Sir Simon Baskerville, MD, was the son of Thomas Baskerville, an apothecary of Exeter, and was baptised at St Mary Major's church in that city, 27th October, 1574. His father gave him the best education his native city could supply, and at the age of 18 he was entered at Exeter college, Oxford. There he outshone most of his competitors, uniting with indefatigable industry brilliancy of genius and solidity of judgment. He is said(1) on the first vacancy to have been elected fellow of his college, and this before he had taken his first degree in arts, which was in consequence postponed till the 8th July, 1596. In 1606 he was chosen senior proctor of the university, and then devoting himself to the study of physic accumulated his degrees, and proceeded doctor 20th June, 1611. He seems to have practised at Oxford for two or three consecutive years with considerable applause, but then removed to London, and having undergone the usual examinations, and, as our Annals express it, being “valde approbatus,” was admitted a Candidate 18th April, 1614, and a Fellow of the College 20th March, 1614-5. He was Censor in 1615, 1618, 1619, 1621, 1633, 1635, 1636; Anatomy Reader, 1626; Consiliarius, 1640. The fame he had acquired at Oxford preceded him to town, and heralded him to the court of James I, who appointed him one of his physicians. King Charles I employed him in the same capacity, and at Oxford conferred upon him the honour of knighthood. With such distinction the road to affluence lay open to him, and so lucrative was his practice that he acquired the name of Sir Simon Baskerville the Rich.
He was considerate and liberal in his profession, to the clergy and inferior gentry, insomuch that, as Prince relates on the authority of Lloyd, “he would never take a fee of an orthodox minister under a dean, or of any suffering cavalier in the cause of Charles I under a gentleman of an hundred a year, but would also with physic to their bodies generally give relief to their necessities.” Sir Simon Baskerville died in July, 1641, aged 68, and was buried in old St Paul's, where there was soon afterwards placed a mural monument, with the following inscription:-
Near this place lyeth the body
of that worthy and learned gentleman
Sir Simon Baskerville, knight, and Doctor in Physick,
who departed this life the fifth of July, 1641, aged 68 years.(2)
[(1) Biographia Britannica.
(2) Simon Baskervile, Collegii nostri Socius, vitâ fuit et vulta prorsus liberali, medicusque ac philosophus eximius: quo nomine Gulielmus Laud, archiepiscopus Cantuariensis, eum valetudini suæ præfecit. Rex autem, in Bibliothecâ Oxoniensi, tanquam in acie sui generis instructissimâ, eundem in Equestrem ordinem coöptavit: et amici denique mortuum 5 Julii, 1641, erecto in aversâ parte septi supra summum altare monumento marmoreo, magnificè ad D Paul: sepeliverunt.” - Bustorum aliquot Reliquiæ: auctore Baldv. Hamey, MD.]