The Loyalist Collection

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Call Number: MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .P3W5P3
Name: Paine, William, Dr., 1750 - 1833.
Title: Papers : 1768 - 1835.
Description: 4 microfilm reels of textual records ; 35 mm.
William Paine was born on 5 June 1750 in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of Timothy Paine (1730-1793) and his wife Sarah Chandler, the daughter of Thomas Chandler. William Paine, his father Timothy Paine, and brother Samuel Paine (1754-1807) were all Loyalists and graduates of Harvard College. Timothy Paine was a prominent figure in public life and had held a number of offices including: Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, and Clerk of the Court of General Sessions of the Peace for Worcester County. In 1774, Samuel Paine succeeded his father in both positions. However, when Timothy Paine took the oath as a Mandamus Councillor both father and son were labelled as Tories and Timothy Paine was forced by the Whig mob which surrounded his house to resign his position. Samuel Paine fled to the British lines in Boston and took up arms by joining the Associated Loyalists. Timothy Paine was able to remain quietly in Worcester throughout the war.

William Paine's early education was in Worcester and little is known about this period of his life except that the school master who taught him Latin was John Adams, later the second President of the United States. He graduated from Harvard College in 1768 and went to Salem to study medicine as an apprentice to Dr. Edward Augustus Holyoke. In 1773, he married Lois Orne (1756-1822), the daughter of a wealthy merchant. Dr. James Lotham, Surgeon to the British 8th Regiment of Foot licenced Paine to practice inoculation against smallpox but the town of Salem refused to allow the practice. He returned to Worcester and invested in a partnership with another physician, Dr. Ebenezer Hunt and Levi Shepard, an apothecary, to open the first store in the town for the sale of drugs and medicines.

In the autumn of 1774, he sailed for London and spent the winter there buying supplies for his store, but when he returned to Boston in the spring of 1775 he found that the British were in the process of evacuating the city and he immediately sailed again for England where he joined other Loyalist refugees, including former Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson. On 19 October 1775, General Sir William Howe appointed William Paine apothecary to the hospital in America, and with a new medical degree from Aberdeen he sailed for New York where he served with the British army for several years. In February 1781, Dr. Paine accompanied Lord Winchelsea to Lisbon as his personal physician, but later in the year he was back in London where he was admitted as a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians and carried on his medical practice among the residents of the social upper class. Soon after this, he was appointed by Sir Guy Carleton as Physician to the Army and assigned to the hospital in Halifax where he took up his duties on 26 October 1782. One year later, when the British troops were being withdrawn from North America, he was placed on half pay and received a grant of land in return for his services in the British army.

The land Dr. Paine received was on the Island of La Tete in Passamaquoddy Bay, and he lived there until 1785 when he moved his family to Saint John so his children could receive an education, and to begin a medical practice. He was one of the first physicians in New Brunswick. Soon after his arrival he was appointed Deputy Surveyor of the King's Woods, a Justice of the Peace for Sunbury County, and elected a member of the House of Assembly for Charlotte County and Clerk of the House. Paine took the lead in petitioning the Governor-in-Council to found an Academy, or School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in Fredericton, and in time the Academy became the University of New Brunswick. The Petition is dated 13 December 1785 and William Paine was the first petitioner to sign the document. In June 1787, he received permission from the War Office and from Lieutenant Governor Thomas Carleton to move to Salem, Massachusetts, yet still retain his British army half pay. His reasons were largely financial as many Loyalists were so impoverished they were unable to pay for his services, and there were estate affairs that needed his attention in Massachusetts.

In 1793, after the death of his father, William Paine moved into the family home in Worcester and resumed his medical practice. As the war of 1812 approached, he resigned his commission and half pay in the British army and applied for naturalization as an American citizen. In the same year William Paine and Isaac Thomas, the Worcester publisher, founded the American Antiquarian Society with Dr. Paine as first vice-president of the first national historical organization in the United States. He lived in Worcester the remaining forty years of his life and died on 19 March 1833 at the age of eighty-three.

The Papers of Dr. William Paine form a unique and valuable body of documentation on the life and career of this remarkable Loyalist and physician, and the turbulent period in which he lived. Scholars interested in the history of medicine during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries will find in these Papers a wealth of information on every aspect of the medical profession at that time. There are records which provide great detail on medical practices and procedures, drugs and prescriptions, supplies, record keeping, medical education, and a host of other subjects.

Unfortunately, the documents are not arranged on the microfilm in chronological order and there is no general table of contents on the reels. All that can be found are a few hand written targets to guide the researcher. However, the following brief overview of contents will provide a glimpse into the depth and great richness of this unique collection of manuscripts: correspondence spanning a period of over fifty years, 1768-1822; medical memoranda; account books; medical tracts; prescriptions; medical records; Journal, New York to Lisbon; a statement of service in the British forces; inventory of property in Worcester; diaries and medical notes; a record of deaths and their causes; hospital service in Halifax and Saint John; lists of medicines; Journal, Halifax to Passamaquoddy; legal documents; estate inventories; notebooks of medical records and memoranda; notes on drugs and medicines, notes on medical studies in Salem; accounts of drugs and medicines purchased; memoranda of visits and prescriptions in Salem; farm diaries; other diaries and memorandum books; and memorandum book, Lisbon, Portugal, with Notes on Portugal; and many other records.

Originals: The original records are held by the American Antiquarian Society.
A microfilm shelf list and table of contents has been created by the author of the Loyalist Collection Inventory. It provides a list of contents for each reel in the same order as the manuscripts appear in the film. This finding aid is available in print with the Loyalist Collection Finding Aids and on the World Wide Web.
Web Finding Aid Available
Two sources of information have been useful in providing details for the background information on the life and career of Dr. William Paine. They are as follows:

Address given at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, on Founders Day, 27 February 1964, by Dr.Clfford K. Shipton, Director of the American Antiquarian Society; and Francis, George E., William Paine. American Antiquarian Society Proceedings, new series. vol. 13, April 1900.


The Loyalist Collection is located within the Microforms Department at the Harriet Irving Library.

Last update: 2012/12
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