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 veterans, soldiers, and sailors, such as Colonel Jeduthan Baldwin (1732-1788), Major John Winslow, and Major John Lillie (1755-1801). 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. In 1790, he provided "anti syphilitic medicines & directions" to Captain Hogg. Townsend frequently recorded the occupation and race of the patient, and in the case of women, marital status. He attended the delivery of a child of Sappho Henshaw, "black girl," in 1786, and in 1787 he treated an unnamed "black man at corner of Board Alley" in the North End of Boston and Rebecca Cooper, "molatto." Other African-Americans Townsend attended included Prince Cutter and his family, John Mintas, and Jupiter Whey. There are additionally accounts for his father, block maker Shippie Townsend (1722-1798); pump and block maker Jonathan Balch; French-American writer John Hector St. John (1735-1813); Federalist publisher John Fenno (1751-1798); merchant Cornelius Durant (1732-1812) and jurist Alexander Cooper, both of St. Croix; Elisha Ticknor (1757-1821), headmaster of Franklin Grammar School in Boston; Miss Pain, a school mistress; merchant and ship owner Eliakim Morse (1759-1858); and merchant Samuel Hewes (1761-1845). Townsend also was the physician to John Hancock (1736-1793) and members of Hancock's household, and there are entries for treatment of his servant Eunice, and his coachman, Mr. Gregory.

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).