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Drown and Coues Family Genealogy



You really need to named Drown or Coues or Spalding to appreciate this essay by Charles Brewster. The author tracks the family tree of Portsmouth, NH families in a ramble that begins with a discussion of Sate Street after the Revolution. 




ABOUT Charles Brewster 
Editors Note: C.W. Brewster was a Portsmouth columnist in the mid-1800's. This article includes his opinions and may not reflect current research or current values.   -- JDR


State Street in 1793 -- Drown Family -- Dr. Lyman Spalding - -Capt. Peter Coues -- Samuel E. Coues

IN previous Rambles we have given sketches of State street previous to the fire of 1813. Beginning now at Sherburne's wharf, the eastern end of the street on the south side, we will proceed west on that side of the street, and give the residents therein about seventy years ago. First was Capt. Benjamin Sherburne's N. H. hotel, on the east corner of Water street. On the west corner was a small shoemaker's shop. Next was a long two-story house owned by John H. Seaward, occupied by Griffin's cut nail manufactory, by John Yeaton, tobacconist, and Timothy Winn, 3d. ("Three Penny Winn.")

brewsterslogo.jpgNext comes William Meserve's dwelling house, John Libbey's shoe-shop, then the house of Capt. Josiah Shackford, already referred to in a former ramble, as the adventurer who crossed the Atlantic alone in a boat. This house was directly in front of Rosemary street. Then came the house of Timothy Gerrish, with his silversmith's shop in front. Abner Blaisdell's house was next, and his grocery store was on the east corner of Atkinson street. On the west corner was the dwelling house and grocery and ship chandlery store of Capt. Peter Coues. Next west was the dwelling and silversmith's shop of Samuel Drown.

These houses were all two stories, many of them with end to the street, and, as will be seen, affording under the same roof, a residence and place of business. The street was very narrow--from Washington to Atkinson streets, State street (then Buck) averaged only about 22 feet in width.

Mr. Samuel Drown was the third son of Rev. Samuel Drown, the pastor of the Pitt street society. We find among our papers a sketch of the family which is worth preserving. It is said that the first of the name was a child found at sea alone in a boat, too young to give any account of himself, and from his probably intended destiny he received the name of Drown. Such is the legend--and as no mention of the name is made in the old English families, it may be correct.

Leonard Drown, born 1646, was a shipwright by occupation. He came from the west of England and married at or near Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Elizabeth Abbott. He lived to the age of eighty-three years, and died in Boston, Massachusetts, October 31st, 1729. He was blind for seven years next preceding his death. His wife died in the year 1704. He married again but had no issue by the second wife. He lived at Sturgeon Creek, about seven miles from Portsmouth, where all his children were born. He carried on ship building there till 1692, when on account of the Indian wars, he was obliged to remove, and went to Boston with his family, where he followed the same employment.

His children were four sons and two daughters, namely: Solomon, Samuel, Simeon, Shem; Susanna, who married John Johnson of Boston, and Mary, who married Mr. Kettle of Charlestown.

Samuel died near to if not in Portsmouth.

Solomon was born January 23d, 1681, his wife Aug. 18th 1686, and they were married November 8, 1705, in Bristol, R. I. They had eleven children, namely: Solomon, born October 4, 1706; Esther, Oct. 26, 1708; Elizabeth, Sept. 8, 1710; Joseph, Feb. 8, 1715; Bathshebah, June 10, 1715; Benjamin, June 9, 1717; Mary, June 7, 1719; Samuel, July 31, 1721; Sarah, July 23, 1723; Jonathan, July 29, 1725; Shem, June 13, 1728. Solomon, the father of these, died in 1730, and his wife in 1744.

Their son Samuel Drown was married to Sarah Reed, in Rehoboth, Mass. He was a Calvin Baptist Minister of the Gospel, but differing from that denomination on account of their practice of close communion, he left it and became an Independent Congregationalist, which sect were sometimes stigmatized by the name of New Lights, a name which he and his brethren did not adopt.

About this time, several of the members of the First Congregational Church in Portsmouth, of which Samuel Langdon, D. D., was Pastor, being dissatisfied with the indifference of that Church to spiritual improvement, and the absence of that degree of vitality in a large proportion of the members of the Church, which should, in their judgment, have characterized them as disciples of Christ, together with some differences of opinion in respect to church discipline, induced them to secede from that church; and, being joined by other professing Christians in Portsmouth and from the neigbboring towns, founded a new Church, called the "First Independent Congregationalist Church in Portsmouth, N.H.," and invited Mr. Drown, who had seceded from the Calvin Baptist denomination, to take the pastoral charge of the Church; a place or house of worship being erected in Pitt, (now Court) street, on the site of the Unitarian Chapel, for their accommodation. The invitation was accepted, and he arrived at Portsmouth from Coventry, R. I. with his family, July 7, 1758, and continued the faithful and beloved pastor of this little flock, and by none was he respected and revered more than by the living members and succeeding Pastor of the North Church, from which, mainly, his church were seceders, until his decease, which occurred January 17, 1770, leaving a widow, who died September 12, 1784. They had ten children. The first four were born in Providence, R. I., the next three in Coventry, R. I., and the last three in Portsmouth, in the present Moses house on the east side of Vaughan street, opposite the Toppan mansion.

Mary, born August 20, 1744, died August 31, 1744.

William, born September 23, 1745, died December 22, 1747.

Sarah, born September 3, 1747, died May 23, 1820.

Samuel, born November 5, 1749, died August 7, 1815.

Peter, born January 10, 1752, February 4, 1788.

Betsey, born November 9, 1755, died November 9, 1763.

Thomas, born April 27, 1757, died September 7, 1846.

Benjamin, born July 14, 1759, died December, 1793.

Mary, born July 19, 1762, died 1824.

Joseph, born Oct. 9, 1769, died Nov. 13, 1827.

Peter Drown was killed by Elisha Thomas, for which he was executed at Dover in 1788.

Samuel Drown married Mary Pickering of Portsmouth, sister of Capt. Thomas Pickering, commander of the private armed 20-gun ship Hampden, and fell in battle with an English Letter of Marque, in March, 1779. The children of Samuel were three sons and four daughters. Thomas P., Daniel P., and Samuel. The latter died in 1797, at the age of 18. Lydia married Ebenezer Wyatt; Sarah married Capt. Mark Blunt; Elizabeth married Charles Treadwell. Daniel P., born in 1784, and Sarah, born in 1788.

Sometime in Mr. Drown's ministry here, Robert Sandeman came to Portsmouth and was admitted into Mr. Drown's pulpit. He preached therein several times, but did not fully develop his religions sentiments, (though the doctrines he preached were generally in accordance with those of Mr. Drown and his Church,) until he more fully announced them on the occasion of his preaching from Luke 2d: 28-32.

In opening his discourse, Mr. Sandeman said, some person read this passage in this manner--that he took the child in his heart, but my bible says he took him in his arms. Mr. Drown from this circumstance, discovered that Mr. Sandeman entertained the doctrine which afterwards distinguished him and his followers as a distinct religious sect. While Mr. Sandeman was making the concluding prayer, Mr. Drown selected from Watts' Hymns 13th, book 1st:

"If love to God and love to man
Be absent, all our hopes are vain;
Nor tongues, nor gifts, nor fiery zeal
The works of love can e'er fulfill."

When he had concluded his prayer, Mr. Drown rose to read the hymn, and as he was proceeding, Mr. Sandeman took his hat. Mr. Drown observing this, stepped to the pulpit door before Mr. Sandeman reached it, and held it to, so that he could not pass until he had concluded. Mr. Sandeman thus compelled to remain, repeatedly exclaimed, "I hate the very breath of it." After Mr. Drown had concluded, he opened the pulpit door, saying, "Now, sir, you can go if you please."

The "New Lights" were held in poor repute by Gov. Wentworth, who issued a special notice granting all ministers permission to perform the marriage ceremony "except one Drown."

Since this Ramble was written, two aged members of the Drown family have departed this life, and both were buried on the same day. The young may die, but the old must. To Daniel P. Drown we are indebted for many interesting incidents of old times.

Next east of the Drown residence was that of Capt. Peter Coues; a few rods to the west, just after turning up Washington street, on the east side, was the residence of a son-in-law of Capt. Coues, Dr. Lyman Spalding, one of the most distinguished men of Portsmouth, as a theoretic and practical physician and surgeon, whose services did much in the advancement of medical science.

LYMAN SPALDING, an American physician and surgeon, was born in Cornish, N.H., June 5, 1775, and died in Portsmouth, N. H., October 30, 1821. He graduated at Harvard University, in 1797, and commenced the study of medicine. In 1798, while still a student, he assisted Professor Nathan Smith in establishing the Medical School at Dartmouth College, collected and prepared a chemical apparatus, delivered the first course of lectures at the opening of the institution, and published "A New Nomenclature of Chemistry, proposed by Messrs. DeMovau, Lavoisier, Berthollet and Fourcroy, with Additions and Improvements," (1799.) His medical studies were afterwards continued at the medical schools of Cambridge and Philadelphia, and he entered upon the practice of medicine at Portsmouth, N.H., in 1799. He devoted much attention to the study of the human structure, was a very skillful anatomist, and his admirable preparations, particularly of the lymphatics, are now in the cabinets of our first institutions. In 1812, the college of physicians and surgeons of the western district of the State of New York, at Fairfield, Herkimer County, was incorporated, Dr. Spalding being elected President and Professor of anatomy, and he made annual visits to this school. In 1813 he removed to the city of New York, and, a few years later, resigned his position at the college. With Dr. Spalding originated the plan for the formation of the "Pharmacopoeia of the United States," by the authority of all the medical societies and medical schools in the Union. In January, 1817, he submitted the project to the New York county medical society; in February, 1818, it was adopted by the medical society of the State of New York and ordered to be carried into execution by their committee, Dr. Spalding being one of the number. All the medical schools and societies appointed delegates, who at once commenced their labors, and the first edition of the work was published in 1820. To keep pace with the advancement of medical science, a new edition is published every ten years. Dr. Spalding was a contributor to the "New England Journal of Medicine," the "New York Medical Repository," "Lenoureau Journal of Medicine," of Paris, and other medical and philosophical journals; and, beside several lectures and addresses, he published "Reflections on Fever, and particularly on the Inflammatory Character of Fever," (1817;) "Reflections on Yellow Fever Periods," (1819,) and "A History of the Introduction and use of Scutellaria Lateriflora as a Remedy for preventing and curing Hydrophobia," (1819.) Dr. Spalding was active in introducing into the United States the practice of vaccination as a preventive of the small pox. He was a trustee of the only free schools which New York then possessed, and aided in the establishment of the first Sunday schools in that city.

The above honorable mention of one of the citizens of Portsmouth, whose children are now among us, we find in the 14th volume of the New American Cyclopoedia. Peter Coues, came to Portsmouth from the Island of Jersey in the English Channel, and in this town, Nov. 4th, 1735, married Mary, daughter of Emanuel Long. She was born at Plymouth, Mass., January 19th, 1713. He died at an advanced age about 1783, at the residence of his son Peter, who was born July 30th, 1736, and married Oct. 25th, 1768, Mary, and Oct. 12th, 1779, Elizabeth, daughters of Daniel Jackson; and also married Rebecca, daughter of John Elliott. Of his thirteen children all died in infancy, but Elizabeth, who married Lyman Spalding, M. D., Anne, unmarried, and Samuel Elliott Coues.

Among the venerable citizens of Portsmouth of half a century ago, we well remember Capt. Peter Coues, a gentleman of independent circumstances, who might be seen, with his cane under his arm on State street, or in the vicinity. His residence previous to the fire of 1813, was on the southwest corner of Atkinson and State streets, on the spot where W. J. Laighton's house now stands. In the old dwelling house was a store where for many years he kept ship chandlery, merchandise, groceries, &c. In early life Capt. Peter Coues was pressed into the British service. He was at one time sailing-master of the famous "Royal George," which was afterwards, in 1782, sunk in the British Channel with 800 men on board. He also served in the capacity of midshipman. After several years service in the British Navy he returned to Portsmouth before the American Revolution, where, by that urbanity of mind and simplicity of manners for which seafaring men of liberal views are generally distinguished, he obtained good standing among his fellow citizens, and died on the 29th of Nov. 1818, at the advanced age of 83 years.

Samuel Elliott Coues, who died July 3, 1867, was the last survivor of the children. In early youth he was a lover of books, and received a good education preparatory to mercantile pursuits--but it was evident that his active mind was better fitted for some profession where his mental powers could be brought into full exercise in the literary world. He early took an active part in promoting those literary clubs and lyceums which have been so beneficial in times past. A ready and fluent debater and good lecturer, he was frequently called before the public, and interested his auditors.

Radical in his ideas, he frequently ventured on ground where few were ready to follow him. He even called in question the truth of the Newtonian system of philosophy, and published a volume to prove the truth of his own peculiar theory. He enjoyed the confidence of his fellow citizens, and was for several years a Representative in the Legislature. Humanity was a principle of his nature, and in no better way did he ever display his philanthropy than in his active and successful efforts to establish the Asylum for the Insane in this State. He was a devoted advocate of peace principles, and some of his lectures on this subject were the best productions of his pen. On the death of William Ladd, Mr. Coues was elected President of the American Peace Society, which office he held for several years. As a member of the School committee he took deep interest in our public schools, and labored efficiently several years for their elevation.

In 1853, Mr. Coues received an appointment at Washington, connected with the Patent Office. His health failing, he returned to Portsmouth in 1866, to close his life, surrounded by the scenes of his early days. He might not always have been right in his philosophy--he might not always have been judicious in his business matters--but under the influence of a strong nervous temperament, his active mind had a keen perception of the beauties and mysteries of nature, and the ever pervading feeling of philanthrophy gave a living vivacity to his conversation, in which he ever exhibited a desire to make those around him happy.

Text scanned courtesy of The Brewster Family Network
Copy of Rambles courtesy Peter E. Randall
History Hypertext project by
This digital transcript  © 1999 


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