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 Matthew Thornton

Matthew Thornton

Birth
Limerick, County Limerick, Ireland
Death 24 Jun 1803 (aged 88–89)
Newburyport, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Merrimack, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA
Memorial ID 2813 · View Source
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Signer of the Declaration of Independence from New Hampshire. Born in Ireland, his family emigrated to America in 1718. When their ship landed in Maine in mid-winter, the passengers had no place to live, so they remained aboard ship. In the spring, they decided to go to Worcester, Massachusetts, where young Matthew grew up and became a doctor through the time-honored tradition of studying with an established physician. After becoming a doctor himself, he moved to Londonderry, New Hampshire, where he set up a medical practice. There he remained a bachelor until age 46, when he married Hannah Jack, who was only 18. He and Hannah would have five children. In 1758, he was elected to the New Hampshire Legislature, representing his home of Londonderry. In 1771, he was appointed a judge. In early 1775, he was elected to the New Hampshire Provincial Congress, where after a speech denouncing England’s policies towards America, he won election as the body’s President. Thornton headed the committee that created New Hampshire’s constitution, and upon its adoption in January 1776, New Hampshire became the first of the original thirteen states to create a government independent of Britain. Thornton was elected to the Continental Congress in September 1776, and although the vote for independence was long past, he signed the Declaration as a New Hampshire delegate on November 4, 1776, the day he arrived in Philadelphia to take his seat. He was one of the last of the 56 men to sign the document. After serving in Congress for about a year, he returned to New Hampshire, where he worked as a judge until his late sixties, and served in the state legislature until he was nearly 75. Dr. Thornton then retired to his farm in Merrimack, New Hampshire, where he wrote political articles for the newspapers. While visiting his daughter in Massachusetts in 1803, he died there at the age of 89.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 28 Apr 1998
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2813
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Matthew Thornton (1714–24 Jun 1803), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2813, citing Thornton Graveyard, Merrimack, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .