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John French (doctor)

John French (1616-1657) was an English doctor known for his contributions to chemistry and in particular to distillation.

He was born in 1616 at Broughton, near Banbury, Oxfordshire. He obtained a B.A. degree from Oxford University in 1637 and an M.A. in 1640, qualifying as a physician with an MD in 1648. He died in 1657 near Boulogne while serving as a physician to the English army. He left a widow, Mary, and a son, John.

He lived at a time when the new science of chemistry was developing from alchemy and was an enthusiast for its application to medicine. He was known for his extensive knowledge of chemistry and was respected by scientists of the time such as Robert Boyle. He is chiefly remembered for publishing in 1651 a book "The Art of Distillation", a detailed handbook of knowledge and practice at the time, said to be possibly the earliest definitive book on the topic[1]. However, it has been claimed[2] that much of it was a translation of an earlier (1500) German text by Hieronymous Brunswig.


  1. ^ Chemical Heritage Foundation
  2. ^ Industrial Engineering Chemistry (1936) page 677
  • French, John (c.1616–1657), physician at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • John French: The Art of Distillation (1651) online text
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "John_French_(doctor)". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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