Plymouth County Biographies

Part of the Massachusetts Biographies Project

Dr. Philip Bryant

Grandfather of a Poet-Dr. Philip Bryant, a native of Middleborough, early became a resident of North Bridgewater, to which town (now Brockton) his father moved at a time when, as Dr. Bryant has been quoted as saying:"a greater part of it was thought unfit for the purpose of settlement."

There was, at the same time, a Dr. Abiel Howard in West Bridgewater, an older physician, to whom Dr. Bryant became an apprentice. Dr. Howard had a daughter who later became the wife of Dr. Philip Bryant and, in time, the grandmother of William Cullen Bryant, the noted poet. Dr. Bryant practiced medicine in North Bridgewater until his death, at the age of eighty-five years, in 1817.

One of his sons, Dr. Peter Bryant, was born in North Bridgewater August 12, 1767. He was a pronounced student, gaining much knowledge and inspiration from his visits to his grandfather, Dr. Abiel Howard, in West Bridgewater, who was the possessor of an unusually good library for those times. From both his grandfather and father he obtained a knowledge of medicine, supplemented by study under Dr. Louis Leprilite of Norton, Massachusetts, a French physician and surgeon of eminence.

He moved to Cummington, Massachusetts, married a daughter of Ebenezer Snell, also a native of North Bridgewater. Present at the wedding was the grandmother of the bride, Mrs. Abigail Snell, who lived to see seven generations of descendants and was nearly one hundred years of age at her death.

For several years, Dr. Peter Bryant represented the fast-growing town of Cummington in the General Court of Massachusetts, serving in both the House and Senate. He took a prominent part in legislation to raise the standard of medical education in the Commonwealth. He was a careful and successful practitioner, using every opportunity to improve himself in his profession and as a citizen. He traveled to ports in the Indian Ocean, spent a time on the Isle of France perfecting himself in the French language, wrote occasional poems and was a man of attainment unusual in his day. In politics he served with zeal as a member of the Federal party and some of his satirical verses, printed in the "Hampshire Gazette," showed alike his scholarship and uncompromising convictions.

More information on the family can be found in the Biography of William Cullen Bryant on the Virtual American Biographies Website and on the Town of Cummington William Cullen Bryant Homestead website.

Source: "History of Plymouth, Norfolk and Barnstable Counties Massachusetts; Volume I" by Elroy S. Thompson. Pub. 1928. Pages 125-126