John Arbuthnot

1667 - 1735

John Arbuthnot
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

John Arbuthnot

Physician and satirist. Born in Inverbervie (Aberdeenshire). Educated at Marischal College (Aberdeen), Oxford and St. Andrews, Arbuthnot became a successful physician, writing on the value of diet in the fight against disease and was eventually appointed Physician-in-Ordinary to Queen Anne (1704). He also made contributions to mathematics. However, it is as a political satirist that he is best remembered, developing the character John Bull as the typical Englishman which appeared in a collection entitled The History of John Bull (1727).

He was a member of the satirical Scriblerus Club, and is said to have inspired both Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope. Arbuthnot had a significant part in creating the Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus published posthumously in 1741, which was a mocking exposure of pedantry, perhaps the precursor of our own enjoyment of seeking out official jargon and bureaucracy.

He died at his home in London and is buried in St James's, Piccadilly.

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