William Harvey may be one of those people who seem to have been born before their time. He certainly took the medical world by storm.
He was born April 1, 1587 in Folkestone, Kent, England. He came from a rather large family with six brothers. Although they were a middle class family all of them seemed to do well for themselves. Their parents encouraged education and free thinking.
William Harvey began his education in grammar school at Canterbury. At the age of 16 he enter into Caius College. He earned in first degree in Arts. He then decided that he wanted physics to be his formal profession. In 1590 he went on to University of Padua. At this time it was the most prominent school of medicine in the world and located in Italy, so Harvey enjoyed another part of Europe.
Mr. Harvey was a bit of a free thinker and did not take any-one's word for the complete truth. He preferred experimentation and scientific proof in most areas of his life. Hieronymus Fabricius was his tutor at Padua and Fabricius had a fascination with anatomy. He freely conversed with Harvey about the veins in the human body having only one way valves. That sparked an interest in Harvey as well.
In 1604 Harvey married Elizabeth Brown, who was the daughter of a prominent physician in London.
In 1609 he joined the staff of St. Bartholomew's Hospital. There he was honored as a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians with gave him the opportunity to lecture.
He did many studies on animals dead and alive to confirm his theory of circulation of blood. He began giving lectures on the theories in 1616 and they were met with a great deal of criticism. The teachings of Galen had lead to blood letting as a common medical practice and both theories could not be correct.
Harvey became the court physician to King James I in 1618 and then continues on with Charles I. Charles I provided him with deer from the royal parks for his experimentation. Eventually his loyalty to Charles I cost him many of his medical research papers to be destroyed. Charles I was beheaded.
In the end William Harvey's research proved to be correct and the basis of modern physiology. He also did prominent research in the field of embryology. He is known for his study of the egg, even in mammal reproduction. These findings were published in 1651.
William Harvey died June 3rd, 1657 after several attacks of gout. The cause of death is listed as unknown.