Quaker, New England, and Kersey Genealogy

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  • ID: I02372
  • Name: Josiah Bartlett
  • Sex: M
  • Title: Hon., Dr.
  • Birth: 21 NOV 1729 in Amesbury, Essex, Massachusetts
  • Death: 19 MAY 1795 in Kingston, New Hampshire
  • Reference Number: b1
  • Reference Number: A2748AaAAAAA(1)12
  • Note:
    Sources - MacKenzie - Colonial Families of the USA
    DAR magazine Jan 1926 and on - Descendants of Signers of the Declaration of Independence
    Bartlett, Levi - Sketches of the Bartlett Family in England & America
    Essex Antiquarian VII #1 1903
    " " V1 #8 1897
    Boston Transcript 5 Sep 1923 #865
    NEHGR v1 p95 Jan 1847

    Delegate to the Continental Congress from 1775 to 1779, Judge of the Supreme Court of New Hampshire 1782 to 1790, delegate ot the US Constitutional convention, 1787-1789, chosen first Senator from N.H. but declined due to health, Governor of New Hampshire 1792-1794.
    Second signer of the Declaration of Independence. Thought by my grandparents generation to be an ancestor. Appears unlikely at this point. I have included as much of Josiah ancestors and descendants as I can find. The notion appears to have been common in the nineteenth century among people who had Bartlett relations that they were related to THE Bartlett, namely Josiah.


    BARTLETT, Josiah, (father of Josiah Bartlett, Jr.), a Delegate from New Hampshire; born in
    Amesbury, Mass., November 21, 1729; attended the public schools; studied medicine, and
    commenced practice in Kingston, N.H., in 1750; was medical agent to Gen. John Stark at
    Bennington; member of the colonial legislature of New Hampshire 1765-1775; Member of the
    Continental Congress in 1775, 1776 and 1778; signer of the Articles of Confederation and second
    signer of the Declaration of Independence; chief justice of the court of common pleas in 1778;
    became justice of the superior court in 1784 and chief justice in 1788; member of the convention
    which framed the Federal Constitution in 1787; in 1789 was elected to the United States Senate
    from New Hampshire, but declined, and at the same time resigned as chief justice; Governor of
    the State of New Hampshire 1790-1794; member of the constitutional convention of 1792 which
    changed the title from president to that of Governor; retired in 1794; died in Kingston, N.H., May
    19, 1795; interment in the Plains Cemetery, in rear of the Universalist Church.


    DAB; Bartlett, Josiah. The Papers of Josiah Bartlett. Edited by Frank C. Mevers. Hanover, N.H.:
    University Press of New England, 1979; Page, Elwin L. “Josiah Bartlett and the Federation.”
    Historical New Hampshire 2 (Oct. 1947): 1-6.

    Josiah Bartlett 1729-1795

    Josiah Bartlett, the first of the New-Hampshire
    delegation who signed the Declaration of Independence,
    was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in 1729. He was
    the fourth son of Stephen Bartlett, whose ancestors came
    from England during the seventeenth century, and settled
    at Beverly.
    The early education of young Bartlett appears to have
    been respectable, although he had not the advantages of a
    collegiate course. At the age of sixteen he began the study
    of medicine, for which he had a competent knowledge of
    the Greek and Latin languages.
    On finishing his preliminary studies, which were
    superintended by Dr. Ordway, of Amesbury, and to
    which he devoted himself with indefatigable zeal for five
    years, he commenced the practice of his profession at
    Kingston, in the year 1760.
    Two years from the above date, he was attacked by a
    fever, which for a time seriously threatened his life. From
    an injudicious application of medicines, and too close a
    confinement to his chamber, life appeared to be rapidly
    ebbing, and all hopes of his recovery were relinquished.
    In this situation, fine evening, he strongly solicited his
    attendants to give him some cider. At first they were
    strongly reluctant to comply with his wishes, under a just
    apprehension, that serious and even fatal consequences
    might ensue. The patient, however, would not be
    pacified, until his request was granted. At length they
    complied with his request, and of the cider thus given
    him, he continued to drink at intervals during the night.
    The effect of it proved highly beneficial. It mitigated the
    febrile symptoms, a copious perspiration ensued, and
    from this time he began to recover.
    This experiment, if it may be called an experiment, was
    treasured up in the mind of Dr. Bartlett, and seems to
    have led him to abandon the rules of arbitrary system, for
    the more just principles of nature and experience. He
    became a skillful and distinguished Practitioner. To him
    is ascribed the first application of Peruvian bark in cases
    of canker, which before, was considered an
    inflammatory, instead of a Putrid disease, and as such had
    been unsuccessfully treated.
    This disease, which was called the throat distemper,
    first appeared at Kingston, in the spring of 1735. The first
    person afflicted with it, was said to have contracted the
    disease from a hog, which he skinned and opened, and
    which had died of a distemper of the throat. The disease
    which was supposed thus to have originated, soon after
    spread abroad through the town, and to children under ten
    years of age it proved exceedingly fatal. Like the plague,
    it swept its victims to the grave, almost without warning,
    and some are said to have expired while sitting at play
    handling their toys. At this time, medical skill was
    baffled; every method of treatment pursued, proved
    ineffectual. It ceased its ravages only where victims were
    no longer to be found.
    In the year 1754, Kingston was again visited with this
    malignant disease. Doctor Bartlett was at this time a
    physician of the town. At first he treated it as an
    inflammatory disease; but at length, satisfied that this was
    not its character, he administered Peruvian bark to a child
    of his own who was afflicted with the disease, and with
    entire success. From this time the use of it became
    general, as a remedy in diseases of the same type.
    A man of the distinguished powers of Doctor Bartlett,
    and of his decision and integrity, was not likely long to
    remain unnoticed, in times which tried men's souls. The
    public attention was soon directed to him, as a gentleman
    in whom confidence might be reposed, and whose duties,
    whatever they might be, would be discharged with
    promptness and fidelity.
    In the year 1765, Doctor Bartlett was elected to the
    legislature of the province of New-Hampshire, from the
    town of Kingston. In his legislative capacity, he; soon
    found occasion to oppose the mercenary views of the
    royal governor. He would not become subservient to the
    will of a man whose object, next to the display of his
    own authority, was the subjection of the people to the
    authority of the British administration.
    The controversy between Great Britain and her
    colonies, was now beginning to assume a serious aspect.
    At this time, John Wentworth was the royal governor, a
    man of no ordinary sagacity. Aware of the importance of
    attaching the distinguished men of the colony to the royal
    cause, among other magistrates, he appointed Dr. Bartlett
    to the office of justice of the peace. This was indeed an
    inconsiderable honour; but as an evidence of the
    governor's respect for his talents and influence, was a
    point of some importance. Executive patronage, however,
    was not a bait by which such a man as Dr. Bartlett would
    be seduced. He accepted the appointment, but was as
    firm in his opposition to the royal governor as he had
    been before.
    The opposition which was now abroad in America
    against the British government, and which continued to
    gather strength until the year 1774, had made equal
    progress in the province of New-Hampshire. At this time,
    a committee of correspondence, agreeably to the
    recommendation and example of other colonies, was
    appointed by the house of representatives. For this act,
    the governor dissolved the assembly. But the committee
    of correspondence soon after re-assembled the
    representatives, by whom circulars were addressed to the
    several towns, to send delegates to a convention, to be
    held at Exeter, for the purpose of selecting deputies to the
    Continental Congress, which was to meet at Philadelphia
    in the ensuing September.
    In this convention, Dr. Bartlett, and John Pickering, a
    lawyer, of Portsmouth, were appointed delegates to
    Congress. The former of these having a little previously
    lost his house by fire, was under the necessity of
    declining the honour. The latter gentleman wishing also to
    be excused, other gentlemen were elected in their stead.
    Dr. Bartlett, however, retained his seat in the house of
    representatives of the province. Here, as in other
    colonies, the collisions between the royal governor and
    the people continued to increase. The former was more
    arbitrary in his proceedings; the latter better understood
    their rights, and were more independent. The conspicuous
    part which Dr. Bartlett took on the patriotic side, the
    firmness with which he resisted the royal exactions,
    rendered him highly obnoxious to the governor, by whom
    he was deprived of his commission as justice of the
    peace, and laconically dismissed from his command in
    the militia.
    From this time, the political difficulties in
    New-Hampshire greatly increased. At length, Governor
    Wentworth found it necessary for his personal safety to
    retire on board the Favey man of war, then lying in the
    harbour of Portsmouth. From this he went to Boston, and
    thence to the Isle of Shoals, where he issued his
    proclamation, adjourning the assembly till the following
    April. This act, however, terminated the royal
    government in the province of New-Hampshire. A
    provincial congress, of which Matthew Thornton was
    president, was soon called, by which a temporary
    government was organized, and an oath of allegiance was
    framed, which every individual was obliged to take.
    Thus, after subsisting for a period of ninety years, the
    British government was forever annihilated in
    In September, 1775, Dr. Bartlett, who had been elected
    to the Continental Congress, took his seat in that body. In
    this new situation, he acted with his accustomed energy,
    and rendered important services to his country. At this
    time, congress met at nine in the morning, and continued
    its session until four o'clock in the afternoon. The state of
    the country required this incessant application of the
    members. But anxiety and fatigue they could endure
    without repining. The lives and fortunes of themselves
    and families, and fellow citizens, were in jeopardy.
    Liberty, too, was in jeopardy. Like faithful sentinels,
    therefore, they sustained witty cheerfulness their
    laborious task; and, when occasion required, could
    dispense with the repose of nights. In this unwearied
    devotion to business, Dr. Bartlett largely participated; in
    consequence of which, his health and spirits were for a
    time considerably affected.
    In a second election, in the early part of the year 1776,
    Dr. Bartlett was again chosen a delegate to the
    Continental Congress. He was present on the memorable
    occasion of taking the vote on the question of a
    declaration of independence. On putting the question, it
    was agreed to begin with the northernmost colony. Dr.
    Bartlett, therefore, had the honour of being called upon
    for an expression of his opinion, and of first giving his
    vote in favour of the resolution.
    On the evacuation of Philadelphia, by the British, in
    1778, Congress, which had for some time held its
    sessions at Yorktown, adjourned to meet at the former
    place, within three days, that is, on the second day of
    July. The delegates now left Yorktown, and in different
    companies proceeded to the place of adjournment. Dr.
    Bartlett, however, was attended only by a single servant.
    They were under the necessity of passing through a forest
    of considerable extent; it was re-ported to be the lurking
    place of a band of robbers, by whom several persons had
    been waylaid, and plundered of their effects. On arriving
    at an inn, at the entrance of the wood, Dr. Bartlett was
    informed of the existence of this band of desperadoes,
    and cautioned against proceeding, until other travelers
    should arrive. While the doctor lingered for the purpose
    of refreshing himself and horses, the landlord, to
    corroborate the statement which he had made, and to
    heighten still more the apprehension of the travelers,
    related the following anecdote. "A paymaster of the
    array, with a large quantity of paper money, designed for
    General Washington, had attempted the passage of the
    wood, a few weeks before. On arriving at the skirts of the
    wood, he was apprised of his danger, but as it was
    necessary for him to proceed, he laid aside his military
    garb, purchased a worn out horse, and a saddle and
    bridle, and a farmer's saddlebags of corresponding
    appearance: in the latter, he deposited his money, and
    with a careless manner proceeded on his way. At some
    distance from the skirt of the wood, he was met by two of
    the gang, who demanded his money. Others were skulking
    at no great distance in the wood, and waiting the issue of
    the interview. To the demand for money, he replied, that
    he had a small sum, which they were at liberty to take, if
    they believed they had a better right to it than himself and
    family; taking from his pocket a few small pieces of
    money, he offered them to them; at the same time, in the
    style and simplicity of a quaker, he spoke to them of the
    duties of religion. Deceived by the air of honesty which
    he assumed, they suffered him to pass, without further
    molestation, the one observing to the other, that so poor a
    quaker was not worth the robbing. Without any further
    interruption, the poor quaker reached the other side of the
    wood, and at length delivered the contents of his
    saddlebags to General Washington."
    During the relation of this anecdote, several other
    members of Congress arrived, when, having prepared
    their arms, they proceeded on their journey, and in safety
    passed over the infested territory.
    On the evacuation of Philadelphia, it was obvious from
    the condition of the city, that an enemy had been there. In
    a letter to a friend, Dr. Bartlett describes the alterations
    and ravages which had been made. "Congress," he says,
    "was obliged to hold its sessions in the college hall, the
    state house having been left by the enemy in a condition
    which could scarcely be described. Many of the finest
    houses were converted into stables; parlous floors cut
    through, and the dung shoveled through into the cellars.
    Through the country north of the city, for many miles, the
    hand of desolation had marked its way. Houses had been
    consumed, fences carried off, gardens and orchards
    destroyed. Even the great roads were scarcely to be
    discovered, amidst the confusion and desolation which
    In August, 1778, a new election took place in
    New-Hampshire, when Dr. Bartlett was again chosen a
    delegate to Congress; he continued, however at
    Philadelphia, but an inconsiderable part of the session,
    his domestic concerns requiring his attention. During the
    remainder of his life, he resided in New-Hampshire,
    filling up the measure of his usefulness in a zealous
    devotion to the interests of the state.
    In the early part of the year l779, in a letter to one of the
    delegates in Congress, Dr. Bartlett gives a deplorable
    account of the difficulties and sufferings of the people in
    New-Hampshire. The money of the country had become
    much depreciated, and provisions were scarce and high.
    Indian corn was sold at ten dollars a bushel. Other things
    were in the same proportion. The soldiers of the army
    could scarcely subsist on their pay, and the officers, at
    times, found it difficult to keep them together.
    During the same year, Dr. Bartlett was appointed chief
    justice of the court of common pleas. In 1782, he became
    an associate justice of the supreme court, and in 1788, he
    was advanced to the head of the bench. In the course of
    this latter year, the present Constitution was presented to
    the several states, for their consideration. Of the
    convention in New-Hampshire, which adopted it, Dr.
    Bartlett was a member, and by his zeal was accessory to
    its ratification. In 1789, he was elected a senator to
    Congress; but the infirmities of age induced him to
    decline the office. In 1793, he was elected first governor
    of the state, which office he filled, with his accustomed
    fidelity, until the infirm state of his health obliged him to
    resign the chief magistracy, and to retire wholly from
    public business. In January, 1794, he expressed his
    determination to close his public career in the following
    letter to the legislature:
    "Gentlemen of the Legislature -- After having served
    the public for a number of years, to the best of my
    abilities, in various offices to which I have had the
    honour to be appointed I think it proper, before your
    adjournment, to signify to you, and through you to my
    fellow citizens at large, that I now find myself so far
    advanced in age, that it will be expedient for me, at the
    close of the session, to retire from the cares and fatigues
    of public business, to the repose of a private life, with a
    grateful sense of the repeated marks of trust and
    confidence that my fellow citizens have reposed in me,
    and with my best wishes for the future peace and
    prosperity of the state."
    The repose of private life however, which must have
    become eminently desirable to a man whose life had been
    past an the toils and troubles of the revolution, was
    destined to be of short duration. This eminent man, and
    distinguished patriot, closed his earthly career on the
    nineteenth day of May, 1795, in the sixty-sixth year of his
    To the sketches of the life of this distinguished man,
    little need be added, respecting his character. His
    patriotism was of a singularly elevated character, and the
    sacrifices which he made for the good of his country
    were such as few men are willing to make. He possessed
    a quick and penetrating mind, and, at the same time, he
    was distinguished for a sound and accurate judgment. A
    scrupulous justice marked his dealings with all men, and
    he exhibited great fidelity in his engagements. Of his
    religious views we are unable to speak with confidence,
    although there is some reason to believe that his
    principles were less strict, than pertained to the puritans
    of the day. He rose to office, and was recommended to
    the confidence of his fellow citizens, not less by the
    general probity of his character, than the force of his
    genius. Unlike many others, he had no family, or party
    connections, to raise him to influence in society; but
    standing on his own merits, he passed through a
    succession of offices which he sustained with uncommon
    honour to himself, and the duties of which he discharged
    not only to the satisfaction of his fellow citizens. but with
    the highest benefit to his country.

    in many respects an ordinary
    man who achieved historical
    greatness because he met the
    stimulus of extraordinary
    times with distinction. He
    had neither the erudition and
    theoretical brilliance of
    Thomas Jefferson, the inventive genius and
    unfailing wit of Ben Franklin, the superb
    formal education of Benjamin Rush nor the
    explosiveness of the young Alexander

    Signed The Declaration

    He has, moreover, remained largely the.
    property of New Hampshire "statists" who
    proudly point to his signature at the bottom of
    the Declaration of Independence, and who are
    quick to mention that it appears first among the
    delegates as if he had taken the quill from the
    hand of John Hancock. Yet, even in New
    Hampshire, he is largely unsung, despite the
    fact that he was for several years its
    representative at the Continental Congress and
    played a decisive part in the remarkably
    peaceful transition from royal to republican
    administration in that state. Versatile and
    largely self taught, he was a physician, farmer,
    family man, public servant and phenominally
    skilful organizer of men and property.

    The son of an Amesbury, Mass. shoemaker,
    Josiah Bartlett at the age of 21 journeyed to
    New Hampshire, and by hard work,
    determination and not a little luck became a
    man of property and influence.

    An Unlikely Revolutionary

    During the pre-revolutionary years he wed
    Mary Bartlett, had a large family, opened a
    medical practice and built a large home in
    Kingston. He gained town office for the
    "establishment" at that date. He represented
    the town at the Provincial Assembly and held
    both royal commissions and royal confidence.
    He was a highly unlikely revolutionary, at
    times downright stingy, he could be both dour
    and self-righteous. Yet his courage was
    amazing. When the time came to "separate the
    sheep from the goats," he was decisive and
    unbending. He gave all of which he was
    capable to his town, his state and the fledgling
    nation at great sacrifice to himself and his
    family. Bartlett became one of the dominant
    men in New Hampshire state government,
    serving on the Committee of Safety and as a
    member of the Council. His importance in
    state politics was second only to that of
    Meshech Weare, with whom Bartlett was
    closely allied. Bartlett was a member of the
    Continental Congress from August, 1775
    through 1776 but declined a reappointment for
    the following year. He also served for five
    months in 1778. Although he had no legal
    training, Bartlett was judge of the Court of
    Common Pleas from 1779 until 1790.

    "President Of New Hampshire"

    He worked for the ratification of the federal
    Constitution as a member of the New
    Hampshire Ratification Convention and he
    was elected first as president and, when the
    title was changed, as governor of the state

    It is tempting to regard our ancestors as
    more than human and to endow them with
    godlike qualities that they did not possess.
    Faced with Bartlett's kaleidoscopic private
    accomplishment and public service, it is
    comforting to remember that through it all he
    remained a devoted and loving family man
    who anguished over his children when they
    were ill, rejoiced with them when things went
    well and retained his humanity even though, to
    this age of specialization, his
    accomplishments seem superhuman.

    By Anne and Charles Eastman, Jr.

    Originally published in "NH: Years of
    Revolution," Profiles Publications and the NH
    Bicentennial Commision, 1976. Reprinted by
    permission of the authors.

    1790 census Kingston, NH M637_5 image 0225

    Father: Stephen Bartlett b: 21 APR 1691 in Newbury, Massachusetts
    Mother: Hannah Webster b: 5 OCT 1692

    Marriage 1 Mary Bartlett b: 27 DEC 1730
    • Married: 15 JAN 1754
    1. Has Children Mary Bartlett b: 28 DEC 1754 in Kingston, New Hampshire
    2. Has No Children Lois Bartlett b: 2 JUN 1756 in Kingston, New Hampshire
    3. Has Children Miriam Bartlett b: 19 JUN 1758 in Kingston, New Hampshire
    4. Has Children Rhoda Bartlett b: 22 MAY 1760 in Kingston, New Hampshire
    5. Has No Children Hannah Bartlett b: 31 AUG 1762 in Kingston, New Hampshire
    6. Has Children Levi Bartlett b: 3 SEP 1763 in Kingston, New Hampshire
    7. Has No Children Josiah Bartlett b: 20 AUG 1765
    8. Has No Children Dorothy Bartlett b: 9 JUN 1767 in Kingston, New Hampshire
    9. Has No Children Josiah Bartlett b: 29 AUG 1768 in Kingston, New Hampshire
    10. Has Children Ezra Bartlett b: 13 SEP 1770 in Kingston, New Hampshire
    11. Has Children Sarah Bartlett b: 20 JUL 1773 in Kingston, New Hampshire
    12. Has No Children Hannah Bartlett b: 13 DEC 1776 in Kingston, New Hampshire
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