Jebb, Frederick (d. 1782), obstetrician, was probably born in Boyle, Co. Roscommon, elder son among two sons and two daughters of Edward Jeeb (d. 1771), apothecary, and Elizabeth Jeeb (maiden name unknown). He trained as a doctor in Paris. Returning to Dublin in 1765 he established a practice from 20 St Andrew's St., and he and his brother Henry changed their name to Jebb, possibly influenced by the fact that a London practitioner, Sir Richard Jebb (1729–87), was physician to the king.
Appointed assistant master at the Rotunda Lying-in Hospital (1769–72), he entered into the controversy over the decision (made by the hospital governors in 1770) to introduce the systematic teaching of midwifery to midwives and medical students. The proposal provoked an anonymous pamphlet, attributed by Jebb to the master, William Collum (1710–82), Reasons against lectures in the Lying-in Hospital, which suggested that patients in the hospital would be subjected to all sorts of indignities in order to instruct ‘a parcel of brats of boys, the apprentices of surgeons and apothecaries’ (Kirkpatrick, 78). Jebb responded in an anonymous letter published in the Freeman's Journal and subsequently as a pamphlet, A view of the schemes at present under consideration of the governors of the Lying-in Hospital (1771), in which he argued that one of the intentions on the founding of the hospital was that it should be a teaching centre, and that theoretical teaching of midwifery was as important as practical instruction, and questioned the idea of the misbehaviour of students during lectures. On his appointment as master (1773–80) Jebb instituted a course of lectures in midwifery (1774), given by David MacBride (qv), and so laid the foundations for the hospital's subsequent reputation as a renowned school of midwifery. He published A physiological enquiry into the process of labour, and an attempt to ascertain the determining cause of it (1770). He was celebrated in verse in the Medical Review (p. 24): There's Fred'rick Jebb who th' hospital commands, /Where pregnancy's relieved by skilful hands; / An edifice magnificent and large / Kept up with splendour at the public charge; / In France perfection'd in Lucina's ways / For happy births he's crown'd with verdant bays.
Fear of foreign invasion had necessitated the raising of the Irish Volunteers, who during Jebb's mastership were allowed to exercise in the Rotunda gardens. His mastership coincided with a period of heightened political tension, to which Jebb contributed in a series of letters under the pseudonyms ‘Causidicus’ and ‘Guatimozin’, which were published in the Freeman's Journal in April, May, and July 1779, and later as a pamphlet, The letters of Guatimozin (Dublin, Belfast, and London, 1779). Described as a ‘red-hot patriot’ (Madden, History . . . 430), he passionately asserted the right of Ireland to parliamentary independence, claiming that ‘imperial sovereignty of any one kingdom over another, de jure, is direct nonsense’ (Letters of Guatimozin, 3). He argued for the lifting of restrictions on Irish trade, for ‘the rapacity of England over Ireland hath received its limits in the poverty of this country’ (ibid., 2), and emphasised the essential interrelationship of agriculture, manufactures, and fisheries in the development of a country's prosperity; as for England's protection of Ireland, it only exposed her to England's enemies.
His letters so alarmed the lord lieutenant, the earl of Buckinghamshire (qv), that he wrote (19 November 1780) to the British prime minister, Lord North (1732–92), recommending a government pension for Jebb. Buckinghamshire explained that to quell the inflammatory nature of the press he had negotiated with Jebb – the chief of the political writers – a pension of £300 annually during his and his wife's lifetime, if he would assist the government; that Jebb had subsequently proved useful by suppressing inflammatory articles and performing other services, and had become one of the most active writers in defence of the government; and that his writings included Considerations on the expediency of a national circulation bank at this time in Ireland (1780), on the title page of which he acknowledged his authorship of the letters of Guatimozin. It is doubtful if Jebb was ever granted a pension. He died (1782) at his home, 20 Andrew's St., Dublin. He married (1772) Elizabeth Somerville; they had at least one son, Ross Jebb (Alumni Dubl.). Elizabeth Jebb applied for the post of matron of the Rotunda Hospital in 1795 and 1811 but was unsuccessful.
His brother Henry Jebb (c.1750–1811), obstetrician, was probably apprenticed to his father and was appointed assistant master at the Rotunda Hospital (1780–83) having been nominated by his brother Frederick. His application for the mastership in 1786 was unsuccessful. One of the most fashionable obstetricians in Dublin, he practised from 22 North Anne St., and subsequently from Grafton St., and served as surgeon (1778–1811) to Mercer's Hospital, Dublin. An original member of the Dublin Society of Surgeons in 1780, he was elected a member at the first meeting of the RCSI (1784), appointed professor of midwifery 1793 (resigning in 1794), and elected president in 1800; in 1782 he was knighted. He is listed in the registry of securities of the Freeman's Journal for 1779 and 1883, and built several houses in North Frederick St., Dublin, which was named after his son. He married twice; no details of his first marriage have been found. His second wife was Mary Kelly; of his three sons and two daughters, two of his sons, Henry Jebb and Frederick Jebb, became doctors, the latter was assistant surgeon at Mercer's Hospital, before serving as a surgeon in the Peninsular war and at Waterloo. Henry died (1811) at Dromartin House, Dundrum, Co. Dublin, which he had built for himself, and was buried in Glasnevin churchyard, Dublin.