NEOLITHIC & BRONZE AGE
IRON AGE, ROMAN & SAXON FARMSTEADS
THE DOMESDAY SURVEY
THE PRIORY
FAIRS & MARKETS
HARROLD BRIDGE
ST PETER'S CHURCH
NONCONFORMISM
MAJOR LANDOWNERS
HARROLD OLD MANOR
DR RICHARD MEAD
ANNE MEAD, THE ALSTONS AND HARROLD HALL  
ANNE JOLIFFE & THE JOLIFFE MEAD TRUST  
SUMMERLAND BROTHERS & TRAFALGAR
CLOCKMAKING
FREDDIE CROUCH: BLACKSMITH
CALEB LEFEVRE
TRAVEL, TRANSPORT AND MAIL
LEATHERMAKING
BRIDGMAN DOORS
PUBS AND INNS OF HARROLD
HARROLD AT WAR: THE GREAT WAR  
HARROLD AT WAR: WORLD WAR II  
HARROLD AND THE BEATLES 1968  
HARROLD AT THE MILLENNIUM  


 

 

 

 

 

 

Portratit bust of Richard Mead (C1740-1750) by Louis Francois Roubilliac

"Foremost among the medical men of the last century, for his professional skill, his amiable manners, and princely munificence, ranks Dr. Richard Mead" ("Chamber's Book of Days" 1869)

 

"...he lived more in the sunshine of life than almost any man." Samuel Johnson

 

Richard Mead's interest in botany was recognised by a plant being named after him - Dodecatheon Meadia - a native wildflower brought back from the Ameriacan Colonies. Its popular name is "Shooting Star -used as a rock plant in English gardens.

dodecatheon meadia - wildflower from S. E .USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RICHARD MEAD OF HARROLD HALL: 18TH CENTURY PHYSICIAN, CELEBRITY AND MEDICAL PIONEER
 

The licensing and purchase of this image was generously sponsored by Harrold Medical Practice.

 

Richard Mead (1673-1754)

A portrait by Allan Ramsay,
oil on canvas, 1740
On display in Room 11 at the
National Portrait Gallery

This image is obtained on licence from the copywright holder, The National Portrait Gallery, London and may not be reproduced, transmitted or stored in any form or in any retrieval system without the written consent of the copyright holders.

 

Introduction: Impact on the Modern World

Two and a half centuries after his death, Richard Mead still leaves an imprint on the modern world. There are scores of web pages devoted to his life and works. Eight portraits are owned by The National Portrait Gallery and other portraits are displayed in The Royal College of Physicians and The Foundling Hospital. His extensive collection of works of art, rare books, important letters, etc. may have been sold off after his death, but many of these now appear in museum collections or in other public places. Recently a collection of Richard Mead's medals were sold at auction. In addition to his own published works, books have been written on his life and works and he has provided the subject or material for Phd researches.

Harrold Connections

Richard Mead’s connection with Harrold began when his second wife, Anne (daughter of Sir Rowland Alston) inherited Harrold Hall in 1732 from her aunt, Anne Joliffe. Richard Mead, already had his Bloomsbury home in Great Ormond Street and a country house at Old Windsor, Berkshire. Nevertheless, Richard and Anne frequently visited their Harrold home despite his busy professional and social commitments in London. Harrrold Hall remained in the Mead family until Anne died in 1763 (Richard had pre-deceased her in 1754).

Early Beginnings

Richard Mead was born in Stepney in 1673, the eleventh child of Matthew Mead, a celebrated non-conformist minister. Having decided to follow the medical profession, he studied on the Continent (three years at Utrecht, a period at Leiden and then graduated from Padua in Philosophy and Physics in 1696). He then returned to London and set up his medical practice in the Stepney house where he was born.

In 1702 he published the work which was to establish his reputation, A Mechanical Account of Poisons. This work was based upon a surprisingly modern approach to his research methods, including experiments with viper venom, and it emphasised his strong belief that all physiological and pathological phenomena were the result of the laws of physics. In 1703 Richard Mead was elected to the post of Physician at St. Thomas’s Hospital where he was instrumental in persuading the wealthy Thomas Guy to found Guy’s Hospital when St. Thomas’s became overwhelmed by the rapid expansion of the population of London.

Still a young doctor, Mead was showered with honours and appointments; in 1703 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society and to that institution he contributed a paper on the parasitic mite which causes scabies; he was appointed to read anatomical lectures at the Surgeons’ Hall; he was called to the deathbed of Queen Anne in 1714; two years later he was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and was Censor in 1716, 1719 and 1724.. Throughout this time his medical practice expanded rapidly.

Richard Mead: The Celebrated Physician

Following the death in 1719 of his first wife Ruth (whom he had married in 1697 and who was the daughter of a city merchant, John Marsh), Richard Mead moved home and practice to Great Ormond Street, where his house occupied the site of the present Hospital for Sick Children. The house had also been the practice of his friend, another famed surgeon, John Radcliffe.. Fashionable society sought his professional services and his patients included Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Robert Walpole (the first Prime Minister), The Prince and Princess of Wales, and Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury. He travelled frequently into the countryside, including regular trips to North Bedfordshire and also dispensed medicines at an appointed hour from Batson’s Coffee House in the City. His income was said to have exceeded £6,000 per annum, a colossal sum in those days.

It was perhaps ironic that In October 1723 Mead delivered the Harveian Oration at the Royal College of Physicians, the subject of which was his defence of the position of physicians in Greece and in Rome as wealthy and honoured members of ancient society. Naturally this excited some controversy, especially in view of the affluent lifestyle of Mead and other fashionable doctors.

In 1727 Richard Mead became Physician in Ordinary to George II and to Queen Caroline.

Richard Mead: Father of Preventive Medicine

In 1720, when there was a fear of the return of Bubonic Plague (an outbreak had occurred in Marseilles) Richard Mead was asked by the government to produce a paper on methods of prevention (perhaps one of the earliest attempts to produce a national health policy). The result was the publication of A Short Discourse Concerning Pestilential Contagion and the Methods to be Used to Prevent It. Nine editions of this work were subsequently produced. Its recommendations included practical needs to isolate the sick in proper places and methods of quarantine and fumigation.

Richard Mead had been an advocate of inoculation as a means of preventing Smallpox and in 1721 he supervised the inoculation of seven condemned criminals in Newgate Prison, all of whom recovered. This was sixty years before Edward Jenner
revolutionised the prevention of smallpox by vaccination.

Richard Mead: Patron of the Arts and Bibliophile


Richard Mead was a patron of fine arts and an avid collector of paintings, statuary, coins and gems. His collection, including more than 10,000 volumes of rare and ancient books and manuscripts was housed in a purpose-built gallery in his Great Ormond Street house and he ensured that this was readily accessible to others. One such visitor in 1734 was Benjamin Rogers, Rector of Carlton and his daughter.

…From thence we went to Dr Mead’s, saw his fine Library and Curiosities and Dined there, and returned to Mrs Trevor’s house at 7a clock.”
(Historical
Carlton through the Diary of Benjamin Rogers published by Carlton and Chellington Historical Society 1999)

Richard Mead's great collection was said to be on par with that of Sir Hans Sloane. Mead's collection was sold after his death and raised the sum of £16,057 12s. 11d and was dispersed, whereas the Soane Collection was preserved for the nation.

Many of the artefacts of Richard Mead have resurfaced and some are still available to the public (in The Royal College of Physicians St Thomas's Hospital and The Foundling Museum). Perhaps the largest collection is held by The University of Glasgow Museum in the Hunterian Collection. A recent auction catalogue included the following:

1083. Dr Richard Mead, Physician and Collector,
Bust of Dr Richard Mead to right.
An infant, lightly clad and resting on a shallow platform, strangles a serpent with bare hands; above, the sun and moon. In the exergue, an armorial shield.
By Lewis Pingo.
Silver. 40 mm. (1.6 inches) in diameter. Suspension loop on edge.
Very fine.
Sorry this item is sold.
References: Medallic Illustrations, ii, 675/388; Brettauer 648; Storer 2407; Eimer 649; Eimer (Pingo) 51.
Notes: Dr Richard Mead (1673-1754) was an enthusiastic collector of coins and medals, his collection having been sold by auction in London over a period of seven days in 1755, raising the sum of £2000.
The reverse of this medal alludes to Mead's treatise concerning the sun and the moon and their influence on human bodies and diseases, which he published in 1748, and to his account of poisons, which he published in several essays in 1745.

 

One of the best of the few surviving examples of Thomas Simon’s famous Petition Crown of 1663.

This coin was sold by Richard Mead's estate in February 1755 for £12. It is currently up for sale by Spink's (September 2007) and the estimated selling price is £120,000 to £150,000

 

Richard Mead:The Social High Flyer in a Coffee House Society

Numerous dedications were addressed to him in English and European literary works and he facilitated many literary projects, including those of Jacques-Auguste de Thou’s History in seven volumes and he encouraged Samuel Jebb to edit the works of Roger Bacon. .Samuel Johnson, lexicographer and biographer said of Mead that he `lived more in the broad sunshine of life than almost any man'.

Although an ardent Whig, Richard Mead’s great friend was John Friend, physician and politician but who was a committed Tory. Their friendship involved many literary discourses and debates and, when Friend was imprisoned in the Tower in 1722, suspected of complicity in Bishop Atterbury's Plot, Mead visited him and ultimately procured from Walpole an order for his release.

Eighteenth Century social networks were well-oiled and centred around the coffee houses. Mead and his great contemporaries frequented Rawthmell's Coffee House in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden.

Richard Mead: An Epilogue

Richard Mead died at his Great Ormond Street home on 16th February, 1754. He was buried in Temple Church and a monument was erected in Westminster Abbey.

His gold-headed cane, given to him by John Radcliffe, is preserved at the Royal College of Physicians. The best collected editions of his works were posthumously published, The Medical Works of Dr Richard Mead (1762) and The Medical Works of Richard Mead, MD (1765).


Richard Mead's Published Works


A Mechanical Account of Poisons in Several Essays (London, 1702)

De Imperio Solis ac Lunae in Corpore Humano, et Morbis inde Oriundis (London, 1704)

A Short Discourse concerning Pestilential Contagion, and the Methods to Prevent It (London, 1720)


Oratio Anniversaria Harvaeiana; Accessit Dissertatio de Nummis Quibusdam a Smyrnaeis in Medicorum Honorem Percussis (London, 1724)


A Discourse on the Plague (London, 1744)
De Variolis et Morbillis. Accessit Rhazis de Iisdem Morbis Tractatus (London, 1747)


Medica Sacra: Sive de Morbis Insignioribus qui in Bibliis Memorantur Commentarius (London, 1749)


Monita et Praecepta Medica (London, 1751)
Bibliotheca Meadiana; Sive, Catalogus Librorum R. Mead (London, 1754)


Publications by others about Mead:


'Dr Richard Mead (1673-1754): A Biographical Study', Arnold Zuckerman (PhD thesis, Urbanan, Illinois, 1965)


In the Sunshine of Life: A Biography of Dr Richard Mead, 1673-1754, Richard H. Meade (Philadelphia, 1974)


The Gold-Headed Cane, William Macmichael (London, 1827)