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History of the St Andrew's Society of the State of New York
Biographies: Adam Thomson

Second President,

It is greatly to be regretted that so little record has been left of one who was the second President of the Society, especially when tradition points to Dr. Adam Thomson as the originator and prime mover in the organization of Saint Andrew’s Society of the State of New York. He is said to have taken his degree as physician at Edinburgh and shortly afterward to have come to America, and finally settled at Upper Marlborough, Prince George’s County, Maryland. He died on the 18th September, 1767, in the City of New York, as the following extract from the New York Mercury, issue of the 21st September, 1767, shows, viz.:

“On Friday morning early died here Adam Thomson, Esq., a Physician of distinguished Abilities in his Profession, well versed in polite Literature, and of unblemished Honour and Integrity as a Gentleman.”

He was well and widely known throughout the Colonies and repeatedly sent for to superintend operations in different parts of the country. Notwithstanding the arduous duties of his practice, he found time for much study and research, and was the originator of the so-called “American Method” of inoculating for smallpox, which became the accepted method of procedure throughout America, and was favorably received in England. He began to inoculate by this method as early as 1738, and in 1750 published a tract upon the subject. It was entitled, “A Discourse upon the Preparation of the Body for Recovery of Smallpox,” delivered in the Public Hall of the Academy before the Trustees, November 2d, 1750, by Adam Thomson, a physician in Philadelphia. This tract was published by Benjamin Franklin in 1750, in quarto form, of 24 pages in length, and reviewed in the London “Medical and Physician’s Journal” of 1752, at page 307, with commendation. It reached a second edition in 1752, and a third edition in 1757.

In the same year a Dr. Alexander Hamilton, of Annapolis, Province of Maryland, defended Dr. A. Thomson’s published letter on “Inoculation,” and thereafter Dr. Thomson published a letter on “Inoculation” in the Maryland Gazette, issue of the 18th November, 1762.

Dr. Thomson appears to have taken up a residence in Philadelphia in 1748, for he was a founder of the St. Andrew’s Society of that city in 1749, and subsequently was elected Vice-President in 1751. He must have removed to New York City about 1755, for he became one of the founders and the first Vice-President of Saint Andrew’s Society of the State of New York in 1756, and was elected President in 1757. Undoubtedly his association as a founder of the Philadelphia society led him to establish a like society in New York, and the fact that the early Constitution of the New York society was taken from that of the Philadelphia society is strong evidence of Dr. Thomson’s leadership in the foundation of this ancient and honorable organization.

Some further facts concerning him may be learned from his will, which was dated the 16th September, 1767, and proved and recorded in the New York County Surrogate’s Office on the 26th September, 1767. In this instrument he writes himself “of Upper Marlborough, Province of Maryland, and mentions one Alexander Skinner, son of Ann Skinner, of the Province of Maryland; one Andrew Thomson, son of Thomasina Furnis; one James Thomson, son of Rosanna Ryley; to all of whom he leaves certain legacies. He wills the rest of his estate to his daughters, Alice Corbett Thomson and Mary Lee Thomson, naming as executors, his wife, Lettice Thomson, of the Province of Maryland, Thomas White, of the City of New York, merchant, and Peter Middleton, of the City of New York, Doctor of Physick.

A prolonged search for any of his descendents living at the present time and for a portrait has been made, but without success.

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