FREIND, John (?1677-1728), of Hitcham, Bucks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1722 - 17 Mar. 1724
29 Mar. 1725 - 1727

Family and Education

b. ?1677, 3rd s. of Rev. William Freind, rector of Croughton, Northants., by his w. Anne. educ. Westminster under Dr. Busby, Ch. Ch. Oxf. 7 July 1694, aged 17; M.B. 1703, M.D. 1707. m. 3 Dec. 1709, Anne, da. of Thomas Morice, paymaster of the British forces in Portugal, and cos. of Sir Nicholas Morice, 1s.1 Freind was bro.-in-law of Rev. William Morice, Atterbury’s son-in-law.

Offices Held

Fellow, R. Coll. of Physicians 1716; gov. Bridewell and Bethlehem Hospitals 1728.


Freind distinguished himself as a scholar at Christ Church, where he became the intimate friend of Francis Atterbury. Adopting the profession of medicine, in 1705 he accompanied the Earl of Peterborough as physician during the Spanish campaign; in 1712 he went to Flanders with the Duke of Ormonde in the same capacity. On his return, he became one of London’s chief physicians, drawing his patients principally from among the Tories. He moved in high Tory political circles, dining with Harley and St. John, and contributing articles to The Examiner.2

After George I’s accession Freind corresponded with the Stuart court at Rome, engaging an English nurse for the newly-born Young Pretender in 1720. Brought into Parliament in 1722 by Lord Lansdowne, one of the Pretender’s representatives in France, he became deeply involved in the scheme for a Jacobite rising known as the Atterbury plot. On 30 Mar. of that year the Pretender wrote to Lord Strafford, who was to command the rising in the north:

I think you have done very well to let Dr. Freind into the secret of our present affair. He is a most worthy man and out of good will to me would have quitted both his practice and his country to have attended me if I would have allowed him, which is a sufficient proof of his sincere attachment to me and the cause.

In April he seems to have been in charge of the ‘military chest’ formed to finance the rising, sending bills of exchange to the Pretender’s banker in Paris by a London alderman and by another emissary to Ormonde to enable him to make the necessary preparations in Spain and Italy. Walpole later told Sir Dudley Ryder that had the scheme succeeded, Freind was to have been secretary of state. About this time he began to suspect Lord Mar, Lansdowne’s colleague in France, of treachery, imparting his suspicions in a letter to Lansdowne, who gave it to Mar to decipher. Mar wrote at once to the Pretender:

God have mercy on an undertaking of this kind with Dr. Jo. Freind at the head of it ... Earl Strafford has been and is imposed upon by Dr. Jo. Freind ... Sir Henry Goring is entirely led by Dr. Jo. Freind.

When the Government got wind of the conspiracy Freind told Lansdowne that it was being ‘asserted with great positiveness’ that Mar had given ‘an account of the design all along, and keeps a constant correspondence in cypher with Sir Robert Sutton and Lord Stair’, the British ambassadors at Cambrai and Paris, adding: ‘I hope he is injured in it, and am sure no one wishes him every way more clear than myself’.3 Freind was not arrested with his fellow conspirators in August and September because, though frequently mentioned in intercepted correspondence under the name of Clinton, the government decipherers were unable to identify him.4 But unfortunately for him the English nurse whom he had engaged for the Young Pretender ‘became so uneasy’ in Rome that she was sent back to England, where on 11 Mar. 1723 she admitted, on being questioned, that the expenses of her journey had been paid by Freind and that she had taken letters from him to persons in the Pretender’s service.5 Arrested the following day, but discharged without trial three months later, he received a letter from the Pretender assuring him that ‘the many proofs you have already given me of your friendship will ever engage me to profess an eternal gratitude to you’.6

In Parliament, Freind spoke, 27 Nov. 1722, against a proposal to raise £100,000 from Roman Catholics. He was unseated on petition after a heated debate in March 1724, but recovered his seat at a by-election in 1725. On 20 Apr. 1725 he spoke in support of the bill for restoring Bolingbroke’s estates ‘in hopes it was an earnest for more and better’.7 In a debate on foreign affairs in February 1726

he lashed the ministry and their whole conduct and said that no Englishman could give his approbation to the treaty of Hanover, if he had not renounced the interest of his native country, and sold himself a bond slave to foreigners. He exposed the treaty of Hanover and showed that the whole design of it was to guarantee the Hanover dominions which is directly against the Act of Settlement.

On the accession of George II Freind was appointed physician to Queen Caroline, whose children he had been summoned to attend in 1724, when she had treated him with high favour. He did not stand at the general election and forbad the Pretender’s agent in London from ever speaking to him on his master’s affairs.8 An Oxford Tory wrote of his defection:

Had he excused himself from being physician in waiting, on account of its being inconsistent with his other business, as Radcliffe did to King William, but offered readily to attend when called upon any occasion, he might have had as much power and not much less money, and no one could have taken the least exception to it.9

On his death of a violent fever,10 26 July 1728, Atterbury observed:

I dare say, notwithstanding his station at court, he died of the same political opinions in which I left him. He is lamented by men of all parties at home, and of all countries abroad.11

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. J. H. Glover, Stuart Pprs. pp. l-li.
  • 2. Swift, Works. v. 384: ix. 69; Jnl. to Stella, passim.
  • 3. Stuart mss 46/149, 58/91, 58/116, 59/72, 60/26, 60/160; Harrowby mss 21 (L. Inn), 13 Feb. 1742; Stowe 250, f. 77; Howell, State Trials, xvi. 336-7, 395.
  • 4. Stowe 250, ff. 5, 9, 13-14.
  • 5. SP Dom. 35/42, ff. 34, 45; State Trials, 395.
  • 6. Stuart mss 76/94.
  • 7. Knatchbull Diary.
  • 8. Stuart mss 90/128, 122/3.
  • 9. HMC Portland, vii. 467.
  • 10. Hearne, Colls. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), x. 38.
  • 11. Nichols, Lit. Anecs. v. 101.