Nicholas Culpeper, The English Physitian Enlarged (1662)


One of the most popular works of medicine in seventeenth-century England was physician and botanist Nicholas Culpeper’s The English Physitian, first published in 1652. The book was reissued in new editions well into the eighteenth century and beyond. It is perhaps best-known today for its herbal—”Three Hundred Sixty and Nine Medicines, made of English Herbs,” per the 1662 title page.

This particular copy contains the seventeenth-century ownership inscription of a woman owner on the front paste-down: “Elizabeth Armytage.” It is difficult to make out the faded letters that precede Elizabeth, but they appear to read “Madam.” There are a few candidates for Elizabeth’s identity, as various branches of the Armitage family were settled in Yorkshire in Barnsley, Kirkburton, and Kirklees during this time period. An Elizabeth Armitage died in March 1685/86 and another, of Keresforth Hill, died in 1694 [1].  Another Elizabeth Armitage of Kirkburton was buried in December 1715 [2]. If the word in front of Elizabeth in the inscription is madam, it implies that this Elizabeth Armitage was of an elevated social status.


The book was later owned by a John Phillips and John Faulkner (ownership inscription not pictured).


Source: Book offered for sale by Modern First Editions in July 2020. Images used with permission.

[1] Joseph Jackson Howard, ed. Miscellanea Genealogica Et Heraldica, Vol. 1: New Series (London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co., 1874), 439, 441.

[2] Frances Anne Collins, ed. The Parish Registers of Kirkburton, Co. York, with Appendix of Family Histories. Vol. II. (Exeter: William Pollard, 1902), cxxvi.

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