Physicians of Ipswich
A. Hammatt
Extracted From
New England Historical & Genealogical Register
January 1850, Vol. 4, Pgs 11-

[Transcribed by Jane Devlin]




Giles FIRMIN (or FYRMIN or FIRMAN), son of Giles, who was chosen deacon of the Church in Boston, 20 Oct 1633, and was, according to Gov. Winthrop, "a godly man, an apothecary of Sudbury, in England," probably came with his father in 1630. He was born in 1614, educated at Cambridge, England, and settled in Ipswich as early as 1638. He married a daughter of Rev. Nathaniel WARD, the eccentric author of "The Simple Cobbler of Aggawam." There were granted to him, 4 Jan 1638, by the Freemen of Ipswich, one hundred acres of land "near Mr. HUBBARD's farm." He also possessed a "planting lot" of six acres, on which he built a house, where he resided; which was purchased, after his return to England, by William GOODHUE, the ancestor of the extensive family of that name. It appears, from a letter to Governor WINTHROP in 1639, that he found the practice of Medicine unprofitable, and that he was disposed to exchange it for the kindred profession of Theology. He, accordingly, lef Ipswich about 1654 and returned to England, where he became a minister of considerable distinction. He preached before Parliament, and the "renouned Assembly of Divines at Westminster," on which occasion, speaking of New England, he said, "I have lived in a country seven years and all that time, I never heard one profane oath, and, all that time, never did see a man drunk in that land." After preaching in England for more than forty years, he died at Ridgewell in April, 1697

John DANE, or DEAN, John junior, & Francis, were among the earliest English settlers of Agguwam, since called Ipswich. These names appear on the first list of "such as are Comminers in Ipswich, viz., or that have right of commonage there: the last day of the last month, 1641." In this list, the name is spelt DANE; but, in the town record, we find "John DEAN, the elder," had granted to him "a house lot of one acre, lying in the street calle the West End," "entered 9th, 2 mo, 1639." He probably died, or removed from Ipswich before 1648. In 29 Dec of that year, the names of Frances DANE & John DANE, appear on "A list of those that did subscribe their names to allow Major DENNISON, the sum of twenty-four pounds, seven shillings, yearly, so long as he hall be their leader, to encourage him in his military helpfulness." Francis, soon after, was settled as the minister of Andover, where he died, 17 Feb 1697, in the eighty-second year of his age. John remained in Ipswich, where he died 29 Sep 1684, and left an estate, appraised at 469. 11s. 3d. In his Will, he styles himself "John DANE, chirurgeon," but the Will is labelled, by the Clerk of the Court, "Doc'tr DEANE's Will." He left a wife & two sons, John & Philemon; daughters Elizabeth & Sarah; a grand-daughter, Mary CHANDLER, (daughter of William CHANDLER, of Andover, who married Mary, his daughter, 24 Aug 1858,) and a grandson, Daniel HOVEY. He gives to his son John, the farm he "bought of Mr. Richard HUBBARD."

Thomas WELLS was one of the earliest English inhabitants of Ipswich. He took the Freeman's oath at Boston, 7 May 1637. He had a house lot granted to him in 1635, on the south side of the river, near where the Stone Bridge now is, and afterwards, in 1638, "planting lands" near "Heartbreak Hill." He probably came from Essex, England, having had relatives at Colchester, in that County, at the time of his decease in 1666. He married a daughter of William WARNER, sister of Daniel & John WARNER, allof the people of consideration among the first settlers. He left three sons, Nathaniel, the eldest, John, and Thomas; and five daughters, Sarah MASSIE, of Salem, Abigail TREADWELL, of Ipswich, Elizabeth, Hannah & Lydia. The last named became Lydia ROGERS before the decease of her mother in 1671. Nathaniel, the eldest son, with his wife, Lydia, continued to reside in Ipswich until after the decease of his mother, who bequeathes to him the "flax now growing." He was probably father of Nathaniel, who was born, 1669, and died in Ipswich, 13 Oct 1717, who was the father of Capt. Nathaniel, who was born, 24 Apr 1699, and died 27 May 1790. The Rev. Jonathan FRENCH, of North Hampton, in an article in the Gen. Register, vol. 1, p. 43, states that the REv. Nathaniel WELLS, minister of Deerfield, New Hampshire, was the "son of Dea. Nathaniel WELLS, whose father was also Dea. Nathaniel WELLS, who removed to Wells, Me., from Ipswich, Mass., and who was the son of Dea. Thomas WELLS, of Ipswich." I suspect that there is an errror here, and that the first Dea. Nathaniel WELLS, of Wells, was son of John, second son of Thomas, of Ipswich, who married Sarah, daughter of Francis LITTLEFIELD, and settled in Wells, which received its name from this family, having, previously, been called Preston. His father transferred to him, by deed of gift, all his lands in that place, being about three hundred and fifty acres. To Thoams, the youngest son, the father, by his Will, dated 3 Jul 1666, bequeathes two hundred and fifty pounds sterling, to be paid to him "when he come to the age of 22 years, 4 months, and 10 days." By the same instrument, it appears that he was born "11th, 11th mo., 1646, of Jan 11, 1746, of the present style. Why this precise period was fixed on for the payment of the legacy, does not appear. Is it possible that the good eacon could have dabbled in Astrology. He also provides for the contingency of his son's "going to College," and bequeathes to him "all the books I bought for his use, and my phissic books, and the books called orthodox evangelist." Two books which would probably come under the latter descripton, "The Soul's preparation for Christ," and "Purkins upon the Creed," he had given to his daughters. From this bequest of "phissic books," the inference is drawn that he was a physician. The evidence is not quite conclusive, yet I know of no other. The books were appraised at 8. 6s. 3d., a respectable medical library for those days. This was probably the Thomas WELLS, who, according to Farmer, was the first minister of Amesbury, ordained, in 1672, and died 10 Jul 1734,aged eighty-six. If so, he was eighty-seven years and six months old at the time of his decease.

John ROGERS, son of the Rev. Nathaniel, great-grandson [?] of John, the celebrated martyr of Smithfield, was born in England, about 1630, and came to New England with his father, in 1636. He was graduated at Harvard College, in1649, and studied both physic and divinity. He commenced preaching as a colleague, or assistant to Mr. HUBBARD, 4 Jul 1656. He continued to preach occasionally, and to practice in his other profession, until 1683, when, on the decease of _rian OAKES, President of Harvard College, he was chosen to succed him, and was installed 12 Aug 1863. He died 20 Jul 1884, the day succeeding the first commencement after his installation. He married Elizabeth, daughter to General Daniel DENISON, who, after the decease of her husband, returned to Ipswich where she died 13 Jul 1723, in the eighty-secon year of her age. They did not join the church until 11 Jan 1633, when they "came into full communion." Their children were Elizabeth, Margaret, John, Daniel, Nathaniel, and Patience.

A nuncupative Will of Nathaniel ROGERS, father of the above, was proved 26 Sep 1655, by the oaths of Mr. Ezekiel CHEEVER & Deacon John WHIPPLE. It is in the handwriting of Mr. CHEEVER. The caption runs thus:-- "The last will and testament of Mr. Nathaniel ROGERS, Pastor of the Church of Christ at Ipswich, as was taken from his own mouth, July 3, Anno Dom., 1655."

A clause in this will has been misunderstood as implying a charge of inefficiency, and want of industy in our learned and worthy physician. It is in these words; "To my son John, to prevent expectation of a double portion, I have not so bequeathed; he hath never been by any labor servicable to his brethren, but hath been upheld by their labor and pain, while he hath been determing his way, therefore, I give and bequeath to him an equal portion with his other brethren, viz.; ye sume of one hundred pounds of my estate in Old England, and one hundred pound of my estate in New England." He makes like bequests to his sons Nathaniel, Samuel & Timothy. To his son Ezkiel, "twenty pound, which he shall have liberty to take in my books if he please." Assuredly, Mr. ROGERS does not intend any censure on his oldest son, or disapprobation of his conduct, but merely to do justice to his younger sons, who, by their labor and "paine" had helped to acquire the property, and to contribute to their elder brother's support while obtaining his education. For a like reason, undoubtedly, he gives to his son Ezekiel, only twenty pounds, because his estate had already been at the charge of giving to him a liberal education.

Philemon DEAN, and his brother John, sons of Doct. John DEAN or DANE, seem to have effected a separation of the two names; Philemo and his descendants using the former orthography, while John and his adopt the latter. Philemon was born about 1646; joined the church "in full communion," 8 Feb 1673-4; and was admitted a freman in March of the same year. He married Mary THOMPSON, 7 Oct 1685, after whose decease, he married Ruth CONVERS, 25 Dec 1690. By the last wife he had Philemon & Edward, twins, born 17 Jul 1695; and a daughter, Ruth, born 24 Aug 1698. Philemon removed to Newbury. He married, 20 Aug 1742, Hannah YORK, of Ipswich. Edward, the twin brother, died before his father and left a widow. The inscripton on the gravestone of Dr. DEAN is as follows: "HERE LYES YE BODY OF DOC'R PHILEMON DEANE WHO DIED OCTO'R YE 18TH 1716, AGED 70 YEARS. O LORD BY SAD & AWFELL STROAKES OF MAN'S MORALITY. O LET US ALL BE PUT IN MIND THAT WE ARE BORN TO DYE. GRAVE SAINT THAT CANNOT FIND THY LOVE NIGHT NOR MORN; PRAY LOOK ABOVE FOR THER'S YOU LOVE, SINGING WITH YE FIRST BORN."

The last four lines of this epitaph seem to have been favorites with the lapidary poets of the day, for we find them, word for word, on the gravestone of Mr. Nathaniel ADAMS, 11 Apr 1716. Yet this was about the same time when Pope published the Rape of the Lock.

John BRIDGHAM, son of Henry & Elizabeth BRIDGHAM, of Boston, was born about 1645. He was graduated at Harvard College in 1669, and settled as a physician in Ipswich about 1685. On the 16th of April of that year, there was granted to him by the freemen of the town, "about half an acre of land near Goodman BRIDGES, near Widow CLARK'; provided he improve it for a garden, and to build on it for his settlement here in this town." He died 2 May 1721, in the seventy-sixth year of his age. To the record of his death, by the town clerk, is subjoined this remark:-- "for many years past he proved himself a very sikillful and eminent physician, his administration being commonly attened with good success." He was a feoffee (sic) of the grammer school from 1714 to the time of his decease. A silver cup belonging to the communion service of the first church, has this inscription:-- "The Gift of Doct'r John BRIDGHAM, to the Church of Christ in Ipswich, 1721."

In December, A.D. 1700, a new meeting-house having been built the town chose a committee "To appoint all persons where they should sitt in ye new meeting house -- and also to grant puews in ye places reserved joing to ye walls and sides of ye meetinghouse -- not to extend above 5 foot & from ye sides of ye house into ye allies." The committee consisted of "Coll'n John WAINRIGHT, Lt. Coll'n John APPLETON, Mr. Nehemiah JEWETT, Deacon Nathaniel KNOWLTON, Serj't Samuel HART, Doct'r Philemon DEAN & Mr. Daniel ROGERS." .... At that time, the title of Mr. was one of considerable distinction. Of one hundred and ninety-nine men, to whom seats were appointed, no more than twenty-seven had that appellation. As many more had military titles, from "Coll'n" to "Corp'll" and three had the title of "Doct'r.," viz: BRIDGHAM, DEAN & PERKINS.

John PERKINS was the son of Abraham, son of John the younger, who with his father, John the elder, was among the first settlers of Ipswich. He graduated at Harvard College in 1695, and soon afterwards commenced the practice of medicine in this place. He had a pew in the Meeting-house appointed to him for the use of his family in 1700, but there appears to have been now seat assigned to himself. His father had a pew appointed to him "for his wife and family" with this condition: "one of ye heads of s'd family to sit in s'd pew." This was probably intended to accommodate the Doctor. He is said to have removed to Boston, probably finding, as some of his successors have done, the profession at Ipswich somewhat crowded. He was, not improbably, father to Dr. John PERKINS, who came from boston and settled at Ipswich in 1723, and died her in 1780.

Samuel WALLIS, son of Samuel by his first wife, Sarah WATSON, was born 23 Sep 1691. The father Samuel was son of Ensign Nicholas WALLIS, son of Robert, one of the first settlers, who had land granted to him in 1639. The doctor had a wife named Sarah and lost an infant daughter, Sarah, 4 Oct 1715. He died 16 Oct 1738, in the thirty-eighth year or his age.

Thomas BERRY was born in Boston, in 1695; graduated at Harvard College in 1712, and studied medicine with Dr. Thomas GREAVES of Charlestown. He settled as a physician in this town December, 1686, and married, 6 Aug 1717, Martha ROGERS, daughter of the Rev. John ROGERS. She died, 24 Aug 1727, at the age of thirty-three years, and on the seventeenth of the next February, he married Elizaberth, daughter of John TURNER of Salem. He was eminently distinguished for his energy and activity in public affairs, as well as his own. He sustained the offices of a Colonel of the Militia, Representative in the General Court, Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, Judge of Probate, and was many years one of the Executive Council of the Province. In 1749, he took an active part in reviving the grammar school, which had fallen into neglect during the dark age which preceded his time. Elderly people yet living remember his contemporaries, and hand down the tradition that he maintained a degree of state & splendor in his domestic establishment unequalled since his time. He kept his chariot, with servants in livery, and made other displays of wealth and rank, which indicate him as the last of the aristocracy. He died 12 Aug 1756, ae 66 years. The inscription on his gravestone closes with the appropriate motto:-- "ic transit gloria mundi."

John, the second son, married Sarah, daughter of Francis LITTLEFIELD, Senr., and settled in Wells, in the County of York, Maine, -- which received its name from this family, having previously been called Preston -- where his father have given him by a deed of gift, about 350 acres of land.

Francis HOLMES was probably the son of James & Mary HOLMES, who were inhabitants of Ipswich in 1694. He died 12 May 1758, in the 53d year of his age. He owned and resided in the ancient house, yet standing, at the corner of Maine street & Summer street. He married Mary GIBSON, with whom he was published 29 Mar 1732, and who survived him. The children he left were John, who remained in Ipswich; Francis, who removed to Newbury, where he dwelt in 1760; Mary, wife of John PITTMAN; Joshiah & Margaret HOLMES. His widow made her signature with a mark. The estate was appraised at 150. 9s. 4d., of which the house and garden constitued 80, and "part of a barn w'th Nath'l SMITH on ye meet'g house hill", 4.

Samuel ROGERS, son of the Rev. John, and grandson of the Rev. Doct'r John, President of Harvard College, was born 31 Aug 1709. He was graduated at Harvard College in 1725; married Hannah WIS, 1 Jan 1735, and died 21 Dec 1772. With an extensive practice in his profession, he found time to exercise the offices of Town Clerk, Register of Probate, Justice of the Peace, Representative of the General Court, and Colonel of a regiment.

John CALEF was born in 1725. He was of a remarkably short lived family, yet himself attained the age of eighty-seven years. His father, Robert, died 12 Jul 1730, in the thirty-seventh year of his age. His mother, Margarett, youngest daughter of Deacon John STANIFORD, died 7 Oct 1727, in the thirty-second year of her age. Samuel, his father's brother, died 1 Sep 1720, aged twenty-four years. Joseph, his grandfather, died 28 Dev 1707, in his thirty-sixth year. He may have inherited his longevity from his maternal grand-parents, Deacon STANIFORD, who died 27 May 1730, aged eight-two years, and Margaret, his wife, daughter of Thomas & Martha HARRIS, who died 18 May 1750, aged ninety-three. The name is frequently written on our records "CALF" which probably reprsented the popular pronunciation. On a subscription, by the grandfather, "Mr. Joseph," toward purchasing a bell in 1699, the name is spelt "CALIFFE." The doctor had great respectability, and considerable political influence. He was for many years representative of the town at the General Court, but falling into the unsuccessful party, in revolutionary times, was obliged to leave his country. He settled at St. Andrew's, in the British Province of New Brunswick, where he died in 1812.

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