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Colonial American Doctors

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  • John Davis, M.D. (1689 - 1762)
    Find a Grave Birth: Nov. 19, 1689 Death: Nov. 16, 1762 Doctor John Davis, in the 73d year of his age; son of Dr. Simon & Elizabeth Davis; married Abigail Dudley 17 DEC 1713. Burial: South B...
  • Simon Davis, M.D. (1661 - 1713)
    Simon Davis Birth: Oct 12 1661 Parents: Simon Davis, Mary Davis (born Blood) Wife: Elizabeth Davis (born Woodhouse) Son: John Davis Dolor Davis A sketch of his life with a Record of his Earlier Desce...
  • Dr. Andrew R. Kilpatrick (1745 - 1813)
    A Patriot of the American Revolution for NORTH CAROLINA  with the rank of Ensign. DAR Ancestor #   A065849 Andrew Kilpatarick was listed on the tax rolls for Captain caldwell's district...
  • Willem Rasenburg (deceased)
    Though he signed the Remonstrance, there are scant records of him in NA. 1661 Sep 19; Willem Rasenburg, Annetie Rasenburg; Willem; Evidently he was a surgeon at New Amstel on the Delaware c 1658-1659...
  • Lyman Hall, signer of the "Declaration of Independence" (1724 - 1790)
    Lyman Hall (April 12, 1724 – October 19, 1790), physician, clergyman, and statesman, was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Georgia. Hall County is ...

Please add the profiles of the chirurgeons, 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