Digby, Sir Kenelm

Digby, Sir Kenelm, 1603–65, English author and man of affairs. In 1628 he conducted a highly successful privateering raid against a French and Venetian fleet at Scanderoon (now Iskenderun, Turkey). A royalist, Digby was imprisoned by Parliament in 1642. On his release he went to France and became chancellor to Queen Henrietta Maria. In 1645 he tried unsuccessfully to gain papal support for Charles I. Allowed to return to England in 1654, he became an agent for Oliver Cromwell for the purpose of securing rights for Catholics. After the Restoration (1660) he remained chancellor to Henrietta Maria but was forbidden at the court. Digby conducted scientific experiments and wrote various scientific, literary, and religious treatises; but he is best known for his publicizing of the “powder of sympathy,” which was supposed to heal wounds without direct application.

See his memoirs (1968).

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