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Bucks

Meads in Buckinghamshire

A distinguished Mead family lived in Buckinghamshire in the parishes of Soulbury, Stewkley and Mursley from the beginning of the 16th century and going back to the 15th century. This family included William Mead, a leading Quaker; his brother the Rev. Matthew Mead; and Matthew's son Dr. Richard Mead, physician to King George II. According to Henry J. Mead, Solicitor of the Supreme Court, England, in a tract written in 1918, this family was related to the Meade family of Essex. His reasoning is as follows:

William Mead belonged to the family of Meade, settled in the 16th century at Soulbury, Bucks, and owning property in that district. The Meades of Soulbury were a branch of the family of Meade which settled in the north-west of Essex in the reign of Henry VI.
   At the beginning of the 16th Century, Thomas Meade, whose father and paternal grandfather were also named Thomas, resided on an estate at Elmdon in Essex. His eldest son, also named Thomas, was Justice of the Common Pleas from 1577 until his death in 1585. Mr. Justice Meade acquired the adjoining estate of Wendon Lofts with the fine Tudor mansion, Lofts Hall, built in 1579 and still standing. He is buried in the chancel of Elmdon Church under a handsome monument. He was succeeded by his eldest son Sir Thomas Meade, Knight, who was born in 1549, was High Sheriff of Essex in 1600 and died in 1617. Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son Sir John Meade, Knight, who was High Sheriff in 1632 and died in 1638. His son was Thomas, who died in 1678 and was succeeded by his son John, born in 1652, on whose death in 1715 the estates at Elmdon and Wendon Lofts descended to his two daughters as co-heiresses and were sold by them.
  The connection of the Soulbury Meades with the Meades of Elmdon is shown by the fact that Dr. Richard Mead (William Mead's nephew) in the preface to his Medica Sacra stated that he was related to the eminent divine Joseph Mead (1586-1638) [born in Berden, Essex] and Dr. Richard's contemporary and biographer, Maty, makes the same statement. Joseph Mead is stated by Foss (Foss's Lives of the Judges) to have belonged to the family of Mr. Justice Meade and is stated in the Register of Christ's College, Cambridge, to have been a kinsman of Sir John Meade of Wendon Lofts. Moreover the arms used by the Revd Matthew Mead (William Mead's brother) and by Dr. Richard were those of the Elmdon Meades, viz., Sable, a chevron between three pelicans or vulning themselves gu. These arms appear on contemporary engraved portraits of Matthew Mead and Dr. Richard Mead and on the monument to Richard in Westminster Abbey and on the monument to Samuel Mead, the Doctor's brother, in the Temple Churchyard.
   William Mead was the second son of Richard Meade, of Soulbury, and Joane his wife. In the parish register of Soulbury the baptisms of five sons and four daughters of Richard and Joane are recorded. Richard Meade was a member of the merchant Taylors' Company and in the books of the company is described as the son of William Mead of Stewkley, Bucks, Yeoman. He (Richard) was churchwarden of Soulbury in 1625 and for several subsequent years. He died in October 1643 and was buried at Soulbury.
  William Mead was born in 1627 and was baptized at Soulbury on 14th November in that year. When a young man he went to London, entered into business as a linen draper in Fenchurch Street, and prospered. He was admitted to the freedom of the Merchant Taylor's Company on 9th January 1655/6 by patrimony in virtue of his father's membership, was admitted to the livery in 1658 and acted as Master in 1706. After a time he lived at a house in Highgate. He was a Captain in the London Trained Bands, a military body now represented by the Honourable Artillery Company. Prior to 1670 he joined the Society of Friends and held a leading position among them and several times waited upon the King with George Whitehead and others. About 1684 he purchased the estate of Goosehays, about three miles from Romford in Essex. He wrote in conjunction with Whitehead and others several vindiciations of "the people called quakers." One of these was delivered to the House of Lords, 21st February 1701. He died at Goosehays on 3rd April 173, aged 86, and was buried in the Friends' Cemetary at Barking.
  William Mead married and lost his first wife, Mary Lawrence, in 1679. A child, Jonathan, died in 1680. In 1681 he married Sarah Fell, fourth daughter of Thomas Fell. Judge Fell died in 1658, and Margaret Fell his widow was married in 1669 to George Fox. Mead by his marriage with Sarah became Fox's stepson. She was beautiful, an eloquent preacher and a good Hebrew scholar and was the correspondent of Penn and Barclay. She died at Goosehays on 9th June 1714. George Fox was a frequent visitor at Highgate and at Goosehays, and in his Journal frequently refers to Mead. Mead by his will left to Nathaniel Mead, his "dear and only child," his estates in London, Middlesex, Kent, Essex and Surrey, and many legacies to the poor among Quakers and others.
  Sir Nathaniel Mead, Knight, the only surviving son of William Mead, was born in March 1684, was entered at the Inner Temple, was called to the bar and became a serjeant-at-law. He was elected M.P. for Aylesbury in 1714 and was knighted by George I. He sold the Goosehays estate. He died on 17th April 1760, at his house in Litchfield Street, London. He had two sons, Robert and William. Both died in infancy and were buried at Romford. His widow Martha, Lady Mead, died in 1779 and was also buried at Romford.
  The eldest brother of William was Richard Mead, who was baptized at Soulbury on 20th March 1626, and was buried there in May 1690, being described in the register as of Mursley. He had six sons and three daughters, whoase names are given in the wills of members of the family. Of the sons may be mentioned John, Francis, Robert and William.
  John Meade was a wealthy drysalter of London. He was Lord of the Manor of Tottenhoe, Beds. His only child was Mary, who was married in 1747 to John Wilkes, M.P. She was born in 1715. On the death of her Uncle William Meade she succeeded to the Manor of Aylesbury, and to the advowson of Tottenhoe. She died in 1784. John Wilkes and Mary Meade had one daughter, Mary, who died unmarried.
  Francis Meade M.D. was a Physician in practice at Aylesbury. He was born in 1663 and died in 1732.
  Robert Meade LL.D. was an Attorney-at-law. He was Attorney for the Plaintiffs in the action of Ashby v. White, and other actions which in 1704 were the occasion of a remarkable contest between the two Houses of Parliament. The actions were brought by some burgesses of Aylesbury against the returning officers for maliciously refusing to record the Plaintiffs' votes at a Parliamentary election. The House of Lords on a writ of error decided that the actions would lie, and they were prosecuted to judgement. The House of Commons resented the decision, asserted their exclusive right to take cognizance of all matters relating to the election of their members, and committed the Plaintiffs and their Attorney to prison for breach of privilege.
  A writ of habeas corpus was moved for, whereupon the Commons committed to prison the Counsel who moved for the writ.
  The dispute became acute. Each House passed strong resolutions. A conference between them was without result. Each presented an address to the Queen, and the matter was only terminated by the prerogative of Parliament, when the prisoners had to be released.
  Within the altar tails of Aylesbury Church is a stone inscribed to the memory of Ann, wife of Robert Meade. She died in 1724. Robert Meade died in 1725.
  William Mead, son of Richard Meade of Mursley, was High Sheriff of Bucks in 1716 and a Member of the Dyers' Company. He was Lord of the Manor of Aylesbury and in 1718 he purchased the advowson of Tottenhoe, Beds. He died in 1723 and was buried at Soulbury.
The third son of Richard Meade of Soulbury and Joane his wife was the Revd. Matthew Mead, born in 1629 and baptized at Soulbury on 7th March of that year. In 1648 he was elected scholar and on 6th August 1649 admitted a fellow of King's College, Cambridge. He resigned in 1651. He then became morning lecturer at St. Dunstan's Church, Stepney. He resided in Gracechurch Street. In 1656 he became a member of the Congregational church formed at Stepney by Greenhill in 1644. In 1658 he was appointed by Cromwell to the "new chapel" at Shadwell (St.Paul's). From Shadwell, as from his lecturership, he was displaced by the Restoration, but obtained a lecturership at St.Sepulchre's, Holborn, from which he was ejected by the Uniformity Act of 1662. In 1663 he was living at Worcester House, Stepney. Either the Conventicle Act or the Five Miles Act, which came into operation in 1666, drove him to Holland. He seems to have been in London during the great plague of 1665. In 1669 he became assistant to Greenhill in Stepney ad after Greenhill's death succeeded him as pastor. In 1674 a meeting house was built for Mead at Stepney; its roof was upheld by four round pillars "presented to him by the States of Holland"; above the ceiling was an attic with a concealed entrance, a hiding place for the congregation in troublous times. His congregation was the largest in London and he was probably the most eloquent preacher of his time. In 1686 he was again in Holland, preaching at Utrecht, but returned to England in 1687. In 1689 the residence and garden adjoining the meeting house were settled by the congregation on Mead and his heirs "in consideration for" his sufferings and services. He died on 6
th
October 1699 and was buried in Stepney Churchyard. A Latin inscription is on his tombstone. He was the author of several religious works and many of his sermons were printed. Matthew Mead on 3rd January 1654/5, at the church of St Mary, Woolnoth, married Elizabeth Walton. They had 13 children. Of these we give particulars of three of the sons, viz. Samuel, Robert and Richard.
  Samuel Mead was born in 1670. He was educated at the University of Utrecht, called to the bar in 1699 and had a good practice in the Court of Chancery. He was a member of the Middle Temple and of Lincoln's Inn. He died 13th April 1733 unmarried. He was buried in the Temple Church and there is a memorial of him in the Temple Churchyard with a Latin inscription.
  Robert Mead, another son of the Revd. Matthew Mead, was by his wife Mary the father of five sons, of whom the eldest was Robert, who was born in 1701 and died in 1735, and was the commander of the ship "Princess of Wales" trading in the East Indies, and the fourth, born in 1707, was Captain Samuel Mead, a Commissioner of H. M. Customs (1741-46) to whom the freedom of the City of Edinburgh was presented in 1730. He died in 1776.
  Dr. Richard Mead, the most distinguished member if the family, was the eleventh child of the Revd. Matthew Mead and was born at Stepney on 11th August 1673. He was baptised at the meeting house in Bull Lane on the 22nd of that month. He entered the University of Utrecht in 1689, afterwards studied medicine at Leydon and graduated M.D. at Padua on 16th August 1695. He began practice at Stepney in 1696. He was elected into the Council at the Royal Society in 1705 and again in 1707 and until his death, being vice-president in 1717. In 1703 he was elected physician to St. Thomas's Hospital and in 1715 a governor; in 1717 he received the degree of M.D. at Oxford and became a Fellow of the College of Physicians in 1716. He was called in to see Queen Anne two days before her death. In 1727 he was appointed physician to George II. He was the author of several medical works. He died on 16th February 1754 and was buried in the Temple Church. A monument to him surmounted by a bust by Scheemakers, and bearing a Latn insription, is in Westminster Abbey.
  Dr. Mead's first wife was Ruth, daughter of John Marsh, a merchant of London and a prominent Quaker. They were married in July 1699. There were eight of whom four died in infancy. The survivors were a son Richard, and three daughters, Sarah, Bathsheba and Elizabeth. Sarah, born circa 1702, was married to Sir Edward Wilmot, of Chaddesden, Co. Derby, physician to Queen Caroline, Frederick Prince of Wales, George II and George III. Bathsheba was married to Charles Bertie of Uffington, Co. Lincoln, and Elizabeth, born 1705, was married in 1743 to Dr. Frank Nicholls, physician to George II.
  In 1724 Dr. Mead married his second wife, Anne, daughter of Sir Rowland Alston, of Odell, Beds. She bore him no children.
  Richard Mead, the son of Dr. Mead, married Anne, daughter of William Gore, of Tring, Herts. He died in 1762 and was buried at Stepney. They had four children, of whom only one appears to have survived their father. The surviving son was the Revd. James Mead, who was Rector of Pitchcroft, Bucks. He died in 1772, aged 26, unmarried. In the cloister of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, is a memorial to him with a Latin inscription.
  With regard to the spelling of the family name, it appears to have been spelt variously "Meade", "Mead" and occasionally "Mede" by different members of the family. William Mead, the Quaker, and the Revd. Matthew Mead finally adopted the form "Mead" and their descendants retained that form.