was bequeathed

John Radcliffe (English physician)

John Radcliffe (1652–1714) was an English physician. A number of landmark buildings in Oxford, including the Radcliffe Camera (in Radcliffe Square), the Radcliffe Infirmary, and the Radcliffe Observatory were named after him.

Radcliffe was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, and was educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School. He graduated from Oxford University, where he was an exhibitioner at University College, to become a Fellow of Lincoln College. He obtained his M.D. in 1682 and moved to London shortly afterwards. There he enjoyed great popularity and became royal physician to William and Mary. In 1713, he was elected to parliament as member for Buckingham. On his death in the following year, his property was bequeathed to various charitable causes, including St Bartholomew's Hospital and University College, Oxford, where the Radcliffe Quad is named after him.

The charitable trust founded by his will of 13 September 1714 still operates as a registered charity.

Anecdote of Radcliffe

Among the many singularities related of Radcliffe, it has been noticed, that when he was in a convivial party, he was unwilling to leave it, even though sent for by persons of the highest distinction. Whilst he was thus deeply engaged at a tavern, he was called on by a grenadier, who desired his immediate attendance on his colonel; but no entreaties could prevail on the disciple of Aesculapius to postpone his sacrifice to Bacchus.

"Sir," quoth the soldier, "my orders are to bring you." And being a very powerful man, he took him up in his arms, and carried him off per force. After traversing some dirty lanes, the doctor and his escort arrived at a narrow alley.

"What the Devil is all this," said Radcliffe, "your colonel doesn't live here?"

"No," said his military friend, "my colonel does not live here — but my comrade does, and he's worth two of the colonel, so by God, doctor, if you don't do your best for him, it will be the worst for you!

Medical institutions named after Radcliffe

The John Radcliffe Hospital and the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford are named after John Radcliffe, as is Oxford Radcliffe Private Healthcare which is based at the John Radcliffe Hospital.


  • Hone, Campbell R. The Life of Dr. John Radcliffe, 1652–1714, Benefactor of the University of Oxford. London: Faber and Faber, 1950.
  • Guest, Ivor (1991). Dr John Radcliffe and His Trust.


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