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Colonial American Doctors

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Profiles

  • Dr. Benjamin Church ("Chief Physician & Director General" of the Medical Service of the Continental Army) [British spy] (1734 - 1776)
    Dr. Benjamin was noted as a Traitor to the Revolutionary cause. Dr. Benjamin Church (August 24, 1734–1778) was effectively the first Surgeon General of the U.S. Army, serving as the "Chief...
  • Daniel Farrand, M.D. (1726 - 1764)
    Doct. Daniel d. 7th Mar. 1764 a. 38; his wid. Margaret m Elijah Hedden. *
  • Dr. Seth Capron (1763 - 1835)
    added by E. Nickerson- Dr. Seth Capron was born on 23 September 1763 in Attleboro, Bristol, Massachusetts.1 He was the son of Elisha Capron and Abigail Makepeace.2 Dr. Seth Capron married Eunice Mann o...
  • Dr. John Woodson, of Flowerdew Hundred (c.1586 - 1644)
    John Woodson is listed as head of household and Sarah Woodson is listed as his wife in the muster for Peirseys hundred (Jan. 1, 1624/1625). The same muster also gives their ship (the George ) and their...
  • Grace Dutch (1607 - 1694)
    Grace Pratt Birth: Oct 1607 - Bridport, Dorset, England Parents: Bennett Pratt, Ann Primrose Married: about March 20, 1629 of Bridport, Dorset, England to Osmond Dutch Death: Oct 10 1694 - Gl...

Please add the profiles of the chirugeons, physicans, midwives, apothecaries and bonesetters who were our earliest doctors. Collaborators, feel free to update the page and add resource materials.

Please note:

40% of the physicians in the early colonies were women. Midwives at this time were considered doctors.

18th Century American Medicine

From http://www.aaofoundation.org/what/heritage/exhibits/online/18Cent.cfm

In 18th Century England, there were three main classes of medical men: physicians, surgeons and apothecaries. Physicians were considered the elite among the three groups, holding medical degrees from universities and serving mainly the upper classes. In contrast, English surgeons and apothecaries rarely held medical degrees and often gained their training through apprenticeship. By and large the doctors of early colonial America were not English physicians but “ship’s surgeons”. They had learned their trade through apprenticeship or hospitals and often took on their own apprentices in America, which became the chief means of medical education at the time. While referred to as physicians or doctors, most colonists practicing medicine did not qualify as such back in England.

Colonial “physicians” practiced medicine, surgery and apothecary together as needed. As the colonies grew and prospered, some could afford to be trained at the universities abroad and earn their medical degree. Upon their return, however, colonists expected even European trained physicians to open the same general practices as their untrained countrymen. As might be expected, colonial physicians with formal degrees were often more prosperous and enjoyed greater prestige, but these were few and far between.

On the eve of the Revolutionary War it has been estimated that the colonies contained 3,500 physicians, only 400 of whom had undergone some sort of training, and about 200 of these actually held medical degrees.

notables

doctors of interest

Resources