Locke and Syndenham: James Tyrrell's Account

  • Jonathan Craig Walmsley Independent Scholar
Keywords: John Locke, Thomas Sydenham, Richard Lower, First Earl of Shaftesbury (Lord Ashley), David Thomas, James Tyrrell, Pierre Des Maizeaux


This paper examines Peter Anstey’s interpretation of John Locke’s medical interests and theoretical commitments in light of the “Tyrrell Memoir” recently recovered by Felix Waldmann. Anstey maintains that Locke’s natural philosophical views remained broadly consistent from 1660s Oxford to the end of his life, and that if there was any influence between the two men, it was Locke that influenced Sydenham. Tyrrell’s testimony about Locke’s “obsession” with Sydenham and the dismissal of his recent collaborative work with Richard Lower provides further independent contemporary evidence that Anstey’s interpretation of Locke’s medical and natural philosophical commitments is untenable.