Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BOYLSTON, Zabdiel, physician, born in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1680; died in Boston, I March, 1766. After a good private education he studied medicine under his father and Dr. John Cutter. He then settled in Boston, where he soon acquired considerable reputation and fortune. In 1721, on the reappearance of the smallpox in Boston, Cotton Mather directed the attention of the physicians to the practice of inoculation as carried on in eastern countries. Boylston at once became a believer in the system, and inoculated his son and two of his servants with complete success. His fellow-practitioners were unanimously opposed to the innovation and protested against it. The citizens also objected, and an ordinance from the selectmen was obtained prohibiting it. Dr. Boylston persevered, and was encouraged and justified in his course by the clergy. Out of 286 persons inoculated during the years 1721-'2, only six died. The practice became general throughout New England long before it did so in England, much to his satisfaction. He was also a naturalist of considerable reputation, sparing no labor or expense in obtaining rare plants, animals, and insects, many of which, being then unknown abroad, were sent to England. In 1725 he visited England and was made a fellow of the Royal Society, to whose transactions he contributed several papers. He also published a paper on inoculation (Boston, 1721), and an account of the smallpox inoculation in New England and London (1721i). See "Zabdiel and John Boylston," in the "New England Historical and Genealogical Register" (vol. xxxv., 1881).
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