LIDDEL, DR. DUNCAN,
an eminent professor of mathematics and a physician, was born at
Aberdeen in 1561, and received his education at King’s college of
that city. In 1579 he quitted his native country for Germany; and at
the university of Frankfort on the Oder he applied himself with much
diligence to the study of mathematics and medicine. A contagious
distemper, which broke out at Frankfort in 1587, induced him to quit
that city for the university of Rostock, where he acquired a high
reputation for his acquirements, particularly for his knowledge of
astronomy and mathematics. In 1590 he returned to Frankfort with two
young Livonians of rank, his pupils, with whom he soon after removed
to the new “Academia Julia,” at Helmstadt. In 1591 he was appointed
under professor of mathematics in that university; and in 1594 he
was promoted to the first or higher mathematical chair, which he
occupied for nine years. In 1596 he obtained the degree of M.D.; and
by his lectures and writings was for some years the principal
support of the medical school of Helmstadt. He was employed as first
physician at the court of Brunswick, and enjoyed a lucrative private
Having been several times chosen dean of the faculties both of
philosophy and physic, he was, in 1604, elected pro-rector of the
university. But desirous of ending his days in his native country,
in 1607 he finally quitted Helmstadt, and passing through Germany
and Italy, at length settled in Scotland. He died at Aberdeen,
December 17, 1613, aged 52, and was buried in the church of St.
Nicholas of that city, where a tablet of brass, containing his
portrait, was erected to his memory. By his last will he bequeathed
the lands of Pitmedden, purchased by him, to Marischal college,
Aberdeen, for the education and support of six poor scholars, and
left six thousand merks for the endowment of a professorship fo
mathematics in that university.
Dr. Liddel was the author of several valuable works on medical
science, a list of which follows:
Disput. de Elementis. Helmstadt, 1596, 4to.
Disputationes Medicinales. Helmstadt, 1605, 4 vols. 4to. These
consist of Theses maintained by himself and his pupils at Helmstadt,
from 1592 to 1606. A new edition of the same, on a new arrangement,
was published under the title of Universae Medicinae Compendium.
Helmstadt, 1720, 4to.
Ars Medica, Succinete et Perspicuae Explicata. Hamburgh, 1607,
De Febribus, Libri Tres. Hamburgh, 1610, 12mo.
He also wrote a curious tract, De Dente Aureo, to refute
Jacobus Horstius’ ridiculous story of a poor boy in Silesia who,
having lost a tooth, brought forth a new one of pure gold –
afterwards discovered to be a scheme to excite charity – which was
published at Hamburgh in 1628.
In 1651 another posthumous work by Liddel on the Art of
Preserving Health, was published at Aberdeen.