Frank Nicholls

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Portrait of Frank Nicholls attributed to Thomas Hudson, circa 1745-1748 Frank Nicholls by Thomas Hudson.jpg
Portrait of Frank Nicholls attributed to Thomas Hudson, circa 1745-1748

Frank Nicholls (1699 – 7 January 1778) was a physician. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1728. He was made reader of anatomy at Oxford University when young and moved to London in the 1730s.

Physician professional who practices medicine

A physician, medical practitioner, medical doctor, or simply doctor, is a professional who practises medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining, or restoring health through the study, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disease, injury, and other physical and mental impairments. Physicians may focus their practice on certain disease categories, types of patients, and methods of treatment—known as specialities—or they may assume responsibility for the provision of continuing and comprehensive medical care to individuals, families, and communities—known as general practice. Medical practice properly requires both a detailed knowledge of the academic disciplines, such as anatomy and physiology, underlying diseases and their treatment—the science of medicine—and also a decent competence in its applied practice—the art or craft of medicine.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science'.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.



The second son of John Nicholls (d. 1714) of Trereife, Cornwall, a barrister, he was born in London. He was educated at Westminster School, and went to Exeter College, Oxford, where he entered 4 March 1714, his tutor being John Haviland. Besides the classics, he studied physics; he graduated B.A. 14 November 1718, M.A. 12 June 1721, M.B. 16 February 1724, M.D. 16 March 1729. [1]

Cornwall County of England

Cornwall is a county in South West England in the United Kingdom. The county is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar which forms most of the border between them. Cornwall forms the westernmost part of the South West Peninsula of the island of Great Britain. The furthest southwestern point of Great Britain is Land's End; the southernmost point is Lizard Point. Cornwall has a population of 563,600 and covers an area of 3,563 km2 (1,376 sq mi). The county has been administered since 2009 by the unitary authority, Cornwall Council. The ceremonial county of Cornwall also includes the Isles of Scilly, which are administered separately. The administrative centre of Cornwall, and its only city, is Truro.

Westminster School school in Westminster, London, England

Westminster School is an independent day and boarding school in London, England, located within the precincts of Westminster Abbey. With origins before the 12th century, the educational tradition of Westminster probably dates back as far as 960, in line with the Abbey's history. Boys are admitted to the Under School at age seven and to the senior school at age thirteen; girls are admitted at age sixteen into the Sixth Form. The school has around 750 pupils; around a quarter are boarders, most of whom go home at weekends, after Saturday morning school. The school motto, Dat Deus Incrementum, is taken from the New Testament, specifically 1 Corinthians 3:6.

Exeter College, Oxford constituent college of the University of Oxford

Exeter College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England and the fourth oldest college of the University.

He lectured at Oxford on anatomy, as a reader in the university, before he graduated in medicine. His lectures were well attended, and were mostly devoted to minute anatomy, then seldom taught. He demonstrated the minute structure of blood vessels, showed before the Royal Society experiments proving that the inner and middle coat of an artery could be ruptured while the outer remained entire, and thus made clear the method of formation of chronic aneurysm, which had not before been understood. He noticed that the arteries were supplied with nerves, and pointed out that these probably regulated blood pressure. He was the first to make corroded preparations, in which a particular part of an organ is left prominent after an injection, the surrounding structures being removed piecemeal. [1]

Blood vessel a tubular structure which carries blood

The blood vessels are the part of the circulatory system, and microcirculation, that transports blood throughout the human body. These vessels are designed to transport nutrients and oxygen to the tissues of the body. They also take waste and carbon dioxide and carry them away from the tissues and back to the heart. Blood vessels are needed to sustain life as all of the body’s tissues rely on their functionality.There are three major types of blood vessels: the arteries, which carry the blood away from the heart; the capillaries, which enable the actual exchange of water and chemicals between the blood and the tissues; and the veins, which carry blood from the capillaries back toward the heart. The word vascular, meaning relating to the blood vessels, is derived from the Latin vas, meaning vessel. Some structures -- such as cartilage, the epithelium, and the lens and cornea of the eye -- do not contain blood vessels and are labeled avascular.

Artery blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart

An artery is a blood vessel that takes blood away from the heart to all parts of the body. Most arteries carry oxygenated blood; the two exceptions are the pulmonary and the umbilical arteries, which carry deoxygenated blood to the organs that oxygenate it. The effective arterial blood volume is that extracellular fluid which fills the arterial system.

Blood pressure pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels

Blood pressure (BP) is the pressure of circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels. Most of this pressure is due to work done by the heart by pumping blood through the circulatory system. Used without further specification, "blood pressure" usually refers to the pressure in large arteries of the systemic circulation. Blood pressure is usually expressed in terms of the systolic pressure over diastolic pressure and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), above the surrounding atmospheric pressure.

After a short period of practice as a physician in Cornwall, he settled in London. He was elected F.R.S. 1728, and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians 1732. He attended some of Winslow's lectures in France, and saw Giovanni Battista Morgagni and Santorinus in Italy; and on his return began to give anatomical lectures in London. In 1734 he gave the Gulstonian lectures at the College of Physicians, ‘On the Structure of the Heart and the Circulation of the Blood;’ and again in 1736 ‘On the Urinary Organs, with the Causes, Symptoms, and Cure of Stone.’ He delivered the Harveian oration in 1739, and the Lumleian lectures 1748–9, of which the inaugural lecture, ‘De Anima Medica,’ was given 16 December 1748, and was published in 1750 (2nd edit. 1771; 3rd edit. 1773). [1]

Royal College of Physicians professional body of doctors of general medicine and its subspecialties in the UK

The Royal College of Physicians is a British professional body dedicated to improving the practice of medicine, chiefly through the accreditation of physicians by examination. Founded in 1518, it set the first international standard in the classification of diseases, and its library contains medical texts of great historical interest.

Giovanni Battista Morgagni Italian anatomist

Giovanni Battista Morgagni was an Italian anatomist, generally regarded as the father of modern anatomical pathology, who taught thousands of medical students from many countries during his 56 years as Professor of Anatomy at the University of Padua.

Giovanni Domenico Santorini Italian anatomist

Giovanni Domenico Santorini was an Italian anatomist. He was a native of Venice, earning his medical doctorate at Pisa in 1701. He is remembered for conducting anatomical dissections of the human body.

The College elected in 1749 a junior into the body of the elects, or council, over his head, whereupon he resigned his Lumleian lectureship. In 1753 he was appointed physician to George II. He examined the body of the king after death, and discovered a rupture of the right ventricle, which he described in a letter to George Parker, 2nd Earl of Macclesfield, President of the Royal Society, and this is printed in the Philosophical Transactions for 1760. [1]

George Parker, 2nd Earl of Macclesfield English astronomer

George Parker, 2nd Earl of Macclesfield, PRS was an English peer and astronomer.

To aid in his son John's education he went to Oxford in 1762, and, when his son had graduated, to Epsom, where he lived till his death, 7 January 1778. His health was never very good, and he had attacks of fever at intervals throughout life, sometimes accompanied by the formation of abscesses. Of this disorder, probably tuberculosis, he died. [1]

Epsom Town in Surrey, England

Epsom is a market town in Surrey, England, 13.7 miles (22.0 km) south-west of London, between Ashtead and Ewell. The town straddles chalk downland and the upper Thanet Formation. Epsom Downs Racecourse holds The Derby, now a generic name for sports competitions in English-speaking countries. The town also gives its name to Epsom salts, originally extracted from mineral waters there.

Tuberculosis Infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections do not have symptoms, in which case it is known as latent tuberculosis. About 10% of latent infections progress to active disease which, if left untreated, kills about half of those affected. The classic symptoms of active TB are a chronic cough with blood-containing sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. It was historically called "consumption" due to the weight loss. Infection of other organs can cause a wide range of symptoms.


In 1732 he published in Oxford a compendium of his lectures, and in 1738 he had published in London an enlarged edition, ‘Compendium Anatomico-œconomicum,’ a tabular summary of anatomy, physiology, morbid anatomy, pharmacology, and midwifery, in seventy-eight quarto pages, with diagrams. Similar summaries on a smaller scale existed, by William Harvey and Christopher Terne; those of Nicholls may have been suggested by the printed anatomical tables of Sir Charles Scarburgh. [1]

An anonymous pamphlet, ‘The Petition of the Unborn Babes to the Censors of the Royal College of Physicians of London,’ published in 1751, is attributed to him. It is against lying-in hospitals; it shows that there were differences between him and some of the senior fellows of the College. Pocus in the work represented, it is said, Dr. Robert Nesbit; Maulus, Dr. Maule; and Barebone, Dr. William Barrowby. It was answered by ‘A Vindication of Man Midwifery,’ 1752. [1]


He married Elizabeth, daughter of Dr. Richard Mead, and had five children. There survived of these one daughter; and one son John (c.17451832), a barrister-at-law of Lincoln's Inn, who was MP for Bletchingley 1783–87, and for Tregony 1798–1802. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Wikisource-logo.svg "Nicholls, Frank". Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : "Nicholls, Frank". Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.