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HUGH WILLIAMSON

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HUGH WILLIAMSON

Roni Fraysier (View posts)
Posted: 12 Feb 2000 5:00AM GMT
Classification: Biography
Surnames: WILLIAMSON, Apthorpe, Davison
HUGH WILLIAMSON was born of Scotch Irish parents, in
the township of West Nottingham, Chester county, on the 5th of
December, 1735. - These Scotch - Irish Immigrants have been
remarkable, in our country, for their enterprise, and for the
intellectual development of their Descendants. His father,
John Williamson, (who had been a Clothier in Dublin,) came to
Chester county about the year 1730. His mother, Mary Davison,
was a native of Derry; came hither with her father, George
Davison, while a child about three years of age. She died,
about 1804, in her 90th year. The parents of Hugh Williamson
were married in 1731. They had ten children, six sons and four
daughters. Hugh was their eldest son. Being slender and
delicate, his father resolved to give him a liberal education.
After the common preparatory instruction, he was sent at an
early age to learn the languages, at the Academy at New London
cross roads, under Rev. Francis Alison, the BUHBY of the
Western Hemisphere... After Dr. Alisontransfer to
Philadelphia, Hugh Williamson went to the Academy at Newark,
Del., where he prepared for College. He entered the
Philadelphia College in 1753, remained there about four years,
and graduated A.B. May 17, 1757. He was fond of Mathematics,
and became a proficient if Euclid. His father, (who had
shortly before this, removed to Shippensburgh, Cumberland
county, Penn.) died the year Hugh graduated, as above;
whereupon he became sole Executor, and resided with his mother
about two years, settling his fatherestate. He became early
impressed with a sense of religion, and while with his mother.
devoted much time to the study of Divinity, under the auspices
of the Rev. Dr. Samuel Finley, with a view to the Clerical
Profession. In 1859, Hugh went to Connecticut, where he still
pursued his theological studies, and was licensed to preach
the gospel. He preached but a short time - not exceeding two
years - when he found that his health and strength of lungs,
would not permit the duties of the office, and he was never
ordained. Moreover, the memorable controversy in the
Presbyterian church, between the adherents of Whitefield and
the old Orthodox Party. proved a source of disgust to him,
which induced him to withdraw from theological pursuits, to
which he had been sincerely attached. He accordingly left the
pulpit, and entered upon the study of Medicine. In 1760, he
received the degree of A.M. in Philadelphia College; and, soon
after, was appointed Professor of Mathematics in that
Institution; but continued his medical studies. October 8th,
1763, he gave notice of his intended resignation of the
Professorship; and in 1764, he went to prosecute his medical
studies at the University of Edinburgh. He afterwards spent a
year in London, at his studies, and from thence crossed over
to Holland, and completed his medical education at Utrecht.
Having passed the usual examination, and submitted a Latin
Thesis, he obtained the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Having
spent some time in traveling on the continent of Europe, he
bent his course towards his native country. Upon his return,
Dr. Williamson practices medicine in Philadelphia, for a few
years. In 1768, he was chosen a member of the American
Philosophical Society. His health failing, he resolved to try
mercantile pursuits. But meanwhile, for a time, devoted
himself to literary and philosophical investigations. In
January, 1769, he was appointed by the Philosophical Society,
on a Committee with the Rev. Dr. Ewing, David Rittenhouse, and
Charles Thomson, to observe the TRANSIT OF VENUS, which
occurred on the 3d of June, in that year; and soon after, to
observe the transit of Mercury, which took place November 9,
1769. In that year, also, he philosophized on the Comet. In
1770, he published observations on Climate, in the American
Philosophical Transactions. In 1772, he visited the West
Indies, to collect contributions in aid of the Newark Academy.
In 1773, Governor John Penn certified to the credit and
reputation'of Rev. John Ewing and Dr. Hugh Williamson, who
were authorized to proceed to Europe, and solicit further aid
for said Academy. - They persevered, under difficulties, until
the autumn of 1775, when hostilities with the colonies
commenced. Dr. Ewing returned home; but Dr. Williamson
resolved to remain, and make further efforts for the Academy.
Dr. W. was the first to report the destruction of the Tea, at
Boston. On that occasion, he ventured to declare his opinion,
that coercive measures by Parliament would result in civil
war. Lord North himself declared that Dr. Williamson was the
first person who, in his hearing, intimated the probability of
such an event. [REVOLUTION] Dr. W. while in London, was the
man (probably with the aid, or at the suggestion, of Mr.
afterward Sir John Temple,) who procured the Letters of
Hutchinson, Oliver, &c., and caused them to be delivered to
Dr. Franklin, who sent them to Boston, for which Wedderburne,
before the Privy Council, called Franklin a THIEF - or in
other words, HOMO TRIUM LITERARUM, (F.U.R.) After causing the
Hutchinson correspondence to reach Dr. Franklin, it was deemed
expedient, by Dr. Williamson, to take an early conveyance,
next day, for Holland. It was supposed, by John Adams, that
Mr. David Hartley, a member of Parliament, and a good friend
of the Americans, was the person through whom the Letters
reached Dr. Franklin. On the Declaration of Independence, Dr.
Williamson returned to the United States, and engaged for a
time with a brother, in trade with the West Indies. He
residence, then, was Edenton, North Carolina. In 1779-80, when
the British took possession of Charleston, S.C., a large draft
of militia from North Carolina was ordered for the relief of
South Carolina; on which occasion the commander, Gov. Caswell,
placed Dr. Williamson at the head of the Medical Department.
After the battle of Camden, August 18, 1780, which the Doctor
witnessed, he requested Gen. Caswell to give him a Flag, that
he might go and attend to the wounded North Carolina
prisoners. The General advised him to send some of the
regimental surgeons, inasmuch as his duty did not require him
to go. Dr. Williamson replied, that such of the regimental
Surgeons as he had seen refused to go - afraid of the
consequences. 'But,'said he, I have lived until a Flag
will not protect me, I have outlived my country; and, in that
case, have lived a day too long.'He went, and remained two
months in the enemycamp, - rendering good service to the
sick of both armies, where his skill was highly esteemed. At
the close of the war, Dr. Williamson served as a
representative of Edenton, in the House of Commons of North
Carolina. He was next sent to Congress, from old North
State,'where he continued for three years. Writing to
President Dickinson, of Penn, from New York, while in
Congress, January 14, 1785, about John Franklin and the other
Connecticut Intruders, at Wyoming, Dr. W. says, in the
conclusion of a letter, - 'I have taken the liberty of giving
you the above information, as I cannot cease to feel myself
interested in the peace and reputation of a State which gave
me birth.'In the year 1786, he was one of the few delegates
sent to Annapolis, to revise and amend the articles of
confederation of the Union; and in 1787, he was a Delegate,
from North Carolina, to the Convention which formed the
Constitution of the United States. Dr. Williamson was a
zealous advocate of the new Constitution, and was a member of
the State Convention, in 1789, which adopted it. He served in
the first and second Congress, and then declined a
re-election. In January, 1789, he married Miss Maria Apthorpe,
of New York, where he came to reside; and had two sons, who
both died young. He continued industriously to write on
various philosophical subjects: Was an early advocate of the
great New York Canal system; an active promoter of
philanthropic, literary, and scientific institutions; and in
1812, gave to the world his History of North Carolina. After a
long life devoted to the best interests of Humanity, Dr. Hugh
Williamson died, suddenly, at New York, on the 22d day of May,
1819, in the 85th year of his age. Of him it may be safely
predicated, that he was an ornament of our common country, and
one of the most eminent and useful men which the ancient
county of Chester has yet produced. For an interesting account
of Dr. Williamson, see Dr. Hosack Memoir, in the
transactions of the New York Historical Society.
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
Roni Fraysier 12 Feb 2000 12:00PM GMT 
MISSWORLDE 27 Sep 2002 7:50PM GMT 
HWilliamson35 31 May 2010 3:13PM GMT 
George Willia... 8 May 2011 7:20AM GMT 
oliviablancha... 23 Oct 2011 10:34PM GMT 
chescogen 2 Sep 2012 1:42PM GMT 
bruce_nevin 1 Feb 2013 8:22PM GMT 
bruce_nevin 2 Feb 2013 5:55AM GMT 
bruce_nevin 2 Feb 2013 6:00AM GMT 
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