Matthew Thornton

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Founding Fathers
Matthew Thornton
State New Hampshire
Religion Christian- Presbyterian [1]
Founding Documents Declaration of Independence

Matthew Thornton (b. 1714; d. June 24, 1803) is an American Founding Father. He was a prosperous surgeon, the president of the Provincial Assembly, a justice of the peace and a Colonel of the Londonderry Militia. As a member of the Committee of Safety he would draft a plan for the government of New Hampshire after the royal government was dissolved. Thornton became the first president of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and a justice to the Superior Court. He was elected to the Continental Congress as a delegate of New Hampshire that would sign the Declaration of Independence.

Early Life

Matthew Thornton was born in Ireland. At age three, he immigrated to the United States with his father and settled in Wiscasset, Maine before moving to Worcester, Massachusetts. He received a formal education in the study of medicine and in 1740 started his own practice. Thornton was appointed surgeon of New Hampshire troops in the expedition against Cape Breton. [2] Eventually he became Colonel of the New Hampshire Militia during the American Revolution.


In 1758, Matthew Thornton became a delegate to the New Hampshire Assembly. He would become president of the first Provincial Assembly in 1775 and chairman of the Committee of Safety. His plan to dissolve the royal government was immediately adopted and it became the first constituition for the state before the outbreak of hostilities with England. Under the new constitution, Thronton became the first president of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. In 1776, he was elected to the Continental Congress. He arrived after the vote for independence but in time to sign the Declaration. He was again selected to Congress in 1777, but declined to attend due to poor health. [3] After Congress, Thornton would serve in the State Senate in 1784 and State councilor in 1785.


In 1789, Thornton moved to a large farm estate in Merrimack, New Hamphire where he wrote political essays for newspapers. While visiting his daughter in Newburyport, Massachusetts he died at the age of 89. Matthew Thornton was buried at Thornton’s Ferry Cemetery, Merrimack, New Hamphire.


Adams, Charles Thornton. Matthew Thornton of New Hampshire: A Patriot of the American Revolution. Philadelphia, Pa.: Dando Print and Publishing Company, 1903.

Further Reading


  2. THORNTON, Matthew, (1714 - 1803), Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  3. Matthew Thornton,