Account book of David Townsend, 1774-1791

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Content Notes

Account book kept by Dr. David Townsend (1753-1829) that records patients treated, illnesses, and fees charged in Boston, Massachusetts, and neighboring towns from 1774 to 1791. His patients included a number of soldiers and sailors, as well as figures like the French-American writer John Hector St. John (1735-1813). Townsend's treatments typically consisted of delivering cathartics or emetics. For the family of Samuel Appleton, Townsend administered smallpox inoculation in 1776, charging him 4 pounds, 4 shillings. Townsend sometimes recorded the occupation or race of the patient. For example, he attended the delivery of a child of Sappho Henshaw, "black girl," in 1786; in 1787 he attended to an unnamed "black man at [who lived at the] corner of Board Alley" in the North End of Boston. Other patients included John Hancock (1736-1793) and members of Hancock's household, as well as Federalist publisher John Fenno (1751-1798).

Biographical Notes

David Townsend (1753-1829), A.B., 1770, honorary M.D., Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was a physician practicing in Boston, Massachusetts. He studied medicine with Dr. Joseph Warren (1741-1775). Townsend served as a surgeon in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and was stationed at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778. He was appointed surgeon-general of the army's hospital department in 1781, and he was physician in charge at the United States Marine Hospital in Chelsea, Massachusetts, until his death. Townsend also was a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society (1775-1824).