Dr. John Stearne

Stearne, John, Dr., founder of the College of Physicians, Dublin, was born at Ardbraccan, Meath, in the house of his grand-uncle, Archbishop Ussher, 26th November 1624. He entered Trinity College when but fifteen; in 1641 obtained a scholarship; in 1643 was elected a fellow; afterwards became lecturer on Hebrew; and in 1660 a senior fellow. The War of 1641 interrupted his studies, and he retired to Cambridge. After spending there seven years of "peculiar felicity and quiet" he removed to Oxford. On the return of peace his private practice as a physician in Dublin occupied most of his attention. In 1660, Trinity Hall (standing or the ground now occupied by Trinity-place), belonging to Trinity College, was set apart as a medical school, and Stearne was constituted president for life. In 1667 he obtained a charter, and the present College of Physicians was formally organized. Dr. Stearne, and thirteen other doctors of medicine, of whom Sir William Petty was one, were constituted Fellows. "Dr. Stearne had now seen the favourite project of his life accomplished, and was the acknowledged head of the medical profession in Ireland. Nothing further can be learned of his public life after this."[315]

He died 18th November 1669, aged 45, and was buried in Trinity College, beneath the College chapel of that day, near the present belfry, most of the Library Square being then a cemetery surrounding the old chapel. "He was an Admirable Crichton in his way, and it may be said of him, in well-worn phrase, he touched nothing that he did not adorn. He excelled as a philosopher and physician, and equally so as a theologian, in an intensely theological age. Presuming his epitaph to have been written by Henry Dodwell, who knew him long and intimately, it may be maintained that with truth the pupil styled the master, 'Philosophus medicus summusque theologus idem.' Most of his writings were on theological subjects."


315. Stearne, Life of Dr., in Dublin Journal of Medical Science, May, 1865.