Matthew Meade (1628/9 - 1699), clergyman
and ejected minister
Born in Leighton Buzzard, Matthew was the second
son of Richard and Joane Meade of Mursley, Buckinghamshire. He
studied at Eton College and was elected a scholar at King's College,
Cambridge, and was admitted in 1649. However he resigned, possibly
to avoid expulsion for refusing to take the engagement to the Commonwealth.
Between 1653 and 1657 he was involved in a dispute over the rectory
of Great Brickhill, Buckinghamshire, which he eventually lost.
On the 3rd January 1655, at St Mary Woolnoth, London,
Matthew married Elizabeth Walton of All Hallows, Lombard Street,
London. During this year he became morning lecturer at St Dunstans
and All Saints, Stepney, where Richard Baxter was curate, and he
joined the gathered congregation on 28 December 1656. During 1657
he was appointed as an assistant to both the Buckinghamshire and
the Middlesex commissions and in 1658 Cromwell appointed him to
be curate of New Chapel, Shadwell, and in 1659 he
at St Bride's, Fleet Street. Then in January 1660 he was appointed
preacher to the council of state.
At the Restoration, Meade was ejected from his positions,
but he continued to preach. In 1661 he was required to pay a £300
recognizance for good behaviour following Thomas Venner's Fifth
Monarchist uprising. In 1661 he was also leturer at St Sepulchre,
Holborn, but was ejected from this position in 1662.
After a period in Holland, Meade returned to England
by 1665. By 1669 he had become Greenhill's assistant at Stepney.
He was also associated with an Independent church at Woburn, Bedfordshire
and a congregation of baptists, independents and prebyterians at
When Greenhill died in 1671 Meade was ordained pastor
of the Independent church at Stepney. By 1674 he began what became
his annual May Day sermons
young people. In 1678 he was found gulty under the Five Mile Act
and fined £40. However, he continued to preach, and in 1681,
together with Owen and nine other dissenters was fined a total
of £4840 for recusancy and violating the Five Mile Act. In
1682 he was fined a further £180 at the Middlesex sessions
for preaching at his house.
In June 1683 Meade became entangled in the Rye House
Plot and was arrested as he attempted to flee the country. His
included housing John Nisbet, an agent of the United Societies,
and having contact with the plotter Robert Ferguson. However, it
would appear he had no knowledge of the plot to assisinate Charles
and James. After petitioning Charles for pardon and release he
was finally released in July 1683.
On Owen's death in September 1683, Meade succeeded
him as lecturer at Pinners' Hall, London. By December the same
year he was charged with recusancy and attending conventicles and
ordered to conform and publicly confess. In 1684 he was amongst
11 dissenters targeted for arrest.
In 1685 Ferguson sought to use Meade to help raise
London for Monmouth. However, wary of involvement Meade managed
to avoid providing help and left the country for the Netherlands
with the help of Sir John thompson, MP.
Initially, whilst in Amsterdam Meade was openly hostile
toward James II's regime, however, by April 1686 he had reversed
his feelings, and by the summer of that year he was seeking to
obtain a pardon.
Meade was eventually pardoned on 19th March 1687
and he returned to England. In 1689 the congregration of the Stepney
meeting house added galleries to their place of worship
and gave the adjoing house and garden to Meade.
The remaining years of Meade's life were devoted
toward the cause of nonconformist unity. In 1690 he promoted the
Happy Union of Independents and Prebyterians, and the Common Fund
assist needy ministers. In 1695, a year after the Happy Union ran
into trouble, Meade helped found the Congregational Fund
On 16 October 1699 at the age of 70, Matthew Meade
died. He was buried in Stepney churchyard. He was survived by his
widow and seven of their thriteen children.