Dr. William Bryant


I was a man of science caught between protest and loyalty.

I was born in New York City on January 3, 1730, the son of ship Captain William Byrant and his wife Eleanor. I studied medicine in France. From 1759 until 1767, I was a surgeon in the British Army, serving in the West Indies.

I retired with a half-pay pension and moved with my wife Mary to Trenton. On October 28, 1769, I purchased a house built by William Trent himself, for £2,800. I quickly acquired a reputation as a skilled physician and a man of integrity. Many of the members of my church, Trenton Presbyterian, protested deeply against the acts of Parliament; though I did not support them, I also did not oppose them.

In late 1775, I faced a difficult choice. I was ordered to rejoin the British army that was besieged in Boston. I could not go, and I signed a parole to Congress pledging I would “not go farther than twelve miles from my present place of residence, except to Philadelphia, without leave of Congress.” This made me neutral throughout the struggle for independence, and some considered me a Loyalist, but I took no actions to oppose the Revolution, and was never attacked by Patriots or had my land confiscated.

But maybe my stressful situation took its toll on me, because I retired in March, 1783, and then died “of an apoplexy” on January 11, 1786. A friend described me as being older than my years.


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