- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Jan Jonston

Born  1603
Died  1675

Related eponyms

Polish naturalist, historian, educator and physician, born September 3, 1603, Szamotuly; died June 8, 1675, estate Zybendorf near Liegnitz

Biography of Jan Jonston

Jan Jonston was born to a family of Scottish descent that had lived in Poland for a long time and settled in Leszno in 1625. In 1622 he went to Scotland to study Hebrew language and scholastic philosophy, before he became an educator for young gentlemen of noble families. From 1628 he was in Frankfurt and die Oder, Wittenberg, Leipzig, Franeker and Leyden, where studied medicine. He then went to London where he stayed for a sustained period of time and continued his medical studies. His works earned him such a reputation that he was offered various positions. Again he took on a position as an educator, and in 1632 he travelled to Germany and Holland with his pupil.

Jonston obtained his doctorate at Leiden in 1634. After visiting the universities of France and Italy he returned home in 1636 and settled in Leszno. Here he became life physician to his former pupil and rejected invitations for various professorships. During the war with Sweden, which ravaged Poland under King Johann Kasimir, he settled in Schlesien to live quietly. Here he lived at the Estate Zybendorf near Liegnitz, where he died in 1675.

Jan Jonston wrote on history, philosophy, medicine and natural science. He was a friend and supporter of the great Moravian paedagogue Jan Amos Comenius (1592-1670).

We thank Andre Trombeta for information submitted.


  • Enchiridii nesologiici generalis et specialis libri VIII. Amsterdam, 1625.
  • Thaumatographia naturalis. Amsterdam, 1630.
  • Naturae constantia. Leiden, 1633.
    English translation: An history of the constancy of nature : wherein by comparing the latter age with the former, it is maintained that the world doth not decay universally in respect of it self, or the heavens, elements, mixt bodies, meteors, minerals, plants, animals, nor man in his age, stature, strength, or faculties of his minde, as relating to all arts and science / by John Jonston of Poland.
    London, Printed for John Streater ..., 1657.
  • Sceleton historiae universalis civilis et ecclesiasticae. Leyden, 1633.
  • Idea universae medicinae practicae libris VIII absoluta. Amsterdam, 1633.
  • Thaumatographia naturalis. Amsterdam, Guilielm Blaeu, 1632.
    A compilation of all the zoological knowledge.
  • Thavmatographia naturalis. : in classes decem divisa: in quibus admiranda coeli, elementorum, meteororum, fossilium, plantarum, avium, quadrupedum, exanguium, piscium, hominis. - ed. secunda priore auctior.
    Amstelodami, Apud Ioannem Ianssinivm. Anno M:DC.XXXII.
    Amsterdam, 1633. 578 pages.
    New edition, Amsterdam, 1665: apud Johannem Janssonium à Waesberge, et Elizeum Wejerstraet, 1665. 495 pages.
    English translation:
    An history of the wonderful things of nature : set forth in ten severall classes wherein are contained I. The wonders of the heavens, II. Of the elements, III. Of meteors, IV. Of minerals, V. Of plants, VI. Of birds, VII. Of four-footed beasts, VIII. Of insects, and things wanting blood, IX. Of fishes, X. Of man / written by Johannes Jonstonus, and now rendred into English by a person of quality.
    London : Printed by John Streater ..., and are to be sold by the Booksellers of London, 1657.
  • Diss. de theriaca. Doctoral dissertation, Leyden, 1634.
  • Historia naturalis de quadrupedibus. Amsterdam, 1647.
  • Historiae naturalis de piscibus et cetis, libri V.
    Frankfurt, Matthäus Merian, (1649)-1650. 2 parts in 1 vol. Folio.
  • Theatrum universale historiae naturalis.
    Frankfurt am Main, 1650-1653. 6 volumes.
    Jonston used the illustrations from Ulisse Aldrovandi (1602) and Thomas Moffett (1634), based on material by the Swiss naturalist Conrad Gesner (1516-1565).
    These coarse woodcuts were reproduced as more detailed copper engravings by Matthäus Merian.
    The work comperises four parts: quadruoed, birds, insect and snakes.
    Volume III: Historiae naturalis de insectis.
  • Theatrum universale omnium animalium quadrupedum... ex scriptoribus tam antiquis quam recentioribus... et aliis maxima cura collectum et ob raritatem denuo inprimendum suscepit.
    6 parts in 4 volumes. Heilbronn, Franciscus Iosephus Eckebrecht, 1755-1768.
    In 2004 this work was offered for Euro 12.000.
  • Naeukeurige Beschryving van de Natuur dre Vier-voetige Dieren, Vissen en Bloedlooze Water-Dieren, Vogelen, Kronkel-Dieren, Slangen en Draken.
    Amsterdam: J. J. Schipper, 1660. An animal encyclopaedia for laymen. This is the only Dutch translation of Theatrum universale historiae naturalis.
  • Notitia regni vegetabilis. 1661.
  • A description of the nature of four-footed beasts : with their figures engraven in brass / written in Latin by Dr. John Johnston ; translated into English by J. P.
    Amsterdam : Printed for the widow of John Jacobsen Schipper, and Stephen Swart, 1678.
    English edition of Historiae naturalis de quadrupedibus. Jonston's lavishly illustrated encyclopaedias of botany and zoology are among the finest mid-seventeenth century examples of their genre. Most of his works appeared in several editions and were translated into French, English and German. The first collected edition in Dutch of his illustrated book of animals, published at Amsterdam in 1660, was presented as a gift to the Japanese ruler Shogun Yoshimune. It was the only source of knowledge of western natural history in Japan, until in 1750 Books referred to:
  • Thomas Moffett:
    Insectorum sive minimorum animalium theatrum: Olim ab Edoardo Wottono, Conrado Gesnero, Thomaque Pennio Inchoatum; Tandem Tho. Movfeti Londinâtis Operâ Sumptibusq; Maximis Concinnatum, Auctum, Perfectum: et ad Vivum Expressis Iconibus Suprà Quingentis Illustratum.
    Londini: ex Officinâ typographicâ Thom. Cotes; Et venales extant apud Benjam. Allen, diverticulo, quod Anglicè dicitur Popes-head Alley, 1634.
    This work began as an unpublished manuscript by Conrad Gesner.
  • Ulisse Aldrovandi:
    Opera Omnia. 13 volumes, Bononiae, J. B. Bellagamba (and others), 1599-1667.
    An enormous illustrated encyclopaedia of biology.
  • Conrad Gesner:
    Historia animalium. Published in Zürich between 1551 and 1587. Biography:
  • Barbara Janowicz:
    Jan Jonston 1603-1675: His Life, Stay in Poland and Contribution to the Seven-teenth Century Science.
    In: Wojciech Lipoński, editor: Polish-AngloSaxon studies, volume 8/9.

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