Messenger Monsey (1693–1788)

Image credit: Royal College of Physicians, London

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Messenger Monsey (1693–1788) was a physician who despised modern medical improvements and stuck to old habits. He was a country doctor in Bury St Edmunds until a chance meeting with the Earl of Godolphin led to his appointment to Chelsea Hospital and life in London’s high society. Monsey left his body for dissection, contacting the anatomist a few days before death to warn him to be ready to proceed. Little is known of the father-and-daughter artists Thomas and Mary Black. Thomas was mainly employed painting draperies for more successful painters, and Mary usually painted copies of old masters. In a letter from Monsey to Mary Black, the doctor wrote: ‘I was bedevilled to let you make your first attempt upon my gracefull person… drawn like a Hog in armour’.

Royal College of Physicians, London



Messenger Monsey (1693–1788)




oil on canvas


H 127 x W 101.6 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

gift from Frederick Walford, 1877

Work type



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Royal College of Physicians, London

11 St Andrew's Place, Regent's Park, London, Greater London NW1 4LE England

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