Richard Mead

Last updated

Richard Mead
Richard Mead 2.jpg
Born11 August 1673 (1673-08-11)
Stepney, London
Died16 February 1754 (1754-02-17) (aged 80)
NationalityEnglish
Known for Epidemiology
Scientific career
FieldsMedicine
Doctoral advisor JG Graevius

Richard Mead, FRS, FRCP, (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.

Contents

Life

The eleventh of thirteen children of Matthew Mead (1630–1699), an Independent minister, 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 recognised 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, and is permanently displayed at the Foundling Museum.

Dr Richard Mead was also a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the College of Physicians and a Freemason [1] (although it is not known to which lodge he belonged).

Bust of Mead, Westminster Abbey Richard Mead memorial, Westminster Abbey 01.jpg
Bust of Mead, Westminster Abbey

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. [2] [3] His collection consisted of 10,000 volumes. [4] In 1752 he received a letter from Camillo Paderni, concerning the progress at the excavations of the Villa of the Papyri. [5] After his death, it took 56 days to auction them to book collectors from England and abroad. [6] His "Genuine and Entire Collection of Valuable Gems, Bronzes, Marble and other Busts and Antiquities" was auctioned by Abraham Langford at his house in the Great Piazza, Covent Garden on 11-15 March 1755. [7]

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 the nave of Westminster Abbey, [8] with a bust by Peter Scheemakers. [9]

Religious views

In 1755 was published (posthumously) Mead's Medica Sacra; Or, A commentary on the most remarkable diseases, mentioned in the Holy Scriptures. He made use of the work of his 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.’ [10]

Yet, Verses 28-34, in the Gospel of Mathew, Chapter 8, specifically state that Jesus was spoken to by the 'demon', disproving its inanimateness; it personified itself by telling Jesus that his name was "Legion", and asked Him to relocate him into the nearby pigs. Jesus replied "Go", and after entering them Mathew records they then ran over the mountainside.

Possible foibles

Mead is satirised in Laurence Sterne's novel, Tristram Shandy , where he briefly appears as Dr Kunastrokius: "—Did not Dr. Kunastrokius, that great man, at his leisure hours, take the greatest delight imaginable in combing of asses' tails, and plucking the dead hairs out with his teeth, though he had tweezers always in his pocket?" [11] The name Kunastrokius is clearly a sexual pun, perhaps referencing Voltaire's Cunegund of Candide (1759). [12] One of Sterne's correspondents later complained that he was reviving widespread rumours that Mead had gone bankrupt due to paying for elaborate sexual favours. Sterne defended himself on the grounds that all he did was "most distantly hint at a droll foible in his character...known before by every chamber-maid and footman within the bills of mortality". [13]

Works

MEAD (Richard) Complete Works.jpg

Besides the Mechanical Account of Poisons (2nd ed, 1708), Mead published:

Related Research Articles

Laurence Sterne Anglo-Irish writer and cleric (1713–1768)

Laurence Sterne, was an Anglo-Irish novelist and Anglican cleric who wrote the novels The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, published sermons and memoirs, and indulged in local politics. He grew up in a military family travelling mainly in Ireland but briefly in England. An uncle paid for Sterne to attend Hipperholme Grammar School in the West Riding of Yorkshire, as Sterne's father was ordered to Jamaica, where he died of malaria some years later. He attended Jesus College, Cambridge on a sizarship, gaining bachelor's and master's degrees. While Vicar of Sutton-on-the-Forest, Yorkshire, he married Elizabeth Lumley in 1741. His ecclesiastical satire A Political Romance infuriated the church and was burnt. With his new talent for writing, he published early volumes of his best-known novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Sterne travelled to France to find relief from persistent tuberculosis, documenting his travels in A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, published weeks before his death. His posthumous Journal to Eliza addresses Eliza Draper, for whom he had romantic feelings. Sterne died in 1768 and was buried in the yard of St George's, Hanover Square. His body was said to have been stolen after burial and sold to anatomists at Cambridge University, but recognised and reinterred. His ostensible skull was found in the churchyard and transferred to Coxwold in 1969 by the Laurence Sterne Trust.

Samuel Hahnemann German physician who created homeopathy (1755–1843)

Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann was a German physician, best known for creating the pseudoscientific system of alternative medicine called homeopathy.

Thomas Addison English physician and scientist

Thomas J Addison was an English physician, chef, and scientist. He is traditionally regarded as one of the "great men" of Guy's Hospital in London.

William Cullen 18th-century Scottish physician and scientist

William Cullen FRS FRSE FRCPE FPSG was a Scottish physician, chemist and agriculturalist, and professor at the Edinburgh Medical School. Cullen was a central figure in the Scottish Enlightenment: He was David Hume's physician, and was friends with Joseph Black, Henry Home, Adam Ferguson, John Millar, and Adam Smith, among others.

<i>The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman</i> 1759–1767 novel by Laurence Sterne

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, also known as Tristram Shandy, is a novel by Laurence Sterne, inspired by Don Quixote. It was published in nine volumes, the first two appearing in 1759, and seven others following over the next seven years. It purports to be a biography of the eponymous character. Its style is marked by digression, double entendre, and graphic devices. The first edition was printed by Ann Ward on Coney Street, York.

James Parkinson English surgeon

James Parkinson FGS was an English surgeon, apothecary, geologist, palaeontologist and political activist. He is best known for his 1817 work An Essay on the Shaking Palsy, in which he was the first to describe "paralysis agitans", a condition that would later be renamed Parkinson's disease by Jean-Martin Charcot.

Richard Bright (physician) British pathologist

Richard Bright was an English physician and early pioneer in the research of kidney disease. He is particularly known for his description of Bright's disease.

Neonatology Medical care of newborns, especially the ill or premature

Neonatology is a subspecialty of pediatrics that consists of the medical care of newborn infants, especially the ill or premature newborn. It is a hospital-based specialty, and is usually practised in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). The principal patients of neonatologists are newborn infants who are ill or require special medical care due to prematurity, low birth weight, intrauterine growth restriction, congenital malformations, sepsis, pulmonary hypoplasia or birth asphyxia.

Doctor Slop

Dr Slop is a choleric physician and "man-midwife" in Laurence Sterne's novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759).

William Buchan (physician) Scottish physician and author (1729–1805)

William Buchan was a Scottish physician and author. He is best known for his work Domestic Medicine: or, a Treatise on the Prevention and Cure of Diseases by Regimen and Simple Medicines, which provided laypeople with detailed descriptions of the causes and prevention of diseases. Buchan's goal was one of "laying medicine more open to mankind." With over 80,000 copies and 19 editions sold in Buchan's lifetime, it was one of the most popular medical texts in Europe and even in the European colonies in the Americas, and was translated into almost every major European language.

John Burton, M.D. (1710–1771) was an English physician and antiquary.

Richard Pearson (physician)

Richard Pearson was an English physician and medical writer.

Aeneas Munson

Æneas Munson was a United States physician.

Edward Mansfield Brockbank MBE was a cardiologist and surgeon closely associated with the Manchester Royal Infirmary. He was a prolific author of medical textbooks and works of medical history and biography and contributed a number of articles to the Dictionary of National Biography.

Sir Percival Horton-Smith Hartley was an English physician and authority on tuberculosis.

Horace Joules LRCP, MRCP, MRCS, FRCP was a British physician, health administrator and health campaigner, who played an important role in promoting public health and preventative medicine; particularly the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer following the work of Richard Doll, Austin Bradford Hill, Ernst Wynder and Evarts Graham, and the adverse effects of air pollution.

John Mitchell Bruce (1846–1929) was a British physician, pathologist, and physiologist.

Ernest Frederic Neve

Ernest Frederic Neve (1861-1946) was a British surgeon, Christian medical missionary, and author who provided medical care to the people of Kashmir and pioneered work on Kangri cancers. He established the Kashmir Mission Hospital and the Kashmir State Leper Hospital with his brother Arthur Neve and made significant contributions throughout the over 50 years that he spent in Kashmir.

Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert Herbert, FRCS was a British ophthalmologist and officer in the Indian Medical Service (IMS), known for his work on trachoma, cataract and glaucoma. Later, he was vice-president of the Ophthalmological Society of the UK.

References

  1. Alphabetical List of Fellows of the Royal Society who were Freemasons Archived 23 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine . freemasonry.lmfm.net
  2. https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/123243#page/1/mode/1up A catalogue of the genuine and entire collection of valuable gems, bronzes, marble and other busts and antiquities, of the late Doctor Mead, 1755
  3. http://munksroll.rcplondon.ac.uk/Biography/Details/3047 Obituary in Munk's Roll
  4. Arthur Mee (January 1951) [April 1939]. The Counties of Bedford and Huntingdon. The King's England. p. 97.
  5. Camillo Paderni (1752). "Extract of a Letter from Signor Camillo Paderni, to Dr. Mead, concerning the Antiquities Dug up from the Antient Herculaneum". Royal Society of London. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  6. Jonathan A. Hill bookseller: Catalogue 203, 2012, p. 52
  7. Langford, Mr [Abraham] (1755). A Catalogue of the Genuine and Entire Collection of Valuable Gems, Bronzes, Marble and other Busts and Antiquities of the Late Doctor Mead, etc. London: Mr Langford.
  8. 'The Abbey Scientists' Hall, A.R. p17: London; Roger & Robert Nicholson; 1966
  9. http://www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/richard-mead Memorial in Westminster Abbey
  10. Richard Meade, ‘Medica Sacra; Or, A commentary on the most remarkable diseases, mentioned in the Holy Scriptures’, page 73, 1755
  11. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1079/1079-h/1079-h.htm L. Sterne, "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" (1759-67)
  12. M. New, ed., "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman: The Notes" (1984)
  13. G. Petrie ed., Lawrence Sterne: Tristram Shandy (1976) p. 617

Sources