Richard Mead, MD DM FRCP FRS

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Richard Mead, MD DM FRCP FRS

Birthplace: Worcester House, Stepney, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Death: February 16, 1754 (80)
Great Ormond Street, Bloomsbury, Greater London, United Kingdom
Place of Burial: Temple Church, Middle Temple, London, Engalnd
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev Matthew Mead and Elizabeth Mead
Husband of Ruth Mead and Ann Mead
Father of Bathsheba Bertie; Sarah Marsh Wilmot and Elizabeth Nicholls
Brother of Matthew Mead, Jr.; Anna Mead; William Nathaniel Mead, Sr.; Rebecca Shrimpton; Robert Mead, Sr. and 5 others

Occupation: Physician in Ordinatry to George II
Managed by: John Peter Cowley
Last Updated:

About Richard Mead, MD DM FRCP FRS

Richard Mead (11 August 1673 – 16 February 1754) was an English physician. His work, A Short Discourse concerning Pestilential Contagion, and the Method to be used to prevent it (1720), was of historic importance in the understanding of transmissible diseases.


The eleventh child of Matthew Mead (1630–1699), Independent divine, Richard was born at Stepney, London. He studied at Utrecht for three years under JG Graevius. having decided to follow the medical profession, he then went to Leiden and attended the lectures of Paul Hermann and Archibald Pitcairne. In 1695 he graduated in philosophy and physic at Padua, and in 1696 he returned to London, entering at once on a successful practice.

His Mechanical Account of Poisons appeared in 1702, and, in 1703, he was admitted to the Royal Society, to whose Transactions he contributed in that year a paper on the parasitic nature of scabies. In the same year, he was elected physician to St. Thomas' Hospital, and appointed to read anatomical lectures at the Surgeon's Hall. On the death of John Radcliffe in 1714, Mead became the recognized head of his profession; he attended Queen Anne on her deathbed, and in 1727 was appointed physician to George II, having previously served him in that capacity when he was prince of Wales.

While in the service of the king, Mead got involved in the creation of a new charity, the Foundling Hospital, both as a founding governor and as an advisor on all things medical. The Foundling Hospital was a home for abandoned children rather than a medical hospital, but it is said that through Dr. Mead's involvement, the Foundling was equipped with both a sick room and a pharmacy. He is even supposed to have influenced the architect, Theodore Jacobsen, into incorporating a large courtyard to promote the children exercising. A full size portrait of Dr. Mead, donated by the artist Allan Ramsay in 1747, ensures that his contribution will not be forgotten. The painting currently hangs at the Foundling Museum.

Dr Richard Mead was also a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Freemason (although it is not known to which lodge he belonged).

Mead was a collector of paintings, rare books, classical sculpture, gems and zoological specimens, which he made available for study at the library in his Bloomsbury house. His collection consisted of more than 100.000 volumes. After his death, it took 56 days to auction them to book collectors from England and abroad.

Mead's country estate was at Old Windsor in Berkshire, but he died at his house in Bloomsbury in 1754. His London home later formed the basis of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Mead was buried in Temple Church. A monument to him was placed in the north aisle of Westminster Abbey, with a bust by Peter Scheemakers.

Religious views

In 1755 Mead published ‘Medica Sacra; Or, A commentary on the most remarkable diseases, mentioned in the Holy Scriptures’. He made use of the work of his supposed relative Joseph Mede’s Doctrine of Demons and also of his once patient Isaac Newton’s Chronology to argue that pagan ideas regarding demons had entered Christianity. Like Arthur Ashley Sykes and others, Mead understood those afflicted by demons in the New Testament to refer simply to those suffering from a variety of illnesses:

‘That the Daemoniacs, daimonizomenoi, mentioned in the gospels, laboured under a disease really natural, though of an obstinate and difficult kind, appears to me very probable from the accounts given of them.’


Besides the Mechanical Account of Poisons (2nd ed, 1708), Mead published: a treatise De Imperio Solis ac Lunae in Corpora humana, & Morbis inde oriundis (On the Influence of the Sun and Moon upon Human Bodies and the Diseases Arising Therefrom) (1704)

A Short Discourse concerning Pestilential Contagion, and the Method to be used to prevent it (1720)

De variolis et morbillis dissertatio (1747)

Medica sacra, sive de morbis insignioribus qui in bibliis memorantur commentarius (1748)

On the Scurvy (1749)

Monita, & Praecepta Medica (1751) Digital

Life of Mead by Dr Matthew Maty appeared in 1755.

Pharmacopoeia [Pharmacopoea] Meadiana : faithfully gathered from original Prescriptions, containing the most elegant Methods of Cure in Diseases ; to which are annexed useful Observations upon each Prescription ; the whole digested under proper Heads'. – London : Hinton, 1756.

Mead, Richard, M.D. b. Aug 22 1673 d. 1754 m. Marsh, Ruth Jul 1699 m. Alston, Anne 1724 Children of Richard and Anne Mead Mead, Richard, son of Dr. Richard d. 1762 m. Gore, Anne

Mead, Bathsheba m. Bertie, Charles Mead, Sarah, dau. of Dr. Richard b. 1702 m. Wilmot, Edward, Sir Mead, Elizabeth, dau of Dr. Richard b. 1705 m. Nicholls, Frank

About Mead, Richard, M.D.

Richard Mead was born on 11 August 1673, the eleventh child of Matthew Mead (1630?-99), minister of Stepney in London, and grandchild of Richard Mead of Mursley in the county of Buckinghamshire. Educated at the university of Utrecht (as was his brother Samuel) he started his medical practice in London in 1696 and became a fashionable doctor attending Queen Anne, George II and Sir Isaac Newton. He married Ruth, daughter of John Marsh, in 1699 and had ten children before her death in 1719. By his second wife Anne, daughter of Sir Rowland Alston, he had no children. The monument was erected by his son Richard and shows Mead’s crest (an eagle displayed) and coat of arms (a chevron between three pelicans) together with those of his two wives. The memorial to Dr Richard Mead (1673-1754), with a portrait bust by Peter Scheemakers, is to be found on the north side of the nave, but he is actually buried in the Temple Church in London. The Latin inscription can be translated: Sacred to the memory of Richard Mead, the eminent physician, born of an ancient Buckinghamshire family, who acquired during his earliest youth no common reputation in the practice of medicine; and subsequently brightened his name with such celebrity that he was esteemed the leading physician of his age. He was mild and merciful in healing the sick and ever ready to assist the poor free of charge; amidst his assiduous occupations in the healing art, he published for the benefit of human nature not a few learned and elegantly written works which were notable for their perspicuous ingenuity and practical daily use. A matchless patron of letters and the learned, he assembled a most choice library filled with the best and rarest books and monuments of ancient arts, where he relieved his daily labours by conversing with the learned. Thus endowed with a mind exalted and the most humane manners, and covered from all quarters with the praises of the literary world, with great splendour and dignity, full of years and fame, he peacefully died on 16 February 1754 in his eighty-first year. An injury not easily reparable to the politer arts of which he was so great an ornament and defender. He was twice joined in marriage. By the first he had ten children, of whom only three survived him, two daughters married to eminent physicians and one son, bearing his own name, who in piety erected this monument to the best of fathers. A photograph of his monument can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

11th child. --- He was famous for the study of preventative medicine. He graduated from University of Padua, Italy in 1695 and from Oxford in 1707. He was probably married before he graduated with his second degree. He was 11th of 13 children born to his parents. His will was proved 17 Jan 1754. It was Richard Mead who persuaded Thomas Guy to bequeath his fortune to found Guys Hospital. He had an international reputation not only as a physician but as a patron and collector oof the fine arts. (See Whitley, Artists and their friends in England 1928, I, pp28/30) --- Buried with his brothers Samuel and James in Temple Church in the Middle Temple. In 1724 Dr. Mead married his second wife, Anne, daughter of Sir Rowland Alston, of Odell, Beds. She bore him no children. Dr. Richard Mead, the most distinguished member if the family, was the eleventh child of the Revd. Matthew Mead and was born at Stepney on 11th August 1673. He was baptised at the meeting house in Bull Lane on the 22nd of that month. He entered the University of Utrecht in 1689, afterwards studied medicine at Leydon and graduated M.D. at Padua on 16th August 1695. He began practice at Stepney in 1696. He was elected into the Council at the Royal Society in 1705 and again in 1707 and until his death, being vice-president in 1717. In 1703 he was elected physician to St. Thomas's Hospital and in 1715 a governor; in 1717 he received the degree of M.D. at Oxford and became a Fellow of the College of Physicians in 1716. He was called in to see Queen Anne two days before her death. In 1727 he was appointed physician to George II. He was the author of several medical works. He died on 16th February 1754 and was buried in the Temple Church. A monument to him surmounted by a bust by Scheemakers, and bearing a Latn inscription, is in Westminster Abbey. --- Soem say he went to Eton, but it seems not, and that perhaps the confusion is because he went to as chool run by a ex Eton master. --- Published "A Short Discourse Concering Pestilential Contagion, and the Methods to be Used to Prevent It" in 1720, in response to requests for his advice concerning the palgue. He advocated the establishment of a central board. --- Founder with Thomas Guy of Guy's Hospital, London. --- The Stratford College in Stepney, founded in 1826, was built on the site of the Marquis of Worcester's house, where the famous Dr. Meade was born in 1673. --- Richard, the celebrated physician, who for nearly half a century was at the head of his profession, author of several valuable medical treatises, and possessor of one of the most valuable collection of books, MSS., antiques, paintings, &c., that ever centered in a private individual, was born at Stepney, in the apartments over the ancient brick gateway opposite the rectory, August 11th, 1673. He first began practice in 1696, at his native place, in the very house where he was born, and met with that success which was a prognostic of his future eminence. Dr. Mead died in the year 1754, and was buried in the Temple Church. The meeting-house was erected in 1674 for Mr. Mead, who, in the ensuing year, instituted the May-day sermons, for the benefit of young persons. --- He entered the University of Utrecht in 1689, afterwards studied medicine at Leydon and graduated M.D. at Padua on 16th August 1695. --- Recipe created by Dr Richard Mead to cure people suffering from venereal disease, designed as a medicine for poor people who could not afford more expensive treatments. SNAIL-WATER 'Take Garden-Snails cleansed and bruised 6 gallons, Earthworms washed and bruised 3 Gallons Of common Wormwood, Ground-Ivy, and Carduus, each one Pound and half, Penniroyal, Juniper-berries, Fennelseeds, Aniseeds, each half a Pound, Cloves and Cubebs bruised, each 3 Ounces, Spirit of Wine and Spring-water, of each 8 Gallons. Digest them together for the space of 24 Hours, And then draw it off in a common Alembick.' Recipe by Dr Richard Mead (Physician to St. Thomas's Hospital) In 'Pharmacopoeia Pauperum' 1718 (compiled by Henry Banyer) [] --- Among eighteenth-century notables there is the celebrated physician and collector, Dr Richard Mead (who had a house in Paradise Row), in a portrait coming from the studio of Allan Ramsay (1740). (Kensington and Chelsea by William Gaunt. 1975. Page 126) --- Was at Stepney -1703 Crutched Friars City of London, 1703-11 22 Cheyne Row in 1713/14 Paradise Row in 1714 Gorges House 1715-18 Then Great Ormond St for rest of life. --- Likenesses : B. Lens, miniature, 1726, RCP Lond. J. Richardson, drawing, 1738, BM J. Richardson, oils, c.1738, NPG J. Richardson, drawing, 1739, AM Oxf. Attrib. W. Hoare, oils, c.1740, RCP Lond. A. Ramsay, oils, 1740, NPG . studio of A. Ramsay, oils, 1740, NPG A. Pond, oils, 1743, RCP Lond.; copy, RCP Lond. A. Ramsay, oils, 1747, Foundling Hospital, London [illus. in DNB] Attrib. A. Ramsay, oils, 1748, Society of Apothecaries, London P. Scheemakers, marble bust on monument, 1754, Westminster Abbey L. F. Roubiliac, marble bust, c.1756, RCP Lond. M. Dahl, priv. coll. R. Houston, engraving, repro. in Mead, The medical works of Richard Mead (1762), frontispiece A. Ramsay, oils, RCP Lond. . attrib. J. Richardson, oils, Bodl. Oxf. W. Stukeley, wash drawing, RCP Lond. --- Thomas Singleton, formerly an usher at Eton, had a school for 300 boys at Newcastle House, Clerkenwell Close. (Private Education in the 16th century.) --- See: In the sunshine of life: a biography of Dr. Richard Mead, 1673-1754?, by Richard Hardaway Meade. 1974.

Westminster Abbey, London, North aisle: Monument with bust by Peter Scheemakers


   Type: Book
   Periodical: Dictionary of National Biography (DNB)
   Type: Web Site
   Type: Web Site
   Type: Web Site
   Title: Wikepedia
   Type: Book
   Periodical: Encyclopedia Brittanica
   Type: Book
   Periodical: Portraits in Royal College of Physicians
   Type: Book
   Periodical: Old and New London
   Author: Walter Thornbury
   Date: 1898
   Text: IGI 

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Richard Mead, MD DM FRCP FRS's Timeline

August 11, 1673
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
August 22, 1673
Bull Lane Independent Church, Stepney, London, England
Stepney, Middlesex, London, England
February 16, 1754
Age 80
Bloomsbury, Greater London, United Kingdom
February 1754
Age 80
Temple Church, Middle Temple, London, Engalnd
Thomas Singleton's school, Clerkenwell. Utrecht. Leydon. Padua