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 11th 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.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004 for entries on Richard and his father
Portraits can be found on the National Portrait Gallery website
This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library
Image © 2023 Dean and Chapter of Westminster