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Freind, John

1. Dates
Born: Croughton, Northamptonshire, 1675
Died: London, 26 July 1728
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 53
2. Father
Occupation: Cleric
The Rev. William Freind was the Rector of Croughton.
No explicit information on financial status. However, the Rev. Freind was able to send three sons to Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford. Moreover, in 1700, while he was still a student in Oxford who had not yet earned a penny, Freind purchased the manor of Hitcham in Berkshire, which he owned as lord of the manor for the rest of his life, and where he was buried. I fail to see how the family can have been less than affluent; I tend to suspect that "wealthy" might be the more correct adjective. 3. Natonality:
Birth: English.
Career: English.
Death: English.
3. Nationality
4. Education
Schooling: Oxford, M.A., M.D.
Westminster School.
Christ Church, Oxford, 1694-1703; B.A., 1698; M.A., 1701;
M.B., 1703; M.D. by diploma, 1707.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Anglican
Freind was a Jacobite in politics.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Medicine, Chemistry
Subordinate: Physiology
Freind began to publish articles on medicine in the Philosophical Transactions in 1699, while still a student.
His chemical lectures at Oxford in 1704 were published in 1709 as Praelectiones chymicae--an application of the Newtonian concept of attractions to mechanical chemistry.
As a physician Freind wrote on medical topics--e.g., Emmenologiae, 1703, which expounds a mechanistic physiology. Mostly he wrote on therapeutics--e.g, Hippocrates de morbis popularibus, 1716.
His History of Physick, 1725-6, was perhaps his major work; it expounds Freind's ideas on medicine in the process of writing its history.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine, Patronage, Personal Means
Secondary: Academia
I mentioned above his purchase of Hitcham in 1700. Add to this his apparent leisure during 1707-12. It seems impossible that he did not have personal means.
He was appointed to give chemical lectures at Oxford in 1704; although nothing is said, I assume he received some salary.
Physician to the English forces in Spain, 1705-7.
There is no indication of what Freind did between 1707 and 1712; I assume that he practiced medicine, perhaps in Oxford. It is not impossible that he was a gentleman of leisure.
Physician to the Duke of Ormonde on the military campaign in the low countries, 1712.
Freind established a medical practice in London about 1712 and became very prominent in the profession. One of the famous stories about him concerns his imprisonment for three months in 1723. After his release his friend, Dr. Mead, gave him a bag of coins, the fees from his patients whom Mead had tended during that period. According to the story the bag contained 5,000 guineas. Someone has suggested that this is a slip; it was really 500. Even if that were so, it was an enormous sum, and the story is surely indicative of what people thought physicians were making, even if we cannot give it much credence as evidence of Freind's income. Let me add here that Freind was able to assemble a valuable collection of books.
Freind became an M.P. in 1722. He had strong Jacobite leanings and was involved in some way in Atterbury's plot in 1723 and was imprisoned in the Tower for about three months.
What I find impossible to understand, he became physician to the Prince of Wales upon his release in 1723, and upon the Prince's accession to the throne as George II in 1727, Freind became personal physician to Queen Caroline, 1727-8.
8. Patronage
Types: Eccesiastic Official, Court Official, Aristrocrat, Scientist
At Oxford, Freind became a protégé of Henry Aldrich, Dean of Christ Church and godfather of the Oxford high church party.
The King and the Queen treated him very kindly. Soon after his release from the Tower in 1723 (for involvement in a treasonous plot against the house of Hanover) he was nevertheless appointed physician to the children of Princess of Wales (other accounts say physician to the Prince of Wales), and in 1727 physician to the Queen. George II bestowed a pension on Freind's widow.
He was appointed physician to the English forces by the Earl of Peterborough in his campaign in Spain in 1705. Having returned to England, he published two books in defence of Lord Peterborough's conduct in Spain.
He was appointed physician to the Duke of Ormonde in 1712 on another military expedition.
He had been an intimate friend of Bishop Atterbury from the time they met at Christ Church, and he was involved in some manner in Atterbury's plot for the restoration of the Stuart family in 1722. (By itself, this does not constitute patronage. It fits in closely with the Aldrich connection.)
Freind dedicated the Praelectiones chymicae to Newton. After some hesitation I am listing this.
He was a close friend of Richard Mead. Mead used his influence as Walpole's physician to get Freind released from the Tower. I repeated the story of the fees for Freind's patients above. Freind dedicated his History of Physick to Mead. This sounds like a relationship of peers to me; I am not listing it as patronage.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: Medical College, Royal Society
Informal Connections: Friendship with Baglivi and Lancisi, from 1696. Friendship with Mead. He engaged in an acrimonious dispute with Woodward (in which Mead inevitably also engaged) following the publication of Freind's De morbis.
Royal College of Physicians, 1716-1728; Gulstonian Lectures, 1718; Harveian Oration, 1720; Censor, 1718-1719.
Royal Society, 1712.
  1. Dictionary of National Biography (repr., London: Oxford University Press, 1949-1950), 7, 681-3. Biographia Britannica, 1st ed. (London, 1747-66), 3, 2024-44.
  2. William Munk, The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 2nd ed., 3 vols. (London, 1878), 2, 48-56.
  3. A short account of his life in Charles Hutton, George Shaw, and Richard Pearson, Philosophical Transations . . . Abridged, (London, 1809), 4, 423fn.
  4. Major Greenwood, "John Freind," in Medical Dictator, London, 1936), pp. 37-66. R134/ G816. Philip Shorr, "Sir John Freind (1675-1728), M.D. Pioneer Historian of Medicine," Isis, 27 (1937), 453-74. Major Greenwood, "John Freind (1675-1728)," Janus 37 (1933), 193- 210. Anita Guerrini, "The Tory Newtonians: Gregory, Pitcairne, and their Circle," Journal of British Studies, 25 (1986), 288- 311.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

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©1995 Al Van Helden
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