Ould, Sir Fielding (1710–89), obstetrician, was born in Galway, one of two sons of Abraham Ould (c.1689–1715), an English army captain in the Royal Regiment of Welsh Fusiliers, and Lettice Ould (née Shawe). In 1715 his father was murdered in London and the family returned to Galway. At the age of 19 he decided to study medicine and was appointed dissector in the anatomy department, TCD, remaining there for five years; he left without a degree and studied midwifery for two years in Paris, probably under the accoucheur Gregoire the elder.
Returning to Dublin, he established a flourishing obstetrical practice in Golden Lane, and was admitted licentiate in midwifery (1738) from the (R)K&QCP(I). A key figure in the development from unskilled midwifery into modern obstetrics, he published his classic A treatise of midwifery, In three parts (1742) and dedicated it to the K&QCP(I) which gave it their imprimatur. One of the earliest obstetric works in the English language, it was the most influential work of its time and helped to lay the foundations for Dublin's fame in the history of obstetrics. It contained many original observations but is most noteworthy for its accurate descriptions, for the first time, of the process of normal labour, being one of the first to advocate delivery in the lateral position. Ould recommended the use of opiates in prolonged labour, described episiotomy and suture, used forceps on occasion, but was a strong supporter of the principle that meddlesome midwifery is bad. Moral courage was demonstrated in his pioneering advocacy of professional consultation in difficult cases, which at that time carried the imputation of ignorance.
Having served as an assistant master (1745) to Bartholomew Mosse (qv), founder and master of the Dublin Lying-in Hospital, he was appointed master (1759–66) and governor (1760) on the latter's death and is regarded as the co-founder of the hospital. He proceeded to fulfil Mosse's aspirations and developed the pleasure gardens and commissioned the architect John Ensor (qv) in 1764 to build the Round Room as a fashionable place of entertainment to provide funds for the hospital, which then became known as the Rotundo (later the Rotunda). During his mastership the welfare of patients was improved: the number of beds were increased and there were 3,800 confinements and forty-nine deaths among the mothers; of the 3,854 births, 198 were stillborn and 708 died before leaving the hospital.
Awarded BA speciali gratia (1753) (Dubl.), Ould was the unwitting cause of a major rift between K&QCP(I) and TCD: an agreement existed between them that the College of Physicians would examine candidates for the degree in medicine in TCD. In 1759 the college refused TCD's request to examine Ould for a medical degree, arguing that it was contrary to their by-laws and their professional dignity that a physician should practice midwifery; however, TCD recognised Ould as a worthy candidate, and (bypassing the college) conferred on him MB (1760) and MD (1761), whereupon the college severed all links with the university. The issue was later resolved: the college became more appreciative of obstetricians and admitted Ould as a licentiate in medicine (1785), though he was never elected to fellowship.
The leading obstetrician in Dublin, he attended the births of the destitute and of many distinguished people including that of the future duke of Wellington (qv). As a rare honour for a Dublin medical man, he was knighted in 1760, which inspired the epigram of a Dublin wit (quoted in M'Clintock, 11):
Sir Fielding Ould is made a knight,
He should have been a lord by right;
For then each lady's prayer would be,
O Lord, good Lord, deliver me!
He died 29 November 1789 at his home, 21 Frederick St., Dublin, and was buried in St Anne's graveyard, Dublin. He married (22 April 1738) Grace Walker; they had three sons and six daughters. The eldest son, William Ould (b. 1743), served as the hospital chaplain (1776–1816); the second son, Fielding Ould (d. 1776) was elected high sheriff of the city of Dublin (1775). One son and two daughters died in childhood. A chalk drawing of Ould (1759) by Thomas Hickey (qv) is held in the NGI.