Master John of Arderne: surgeon of Newark

Master John of Arderne: surgeon of Newark

By J. Beynon and N. Carr

Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Volume 81:1 (1988)

Introduction: Little is known of this 14th century surgeon who was the founder of modern fistula in ano surgery. He was probably descended from the family of Arderne or Arden who were the Lords of Watford in Northamptonshire at the beginning of the 12th century. From there the family spread to Cheshire and Staffordshire, John being the hereditary name in the Cheshire branch, and it was possibly one of these Johns who received a grant of land from Edward the Black Prince and was mentioned in John of Gaunt’s register as being appointed Seneschal (Superintendent) of the Manor of Passenham in Northamptonshire in October 1374. Thus the name was well known in London, Midlands, Cheshire and Lancaster in the 14th century, though currently there is little evidence to indicate from which branch of the family the surgeon came.

The date of his birth (1307) is fixed by his own statement that he was 70 in the first year of the reign of Richard II. It is possible that Arderne was educated at Montpellier and practised in France as an English military surgeon during the earlier and more successful years of the One Hundred Years War. There is some evidence to suggest that he later practised in Antwerp. When he returned to England he treated patients in Wiltshire and from 1349 to 1370 lived at Newark in Nottinghamshire.

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