American Medical Biographies/Wynne, Thomas

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Wynne, Thomas (1631–1692)

Doctor James J. Levick has called attention to the fact that all the physicians of Philadelphia, previous to 1700, were natives of Wales, even though Welsh immigrants formed but a part of the population of that city. Among them was Thomas Wynne who set sail from Deal, England, August 30, 1682, in the ship Welcome, with William Penn, on his first voyage to America, reaching here October 27, 1682. Wynne had practised medicine on the Surrey side of the Thames for some thirty years and was said to have been "the most thoroughly equipped and learned physician who, until then, had visited America." When smallpox broke out on the Welcome coming over, the skill of "good Dr. Wynne" was taxed to the utmost. Here was a three hundred ton vessel, with one hundred emigrants, with insufficient medical attendance, no delicacies for the sick and only such remedies as could be supplied from the ship's medicine chest; and the voyage took fifty-three days. But Wynne, acting as both physician and nurse, conquered the epidemic; thirty died of smallpox before the voyage was over.

Wynne was born in the town of Caerwys, Flintshire, North Wales, in 1631 and was the fifth son of Sir John Wynne, of Gwydyr, and Sydney, daughter of Sir William Gerard, Chancellor of Ireland. He was sent to London in 1650, entered the Royal College of Surgeons and was subsequently licensed as a surgeon and physician. He married Mary Bultall about 1656.

After landing with Penn in Philadelphia, Wynne became a member and president of the first Provincial Assembly held in that town, a prominent preacher among the Friends and a writer of controversial tracts. Penn was warmly attached to him and named the present Chestnut Street, one of the principal thoroughfares of the new city, Wynne Street, in his honor.

A daughter of Wynne, Mary, married Edward Jones, whose daughter, Martha Wynne Jones, became the wife of John Cadwalader, the father of Thomas Cadwalader, and so Wynne was the great-grandfather of Thomas Cadwalader.

Wynne purchased five thousand acres of land in Sussex County, Delaware, and lived there for a time, but returned to Philadelphia, where he died January 16, 1692.

Founder's Week Mem. Vol., F. P. Henry. Ed.
Nar. of Med. in Amer., J. G. Mumford, 1903.
The Early Phys. of Phila. and its Vicin., James J. Levick, Phila., 1886.