DAVIDSON, WILLIAM [SSNE 2434]

Surname
DAVIDSON, DAVISON, DAVISSONE
First name
WILLIAM

Text source

William Davison (c.1593-1669) was a Scottish chemist and physician. He settled in Paris when quite young and, through the patronage of Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, was named physician to the King of France. It is noted in the Register of the Privy Council of Scotland that Williams received a birthbrieve from Charles I dated Whitehall, 14 May 1628. Lord Scudamore, English ambassador in Paris, writing to Secretary Windebank, promises to "signify to Dr. Davison his Majesty's [Charles I] gracious favour. He has been rightly informed concerning the worth of this man, and the benefit his Majesty's subjects receive by him". Davidson travelled to Poland-Lithuania in 1650 with Henry [SSNE 6541] and Catherine Gordon, children of the 2nd Marquis of Huntly after experiencing professional envy and religious intolerance. Given his association with Henry - and that between Henry and General Thomas Rokeby, it is possible that the doctor was the author of a letter sent to the Scottish officers of Lord William Cranstoun's regiment in the city of Thorn which tried to entice them to leave Swedish service for that of Poland, and in the process prove their loyalty to Charles II. The letter was addressed to 'my honest friends the Scots officers in Torne' and signed 'your most loving servant and countreyman Davissone'. It was one of several written by himself, General Rokeby, General Middleton and Colonel Durham with the same purpose in mind. Dr Davidson remained in Poland-Lithuania for seventeen years as physician and chemist to King Jan Casimir and Jan Sobieski before the latter man also became Polish king in 1674. However, he also ventured back to Britain on occassion, and in 1660 in particular was noted as an official Polish diplomat in London. Back in Poland, (and just as with his stay in France) Davidson also looked after the royal botanical gardens and used his time inthe commonwealth to publish his scholarly works. On the title-page of his ‘Prodromus,’ published at the Hague in 1660, he is styled ‘nobilis Scotus,’ formerly councillor and physician to the king of France, and keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden of Paris, and now senior surgeon to the king of Poland. Davison was a distinguished chemist and botanist, and was an enthusiastic partisan of the ideas of Paracelsus. His principal work is his ‘Philosophia Pyrotechnica seu Cursus Chymiatricus nobilissima illa et exoptatissima Medicinæ parte Pyrotechnica instructus, multis iisque haud vulgaribus observationibus adornatus.’ His other works include ‘Theophrasti veridici Scoti Doctoris Medici Plicomastix seu plicæ e numero morborum apospasma,’ Danzig, 1668. A Wellam Davidsson applied to join the service of Prince Carl Gustaf (Karl X) in Sweden. It may have been this man or SSNE 5382

See the DNB; Mémoires de Michel de Marolles, Amsterdam, 1755; Lenglet du Fresnoy's Histoire de la Philosophie Hermétique; Dechambre's Dictionnaire Encyclopédique des Sciences Médicales, 1st ser. xxvi. (1882), p.49; CSPD, 1635-6, p.321; Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, 2nd series, II, 1627-1628, p.324; Swedish Riksarkiv, Extranea 135: IX, 4, interciperade brev 1600-talet, II brev till Skotska officerare, including 1) Middleton to Erskine, no date 2 & 3) Alex Durhame to Erskine, 24 October and 28 November 1657 4)Thomas Rokeby to Erskine, 28 November 1657 5) Mr Davissone to 'my honest friends the Scots officers in Torne' no date; A. Grosjean, 'Royalist Soldiers and Cromwellian Allies? The Cranstoun Regiment in Sweden 1655-1658' in S. Murdoch and A. Mackillop (eds.), Fighting for Identity: Scottish Military Experience c.1550-1900 (Leiden, 2002), pp.61-82; Swedish Riksarkiv, Carl Gustaf's Arkiv i Stegeborgssamlingen, Wellam Davidsson, no date; L. Bittner and L. Gross, Reportorium der diplomatischen vertreter aller lander, vol. 1, 1648-1715 (Oldenburg and Berlin, 1936), p.416; R. Frost, "Scottish soldiers, Poland-Lithuania and the Thirty Years' War" in S. Murdoch ed. Scotland and the Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648 (Brill, 2001), p.211; A. Bieganska, The Learned Scots in Poland (From the Mid-Sixteenth to the close of the Eighteenth Century) in 'Canadian Slavonic Review, Vol. XLIII, No. 1, March 2001, p.13.

Service record

FRANCE, PARIS, ROYAL COURT
Departed 1649-12-31
Capacity DOCTOR, purpose MEDICAL, ROYAL SERVICE
POLAND-LITHUANIA, ROYAL COURT
Departed 1668-12-31
Capacity PHYSICIAN, MEDICAL DOCTOR, SCIENTIST, purpose ROYAL SERVICE, ROYAL GARDENER, MEDICINE, SCIENCE
POLAND-LITHUANIA, LONDON, BRITAIN
Departed 1660-12-31
Capacity DIPLOMAT, ENVOY, purpose DIPLOMACY