John Mattear, brother of Samuel McTier who married Martha Drennan, was a pioneer of medical care for the poor and destitute of Belfast. Mattear studied medicine in Glasgow and Edinburgh in the 1740s. He returned to Belfast and was the first visiting physician to be appointed to the Belfast Poor House.
The infirmary at the Poor House was the only medical relief in Belfast until the Dispensary opened in 1792. An advertisement had been placed in the Newsletter seeking support for Belfast’s first chemist were citizens, particularly the poor and labouring classes, could get medicine at little or no cost. The signatories of the ‘Dispensary Notice’ included Valentine Jones, Waddell Cunningham and Robert Holmes, all of whom were members of the Belfast Charitable Society. Dr John Mattear was one of the founding physicians of the new Belfast Dispensary.
Mattear studied alongside Dr Alexander Henry Halliday and it was recorded in his obituary in the Belfast Newsletter “their professional competition never diminished their personal friendship…”. The kind and compassionate doctor who gave so much of his life to helping the poor was buried in Clifton Street Cemetery.