Oliver Prescott should, by now, need very little introduction. The Rev. Timothy Alden, on the other hand, was a Protestant minister in New England, active in the early 19th century. He was also an associate of the Rev. Jonathan French, an ancestor from my mother’s side. In 1814, Alden published a sort of anthology of various things he and others had written; a mix of biography and brief obituaries…summaries, in one form or another, of people’s lives. To my 21st century mind, it’s a distinctly odd book. At any rate, I found among its pages the following tribute to the multi-talented doctor, general, and judge, Oliver Prescott. As it was written by and for people who knew the man, it is pretty much a primary source, and worth including here.
[A brief word on punctuation: I have more or less left the text as is, which includes a failure to capitalize titles, such as Rev. or Dr., etc., and other customs different from our own. Where absolutely necessary, I have edited lightly, to preserve the flow of the prose.–LSL]
A collection of American epitaphs and inscriptions, with occasional notes 2nd ed. by Alden, Timothy
Published 1814 by [S. Marks, Printer] in New-York .
Online text available here.
299. Erected to the memory of the hon. Oliver Prescott, esquire, M. D. A. A. S. M. M. S. S. who departed this life, 17 November, A. D. 1804, aged 73 years, 6 months, and 9 days ; also, of Mrs. Lydia Prescott, consort of the above said Oliver Prescott, and daughter of the late David Baldwin, esq. of Sudbury, who died, 27 Sept. A.D. 1798, aged 62 years, 11 months, and 11 days.
Note.— The following sketch of the character of the hon. judge Prescott is drawn, principally, from a sermon, delivered, on the sabbath succeeding his interment, by a very respectable and worthy clergyman, who had enjoyed a long and intimate personal acquaintance with him, and who had the means of correct information.
He was born at Groton, Massachusetts, 27 April 1731. His father was the hon. Benjamin Prescott, of the same town, a very distinguished statesman, who died, 3 August 1T38, in the 43 year of his age, v/hen the subject of this article was about 7 years old. His mother was Abigail, daughter of the hon. Thomas Oliver, of Cambridge, a near relation of the provincial governour of that name. She died at Groton, 13 September, 1765, in the 69 year of her age. Judge Prescott w as educated at Harvard university, Cambridge, where he received his first degree in 1750. During the course of his collegiate studies he acquired and supported a distinguished character, not only for the regularity of his behaviour, but for his great literary attainments ; and this has been the case ever since that period. Accordingly, he was early noticed and his name enrolled as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Soon after receiving his baccalaureate he commenced the study of physick under the tuition of doctor Roby, of Sudbury, a disciple of the celebrated Boerhaave. His distinguished professional acquirements, his prompt and unremitting attention to his patients, his peculiarly tender and pleasant manner of treating them in their distress, his moderate charges, and forbearance towards the poor and the general success, which attended his practice, operated to render him, for nearly half a century, one of the most popular, while he was, unquestionably, one of the most eminent and useful physicians in the commonwealth. As an instrument in the hand of Providence, he saved the lives of thousands. His high standing, among his brethren of the faculty, gave him a place in the Massachusetts Medical Society at the time of its institution. He was also an honorary fellow of several Medical Societies out of the commonwealth. He was likewise president of the Middlesex Medical Society, and, many years previous to his death, received from Harvard university the honorary degree of doctor of physick.