Sydenham is one of the best known names in the history of medicine. The biography of Sydenham has been written by Payne, by Latham, by George Wallis and by Fredéric Picard. The essay on "Locke and Sydenham" by John Brown in "Horae Subsecivae" is well worth reading, and there are innumerable items in which he is more briefly mentioned.
Sydenham came from a Puritan family, and was born in Dorsetshire at a small village called Wynford Eagle. His family dates back to King John; it furnished divines and jurists, but found its full flowering in Thomas. In 1642, at 18 years of age, he was matriculated as a Fellow Commoner in Magdalen Hall, Oxford, but his student career was cut short by the Civil War. In 1646, he returned to his university life, and it is related that on his way back to Oxford he fell in with Dr. Thomas