Sunday, June 24, 2012

Matthew Thornton

Matthew Thornton (1714 – June 24, 1803), was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of New Hampshire
He was born in Ireland, the son of James Thornton and Elizabeth Malone. In 1716 Thornton's family immigrated to North America when he was three years old, settling first at either Williamsburg, Virginia (or alternatively Brunswick, Maine). On July 11, 1722 the community was attacked by Native Americans.). James and Elizabeth Thornton fled from their burning home with Matthew, removing shortly thereafter to Worcester, Massachusetts. Thornton completed studies in medicine at Leicester. He became a physician and established a medical practice in Londonderry, New Hampshire. In New Hampshire he was appointed surgeon to the New Hampshire Militia troops in an expedition against Fortress Louisbourg in 1745. He had royal commissions as justice of the peace and colonel of militia.
In 1760 Thornton married Hannah Jack, and the couple had five children. Thornton became Londonderry Town Selectman, a representative to, and President of the Provincial Assembly, and a member of the Committee of Safety, drafting New Hampshire's plan of government after dissolution of the royal government, which was the first state constitution adopted after the start of hostilities with England.
He became a political essayist. He retired from his medical practice and in 1780 moved to Merrimack, New Hampshire where he farmed and operated a ferry with his family. Although he did not attend law school, he was given duties as an associate justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court about 1777. In his later years he operated a ferry at Thornton's Ferry. From 1784 to 1787 Thornton was a member of the New Hampshire State Senate and combined this with the role of State Councillor from 1785 to 1786. His wife Hannah died in 1786.
Thornton died in Newburyport, Massachusetts, while visiting his daughter. Matthew Thornton is buried in Thornton Cemetery in Merrimack, and his grave reads "An Honest Man

“I cultivated corn this forenoon and Pal Wallace came about 10 o’clock and helped me.  After diner we drew in the hay and then cultivated corn until night.  Has been a very warm day.”

“Baccalaureate Sermon to the Union School graduates this evening by Rev. Mr. Anderson.  Has been a very hot day.”

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