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Brown, William (17―–1792)

William Brown, an army doctor, was bom in Scotland, probably Haddingtonshire, where his grandfather had left an entailed estate. William was the grandson of Dr. Gustavus Brown, Sr. (q.v.) of Rich Hill, near Port Tobacco, Maryland, and the son of the Rev. Richard Brown.

He graduated M. D. in 1770 from the University of Edinburgh, where he had been a student, the subject of his thesis being "De Viribus Atmosphæræ."

Settling in Alexandria upon his return home, he soon attained a high professional rank, and being a man of culture and polished manners, became intimate with many of the leading men of the day, among them, Washington, Jefferson and Madison.

At the beginning of the Revolution he entered the service of his country as surgeon to Col. Woodford's regiment of Virginia troops, but on the twentieth of September, 1776, was elected assistant to Dr. Shippen (q.v.), a chief physician of the Continental Army. Upon the recommendation of Dr. Hugh Mercer (q.v.), he was elected by Congress, February 7, 1778, to be physician-general of the middle department in place of Dr. Rush (q.v.), a position he resigned on July 21, 1780, returning to private practice.

In resigning he forfeited his right to be paid in bounty lands, but so highly were his services esteemed, the General Assembly of Virginia made an exception in his case and decreed that he should receive the pay due him, and also that he should be entitled to the bounty of land allowed surgeons of regiments raised under the authority of the state (Hening's "Statutes," vol. vi).

Dr. Brown married Miss Catherine Scott of the District of Columbia, and had a large family. His son, Gustavus Alexander, became a physician and practised in Alexandria for many years.

Dr. Brown died in January, 1792, and was buried at Preston, the Alexander estate, near Alexandria, Virginia.

His chief writing was a "Pharmacopœia for the Use of Army Hospitals," a copy of which is now in the Toner collection in the Library of Congress.

Med. Men of the Revolution, J. M. Toner, 1876.