treatment had been incorrect and he could do nothing to save her. Despite this, Harris omitted to mention that Radcliffe was first called to the Queen on 23 Dec. when he gave an early diagnosis of smallpox; her slight recovery around the 25th led her other physicians to believe she was suffering from measles and to administer possibly unsuitable remedies. Whig publicists took delight in pinning blame for the Queen’s death on a man of Jacobite sentiment. Burnet wrote that Radcliffe was ‘an impious and vicious man, who hated the Queen much, but virtue and religion more’. In the spring of 1695 he fell foul of Princess Anne and was dismissed from her household. During the autumn and winter of 1694–5 the princess was suffering an hysterical pregnancy, and by April 1695, at about the time a child ought to have been born, Radcliffe insensitively declared in public the true nature of her condition: ‘her Highness’s distemper was nothing but the vapours and that she was in a good state of health as any woman breathing; could she but give into the belief of it’. Anne was incensed, and when he neglected a summons, probably because he had been drinking, and then turned up a day or two later, he was denied access to the presence chamber and told that he was dismissed from service. Thereafter, Anne despised him but her doctors still found it necessary to consult with him privately about her illnesses, for which he was said to have received handsome payments from the secret service money. Also in April, Radcliffe’s name came up in connexion with the investigation into allegations of bribery by the East India Company, but his friend Sir Basil Firebrace* gave evidence on 25 Apr., before the joint committee, that Radcliffe had not been given but had purchased stock in the ordinary way and paid for it in full.6

Radcliffe may have sought re-election for Bramber in the 1695 election, but the vicar of the Sussex parish of Cuckfield wrote thankfully that ‘Dr Radcliffe, a libertine enough, and one that I have heard speak contemptibly of the present government and those that are chief in it in church and state, is shut out’; he appears not to have considered election elsewhere. He continued to be consulted by the King, whom he steered from serious illness again in 1697, and in August 1699 while campaigning in Holland, William sent for him to attend the fever-stricken Joost van Keppel, Earl of Albemarle, his senior commanding officer and close friend. When Radcliffe’s mission was successfully fulfilled, the King offered him 1,000 guineas and a baronetcy. The title was refused, but doubtless the money was readily accepted. Soon afterwards, however, his over-familiar manner towards the King opened a rift between them: on William’s return from Holland at the close of the year, Radcliffe was summoned to examine the King’s swollen ankles, whereupon the doctor exclaimed, ‘I would not have your Majesty’s two legs for your three kingdoms’. The King allowed the remark to pass, but never consulted Radcliffe again. When the Duke of Gloucester fell gravely ill in July 1700, his mother’s desperation was such that she was said to have begged Radcliffe ‘almost on her knees’ to sit with him. At first he refused, claiming that he had been sent for too late, but then relented. After the young Duke’s death he sent a detailed account of the case and treatment to the King in Holland. Critics were quick to seize upon reports of Radcliffe’s initial diagnosis, that the Prince’s condition was beyond hope, as if this had been his only response. Lord Godolphin (Sidney†), whose ‘affectionate regard’ for the doctor was recorded by Radcliffe’s memorialist, William Pittis, tried in vain to reinstate him in Anne’s opinions after her accession. In March 1703, Radcliffe himself became so seriously ill that for a while he was not expected to survive. He spent a long convalescence at Bath, and as his health returned pursued a Mrs Tempest: ‘how near he will get at last I know not’, wrote a correspondent to the Earl of Torrington (Arthur Herbert†) at the end of August, ‘but [he] sweeps all the money without coming to court or seeking anything from it. The poor resident physicians are forced to go out for bread to another harvest.’ He had not been successful in love: in 1693 he had been on the point of marrying the daughter of a wealthy London merchant, when he discovered she was already pregnant by her father’s book-keeper. Returning to London in 1704, he moved from Bow Street to 5 Bloomsbury Square.7

Radcliffe’s experience of severe illness in 1703 was said to have deepened his piety. When almost dying ‘he behaved himself’, in the words of an acquaintance, ‘much like a good Christian’, and would admit no physician, preferring instead the company of Dr George Hooper, the dean of Canterbury. In the years that followed he made a series of financial gifts in support of several Anglican causes that underline his strong High Church sympathy. In 1704 he gave £520 privately to Dr William Lloyd, the non-juring bishop of Norwich, for distribution among 50 poor non-juring clergymen, and in the same year settled £50 ‘for ever’ on the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and only eventually agreed that the gift be publicized to encourage more subscriptions. He supported Dr James Drake, a physician turned Tory pamphleteer, in his defence against a government prosecution in 1706 for libellous passages in several publications, and provided 50 guineas towards legal expenses. Drake’s ‘memorial of the Church of England humbly offered to the consideration of all true lovers of our Church and constitution’ had helped to foment the ‘Church in danger’ agitation in the Commons in December 1705. In 1707 Radcliffe placed £300 with Dr Thomas Sprat, bishop of Rochester, for the relief of the episcopalian clergy in Scotland, and in a letter to the bishop of 26 May, justified this particular mark of charity:

The insupportable tyranny of the Presbyterian clergy in Scotland, over those of the episcopal persuasion there, does, I hold with your lordship, make it necessary that some care should be taken of them by us, that are of the same household of faith with them, and by the late Act of Union (which, I bless God, I had no hand in) of the same nation.

He continued, however, to be an object of public derision. One satiric skit, reported to Dr Charlett in 1709, asked, ‘When taxes shall leave off?’; and the answer given was:

          When Dr Radcliffe gives his visits to the poor,
          Or serves his friends and slights his golden oar,
          When dying patients on him may depend,
          And find his conscience and his manners mend,
          When Bath shall court him, and her waters freeze,
          Make him their God, his naughty head to please,
          Then, then, shall taxes cease.

Although he did not engage in the ‘dispensary controversy’ at the end of the 17th century and beginning of the next, in which the physicians antagonized apothecaries through their desire to establish facilities for providing cheap medicines to the poor, an altercation between Radcliffe and an apothecary named Coatsworth at Tom’s Coffee House in 1704 excited much public notice. Radcliffe brought an action against the man for having spat in his face, and, represented by the solicitor-general, (Sir) Simon Harcourt I*, won his cause. But in spite of this the incident was satirized in a play performed before ‘a great number of persons of quality’; and as Francis Atterbury informed Bishop Trelawny of Exeter on 27 May, ‘the passages where the doctor was affronted were received with the utmost applause’. He also antagonized the citizens and corporation of Bath by recommending his patients take the waters of Tunbridge Wells instead of those at Bath, as had been his earlier practice, and in their eyes seriously contravened the freeman’s oath he had taken to serve the city’s interests.8

During the final illness of Prince George in 1708, the Queen in desperation sent for Radcliffe, but the summons came too late for him to be of any assistance. His dalliance the following year with the Duchess of Bolton was appropriately ridiculed by Richard Steele* in the Tatler. Peter Wentworth told his brother, Lord Raby, in July that the Duke (Charles Powlett I*), was ‘not at all alarmed, but gives the old amorist opportunity to make his court’; there was even talk of Radcliffe promising to leave his fortune to Bolton’s heir. After another period of illness in 1710 Radcliffe had thoughts of retiring but was persuaded to maintain his practice by Dr John Sharp, archbishop of York. In March 1710 he championed Dr Sacheverell by organizing a fund for defraying the cost of the defence, an initiative that Sharp praised as ‘extremely commendable’, and ‘your making interest for bail for him . . . a work of greatest charity’.9

Until the year before his death, Radcliffe was an acquisitive purchaser of real estate. By about 1710 he was in possession of property in Yorkshire, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, and owned houses at Hammersmith and Carshalton in Surrey, as well as his central residence in Bloomsbury Square. The Wolverton estate near Buckingham, for which he gave £12,000 in 1705, enabled him to develop an interest in the town and with its corporation, which soon benefited from his munificence. In the 1710 election he was invited to stand for the town but had to decline and transfer his interest to a friend, Thomas Chapman*, considering himself unequal to the burdens of parliamentary attendance owing to recent ill-health. On hearing of the Queen’s feverish condition in March 1711 he scoffed at the treatment she had been given, saying that ‘the Elector of Hanover was to pay the Queen’s doctors’. The same month Radcliffe treated Harley, with whom he was on friendly terms, following Guiscard’s assassination attempt. George Lockhart* gave an instance of the camaraderie that existed between the two men: when treating Harley at about the time that the extra creation of peers was mooted in December 1711, Radcliffe ‘prescribed to him to read a certain portion of the Old Testament, which after the doctor was gone, he [Harley, then Lord Oxford] found was the advice given to Moses by his father-in-law, to choose a certain number of wise men to assist him in the administration of affairs’.

Towards the close of 1712 Radcliffe appears to have made a formal promise of a generous benefaction to Oxford University; as early as 1697 he was pursuing schemes dependent on the success of various speculative ventures to enlarge University College, having paid a visit there in September of that year, as Dr George Clarke told Lord Halifax (William Savile*), ‘to mark out the foundation of a new quadrangle . . . which he intends to build as soon as his East Indian venture comes home’.10

In 1713 it was intended by some of the Duke of Beaufort’s friends to invite Radcliffe to stand for Bath. Although an intimate friend and drinking companion of the young 2nd Duke, there was nevertheless some ducal irritation with the choice and the proposal was promptly forgotten. Radcliffe was once more invited to stand for Buckingham, and this time accepted, though according to Pittis, ‘not without the highest reluctance’. He was by this time beginning to wind up his practice, and as he entered old age, probably regarded membership of the Commons as another source of conviviality. The result of the Buckingham election was contested but confirmed in his favour by the House on 12 Apr. 1714. At the end of 1713 Radcliffe was able, through his contacts at court, to take a keen interest in the course of the Queen’s near fatal illness that winter and the treatment given. In a long letter to his Tory friend Sir George Beaumont, 4th Bt.*, of 5 Jan. 1714, he emphasized the diagnostic confusion among the royal doctors, but seemed more concerned about the ill-effect this had upon his investments, which included £4,000 of Bank of England stock: ‘all the physicians keep close to her which makes the stocks fall, and they will never rise as long as they stay there’. In the Worsley list of the 1713 Parliament Radcliffe was classed as a Tory. Two of his speeches, probably the only two he made, are recorded verbatim in Pittis’ memoirs. He spoke in favour of the malt tax bill on 13 May, in answer to Scottish objections. Shortly afterwards, on 1 June, he supported the bill to prevent the growth of schism. His prime purpose here was to contradict earlier insinuations in the debate denying the right of members of his profession to speak out on religious matters: ‘the business of our calling’, he said, ‘entitled us to as great an insight into divine speculations’. Many of those present who knew his mind would have predicted he would urge ‘the necessity’ of the bill, as he did in his concluding remarks:

if schools and seminaries are suffered to be continued much longer, for the education of Dissenters’ children, the growth of schism may be such as to render this House incapable of preventing it; and then good night to our two famous universities, that have made us the envy and glory of the whole universe.11

The premature death of the Duke of Beaufort in May 1714, ‘the only person whom he took pleasure in conversing with’, was sorely felt by Radcliffe: the event put him acutely in mind of his own declining health. In his last months he was hounded for having allegedly refused to attend the dying Queen at the end of July, a most serious charge that cut very deeply with him. Almost as soon as Anne was dead, rumour spread that Radcliffe had declined to see her on pretence of an indisposition. Swift was informed on the 31st that Radcliffe had been sent for by the Privy Council and might well have saved the Queen’s life, but illness had prevented him from journeying from Carshalton. Pittis printed Radcliffe’s own assertion that he was indeed ill at the time with severe gout, and that there had been no ‘proper orders’ from the Queen or her Council, but only from Lady Masham just two hours before Anne’s demise. He had already been in communication with Dr Richard Mead, one of the physicians in attendance, from whom he surmised that the Queen had been beyond recovery. His reply to Lady Masham had been that he would see the Queen only if officially requested, but in view of her antipathy towards him thought it best that he remain absent. Swift admitted that he thought Radcliffe ‘had acted right; they would never distinguish him by an honorary pension, but send for him at a plunge, when he could only lose credit’. Unfortunately for Radcliffe his reputation, political and otherwise, was such that distorted reports of his conduct were readily accepted as gospel. Sir George Beaumont wrote sympathetically to him on 2 Aug.:

I presume by tomorrow they will find other themes to talk of, but today the mob as well as quality have expressed so much resentment that if your new house had stood at London or Kensington they would scarce be restrained from pulling it down. They all agree that if anyone could have saved the Queen, Dr Radcliffe could and that it’s possible that if he could have been prevailed with to come she might have lived: but for the physicians she employed many will never be convinced but that they despatched her to serve their party. Others judging more candidly lay upon their ignorance and stupidity. I am of opinion King George when he comes will not be persuaded to take their physick.

He even received anonymous death threats. But more injurious was the attitude of some of his friends in the Commons. On 6 Aug. Sir John Pakington, 4th Bt.*, moved that Radcliffe be expelled for refusing to attend the Queen when sent for, but the motion did not find a seconder. He expressed his own thoughts to an acquaintance on the 7th:

I could not have thought so old an acquaintance and so good a friend as Sir J[oh]n always professed himself would have made such a motion against me. God knows my will to do her Majesty any service, has ever got the start of my ability, and I have nothing that gives me greater anxiety and trouble, than the death of that great and glorious Princess . . . I know the nature of attending crowned heads in their last movements too well, to be fond of waiting upon ’em, without being sent for by a proper authority . . . However, ill as I was, I would have went [sic] to the Queen in a horse litter, had either her Majesty or those in commission next to her, commanded me so to do. You may tell Sir J[oh]n as much, and assure him from me that his zeal for her Majesty, will not excuse his ill usage of a friend who has drunk many hundred bottles with him and cannot even after this breach of good understanding, that ever was preserved between us, but have a very good esteem for him. I must also desire you to thank Tom Chapman for his speech in my behalf, since I hear it is the first he ever made, which is taken the more kindly.

He was still ridden with anxiety at the beginning of October, and his health rapidly deteriorated. One of his acquaintances observed: ‘He is really much altered of late’. In preparing his will in September he was particularly determined that the infant son of the Earl of Derwentwater, a professed Jacobite, and with whom Radcliffe was on terms of close friendship, should not follow his father’s Catholicism but be reared instead in the Anglican faith. In the letter offering a substantial legacy if the Earl would undertake this wish, the strength of Radcliffe’s commitment to the Church of England shone through insistently:

I can aver and will ever stand by the truth of this assertion with my last dying breath, which I am now on the point of drawing, that the faith which it is my desire he (your son) should be educated in is what has been originally taught by Christ and his Apostles, and will lead him to eternal happiness.

Derwentwater, however, was adamant that his son should be a Catholic. Radcliffe died on 1 Nov. 1714. He left a letter for one of his sisters dated 22 Oct. regretting that financially he had not acted ‘the brother’s part much better’ and could ‘plead nothing in excuse but that the love of money, which I have emphatically known to be the root of all evil, was too predominant over me, though, I hope, I have made some amends for that odious sin of covetousness in my last disposition’. But if he had been humbled by the prospect of imminent death, he could also have rested satisfied that through his ostentatious beneficence his name would not be forgotten. At Oxford he was given an impressive funeral and was buried at St. Mary’s Church. Characteristically, he had frequently made known his wishes among senior dons for a monument and epitaph there. The fortune he left, estimated at £80,000 in 1707, was now reckoned to be £140,000. Appointing Beaumont, George Clarke and William Bromley II* his executors, he left legacies to his two sisters and their children. The rest of the estate was vested in trustees who were to administer his bequests, the principal of which was a sum of £40,000 for building the library he had promised in 1712, £5,000 to University College towards the construction of a new quadrangle, a number of fellowships and scholarships, and £600 annually ‘for ever’ to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, of which he was a governor; the trustees were to dispose of the residue for charitable purposes as they saw fit. Lord Oxford was among those who with sorrow noted his parting, but there were many less able to find a good word for him.12

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Andrew A. Hanham


Unless otherwise stated, this biography is based on the DNB article, C. R. Hone, Life of Dr John Radcliffe, and on W. Pittis, Mems. Dr John Radcliffe (1715)

  • 1. Daily Courant, 8 Aug. 1704; E. G. W. Bill, Q. Anne Churches, p. xxiii; Pittis, Present Parl. 351.
  • 2. Bath AO, Bath council bk. 3, p. 360.
  • 3. HMC 7th Rep. 479.
  • 4. DNB (Walker, Obadiah); HMC Popham, 267; E. Gregg, Q. Anne, 64–65, 100.
  • 5. Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1557–1696, p. 335; Bodl. Ballard 24, f. 55; Bodl. Carte 79, f. 488; Morrice ent’ring bk. 3, p. 234.
  • 6. HMC Portland, iii. 552; J. P. Kenyon, Sunderland, 266; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxiii), 208; S. B. Baxter, Wm. III, 319–20; Gregg, 106; Debates and Procs. 1694–5, p. 37.
  • 7. Suss. Arch. Colls. cvi. 155; Add. 70018, ff. 94–95; BL, Althorp mss, Sir George Rooke* to Mq. of Halifax (Wm. Savile*), 27 Sept. 1698; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 554–5, 567; Ballard 16, f. 33; HMC 9th Rep. pt. 2, p. 467.
  • 8. Ballard 31, ff. 22, 77; Atterbury Epistolary Corresp. iii. 185–6; Luttrell, v. 442.
  • 9. Wentworth Pprs. 97.
  • 10. Ibid. 188; Hamilton Diary ed. Roberts, 32–33; Swift Corresp. ed. Williams, i. 214; Lockhart Pprs. i. 370; Ballard 10, f. 86; Althorp mss, Clarke to Halifax, 2 Sept. 1697.
  • 11. Beaufort mss at Badminton House, Beaufort to Mr Smith, 27 July 1713; Chandler, v. 78–79; Add. 40621, ff. 187–8; Sloane 4291, f. 149.
  • 12. Wentworth Pprs. 407, 410; Swift Corresp. ii. 94, 99; Ballard 31, f. 132; Letters Written by Eminent Persons 17th and 18th Cents. i. 295; Hearne Colls. iv. 424; v. 1–2; HMC Portland, v. 500.