Dr Richard MEAD M.D. 
- Born: 11 Aug 1673
- Marriage (1): Ruth MARSH  in Jul 1699
- Marriage (2): Ann ALSTON  on 13 Sep 1724 in St James Piccadilly MDX
- Died: 16 Feb 1754 aged 80
Dr Mead was a celebrated physician, there is a bust of him in Westminster Abbey with an inscription. d.s.p.
The eleventh child of Matthew Mead (1630\endash 1699), Independent divine, Richard was born at Stepney, London. He studied at Utrecht for three years under JG Graevius (Johann_Georg_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 (English_physician) in 1714, Mead became the recognized head of his profession; he attended Queen Anne_of_Great_Britain 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 court yard to promote the children exercising. A full size portrait of Dr. Mead, donated by the artist Allan_Ramsay_(1713-1784) 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's country estate was at Old Windsor in Berkshire, but he died at his house in Bloomsbury in 1754. It later formed the basis of Great Ormond Street Hospital.
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 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:
Mead's first wife had died in February 1719. She was Ruth, daughter of John Marsh, a merchant of London; was married in July 1699, and bore eight children, of whom four died in infancy, while three daughters and one son survived her. On 14 Aug. 1724 Mead married Anne, daughter of Sir Rowland Alston of Odell, Bedfordshire. She bore him no children.
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 of Westminster Abbey, 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.
He 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, several of whom died young. Richard married Anne Gore but he had no heir. His other son John died in 1721. The daughters were Sarah who married Edward Wilmot, Bathsheba who married Charles Bertie and Elizabeth who married Frank Nicholls. 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.
Richard Mead is buried in the Temple Church, but his bust also is in the nave. He was the first of that succession of eminent physicans who have been (from this example) sent forth from the homes of nonconformist ministers. His noble conduct in refusing to prescribe for Sir R. Walpole till Freind was released from the Tower, and in repaying him all the fees of his ; his fiery encounter with their joint adversary, Woodward, in the courts of Gresham College ; his large and liberal patronage of arts and sciences give a peculiar charm to the good physician who lived more in the broad sunshine of life than almost any man." (See Boswell's Johnson IV. 222).
Stanley's Hist. Memorials of Westminster Abbey, 1882, Lond., p. 296.
Alstoniana Pg 301
Richard married Ruth MARSH  [MRIN: 4086] in Jul 1699. (Ruth MARSH  died in Feb 1718/19.)
Richard next married Ann ALSTON  [MRIN: 1029], daughter of Sir Rowland ALSTON 2nd Bart  and Hon Temperance CREWE , on 13 Sep 1724 in St James Piccadilly MDX. (Ann ALSTON  was baptised on 28 Nov 1689 in Odell BDF, died on 8 Feb 1763 and was buried in Harold BDF.)