John Freind

John Freind, physician and author, has a monument in the south aisle of the nave of Westminster Abbey, not far from his friend and rival Dr Richard Mead. The black and white marble monument includes a bust and a coat of arms. The arms of Freind are "Sable, a chevron between three bucks heads cabossed argent". The inscription was written by his brother Robert, who was Head Master of Westminster School and a clergyman at the Abbey. The architect was James Gibbs and the sculptor Michael Rysbrack and the monument was put up by the doctor's son. The Latin inscription can be translated:

John son of John. John Freind, M.D.
Chief physician to her serene Majesty Queen Caroline: by her clear judgment once approved, he flourished with as much grace among the Royal Family, as he had before enjoyed medical fame with the world. His character was benevolent and most liberal: attached to social intercourse and most tenacious of friendship, however its duties might in any way involve him in danger; no man conveyed with greater alacrity a benefit to others, or more freely remembered one conferred upon himself. While yet a youth he began to attract celebrity by his writings, and, polishing his style by a sedulous familiarity with the Latin as well as his native tongue, he brought forward, as a senator, in bright maturity, the elocution he had long cultivated in private. At home he signally devoted his studies to polite letters, but applied his principal strength with honourable propriety, to become the most skilful in his art - with what success, the public and nobility of Great Britain, with what varied knowledge, the learned of all nations, with what indefatigable applications and industry, his friends in tears commemorate. It was surprising that, amidst such a circle of continual occupation, he found leisure for writing, but that he was no longer able to bear so great a weight is by no means strange. He died, flourishing in age, while spending his fifty second year, July 26 1728.

On the base:

Member of Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, and the College of Physicians; Fellow of the Royal Society

He was a son of the Reverend William Freind, rector of Croughton in Northamptonshire and his wife Anne (Smith). He and his brothers Robert and William were educated at Westminster School like their father. At Oxford John became friends with Francis Atterbury, later Dean of Westminster. He published several medical works including a treatise on smallpox and was appointed professor of chemistry at Oxford and lectured there. Later he served as an army physician in Spain. In 1709 he married Anne daughter of Thomas Morice and they had a son John (died unmarried). As the Duke of Ormond's physician he served in Flanders and on his return to England became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Member of Parliament for Launceston in Cornwall. He became involved in the Atterbury (or Jacobite) plot and was imprisoned in the Tower of London for a while before he was aquitted. His greatest work is probably The History of Physick. He died of a fever and is buried at Hitcham in Buckinghamshire near his country estate.

Further reading for John and his brothers

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004


26th July 1728


Writer; physician; doctor



Memorial Type


Material Type


John Freind
John Freind

By George Vertue, after Michael Dahl [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

John Freind
John Freind monument

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster