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Schomberg, Isaaclocked

  • W. P. Courtney
  • , revised by Edgar Samuel

Isaac Schomberg (1714–1780)

by Thomas Hudson

The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA, USA

Schomberg, Isaac (1714–1780), physician, eldest son of Meyer Löw Schomberg (1690–1761), and twin brother of Ralph or Raphael Schomberg, was born at Schweinsberg, Germany, on 14 August 1714. He was a pupil at Merchant Taylors' School, London, from 1726 to 1731, and subsequently received a doctorate in medicine from the University of Giessen. He began to practise medicine in London, under the auspices of his father. Schomberg's father was determined to avenge himself on the Royal College of Physicians, who had fined him £4 in 1738 for grossly unethical conduct. He used his son in an attempt to punish and humiliate the college. In February 1747 Isaac was summoned before the president and censors of the College of Physicians to present himself for examination as a licentiate, but, at his father's instance, he declined the invitation in a discourteous letter. In the early part of 1747 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, as a student at physic. On 3 April 1747 he notified the censors of this, with a request that he might be examined after he had procured his Cambridge medical degree. This request was refused, and, as he still declined to be examined, his practice was interdicted by the comitia minora of the College of Physicians on 25 June 1747. On 7 August of that year he was baptized at St Mary Woolnoth, London.

On 21 July 1749 Schomberg obtained the degree of MD at Cambridge by royal mandate, and then, in order to become a candidate for admission to the College of Physicians, he asked to be examined; but the censors were ordered by the college not to examine him until his prohibition from practice had been removed on proper submission. On the following 1 December he again came before the censors, and on this occasion with an apology, but it was deemed insufficient. Schomberg then demanded (2 February 1750) to be admitted as a fellow as a right, on the ground that he was a doctor of medicine of Cambridge University. The examination was allowed, and his fitness for the profession was established; but at the next comitia majora, his admission to the college was rejected by fifteen votes to two, and the interdict on his practice remained in force. He was naturalized in 1750, and made repeated applications for admission to the college, but they were all refused.

William Battie was one of Schomberg's principal opponents at the college, and was consequently satirized in the Battiad, which is said to have been the joint composition of Moses Mendez, Paul Whitehead, and Raphael Schomberg. Two cantos were published (1750), and reprinted in Isaac Reed's Repository (1. 233–46).

Schomberg's next step was to appeal for justice to the visitors of the college, and the case came before the lord chancellor and others on 29 November 1751. After several hearings it was determined on 25 July 1753, when the court decided that it had no jurisdiction in the matter. He then applied for examination by the college as a favour; but, on account of the heavy expense of the protracted litigation, the application was refused. On 23 December 1765 he was admitted a licentiate, on the initiative of William Battie and Sir William Browne, who had formerly opposed his admission. He was admitted a fellow on 30 September 1771; in 1773 and 1778 he was a censor at the college.

Schomberg gained an influential position among the physicians of London. His acumen and his generosity of character won him many friends, and a short poem by Samuel Bishop on his death lauds his 'warm benignity of soul'. Schomberg was called in, after several other doctors had been in attendance, at the last illness of David Garrick, when the patient, rousing himself from his lethargy, shook the doctor by the hand and exclaimed, 'Though last not least in love'. Hogarth gave Schomberg first impressions of all his engravings, and he was a legatee in Hogarth's will. Schomberg died, unmarried, at his home, Conduit Street, London, on 4 March 1780, and was buried at St George's, Hanover Square, London.


  • G. Clark and A. M. Cooke, A history of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 2 (1966), 552–62
  • Minutes of the proceedings of the College of Physicians, relating to Dr Isaac Schomberg from February the 6th, 1746, to December, 1753 (1753)
  • E. R. Samuel, ‘Dr Meyer Schomberg's attack on the Jews of London, 1746’, Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, 20 (1959–61), 83–111
  • S. Bishop, Poems on various subjects, 2nd edn, 2 (1800), 149
  • J. M. S. Brooke and A. W. C. Hallen, eds., The transcript of the registers of … St Mary Woolnoth and St Mary Woolchurch Haw … 1538 to 1760 (1886)
  • GM, 1st ser., 21 (1751), 569
  • GM, 1st ser., 23 (1753), 342
  • GM, 1st ser., 50 (1780), 154
  • Mrs E. P. Hart, ed., Merchant Taylors' School register, 1561–1934, 2 vols. (1936)
  • J. Knight, Life of David Garrick (1894), 289
  • A. Sakula, ‘The doctors Schomberg and the Royal College of Physicians: an eighteenth-century shemozzle’, Journal of Medical Biography, 2 (1994), 113–19
  • J. M. Shaftesley, ‘Jews in regular English freemasonry, 1717–1860’, Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, 25 (1973–5), 150–209, esp. 188


  • T. Hudson, oils, 1749, priv. coll.
  • W. Gainsborough?, oils, 1770, priv. coll.
  • W. P. Sherlock, stipple, 1799 (after T. Hudson), Wellcome L.
  • T. Hudson, oils, Hunt. L. [see illus.]
  • W. P. Sherlock, engraving (after T. Hudson, 1749), repro. in European Magazine (1 Aug 1799)
Gentleman's Magazine
W. Munk, , 2 vols. (1861) 2nd edn, 3 vols. (1878)
J. Venn & J. A. Venn, , 2 pts in 10 vols. (1922–54); repr. in 2 vols. (1974–8)
J. Nichols, , 9 vols. (1812–16); facs. repr. (1966)