Thomas Cogan
Thomas Cogan was an English nonconformist physician, a founder of the Royal Humane Society
Royal Humane Society
The Royal Humane Society is a British charity which promotes lifesaving intervention. It was founded in England in 1774 as the Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned, for the purpose of rendering first aid in cases of near drowning....

 and philosophical writer.


He was born at Rothwell, Northamptonshire
Rothwell, Northamptonshire
Rothwell is a market town in the Kettering district of Northamptonshire, England. It is located south of Desborough, southeast of Market Harborough, southwest of Corby and northwest of the larger town of Kettering. It is twinned with the French town of Droué...

 on 8 February 1736, the half-brother of Eliezer Cogan
Eliezer Cogan
Eliezer Cogan , was an English scholar and divine.-Life:Cogan was born at Rothwell, Northamptonshire, the son of John Cogan, a surgeon, then sixty-four years old...

. For two or three years he was placed in the dissenting academy at Kibworth Beauchamp, run by John Aikin
John Aikin (Unitarian)
John Aikin was an English Unitarian scholar and theological tutor, closely associated with Warrington Academy, a prominent dissenting academy.-Life:...

, but was removed at the age of fourteen, and spent the next two years with his father. He was then sent to the Mile End
Mile End
Mile End is an area within the East End of London, England, and part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is located east-northeast of Charing Cross...

 academy, where John Conder
John Conder
John Conder D.D. was an Independent minister at Cambridge who later became President of the Independent College, Homerton in the parish of Hackney near London.-Life:...

 was the divinity tutor, but was transferred at his own request to a similar institution at Homerton
Homerton is a place in the London Borough of Hackney. It is bordered to the west by Hackney Central, to the north by Lower Clapton, in the east by Hackney Wick, Leyton and by South Hackney to the south.-Origins:...

. Doubts as to the truth of the doctrines of Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

 prevented him from joining the dissenting ministry.

In 1759 he was in the Netherlands, where he found that the Rev. Benjamin Sowden, the English minister of the presbyterian church at Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

, supported by the English and Dutch governments with two pastors, required a substitute; Cogan applied for and obtained the place. He continued to seek for a pastorate over a dissenting congregation in England, and about 1762 he was selected as the minister of a chapel at Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

, where he soon publicly renounced Calvinism and adopted the doctrines of Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

. A quarrel with his congregation followed, and Cogan became the junior minister of the English church at the Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

. He was introduced to Mr. Graen or Groen, originally a silversmith at Amsterdam, and afterwards a banker, and was wooed and won, as the story goes, by the banker's only daughter, a beauty and an heiress. It was a condition of the marriage that Cogan should enter the profession of medicine, and he accordingly matriculated at Leyden University on 16 October 1765, and took his degree of M.D. in 1767. He practised for a few years at Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, Leyden, and Rotterdam.

He returned to London and settled in Paternoster Row
Paternoster Row
Paternoster Row was a London street in which clergy of the medieval St Paul's Cathedral would walk, chanting the Lord's Prayer . It was devastated by aerial bombardment in The Blitz during World War II. Prior to this destruction the area had been a centre of the London publishing trade , with...

, where he soon obtained a lucrative practice, especially in midwifery. By 1780 he was once more in the Netherlands, having resigned his connection to Dr. John Sims, for many years the leading accoucheur in London, and retired to follow his studies in moral philosophy. They rented the mansion of Zulestein, where they dwelt until the invasion by the French republicans in 1795. After a time at Colchester
Colchester is an historic town and the largest settlement within the borough of Colchester in Essex, England.At the time of the census in 2001, it had a population of 104,390. However, the population is rapidly increasing, and has been named as one of Britain's fastest growing towns. As the...

 they settled at Bath, Somerset. Cogan rented a farm at South Wraxall
South Wraxall
South Wraxall Manor is a Grade I listed country house which dates from the early 15th century, located at South Wraxall in the English county of Wiltshire, near Bradford on Avon...

, near Bradford-on-Avon and studied agriculture; when he left Bath he took farms at Clapton and at Woodford, and at the time of his death he was the tenant of a farm near Southampton. Mrs. Cogan died at Bath in 1810 and was buried at Widcombe; her niece, Miss Gurnault, died soon after. Cogan gmoved to London. The last years of his life were mainly passed in his lodgings in London or at his brother's house at Higham Hill. He died there on 2 February 1818. On 9 February he was buried at Hackney
London Borough of Hackney
The London Borough of Hackney is a London borough of North/North East London, and forms part of inner London. The local authority is Hackney London Borough Council....


Royal Humane Society

A society for the preservation of life from accidents in water was instituted at Amsterdam in 1767, and became known to Cogan. On his return to England he found that Dr. William Hawes had a similar project, and the two doctors co-operated.. Each of them brought fifteen friends to a meeting at the Chapter Coffee-house in St. Paul's Churchyard in the summer of 1774, when the Royal Humane Society
Royal Humane Society
The Royal Humane Society is a British charity which promotes lifesaving intervention. It was founded in England in 1774 as the Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned, for the purpose of rendering first aid in cases of near drowning....

 was formed. Cogan translated from the original Dutch in 1773 the Memoirs of the Society instituted at Amsterdam in favour of Drowned Persons, 1767–71, and prepared the first six annual reports of the English society. His interest in this charitable work lasted throughout his life. He started a branch at Bath in 1805, and left the mother-foundation in his will the sum of £100. One of the five gold medals minted for the society is inscribed to the memory of Cogan, and in its annual report for 1814 is a portrait of him, with a eulogy of his talents as an author and the co-founder.


Cogan's thesis for his medical degree at Leyden was delivered there on 20 February 1767, and printed in the same year. It was entitled Specimen Medicum inaugurale de animi pathematum vi et modo agendi in inducendis et curandis morbis. His next publication was an anonymous account of John Buncle, junior, gentleman, 1776, which purported to be a memoir of the youngest son of Thomas Amory
Thomas Amory
Thomas Amory was a writer of Irish descent.In 1755 he published Memoirs containing the lives of several ladies of Great Britain, a History of Antiquities and Observations on the Christian Religion, which was followed by the Life of John Buncle, Esq. , practically a continuation...

's whimsical creation of John Buncle, by his seventh wife, Miss Dunk. In 1793 he published, without his name, two volumes entitled The Rhine; or, a Journey from Utrech to Francfort, described in a series of letters in 1791 and 1792; it was republished in 1794 with his name on the title-page, and there was a Dutch translation published at Haarlem in 1800. This translation of Cogan's work into Dutch was balanced by his translating into English from that language in 1794 the work of Peter Camper, ‘On the Connexion between the Science of Anatomy and the Arts of Drawing, Painting, Statuary.’

He also wrote elaborate treatises on the passions. The first of them bore the name of A Philosophical Treatise on the Passions, 1800, 2nd edit. 1802. Then succeeded an Ethical Treatise on the Passions, in two parts, the first of which appeared in 1807 and the second in 1810. Two volumes of Theological Disquisitions on Religion as affecting the Passions and on the Characteristic Excellencies of Christianity followed in 1812 and 1813 respectively, and the whole five treatises were published in a set in 1813. Last of all came in 1817 a bundle of Ethical Questions, or Speculations on the principal subjects of Controversy in Moral Philosophy. His plan was "to trace the moral history of man in his pursuits, power, and motives of action." A long analysis of Cogan's writings is in Jared Sparks
Jared Sparks
Jared Sparks was an American historian, educator, and Unitarian minister. He served as President of Harvard University from 1849 to 1853.-Biography:...

's ‘Collection of Essays and Tracts in Theology’ (1824), which also contains (pp. 237–362) a reprint of his Letters to William Wilberforce on the doctrine of Hereditary Depravity, by a Layman (pseud. i.e. T. Cogan), in which he denounced the view supported by William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce was a British politician, a philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire...

 in his Practical View of the prevailing Religious Systems of Professed Christians, and argued for the happiness of all mankind. These letters originally appeared in 1799, and were printed in cheap editions for Unitarian book societies. A fragment of his Disquisition on the Characteristic Excellencies of Christianity was appended in 1822 to a discourse by Lant Carpenter
Lant Carpenter
Lant Carpenter, Dr. was an English educator and Unitarian minister.Lant Carpenter was born in Kidderminster, the third son of George Carpenter and his wife Mary ....

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