Matthew Thornton

Matthew Thornton (1713 - 1803)

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Honorable Matthew Thornton
Born in Limerick, Irelandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Newburyport, Massachusettsmap
Profile last modified | Created 13 Nov 2013
This page has been accessed 2,445 times.

Categories: American Founding Fathers | Signers of the United States Declaration of Independence | American Revolution | Thornton Graveyard, Merrimack, New Hampshire | American Revolution Army Officers | Senators | New Hampshire Line, American Revolution | Judges | Lawyers.

Honorable Matthew Thornton served during the American Revolution
Service started:
Service ended:

GPS (lat/lon): 42.83996, -71.49057

United States Revolutionary War Rolls
Name Matthew Thornton
Event Type Military Service
Event Date 01 Sep 1781
Event Place New Hampshire, United States
Event Place (Original) New Hampshire, United States
Citing this Record



Dr. Matthew Thornton was a delegate from the State of New Hampshire to the Continental Congress, and a Signer of the Declaration of Independence (three months after the formal signing in August).

Thornton was born in Ireland to James and Elizabeth (Jenkins) Thornton. In 1716 the family immigrated to North America settling first at either Williamsburg, Virginia or Brunswick, Maine. When the community was attacked by Native Americans on July 11, 1722, James and Elizabeth Thornton fled from their burning home with Matthew and moved to Worcester, Massachusetts.

Matthew Thornton studied in medicine at Leicester and became a physician, establishing a medical practice in Londonderry, New Hampshire, at age 26. In New Hampshire he was appointed surgeon to the New Hampshire Militia troops in an expedition against Fortress Louisbourg in 1745. He had royal commissions as justice of the peace and colonel of militia.

In 1760 Thornton married Hannah Jack (age 18), and the couple had five children. Four of the five grew to maturity. James, born in 1765, was married to Mary Parker, and one of his sons, James Shepard Thornton, had a distinguished career in the U. S. Navy. The torpedo boat Thornton was named. in his honor. Matthew Thornton, the youngest son married Fanny Curtis of Amherst. He became a prominent lawyer of his native State. Mary Thornton married Hon. Silas Betton of Salem, N.H., and Hannah married John McGaw, of Bedford, N. H

Thornton himself became Londonderry Town Selectman, a representative to, and President of the Provincial Assembly, and a member of the Committee of Safety, drafting New Hampshire's plan of government after dissolution of the royal government, which was the first state constitution adopted after the start of hostilities with England.

He was first President of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Associate Justice of the Superior Court of New Hampshire. He was elected to the Continental Congress after the debates on independence had occurred, but as he did not arrive in Philadelphia until November, 1776, he was granted permission to actually sign the Declaration of Independence three months after the formal signing in August. Although he did not attend law school, he was given duties as an associate justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court in 1777. From 1784 to 1787 Thornton was a member of the New Hampshire State Senate and combined this with the role of State Councilor from 1785 to 1786.

He became a political essayist. He retired from his medical practice and moved to Merrimack, New Hampshire in 1780 where he farmed and operated a ferry at Thornton's Ferry with his family. His wife Hannah died in 1786. Thornton died in Newburyport, Massachusetts, while visiting his daughter. Matthew Thornton is buried in Thornton Cemetery in Merrimack, and his grave reads "An Honest Man."

Mrs. Samuel Clyde, a niece of Matthew Thornton, fled from Indians into the woods with her eight children, one a babe in arms during the Cherry Valley Massacre. She hid for twenty-four hours behind logs, near where Indians were passing. Exhibiting wonderful strength and endurance she finally reached the fort in safety.--American Monthly Magazine

Matthew was born in 1714 in Ireland to James Thornton ____ - 1754 and Elizabeth Jenkins 1690 - 1741.


Said to be 1718, so when he was just 4 years old.


Spouse: Hannah Jack Thornton (____ - 1786)

:No Source

1790 Merrimac, Hillsborough, New Hampshire
Name Matthew Thornton
Page 259
Citing this Record


  1. Mary Thornton Betton (____ - 1845
  2. Andrew Thornton (____ - 1787
  3. James Thornton (1763 - 1817


  1. Hannah Thornton Wallace (____ - 1814
  2. William Thornton (1713 - 1790
  3. Matthew Thornton (1714 - 1803
  4. Agnes Thornton Wasson (1717 - 1774


Biography of Hannah Jack Thornton ( : accessed 24 May 2014)

Matthew Thornton of New Hampshire: A Patriot of the American Revolution by Charles Thornton Adams (1903). Retrieved from:

See Also:

  1. Oath of Allegiance New Hampshire
  2. Monument photo FindAGrave "Famous"
  3. "United States Census, 1790," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 3 March 2018), Matthew Thornton, Merrimac, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States; citing p. 259, NARA microfilm publication M637, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 5; FHL microfilm 568,145.
  4. "United States Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 31 October 2017), Matthew Thornton, 01 Sep 1781; citing 01 Sep 1781, New Hampshire, United States, citing NARA microfilm publication M246. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Services, 1980. FHL microfilm 830,327.

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No known carriers of Matthew's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests.

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Matthew Thornton
Matthew Thornton

Matthew Thornton house in Derry, New Hampshire
Matthew Thornton house in Derry, New Hampshire

Grave marker: Matthew Thornton, signer of the Declaration of Independence. It is located in the Matthew Thornton Cemetery in Merrimack, New Hampshire
Grave marker: Matthew Thornton, signer of the Declaration of Independence. It is located in the Matthew Thornton Cemetery in Merrimack, New Hampshire

Matthew Thornton
Matthew Thornton

Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence

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On 18 Dec 2018 at 22:16 GMT Susan Keil wrote:

Thornton-5832 and Thornton-1562 appear to represent the same person because: Duplicates

On 28 Jul 2014 at 22:17 GMT Theodore Palmer wrote:

Thornton-2082 and Thornton-1562 appear to represent the same person because: These two profiles are obviously for the same person. He is thesixth great grandfather of my daughter-in-law Kristina (Kristi) Wells Kenney [Palmer}. I am just beginning to enter information about her ancestry.

Matthew is 28 degrees from Jelena Eckst├Ądt, 15 degrees from Theodore Roosevelt and 18 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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