Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Warren, Richard (1731-1797)

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WARREN, RICHARD (1731–1797), physician, born at Cavendish in Suffolk on 4 Dec. 1731, was the third son of Dr. Richard Warren (1681–1748), archdeacon of Suffolk and rector of Cavendish, by his wife Priscilla (d. 1774), daughter of John Fenner. He was the younger brother of John Warren [q. v.], bishop of Bangor, and, like him, was educated at the public school of Bury St. Edmunds. He entered Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1748, shortly after the death of his father, graduated B.A. as fourth wrangler in 1752, and was elected a fellow of the college, obtaining in succeeding years the prizes awarded to middle and senior bachelors for proficiency in Latin prose composition. He proceeded M.A. in 1755 and M.D. on 3 July 1762. On obtaining a fellowship his inclination directed him to the law, chance made him a physician. He became tutor at Jesus College to the only son of Peter Shaw [q. v.], physician in ordinary to George II and George III, acquired the esteem of the physician, married his daughter Elizabeth in 1759, and in 1763 succeeded to the practice of his father-in-law. He was admitted a candidate of the College of Physicians on 30 Sept. 1762.

Shortly after he began to practise, Sir Edward Wilmot [q. v.], the son-in-law of Richard Mead [q. v.], then physician to the court, recommended Warren as a fitting person to assist him in his attendance upon the Princess Amelia. When Wilmot retired, Warren continued to act as physician to the princess, and by her influence he was appointed physician to George III in 1762 on the resignation of his father-in-law. He was elected a fellow of the College of Physicians on 3 March 1763. He delivered the Gulstonian lectures at the College in 1764 and the Harveian oration in 1768. He acted as censor in 1764, 1776, and 1782. On 9 Aug. 1784 he was named an elect.

On 5 Aug. 1756, having at that time a license ad practicandum from the university of Cambridge, he was elected a physician to the Middlesex Hospital, and on 21 Jan. 1760 he became physician to St. George's Hospital. The former appointment he resigned in November 1758, the latter in May 1766. In 1787 he was appointed physician to the Prince of Wales.

Warren died at his house in Dover Street on 22 June 1797, leaving a widow, eight sons, and two daughters. He was buried in Kensington parish church on 30 June 1797. Mrs. Inchbald, who had a great admiration for him, composed some mourning verses to his memory, addressed to Mrs. Warren (Boaden, Life of Mrs. Inchbald, i. 258, 269, 291, 387, ii. 13–14). Of his sons, Frederick Warren, rear-admiral, and Pelham Warren, physician, are separately noticed.

Warren arrived early at the highest medical practice in England, and maintained his supremacy to the last. He was in receipt of a larger annual income than had been known to accrue from the practice of medicine in this country. He is said to have realised 9,000l. a year from the time of the regency in 1788, and he bequeathed to his family upwards of 150,000l. But his eminence was the fair reward of exceptional powers of mind, felicity of memory, and solidity of judgment.

A three-quarter-length portrait by Gainsborough is in the Royal College of Physicians. It was presented by his son Pelham Warren, and was engraved by John Jones in 1792. There is a second portrait by G. Stuart, engraved in 1810 by G. Bartolozzi. Warren's only contributions to literature were a paper on bronchial polypus and an essay on the ‘Colica Pictonum,’ both published in the ‘Transactions’ of the College of Physicians. His ‘Oratio ex Harveii instituto’ was published in quarto, London, 1769.

[Seward's Biographiana, ii. 629, quoted in Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, iii. 130 n.; Hawkins's Memoir in the Lives of British Physicians, p. 230; Munk's Coll. of Phys. vol. ii; Wraxall's Posthumous Memoirs, iii. 189–90; Europ. Mag. 1797 ii. 346, 1798 i. 240, 1799 i. 165–6; Davy's Suffolk Collections in Brit. Mus. Addit. MSS. 19154 ff. 252, 261–4, 266, 270, 19173 f. 157; Gold-headed Cane, 2nd edit. pp. 186–93, 205–7; information kindly given by the Rev. J. R. Wilson, rector of Cavendish.]

D’A. P.