Papers : 1768 - 1835.

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LFR .P3W5P3
Category: Family
Creator: Paine, William, Dr., 1750-1833.
Description: 4 microfilm 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 document the life and career of this American Loyalist and physician and the turbulent period in which he lived. The records are varied and include correspondence, medical records such as accounts, memoranda and memo books, tracts, prescriptions, hospital papers and notes; legal documents; and journals and diaries. These provide a source for the history of medicine from the mid-eighteenth century into the early years of the nineteenth century, and contain great detail on medical practices and procedures, drugs and prescriptions, diseases, treatments, cures, hospitals, supplies, record keeping, medical education, and to a much lesser extent personal finance, rural history, and description and travel.

Arrangement and Detailed Contents:

REEL 1:1. Correspondence 1768-1822, mainly to Paine from his brother Nathaniel in Massachusetts, and John Brown and John Crawford in London, England, as well as other doctors, and businesses such as Mendonson & Co. at Medeira (concerning medical cases, personal business and financial matters, and difficulties collecting money after the war); 2. accounts, medical memoranda, prescriptions (including costs of medications, name of the person being treated), various medical records such as lists of cures, 1767-1797 (not in chronoical order and many are undated); 3. “Journal from New York to Libson, Portugal 1781” (a 35 page journal comprised of letters to Dr. Paine’s brother, primarily noting the weather conditions of the journey); 4. “Portuguese Anecdote” (a story about the Queen of Portugal written by Dr. Paine); 5. Memorandum for Lord Winchelsea’s Government 1781 (including payments received for medical services); 6. Medical Tracts c.1782 (including notes on various methods of treatments); 7. Statement of service with the British forces during the American Revolution (1786); 8. Inventory of Dr. Paine’s property in Worcester, Massachusetts, which was confiscated by the rebels ( 12 Jan.1779, includes many items used in his apothecary practice – also notes the value of these items); 9. Diary and Medical notes from Salem, Massachusetts copied from Dr. Holyoke’s journal (1782-1784, includes a monthly list of diseases treated, descriptions of medical conditions and cases, record of deaths with their causes, as well as notes on the weather); 10. papers relating to hospital service (in His Majesty’s General Hospital, Halifax, Nova Scotia and Fort Howe, Saint John, New Brunswick between 1783 and 1784 – includes accounts, receipts of payment for treatments, instructions on cures, correspondences, lists of supplies, and expenses); 11. Alphabetical Invoice of Medicines with the numbers of chests and cases where they will be found (potentially a packing list compiled in Halifax in 1783 – it includes a list of surgical instruments and other supplies); 12. Journal from Halifax to Passamaquoddy (1784); 13. Legal Documents (including accounts, correspondence, estate inventories, 1771-1835, many not in chronological order).

REEL 2: Two Notebooks of Medical Memoranda (1st book – 1769, 2nd book – 1768), includes the names of medicines and their respective treatments, treatments are categorized (e.g. inject, enema, suppository); Medical Notes (from Worcester Massachusetts, includes directions on how to take various medications, information on various illnesses, and other apothecary notes from Dr. Paine’s partnership with Levi Shepherd and Ebenezer Hunt, opened the first apothecary shop in Worcester County for the sale of drugs and medicines); Notes on Drugs and Medicines (c.1772, including recipes on how to make various medications and what ailments theses medicines cure); Notes on Medical Studies (c.1770 in Salem, Massachusetts, includes a list of various medical symbols and the ‘particles’ they represent, as well as notes from lectures); Accounts of Drugs and Medicines Purchased (in Salem 1790-1791, includes the date, item purchased, quantity purchased, and cost); Medical Memorandum of Visits and Prescriptions (Salem in 1792, includes a point form list of medical visits by date, lists the name of a patient, their ailments, and the prescription); and Memo Books of Visits and Prescriptions (1792-1793).

REEL 3: Memo Books of Visits and Prescriptions continued, 1793-1795 (including a list of patients, ailments/illnesses/diseases, and prescriptions); Farm Diary from Worcester Massachusetts (1798-1826), includes daily weather, notes on farm duties, description of family and daily life on a farm, and the enviroment).

REEL 4: Diary and Account Book (1794-1797, 1811-1815, chronicles aspects of personal life as well as interactions with patients, some information on prescriptions and treatments, recorded on the blank pages of a 1794 almanac); Memorandum Book from Libson, Portugal (March 21, 1781, includes notes on Portuguese people, descriptions of landscapes/towns/cities, information on daily life and politics).

Originals: The original records are held by the American Antiquarian Society.
Archival Ref. No.:
Finding Aids:
            A Listing of Documents for the section Correspondence, 1768-1822 is available electronically; see Electronic Finding Aid section.

See Microforms staff for digital version.            
Electronic Finding Aid Record: Correspondence 1768-1822. Document Listing.pdf

Please note the material does not have page numbers. However, title pages precede groups of material on reels 2, 3, and 4.

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.

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