Letter 1133

Richard Middleton Massey to Hans Sloane – May 7, 1707

Item info

Date: May 7, 1707
Author: Richard Middleton Massey
Recipient: Hans Sloane

Library: British Library, London
Manuscript: Sloane MS 4040
Folio: f. 357

Original Page


Massey went to see a polypus, or octopus, caught on the coast last night, which was supposed to be ‘the strangest thing that ever was seen’. Massey found a figure of it in Johnston’s work. Richard Middleton Massey (1678-1743) attended Brasenose College, Oxford but left before obtaining a degree. In 1706 he was admitted Extra-Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians and settled in Wisbech where he practiced medicine. Massey was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1712. He compiled the catalogue of the library of the Royal College of Physicians in 1727 (http://munksroll.rcplondon.ac.uk/Biography/Details/2969).

Patient Details

  • Patient info
    Name: N/A Unnamed Man
    Age:45 years old.
  • Description
  • Diagnosis

    Tympanites, or swelling of the abdomen, which Massey believes is what Platerus calls 'Tensio Hypochondria'. The man has suffered since Christmas.

  • Treatment
    Previous Treatment:

    The man has been 'dabbling' with one Dr Salmon, an apothecary, and an old woman. Massey has tried diuretics, 'antiscoributicks', and 'carminating' medicines.

    Ongoing Treatment:

    No treatments, from Massey or the others, have had any effect.

  • More information
  • Medical problem reference
    Dropsy, Hypochondria, Stomach