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Colonial American Doctors

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  • Dr. Thomas Delano (1642 - 1723)
    Dr . Thomas Delano was born 21 Mar 1642 in Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts and died on 13 Apr 1723 in Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. He is buried in the Myles Standish Burying Ground,...
  • Reuben Hatch (1787 - 1868)
  • Edward Mitchelson (1644 - c.1677)
    From Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University: In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Volume 2 (Google eBook) Massachusetts Historical Society, 1881. Page 189-190: EDWARD MITCHELSON. B...
  • Dr. Ivory Hovey (1748 - 1818)
    Dr. Hovey was a surgeon of Colonel Scamman's battalion during the Revolutionary War and was stationed at Fort Miller, Ticonderoga. At the death of his second wife, Frances. in 1816, the doctor was ma...
  • Doctor William Batty (deceased)
    Dr. William Battie Oxford Biography Birth: 1703 Parents: Revd Edward Battie (1664?–1714), rector of Modbury, Devon, and his wife, Catherine, was baptized in Modbury on 1 September 1703 ...

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


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.


doctors of interest