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'I

SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF DR. TH0:MAS
CADWALADER.^

BV CHARLES WI.NSLOW DUI.LKS, M.D.

Among the distino-uished men who adorned tlic medical
profession of this eonntry in its colonial days there is none
more dese^^^ng of remembrance than Thomas Cadwalader.
By his birth, In- his personal qualities, by his attainments,
by the private virtues and the public spirit that animated
him, he was one of those to whom his countrymen of later
generations may look back with pride and from whom
they may draw inspiration. Were there no other tribute
to his memory than that which that pioneer surgeon Dr,
John Jones has placed in the preface of his little work —
the first on a surgical subject to be published in !N'orth
America — entitled ''Plain Concise Practical Remarks on
the Treatment of AVounds and Fractures, Principally De-
signed for the Use of Young Military and Xaval Surgeons
in oSTorth- America," pubhshed in 1775, this would suthce to
establish the reputation in which he was held by those who
knew him best.

There are many references to Dr. Thomas Cadwalader in
various historical essays and the ofiicial records of Pennsyl-
vania and of Xew Jersey, — for he was at different times a
distinguished citizen and a public officer of each of these
provinces, — but no trustworthy account of his life has ever
been published. The repetition by me'- of an error origi-
nating vdth a writer from whom many later ones have
derived their material, and whose inaccuracy has not been
generally understood, happily attracted the attention of his

* Read before the Historical Club of the Department of Medicine of
the University of Pennsylvania.

» Dulles, Charles W. Medical Department of the University of Penn-
sylvania. Medical Xews, May 4, 1901, p. 685.



Sketch of (he Life of Dr. Thomas Ouiicalader. 263

dcsccudant, Dr. Charles E. Cadwaladcr, of this city, and
was hy him pointed out to me. This induced me to search
after the facts necessary to iix tlie date at which were udvcn
those instructions and demonstrations in anatomv wliirh
were tlie lirst public instructions in anatomy given cm tliis
continent. Other details of the life of Dr. Thomas Cad-
walader soon engaged my attention, and I could not ri>t
until I had formed what I thought was a correct notion
of the principal events of his long and useful career.
'W^'arncd by the efVect upon others of the difficulties insej>a-
rahle from such investigations, I have spared no pains in
the endeavor to attain accuracy; but the sketch I have pre-
pared, being incidental only to other studies, makes no
pretence to completeness ; it is only a tribute to a cliaracter
that I have come to revere more, the more I have studied it.

Thomas Cadwalader vras the son of John Cadwalader,
who came to Pennsylvania in 1699 with AVilliam Penn, on
his second voyage to the Province, in the ship " Canter-
bury." * He was grandson of that distinguished early set-
tler, Dr. Edward Jones, and great-grandson of Dr. Thomas
Wynne, William Penn's trusted friend and counsellor, who
came over ^^^th him in the "Welcome" in 1082.

John Cadwalader came from Xorth Wales, and on
December 2G, 1699, the year of his arrival, he married
Martha, daughter of Edward Jones and Mary Wynnc.-
He was an influential and highly respected citizen, serving
as a member of the Common Council of the city irom Xo-
vember, 1718, to January, 1733.^ He died July 24, 1734,
and his wife died April 16, 1747.^

' Cooley. Early Settlers in Trenton and Ewing, "Old Hunterdon
County," Trenton, Xew Jersey, 1883, p. 23.

Archives of New Jersey, 1st series, vol. xi. p. 584, foot-note.

Passages from the Life and Writings of William Penn, Philadelphia,
1882, p. 458.

' Letter from Dr. C. E. Cadwalader.

» Minutes of the Common Council of the City of Philadelphia, 1701-
1776. Philadelphia, 1847, pp. 154, 330.

* Letter from Dr. C. E. Cadwalader.



2G4 Sketch of the Life of Br. Thomas Qidicaladcr.

Thomas Cadwalader was born in 1707 or 1708 (I can-
not learu tlic exact day'). lie studied in the Friends'
"Publick"' School, now the " Penn Charter"' School, and
was afterwards apprenticed to his uncle, Dr. Evan Jones, at
the age of eigliteen years, — that is. in 1725 or 1726. This
pupilage probably lasted for two years, for Dr. Evan Jones
removed to Xew York about 1727."

At this time, when he was nineteen or twenty years of
age, his father sent him to England and France to com-
plete his medical education. In France he is said to have
studied at the University of Rheims, in England to have
spent a year studying and dissecting under William Chesel-
den, tlie distiiiguished anatomist and surgeon; and then he
returned, probably in 1730, to his native land.^ Li Phila-
delphia he soon secured a large practice and became the
associate of the most inilucntial men in the town.*

Although this was a period when slavery existed in
Philadelphia, and the cruel punishments of the pillory, the
stocks, and the whipping-post — forced upon our tender-
hearted ancestors by harsh British laws — were inflicted
for various misdemeanors, when hanging was the penalty
for house-breaking, horse-stealing, and counterfeiting, and
when a woman was burned alive so near as Xew Castle,

* Wickes, Stephen. History of Medicine in New Jersey. Newark,
New Jersey, 1879, p. 187.

Letter from Dr. C. E. Cadwalader.

Thoma-s Cadwalader died November 14, 1799, in the seventy-second
year of his age. This would indicate that he was born after November
14, 1707. Beyond this nothing certain is known.

'Thacher, James. American Medical Biography, Boston, 1828, p.
324.

'I can tind no warrant for the statement of Wickes, op. cif., p. 188,
that he received a degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Eng-
land, as an examination of the records of that institution did not result
in finding his name enrolled there. Letter from Dr. C. E. Cad-
walader.

* Mease, James. Surgical Works of the late John Jones, M.D.,
Philadelphia, 1795. Preface.

Bazley, Francis. History of Trenton, New Jersey, 1895, pp. 36, 37.



«y/,rA-A of ih.c Life, of Br. Thomns CwhialaJcr. 205

Delawiirc, for the murder of licr liusbniul/ it was also a
time of ffrcat activity in public and Inimanitariiiu ailair?.
and the name of ]^r. Thomas Cadu-alader and that of Ids
fatlier occur repeatedly in connection with them.

In 1730 there was what Watson describes as a " i,nvat
mortality from the small-pox," aud he says, " The happy
art of inoculation was first practised in Philadeljdiia in the
year 1731; and the first person of note who then devoted
liimself as a forlorn liope for the purpose of cxanqile was
J. Growden, Esq."- Caspar Morris sa^'s that in the year
1731 inoculation with the virus of small-pox as a ]u-e-
ventivc of accidental infection was "fairly introduced" in
Philadelphia, and that about 1730 "Kearsley, Zachary,
Cadwallader [.?/(•] and Bond engaged in the practice." ^

Dr. Cadwalader's connection Avith this practice is not
surprising, in view of the fact that when he was a student
in England his attention must have been attracted to it,
not only by what was being done there, but also by the
honors paid to his countryman, Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, of
Boston, who had introduced it in that town the same year
in which it was first employed in Europe, and who, in 172<;,
published in England, where he was received with con-
Bpicuous attention, an account of the practice in Xew Eng-
land.*

The next year Dr. Cadwalader was associated with
Franklin and his other colleagues in the establishment of
the Pliiladelphia Library, as is seen from the following
quaint entry in the original records :



» Watson's Annals, 1830, pp. 259, 306.

Letter from. Dr. C. E. Cadwalader, in which he states that he has eeen
Dr. Thomas Cadwalader's name signed to documents* dated 1 730.

' Watson's Annals, 1830, pp. GOl, 602.

'Morris, Caspar. Contributions to the Medical History of Pennsyl-
vania. ^Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1826, vol. i.
p. 360.

* Boylston, Zabdiel. An Account of the Small-Pox inoculated in
New England. 4to, pp. 62. London, 1726.



2GG Sketch of the Life of Dr. Thouias Cmliralader.

Nov' 1731. The Minutes of me Joseph Breintnall, Secretary to the
Directors of the Library Company of Philadelphia, with such of the
Miuutf^s of the same Directors as they order me to make. Begun the
S"" Day of November 1731. By virtue of the Deed or Instrument of
the said Company dated the first Day of July last. The said Instru-
ment being comnleated by fifty Subscriptions I subscril>ed my name to
the following Summons or Notice, which Benjamin Franklin sent by a
Messenger. Viz

To
Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Hopkinson

William Parsons, Philip Syng Jun''

Thomas Godfrey, Anthony Nicholas

Thomas Cadwalader, Jolui Jones Jun'

Eobert Grace and Isaac Penington

Gentlemen

"The Subscription to the Library being eompleated. You the Direc-
tors in the Instrument are desired to meet this Evening at 5 oX'lock at
the House of Nicholas Scull."

Philad^^ 8 Nov' 1731.

All were present "excepting I. Penington who came not."

This fixes the fact tliat in 1731 Dr. Thomas Cadwalader
was already a person of such character and position as to
make him an associate of Frankhn in so important a public
enterprise. Furthermore, the records show that he occu-
pied the position of a director of the library almost con-
tinuously from 1731 until 1739, when, as we shall see, he
became a citizen of Xew Jersey, and that, upon his return
to Philadelphia, he was again a director, almost continu-
ously, until a few years before his death, — that is, 1731-32,
1733-39, 1752-69, 1773-74.^

That Dr. Thomas Cadwalader was a teacher of anatomy
is established by the testimony of Dr. Caspar Wistar, whose
acquaintance with the facts may be inferred from his ha^-ing
been a student under Dr. John Jones, Dr. Cadwalader's
cousin and pupil, and under Dr. John Redman, his con-
temporary and intimate. Dr. Wistar says that Dr. Cad-
walader, upon his return from Europe, " made dissections

^ Catalogue of the Library Company of Philadelphia, vol. iii. p. xi\'.



Sketch of (he Life of Dr. Thomas Cadiralader. L'tJT

and deriionstratioiis for the instruction ot" llio elder Doctor
Shippcn arid some others who had not been abroad." '

The date of these instructions was probal)ly 1730, or 17".!
at tlie latest, because this was the time of his return fn.m
Europe, and a time when the "elder Dr. Shippen" • u;is
eighteen or nineteen years old and engaged in his nu <li. ;il
studies. The date of 1750-1752, hitherto generally givi n
when figures have been used, rests entirely uj'on tlie t-n-or
of a writer on this subject, whose acknowledgment of iho
mistake he made I have had in my hands.

The place in which these instructions were given, AVistar
says, was in a building on " the back pait of the lot on
which the Bank of Pennsylvania now stands'"^ — that was in
1809. This is the site on which in 1903 stands the Unit.d
States Bonded AVarehouse, on the west side of Sccop.d
Street, above AValnut.

I find no other record of the doings of Dr. Thomas Cad-
walader until the year 1737, when he became a memlM-r
of St. John's Lodge, of the order of Freemasons,* one ot

^ "Wistar, Caspar. Eulogium on Dr. William Shipiien, delivorrd 1«.-
fore the College of Physiciaus of Philadelphia, March, 180'J. I'hiia-
delphia, 1818, p. 22.

* We are so used to thinking of the ''elder Dr. Shippen" as a man
of years and dignity that it is hard to imagine him, in 1735, a gay
young blade, sending to his friend Dr. Gardiner " a young game-cotk.
to be depended upon." which he advises him to put to a walk by
himself with the hen he had sent before, lamenting that -'our young
cockers" had contrived to kill and steal all the old cocks he had had. lUii
at this time the Quaker influence did not prevail to keep down tlie
general interest in horse-racing, fighting of cocks and dogs, and buU-
baiting. Watson's Annals, 1830, p. 239.

' There is no warrant for the statement that I have seen in writing
that it was in "the old hall on Dock Street used for such purposes."
which would imply that the teaching of anatomy, with dissections, was
a common thing in those days.

* An error of Scharf and Westcott (History of Philadelphia. Phila-
delphia, 1884, vol. iii. p. 2063), speaking of a letter from Henry Dtll
to Thomas Cadwalader a.s one from Thomas Cadwaladt-r to Henry Ixll,
has led to the erroneous belief that Dr. Cadwalader was one of the
founders of St. John's Lodge.



268 Sketch of the Life of Dr. Tlumws Cudwaladcr.

tlie oldest lodges of which there is any record \n North
America, which held its earliest meetings in the ''Sun
Tavern" (miscalled the " Tun Tavern" by some writers), on
^Vater Street.^ The record of his payment of the initia-
tion fee to tliis lodge is found in the account-hook of the
lodge, which is the property of the Historical Society of
Pennsylvania, and a transcript of it is to be found in an
liistorical })amphlet in the library of the Masonic Temple in
Philadelphia. Of this lodge Dr. Cadwalader was elected a
Graixl Warden in 1738."

On the "fii^ieenth day of Fourth Month, 1738" (Old Style),
Dr. Cadwalader married Hannah,^ daughter of Thomas
Lambert, Jr., an iniiuential citizen of New Jersey, with large
landed property where the city of Trenton now stands. At
that time, or soon after. Dr. Cadwalader gave up his prac-
tice in Philadelphia and removed to the neighborhood of
Trenton, in Hunterdon County, which then included what
is now Mercer County."*

On December 1, 1739, he was appointed one of the " Com-
missioners of Pleas and Peace" for Hunterdon County.^

* There has been some confusion in regard to the name of the tavern
Et wliich the St. John's Lodge met ; but this has been cleared up by the
careful and conclusive investigations of Mr. Julius F. Sachse, who says,
"There were two Masonic taverns on Water Street at that early day, —
the Sun Tavern, kept by Brother John Hubbard, where the Grand
Lodge and the St. John's I^dge held their stated meetings, and the
Tun Tavern, kept by Brother Thomas Mullen, where a subordinate
Iy>dge met until the Masons' Hall was dedicated in Lodge Alley in
1755." Sachsc, Julius Friedrich. Franklin's Account with the Lodge
of Masons, 1731-1737. Dated December 27, 1898, p. 7, foot-note.

» Pennsylvania Gazette, July 6, 1738, p. 3. Early History of St.
John's Lo<lge, F. and A. M., by Clifford P. MacCalla. Philadelphia,
1874, pp. 5, 13, 30, 31, 32.

Sk.tch of the Life of Colonel Daniel Coxe, the Father of Free-
masonrr- in America, by Clifford P. MacCalla. Philadelphia, 1SS7,
p. 35.

* Date copied from marriage certificate. Letter from Dr. C. E. Cad-
walader, May 17, 1003.

* Edinburgh Gazetteer, 1822. Art. Hunterdon.

* Archives of New Jei-sey, 1st series, vol. xv. pp. 95-101.



Sketch of the Life of Dr. Thomas Gi'Jwaladcr. 2G9

This otrice be held until and probably after 1744, as may bo
seen from tlie report of an attempt to have the Governor
remove bim and bis colleagues from office on Xovember 15
of that year.^

There are many references in the histories of Xc\v Jersey
and of Trenton of transactions in which Dr. Cadwalader was
engaged until the year 1749, when be returned, or prepared
to return, to Philadelphia. In the interim he was so much
a citizen of Xcw Jersey that he was made the iirst Burgess
of the "Borough and town of Trenton" in 174G, which was
granted a charter by Governor Morris on September C of
that year; and be held this office until April 9, 1750, when
Governor Belcher accepted the surrender of the charter
from the citizens.- At the same time he was still so much
a riiiladelpbian that he spent a part of each year in his
mansion on the Schuylkill, below the city (then), on the
north bank of the river where it turns almost due east from
what is now known as Gibson's Point to Point Breeze, as
may be seen on what is known as the "Map of 1750,"^
where Dr. Cadwalader's house is set down in " Passyunk
Township," between those marked "Pambo" and " Morris."

In 1742 he advertised lands for sale in Hunterdon County/
and performed an autopsy (the first scientific autopsy that I
know of in this country ^) on a case of mollities ossium, after-
wards described in his essay on the Dry-Gripes. In the same
year bis son John, afterwards General Cadwalader of Pevo-
lutionary fame, was born in the house at Philadelphia.^

The year 1745 is distinguished in the life of Dr. Cadwal-

* Archives of New Jersey, 1st series, vol. xv. pp. 355, 35G.
' IMd., vol. xi. p. 584; vol. xv. pp. 619, 634.
Pennsylvania Gazette, April 19, 1750, p. 4.

» Map of Philadelphia and Parts Adjacent, by N. Scull and G. Heap,
1750.

* Pennsylvania Gazette, February 2, 1742.

' The often cited examination of the body of Governor Slaughter iu
1690, whose death was suspected to be due to poisoning, does not belong
to the same cla.ss as Dr. Cadwalader's autopsy.

* Letter from Dr. C. E. Cadwalader.



270 Shrfck of the IJfe of Dr. Thomas Cadiraladcr.

ader because in it ho published his only known contribu-
tion to the literature of his profession. This was not only
one of the very few early medical publications of this coun-
try, but one of the most accurate and scientific. At this
time the colonists had had little opportunity to develop their
literary talents, and the iirst educational institutions were in
their infancy. It was nearly forty years before the time
when King William's Attorney-General, Seymour, being
appealed to in the interest of education to give assistance to
William and Mary College in Virginia, on the grourid that
"the people of Virginia had souls to be saved," replied,
" Damn your souls ; make tobacco I" ^

It was the very year in which, it is said, Frederick Torres,
a Frenchman, " probably the Iirst and for a long time lonely
and neglected quack in our annals," advertised for sale the
" Chinese stone," since widely known as the mad-stone,
and certain powders of miraculous powers ; it was the year
in which Edward Shippen and Joseph Wharton, whose
names are to-day borne here by honored descendants, built
the st^alls in the new market-house (still standing) on Second
Street below Pine,- and it was also the year in which the
Assembly, largely made up of Quakers, astutely voted for
the King's ser^^ce in the war against France four thousand
pounds, for the purchase of " bread, meat, llour, and other
grains" — which was strangely taken to cover gunpowder I ^

Copies of Dr. Cadwalader's essay are to be found in the
Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and
the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Its title-page reads,
"An Essay On the West-India Dry-Gripes; To which is
added An Extraordinary Case in Physick. Philadelphia :
Printed and sold by B. Franklin, M.DCC.XLV." The
second part of the little book contains an account of the
autopsy mentioned above. Curiously enough, most of the

' The Complete Works of Benjauiin Franklin, compiled and edited
by John Ligelovw New York and London, 1888, vol. ix. p. 10.
» Watson's Annals, 1830, p. 616.
» Scharf and Westcott. History of Philadelphia, vol. i. p. 212.



SLtck of iJiC Lift of Dr. Thoiiu.is Gnhcalailer. 271

references to tills e.^-ay erroneously eall it nn '-Essay «mi tlie
Iliac Passion, iniblished in 1740." This I have lound was
due to the attempt of a medical historian of the last (.tiiiurv '
to improve ou the simple mention, by an earlier and m..re
careful writer, of " a treatise on the iliac passion hy th^-
late Dr. Cadwidlader [sic] of Philadelphia, printed ahmit
60 years ago." -

This essay, wiih its quaint title, was a production of
great scientitic and practical value which revolutionized the
method of treatment for a form of griping, colicky ilisc:ise
of the intestines sometimes called colica pictonum, or colic
of Poitou, and in Philadelphia, in Dr. Cadwalader's time,
attributed to the habitual drinking of punch nnuio of
Jamaica rum distilled through leaden pijies. li '>v:ts i-e-
lieved also that tiie abandonment of this particular hcvcmgo
had something to do with the disappearance of the discu^e
from this region. .

An interesting side light on the customs of those days in
Philadelphia and iis vicinity may be seen in the advorti.-c-
mentc> in regard to slaves, white and black, appearing in
almost every number of the Pcniisylro aia Gazette^ in v.hich.
under date of October 31, 1745, Dr. Cadwalader give:- t1;<.-
follo^^'ing notice : " Ran away on Saturday the 2Gth of Octo-
ber from Thomas Cadwalader of Trenton a negro named
Sam, a likely fellow,"' etc.

"WHdle living in Trenton J)v. Cadwalader probably prac-
tised medicine, and it is knowm that he wa.s physi<ian to
Governor Belcher. He also had pupils in medicine, for
there is a record of one such, John Rockhill, who studicti
under him and began his career as a practitioner in 174S.*

In the year 1749 he seems to have prepared for a defini-

J Beck, John B. Historical Sketch of the State of American ^^■di-
cine before the Eevolution. New York, 1842, p. 26.

A copy of this rare "Essay" was recently sold at public ^^alc in
Philadelplua for .$200.

' Raniwiy, David. Review of the Improvements, Progress and ."^tiile
of Medicine in the XVIIIth Centnr}-. Charleston, 1801, p. 3G.

' Wickes, op. cif., p. 373.



£72 Sketch of the Life of Dr. Thomas Cadicalader.

tive return to rhiladeli»hia, for ho then wound up the aftairs
of his father's estate and secured possession of the house at
the southeast corner of Fifth and Market Streets. In 1750
he gave up his othce of Burgess in Trenton, when the sur-
render of its charter was accepted, and, as an evidence of
his interest in the citizens, presented them with the sum
of live hundred pounds as a foundation for a free hbrary,'
which grew in importance until its destruction by tlie
British upon tlioir capture of Trenton, in 1770, at which
time it is spoken of as " an elegant Public Library."'

Dr. Cadwalader then returned to Philadelphia, where he
soon became active in public affairs. In 175-1 he advertised
for sale his extensive lands in Xew Jersey, one tract alone
containing nine hundred acres, with streams and timber,
and another plantation of about seven hundred acres, and a
''larf-e and commodious corner brick house" in Trenton.^

At the foundation of the Pennsylvania Hospital, in 1751,
he subscribed twenty-tive pounds to what was kno^^^l as the
" capital stock," and on October 23 of that year he, with Drs.
Graeme, jSIoore, and Redman, was chosen by the managers
" to assist in consultations in extraordinary cases." On May
7, 1752, the medical attendance on the sick in the hospital was
committed to " six Physicians and Surgeons," Drs. Lloyd
Zachary, Thomas Bond, Phineas Bond, Thomas Cadwalader,
Samuel Preston Moore, and John Redman, who went on
duty three at a time, for three months at a time, one going
oif duty and a new one coming on each month. This posi-
tion Dr. Cadwalader held until 1779, when he resigned.^
Dr. Cadwalader's connection with the Academy and Col-
lege of Philadelphia was very close. It has been stated
that he was, in 1749, one of the signers of the " Constitu-
tions" of the Academy of Philadelphia. This I have no
doubt is an error, caused by the fact that his signature ap-

^ Archives of New Jersey, 1st series, vol. xi. p. 584.
* Pennsylvania Gazette, May 17, 1750.

' History of the Pennsylvania Hospital. Philadelphia, 1895, pp. 28,
32, 483.



. Skrdh of the Life of Dr. Thomas CaJiralader. 273

jicars oil tliat page of the minute-book which cniitiniiH tlu-
signatures of those of the original trustees for whose signa-
tures tliere was not suflicient room on the preceding page
But tlicre is no warrant for the supposition that Dr. Cu.l-
walader signed kmg before Dr. Isaac Xorris, whose n:inie
appears just below his, and who was chosen a trustee at tlic
same meeting at which Dr. Cadwalader was chosen; ' ])(>tli
signed because the provisions of the " Constitution" maile
this obligatory upon a trustee before he could exercise his
functions.

On I^ovember 12, 1751, he was elected a trustee of the
Academy,- and on July 13, 1753, as a trustee, he was one of
the seventeen w'ho waited on Governor James ITamilton and
received from him the charter of the Academy; and again,
on June 10, 1755, he was one of the trustees who received
from Governor Eobert Hunter Morris in person the charter
finally approved and accepted by the College of Philadel-
phia.^

In the othce of trustee of the College he continued alnio-t
to the end of his life, for it w^as only five months before his



Online LibraryJohn Collins WarrenGenealogy of Warren, with some historical sketches → online text (page 20 of 39)