b.1675 d.26 July 1728
John Freind, MD, was the third son of the Rev William Freind, AM, rector of Croughton, Northamptonshire, and was born there in 1675. He was educated at Westminster, under Dr Busby; and in 1694 was elected thence to Christ Church, Oxford, of which Dr Aldrich was then the dean. Freind's attainments as a classical scholar were already so distinguished that, in conjunction with Mr Foulkes, he undertook, under the auspices of Dr Aldrich, to give a new edition, with Latin notes and translation, of two Greek orations, the one of Æschines, the other of Demosthenes. They appeared in 1696, under the title of “Æschinis contra Ctesiphontem et Demosthenis de Coronâ Orationes. Interpretationem Latinam et vocum difficiliorum explicationem adjecerunt P Foulkes et Io Freind, Ædis Christi alumni.” About the same time, Freind undertook the revision of the edition of Ovid's “Metamorphoses,” which had been prepared for the use of the Dauphin. He took the degree of AB 4th June, 1698; of AM 12th April, 1701. From the date of his first degree in arts, he applied sedulously to the study of physic; and in 1699 addressed to Sir (then Dr) Hans Sloane a letter on hydrocephalus, which was published in the twenty-first volume of the "Philosophical Transactions.” In 1701 he wrote another letter, in Latin, to the same distinguished physician, “de Spasmi Rarioris Historiâ,” giving an account of some extraordinary cases of convulsion occurring in Oxfordshire, which made at that time a very great noise, and would probably have been magnified into something supernatural had not the writer taken the pains to set them in their true light. Freind proceeded bachelor of medicine 1st June, 1703; and the same year gave a solid proof of his professional and classical attainments, by the publication of his “Emmenologia, in quâ Fluxus Muliebris menstrui Phenomena, Periodi, Vitia, cum medendi Methodo, ad Rationes mechanicas exiguntur.” 8vo. This work, as its title implies, is based on the mechanical doctrines then so much in vogue; and though at first it met with some opposition, and was then and afterwards animadverted upon by various writers, has always been regarded as a masterly essay. “It is,” says one authority, “admirable for the beauty of its style, the elegant disposition of its parts, its wonderful succinctness and perspicuity, and for the happy concurrence of learning and penetration visible through the whole.” In the following year (1704) Freind was appointed reader on chemistry at Oxford, and in the performance of the duties of that office he delivered the course of lectures which were published in 1709, under the title of “Prælectiones Chymicæ: in quibus omnes fere Operationes Chemicæ ad Vera Principia et ipsius Naturæ Leges rediguntur, Anno 1704, Oxonii in Museo Ashmoleano habitæ.” In these lectures Freind applied with great judgment Newton's then recently established laws of nature to the explanation and elucidation of chemistry. By the size, shape, surface, specific gravity, and attraction of the component atoms of bodies, and the influence of the magnetic and electric forces upon them, he explained all chemical processes and operations, and by so doing simplified to its fullest extent what had hitherto been in the highest degree obscure and perplexed. In the words of Sir Henry Halford,(1) “huic viro laudi fuit, illam attractionis vim quam in grandiore corporum cœlestium mole perspexerat Newtonus, summo cum judicio rebus Chemicis accommodâsse et quicquid in theoriâ perplexum olim erat et obscurum legibus Newtonianis simplicissimè expediisse.” In 1705 Freind accompanied lord Peterborough on his Spanish expedition, in the capacity of physician to the army, in which post he continued for about two years. He then made a tour of Italy, and spent some time at Rome. On his return to England, in 1707, finding the character of lord Peterborough assailed, he published a defence of him, entitled “An Account of the Earl of Peterborough's Conduct in Spain, chiefly since the raising the Siege of Barcelona,” 1706; to which is added, “The Campaign of Valencia, with original papers.” 8vo. 1707. On the 12th June, 1707, Freind was created doctor of medicine at Oxford, by diploma; in 1712 he was admitted a fellow of the Royal Society, and the same year attended the duke of Ormond into Flanders, as his physician.
Settling in London on his return, he was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians 30th September, 1713, and a Fellow 9th April, 1716. He delivered the Gulstonian Lectures in 1718, the Harveian Oration in 1720, and was Censor in 1718, 1719. In 1717 Dr Freind published the First and Third Books of Hippocrates, De Morbis Popularibus, with nine Commentaries on Fever. This work was attacked by Dr Woodward, the Gresham professor of physic, in his “State of Physic and of Diseases,” 8vo. Lond. 1718; and here was laid the foundation of a dispute which was carried on with great acrimony and violence on both sides. Parties were formed under these leaders, and several pamphlets were written. Freind supported his opinion "concerning the advantage of purging in the second fever of the confluent small-pox" - for it was on this single point that the dispute chiefly turned - in a Latin letter addressed to Dr Mead in 1719, and since printed among his works. He was likewise supposed to be the author of a pamphlet entitled “A Letter to the learned Dr Woodward, by Dr Byfield,” wherein Woodward is rallied with great spirit and address - for Freind made no serious answer to Woodward's book, but contented himself with ridiculing his antagonist under the name of a celebrated empiric.
In 1722 Dr Freind was elected a member of parliament for Launceston, and. in that capacity distinguished himself by some able speeches in the House of Commons, against measures of which he disapproved. He was a staunch Tory, and the intimate friend of bishop Atterbury. He attended that prelate in the Tower as his physician, and was suspected of participation in the so-called “bishops’ plot.” These various circumstances drew upon him so much resentment that, the Habeas Corpus Act being at that time suspended, he was, in March, 1722-3, after an examination before a committee of the Privy Council, committed a close prisoner to the Tower. He continued a prisoner until 21st June, when, owing to the firmness and determination of Dr Mead, who refused to prescribe for Sir Robert Walpole, the minister of the day, until he was liberated, Freind was admitted to bail. His sureties were Dr Mead, Dr Hulse, Dr Levett, and Dr Hale. In November he was discharged from his recognizance.(2)
The leisure afforded him by his confinement in the Tower, he employed in a manner suitable to his abilities and profession. It was during this period that he wrote the celebrated and elegant letter to Dr Mead, “De quibusdam Variolarum Generibus Epistola,” published in 4to. in 1723. There also he laid the plan of his last, elaborate, and most learned work, “The History of Physick from the time of Galen to the beginning of the xvjth century, chiefly with regard to practice, in a Discourse written to Dr Mead.” The first part appeared in 1725; the second in 1726. Soon after Freind obtained his liberty, he was appointed physician to the prince of Wales; and on that prince's accession to the throne he became physician to queen Caroline. Early in the year 1727-8, Atterbury addressed to Dr Freind his celebrated “Letter on the character of Iapis,” of whom the bishop considered this learned physician to be the modern prototype. In 1725 the College Physicians petitioned the House of Commons against the pernicious and growing use of spirituous liquors among persons of all ranks and of both sexes, and they confided the presentation of the petition to Dr Freind, one of their own fellows, and then a member of the House.(3) Dr Freind died 26th July, 1728, in the fifty-second year of his age,(4) and was buried at Hitcham, co Berks, the manor of which had been purchased by him in 1700. On a slab within the communion rails is the following inscription:-
Johannes Freind MD
Serenissimæ Reginæ Carolinæ Archiatrus
et hujus Manerii Dominus
Obiit 26 Julii 1728 æt: 52.
Dr Freind had married in 1709 Anne, the eldest daughter of Thomas Morice, esq, then paymaster of the forces in Portugal, by whom he had an only son, John, who died unmarried in 1750. The doctor's relict died in 1737, and was buried at Hitcham, near her husband.
A monument to Dr Freind's memory, with the following inscription, was erected in Westminster abbey:-
JOHANNES FREIND, MD
Serenissimæ Reginæ Carolinæ;
cujus perspicaci judicio cum se approbasset,
quantâ prius apud omnes Medicinæ famâ,
tantâ apud Regiam Familiam gratiâ floruit.
Ingenio erat benevolo et admodum liberali,
societatis et convictuum amans,
amicitiarum (etiam suo alicubi periculo) tenacissimus.
Nemo beneficia aut in alios alacrius contulit,
aut in se collata, libentius meminit.
Juvenis adhuc scriptis cœpit inclarescere,
et assiduo tum Latini tum Patrii sermonis usu
quam vero in umbraculis excoluerat facundiam,
eam in solem atque aciem Senator protulit.
Humanioribus literis domi peregrèque operam dedit;
omnes autem, ut decuit, nervos intendit
suà in arte ut esset versatissimus:
quo successu, Orbis Britannici cives et proceres,
quam multiplici scientiâ, viri omnium gentium eruditi;
quam indefesso studio et industriâ,
id quidem, non sine lacrymis amici loquentur.
Miri quiddam fuit, quod in tam continuâ occupatione,
inter tot circuitiones,
scribendo etiam vacare posset:
quod tanto oneri diutius sustinendo impar esset,
Obiit siquidem, vigente adhuc ætate,
annum agens quinquagesimum secundum,
æt. Christi 1728, Jul. 26;
et ædis Christi Oxoniensis Alumnus;
Collegii Medicorum Londinensium
et Societatis Regiæ Socius.
A good portrait of Dr Freind by Dahl is in the College dining-room. It was bequeathed to the College by Matthew Lee, MD, to be mentioned hereafter, and in the old college in Warwick-lane, had the following inscription appended to it:- “Joh. Freind, MD, Oxon: hujus Collegii quondam socii quam cernis imaginem legavit moriens Matt. Lee, MD, Oxon, et hujus Collegii socius, AD 1755.”(5) Another, and finer portrait of Dr Freind than the one just mentioned, is in the possession of George Owen Rees, MD, of Albemarle-street.
There is, too, in the Censor's room, a spirited medallion of Dr Freind, carved in boxwood. It was presented to the College by Dr Diamond, and had formerly belonged to Sir George L Tuthill, MD, a Fellow of our College, which is all that is known concerning it. Beside these, there is extant a finely executed medal of Dr Freind, with the doctor's bust on the obverse, inscribed “JOANNES FREIND, Coll. Med. Lond. et Reg. SS,” and on the neck the initial letters of the artist's name, SV (Saint Urbain). Reverse, an ancient and modern physician joining hands. “Medicina vetus et nova. Exergue, Unam facimus utramque.”
The doctor's valuable library was sold at auction by Mr Cock, in January, 1728-9.
William Munk[References: (1) Oratio ex Harveii instituto habita die Octob. 18, 1800.
(Volume II, page 48)
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