Mease, Dr. James (1771-1846)



Mease, Dr. James (1771-1846)


Attributed to John Neagle


Dr. James Mease (1771-1846) was a prominent Philadelphia physician, scientist and author with wide-ranging intellectual interests. He earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1792; served as a hospital surgeon during the War of 1812; corresponded regularly with notable figures in the United States and abroad; and published on topics including medicine, agriculture and geology. In 1814 he published the first-known ketchup recipe to include a tomato base, effectively transforming the sauce that had previously existed in various forms to the now familiar condiment.

Dr. Mease was a member of the American Philosophical Society and the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, and a founding member of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. In 1814 he helped found the Athenaeum of Philadelphia; among the original 139 charter shareholders, Dr. Mease held share number 7, and served as the Athenaeum’s first vice-president.

In 1800, Dr. Mease married Sarah Butler, the daughter of South Carolina Senator Pierce Butler. They had two sons who later changed their last names from Mease to Butler as a prerequisite for inheriting their grandfather Senator Butler’s vast fortune. One of the sons, Pierce Butler, married the renowned English stage actress Fanny Kemble.

Dr. James Mease died in Philadelphia in 1846.




Oil on canvas; gilt frame


Gift of The Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture


General Collection, Museum Collection, The Athenaeum of Philadelphia