Locke, Sydenham and the "Tyrrell Memoir"

  • Peter Anstey University of Sydney
Keywords: Pierre Des Maizeaux, John Locke, Richard Lower, First Earl of Shaftesbury (Lord Ashley), Thomas Sydenham, David Thomas, James Tyrrell


This paper examines the contents of the sixth paragraph of the “Tyrrell Memoir”. This paragraph makes some strong, critical claims about both Locke’s “obsession” with the London physician Thomas Sydenham, and his purported dismissive attitude towards another physician, Richard Lower. In the paragraph, Tyrrell sides with the First Earl of Shaftesbury’s mocking attitude towards the triumvirate Locke, his close friend David Thomas, and Sydenham, and relates some extraordinary and hitherto unknown anecdotes. Tyrrell’s claims are assessed in relation to what we know about the relations between these four men and in relation to the current state of Sydenham historiography.