Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fryer, John (d.1672)

FRYER, JOHN, M.D. (d. 1672), physician, was a grandson of John Fryer, M.D. (d. 1563) [q. v.], and the eldest son of Thomas Fryer, M.D. (d. 1623, see Munk, Coll. of Phys. ed. 1878, i. 72–4), both of whom were fellows of the College of Physicians. He studied his profession at Padua, where he graduated M.D. 6 April 1610, and was admitted a candidate of the College of Physicians 25 June 1612. He lived in Little Britain, London, in part of the house where his father ‘did dwell.’ By birth a strict member of the church of Rome, he was on 29 March 1626 returned to the parliamentary commissioners by the college as ‘an avowed or suspected papist.’ ‘This,’ observes Dr. Munk, ‘was probably the reason he was not admitted a fellow, as it was without doubt the cause of his brother, Thomas Fryer, M.D. (fl. 1623), having been refused admission as a candidate.’ After remaining a candidate for more than half a century, he was, in December 1664, when honorary fellows were first created, placed at the head of the list. On 5 Aug. 1628 he was admitted a member of Gray's Inn (Harl. MS. 1912, f. 106), but did not proceed to the bar. He died at his house in Little Britain, 12 Nov. 1672, at the advanced age of ninety-six, and was buried on 19 Nov. (Smyth, Obituary, Camden Soc. p. 97), ‘in the vault of St. Botolph's Church without Aldersgate, London, where his mother and eldest sister, Elizabeth Peacocke, lye buried.’ Fryer, for his unfilial and unbrotherly conduct, had been disinherited by his father, though the latter, by will dated 2 Dec. 1617, and proved 10 May 1623 (P.C.C. 40, Swan), left him 50l. in token of forgiveness. He denounced, however, his son's ‘many great impieties to his parents, and especially towards his tender, carefull, and mercifull mother … too horrible and shamefull to repeate,’ and desired the world to know that he had ‘brought his parents, against all rites and against nature, and especially me, his father, before the greatest magistrates, to our discredites, as may appeare by letters sent from the highest, whch at length they, having fully ripped upp all matters, although mutch against my will, turned utterly to his utter discredit.’

His father had purchased the manor of Harlton, Cambridgeshire, of the Barnes family, as appears from his monument in Harlton Church. His second brother, Henry, who died in Little Britain, 4 June 1631, by a fall from his horse (Smyth, p. 6), had by his will dated 27 May of that year (P.C.C. 104, St. John) provided for some of his relatives, but directed his executors to settle Harlton and his other lands to such charitable uses as they thought fit. Fryer thereupon instituted proceedings in the court of wards. The executors consented to a reference to Mr. Justice Harvey, testator's cousin and an overseer of his will, and he certified that Fryer ought to have the whole estate. The matter was eventually submitted to the arbitration of Lord-Keeper Coventry, Bishop Laud, and Secretary Coke (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1631–33, pp. 360–1, 470; 1633–34, pp. 376, 379). Fryer evidently gained the day, for by his will dated 1 Sept. and proved 21 Nov. 1672 (P.C.C. 129 and 150, Eure), he devised the property to his nephews and executors, John Peacock of Heath House, near Petersfield, county Southampton, and Andrew Matthew, carpenter, of the city of London. The version of the story as given by Lysons (Magna Brit. vol. ii. pt. i., ‘Cambridgeshire’) is erroneous.

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. (1878), i. 319–21.]

G. G.