Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

John Archer (1741-1810)
MSA SC 3520-24

Biography:

BORN: on May 5, 1741, probably in Cecil County; only surviving child.
NATIVE: second generation.
RESIDED. New Castle, Delaware, 1767-1769; near Churchville, Spesutia Hundred, Harford County.

FAMILY BACKGROUND.
FATHER: Thomas Archer (?-1772), who immigrated from County Donegal, Ireland, and became an agent for an ironworks in Cecil County; later moved to Baltimore County.
MOTHER: Elizabeth, daughter of (first name unknown) Stevenson. John Archer had four brothers and sisters who died in infancy of malignant fevers.
MARRIED in 1766 Catherine, daughter of Thomas Harris, of Harford County. Her brother was Robert, of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, a physician.
CHILDREN. SONS: Thomas; Robert Harris; John; James; all of whom became doctors; George Washington, who died while studying medicine; Stevenson Archer (1786-1848), a lawyer, member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1809 to 1811, member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1811 to 1817 and from 1819 to 1821, U.S. judge for the Mississippi Territory appointed in 1817, associate justice of the Court of Appeals of Maryland from 1824 to 1844 and chief justice from 1844 until death, who married Pamela Hays; plus four other children who died young.

PRIVATE CAREER.
EDUCATION: Nottingham Academy, Cecil County; College of New Jersey (later became Princeton University), 1760; M.A., 1763; Philadelphia College of Medicine, 1768.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Archer received the first degree in medicine offered by an American school.
RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: Presbyterian; studied theology in preparation for the ministry and was an elder in the Churchville Presbyterian Church, Harford County.
SOCIAL STATUS AND ACTIVITIES: Esq., 1783; one of the founders of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, 1799.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: he suffered from a severe chronic throat ailment throughout his adult life, which precluded public speaking and forced him to use a voice trumpet.
OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE: a physician, who began his practice in New Castle, Delaware, 1767-1769; continued to practice in Harford County from 1769 until his death; from about 1785 he taught medicine at his home, "Medical Hall".

PUBLIC CAREER.
LEGISLATIVE SERVICE: Convention, Harford County, 9th 1776; Lower House, Harford County, 1777, 1779-1780.
LOCAL OFFICES: Committee of Correspondence, Harford County, elected 1774; Committee of Observation, Harford County, elected 1776; justice, Harford County, 1777-at least 1793; justice, Orphans' Court, Harford County, 1779-at least 1784; subscription officer, Continental Loan Office, Harford County, appointed 1779; judge, Court of Appeals for Tax Assessment, Harford County, appointed 1786; Maryland Senate elector, Harford County, elected 1811.
MILITARY SERVICE: captain, Lower Crosswoods Company, Harford County Militia, elected 1774; 2nd major, Upper Battalion, Harford County Militia, appointed 1779; served as a volunteer aide-de-camp to Gen. Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Stony Point, 1779; captain, Continental Army, 1779; major, Continental Army, 1779.
OUT OF STATE OFFICES: presidential elector, Maryland, 1796, 1800; representative, U.S. Congress, 1801-1803, 1803-1805, 1805-1807; a Democrat.
STANDS ON PUBLIC/PRIVATE ISSUES: signed the Bush Declaration on March 22, 1775. In his will he absolved the debts of his insolvent patients and provided for the manumission of his slaves.

WEALTH DURING LIFETIME.
PERSONAL PROPERTY: assessed value £476.0.0, including 8 slaves and 15 oz. plate, 1783; 7 slaves, 1790.
LAND AT FIRST ELECTION: 450 acres in Harford County (inherited from his father).
SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN LAND BETWEEN FIRST ELECTION AND DEATH: during the late 1780s and early 1800s he purchased about 350 acres in Harford County adjoining his home plantation; received a number of mortgages as payment or security for debts owed to him.

WEALTH AT DEATH.
DIED: on September 28, 1810, at "Medical Hall," Harford County.
PERSONAL PROPERTY: TEV, $58,070.80 (including stock in Baltimore City and Washington, D.C. banks, roads, insurance, and U.S. certificates); FB, $58,038.10.
LAND: his home plantation consisted of 807 acres, plus he had an additional 260 acres in Harford County; he may also have owned property in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.

Source: Edward C. Papenfuse, et al. A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789. Vol 1. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979), 107.  

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