Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July ~ Celebrate the Signers of the Declaration of Independence

The Matthew Thornton homestead in Merrimack, NH
is now a restaurant "The Common Man".
It was formerly a restaurant called "Hannah Jack" his wife's maiden name. 
If you live in one of the thirteen original colonies, then somewhere near you lived someone who signed the Declaration of Independence.  This is what the 4th of July is all about, not hot dogs, fireworks, or parades.  Most of these men are relatively unknown heroes, except for a few who have famous names like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.  New Hampshire was the home state of three signers, all are fairly unknown souls: Matthew Thornton, Josiah Bartlett (not the president on the TV show "West Wing"), and William Whipple.  Thornton and Bartlett were both physicians.

Matthew Thornton was born in Northern Ireland and settled as a doctor in Londonderry, New Hampshire (did you know three of the signers were born in Ireland?).  He became a colonel of the Londonderry militia, and led his men to Louisburg, Nova Scotia in 1745.  As a doctor he was able to keep his casualties down to only six men, although the army suffered great losses in that expedition.  During the American Revolution he was too old to serve again in the army, but served instead in the many provincial congresses and was chairman of the Committee of Safety in 1775.   He was elected to the Continental Congress but did not arrive in Philadelphia until November of 1776, and was allowed to sign the Declaration of Independence after the fact.

Across the street from the Thornton homestead is this grand memorial.
Matthew Thornton is NOT buried here, but is buried several yards south
in the family plot, with his wife and several children.
The actual Thornton family plot
To the Memory of
the Honble
who died june 27th
Aged 89 Years
The Honest Man

After his retirement from public life he removed to Merrimack, New Hampshire.  He farmed and operated a ferry across the Merrimack River.  This part of Merrimack is still known as Thornton's Ferry. He died while visiting his daughter in Newbury, Massachusetts.  He is buried in Merrimack in a simple grave that reads "An Honest Man".  The large memorial obelisk was raised in his honor many years later.

A previous blog post about Matthew Thornton:

A webpage about the Thornton Cemetery from Jan Brown's website:


Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Thanks for posting this Heather-- I wasn't too familiar with Matthew Thornton. But Josiah Bartlett was a 2nd cousin of mine. :-)

  2. Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing this!