John Taylor (oculist)

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John Taylor
Bornc. 1703
Died1770 or 1772
Occupation(s)Surgeon, charlatan
RelativesJohn Taylor (grandson)

Chevalier John Taylor (c. 1703 – 1770 or 1772) was a British eye surgeon and a charlatan (a person who does fake medical practice). He did surgery on Johann Sebastian Bach.

Life[change | change source]

Taylor was born in Norwich. His father was a surgeon. He learned surgery at St Thomas' Hospital, London with William Cheselden.[1]

In 1727, he published his book, An Account of the Mechanism of the Eye.[2] He travelled around as a surgeon and oculist (an eye doctor). He started travelling Europe in 1734. He got academic degrees from Basel, Reims, Liège and Cologne. However, these are probably only honorary degrees. He became the Royal Oculist to King George II in 1736.[1]

He arrived at Leipzig on 27 March 1750. On 1 April, he did surgery on Johann Sebastian Bach.[2] Bach had eye problems in his old age. The problems were probably myopia and cataract.[3] The newspapers at the time said that the first surgery was successful.[2] However, Bach's cataract appeared again after around a week. Taylor did surgery again on him. Bach went blind after the second surgery. The blindness could have been caused by Taylor's surgery. Bach died on 28 July 1750.[3]

After Taylor did surgery on Bach, he went to Berlin. He was told to leave on 23 April because of his failed surgeries.[2] It is not known exactly where and when he died. Charles Burney said that he died in 1770 in Rome. Others say he died in Paris. London newspapers and his grandson said that he died in Prague in 1772.[1]

Taylor pretended to be a nobleman. He started using the title "chevalier" in 1750, even though he was not a knight. He was eventually made a nobility by Pope Benedict XIV in 1755.[1]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Stephen G. Schwartz; Christopher T. Leffler; Andrzej Grzybowski; Hans-Reinhard Koch; Dennis Bermudez (January 2015). "The Taylor Dynasty: Three Generations of 18th-19th Century Oculists" (PDF). Hist Ophthal Intern. 1 (1): 67–81.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Jackson, David M. (October 1968). "Bach, Handel, and the Chevalier Taylor" (PDF). Medical History. 12 (4): 385–393. doi:10.1017/s002572730001365x. PMC 1033864. PMID 4884222. S2CID 43613730. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 October 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Zegers, Richard H. C. (1 October 2005). "The Eyes of Johann Sebastian Bach". Archives of Ophthalmology. 123 (10): 1427–1430. doi:10.1001/archopht.123.10.1427. PMID 16219736.