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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 became a lecturer 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 Sibson, Leicestershire.

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 for 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 involvement 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 to assist needy ministers. In 1695, a year after the Happy Union ran into trouble, Meade helped found the Congregational Fund Board to aid needy clergy.

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.

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