(b. Croughton, Northamptonshire, England, 1675; d. London, England, 26 July 1728)
Freind’s father, William, rector of Croughton, sent his three sons to Westminster School and Christ Chruch, Oxford, to follow in his footsteps. Freind’s latinity attracted the favorable notice of Dean Henry Aldrich and led to his first publication of Latin translations. At Oxford he met Francis Atterbury, then a tutor and later bishop of Rochester, with whom he was to be associated politically. Freind was B. A. (1698), M. A. (1701), M. B. (1703), and, by diploma, M. D. (1707). In 1704 he gave, by invitation, nine lectures on chemistry at the Ashmolean Museum, later published as Praelectiones chymicae. These are notable for Freind’s adoption of the principles of Newtonian attraction (which he derived from the lectures given by John Keill), in an attempt to make chemistry truly mechanical. He tried to estimate quantitatively the relative forces operating between particles in order to explain association, dissociation, calcination, distillation, fermentation, and all other chemical processes. The publication of a second edition at Amsterdam in 1710 provoked an unfavorable review in the Acta eruditorum, to which Freind replied in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society for 1712. The Leipzig attack was part of the Leibniz Newton polemic, and the criticism was based not upon Freind’s chemistry but upon his Newtonianism, and was so regarded by Newton’s friends (Arnold Thackray, “Matter in a Nutshell,” in Ambix15  35–36) Ironically, this may have assisted Freind’s election as a fellow of the Royal Society in March 1712.
Freind had already left Oxford and begun his medical career, first as physician to the English forces in the 1705 campaign under the earl of Peterborough, whose defense he was soon to write, then in Italy and later in Flanders as physician to the duke of Ormonde. He married Anne Morice in 1709 and soon returned to London, where he practiced very successfully. In 1716 Freind became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, in whose affairs he was subsequently active, and he began to write on medical topics. Emmenologia (1717) displays a leaning toward mechanistic physiology, but most of his other medical works are concerned with therapeutics.
In 1722, having weathered the storm of controversy arising from his association with Peterborough, Freind became M.P. for Launceston and, having strong Jacobite leanings, became involved in Atterbury’s plot and was for some months confined to the Tower on a charge of high treason. From the Tower he wrote to his friend Richard Mead—who was subsequently to secure his release—a letter on smallpox and also sent him his History of Physick. (Mead had sent him a copy of Daniel Leclerc’s Histoire de la médicine.) This was long regarded as an authoritative work, especially on English medieval and Renaissance medicine, although the first volume is concerned entirely with post-Galenic Greek writers, and much of the second with Islamic Physicians; it is especially strong on medical treatment. Soon after his release Freind was appointed physician to the royal children and in 1727 to Queen Caroline.
I. Original Works. Opera omnia medica, John Wigan, ed. (London, 1733; Venice, 1733; Paris, 1735), contains all Freind’s major scientific and medical writings: Praelectiones chymicae (London, 1709; Amsterdam, 1710), English trans. by “J. M.” as Chymical Lectures, with app. (London, 1712); Emmenologia, in qua fluxus mulieeibus menstrui phaenomena...ad rationes mechanicas exiguntur (Oxford, 1703; 2nd ed., London, 1717; Paris, 1727), English t rans. b y T. Dale (London, 1729), also a French trans. (Paris, 1730); Freind’s revised version, with extensive commentary, of Hippocratis de morbis popularibus liber primus et tertius (London, 1717): J. F. de purgantibus in secunda variolarum confluentium febre adhibendis, epistola (London, 1719), English trans by T. Dale, with the commentaries on Hippocrates (London, 1730); J. F. ad R. Mead de quisbusdam variolarum generibus epistola (London, 1723), English trans. by T. Dale (London, 1730); “Oratio anniversaria ex Harvaio instituto,” delivered to the College of Physicians in 1720; and Historia medicinae, a latin trans by John wigan of The History of Physick; From the Time of Galen to the Beginning of the Sixteenth Century (london, 1725, 1726; 2nd ed., London, 1727; 5th ed., 1758), French trans, by Stephen Coulot (Leiden, 1727). He also published three papers in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: “Concerning a Hydrocephalus,” no 256 (1699) 318–322; “A Case of an Extraordinary Cramp,” no. 270 (1701), 799–804; and “A Vindication of His Chymical Lectures” [against the attack in Acta eruditorum, Leipzig, 1710], no. 331 (1712), 330–342, which is printed in English in the 1712 ed. of Chymical Lectures.
Freind’s undergraduate eds. of Aeschines the Orator and of Oviod’s Metamorphoses were published at Oxford in 1696. An Account of the Earl of Peterborow’s Conduct in Spain (London, 1706, 1707, 1708) provoked considerable controversy and a number of replies.
There is a portrait of Freind in the Royal College of Physicians, an engraved portrait frontispiece to the Opera amnia, and a medal with his portrait executed by Saint Urbain. There is a contemporary monument in Westminster Abbey.
II. Secondary Literature. There is a short biography in the preface to the Opera amnia by John Wigan (in Latin). A much better account is in the abridgment of the Philosophical Transactions by Charles Hutton, George Shaw, and Richard Pearson (London, 1809), IV, 423. There is a fair account in William Munk, Roll of the Royal College of Physicians (London, 1851), II, 441–450. The Dictionary of National Biography has a very full account of his political activities and a fair summary of his medical interests.
Marie Boas Hall
"Freind, John." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 19, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/freind-john
"Freind, John." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Retrieved March 19, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/freind-john