Rhode Island Genealogy » Biographies » Biography of Gamaliel Lyman Dwight, M. D.

Biography of Gamaliel Lyman Dwight, M. D.

A man of no common order of ability, Gamaliel Lyman Dwight, M. D., was a learned physician and surgeon. He perfected himself in this field of work, not only by study in this country, but also in Germany, where he lived for a time, and where his daughter, Miss Margarethe L. Dwight, who is now a resident of Providence, Rhode Island, was born. In many different branches of life, Dr. Dwight took a leading part, and in all of his work was eminently successful. For his achievements, his learning, and his splendid bearing, Dr. Dwight is remembered today by some of the older citizens of Rhode Island, who knew in him an individual of lovable character and personality; and his name occupies an important place in the annals of this State.

He was born on February 3, 1841, of the eighth generation in descent from the founder of the family in America. He was the third generation to possess the name, Gamaliel Lyman Dwight. The first of these was Gamaliel Lyman Dwight, born on March 16, 1777, died on October 9, 1822, who married, on February 21,1809, Sarah Cook Howell, daughter of Judge David Howell, LL.D., a Rhode Island citizen who was a member of the Continental Congress, and Mary (Brown) Howell, who was a daughter of Jeremiah Brown. This Mr. Dwight was an English inspector and merchant in Boston, Massachusetts, where he was a member of the firm of Otis and Dwight. Mrs. Dwight was a woman of rare talent and social influence. The children of Gamaliel Lyman and Sarah Cook (Howell) Dwight were:

  1. Gamaliel Lyman, born December 3, 1809, died March 15, 1854.
  2. Sarah Howell, born August 3, 18×3, died September, 1815.
  3. Sarah Howell (2), born June 10, 1820, died October 27, 1820.
  4. Mary Howell, born April 5, 1821, died January 5, 1822.

Of these children, Gamaliel Lyman Dwight, father of the man whose name heads this review, graduated from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, in 1828, and was a noted lawyer in this city until his death in 1854. He married, on April 4, 1836, Catherine Henshaw Jones, born October 25, 1815, daughter of Marshall S. Jones, of Enfield, Massachusetts. The children of Gamaliel and Catherine Henshaw (Jones) Dwight were four in number:

  1. Marshall Sprague Jones, born and died June 6, 1837.
  2. Marshall Jones, born May 22, 1838, died November 21, 1846.
  3. Gamaliel Lyman, of further mention.
  4. Catherine Elizabeth, born May 19, 1843, now deceased, married E. Arthur Rockwood.

Gamaliel Lyman Dwight, of whom this is primarily a record, son of Gamaliel Lyman and Catherine Henshaw (Jones) Dwight, was educated in the schools of Providence, Rhode Island, and subsequently became a student at Brown University, this city, where he was a freshman at the time of the outbreak of the Civil War. At the beginning of that conflict, he joined a Rhode Island battery, the 1st Light Artillery of this State. He was, at first, a private, then was promoted to the rank of corporal, and subsequently became sergeant, lieutenant and captain, having been appointed to the last-name office with commendation for his gallant conduct before Petersburgh on June 15, 1864. On July 17, 1864, he was mustered out of the service, having been, up to that time, in command of Battery A of the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery.

Mr. Dwight was a tall, slender type of man, with a cold, clear-cut face, high forehead and curling dark hair. An omnivorous reader, an active thinker, and gifted with a remarkable memory. He was also an entrancing conversationalist on all subjects. A friend in the army said of him: “In a crowd, he disdained to talk much, but with a cup of chocolate by him, an open volume on his table, and a cigarette in his hand, he would discourse most marvelously on life, death and the mysteries of philosophy and psychology, until every voice would be hushed, but his own, and his auditors would listen with rapt attention, until the great wood fire, in which he luxuriated, died out, and the howling of the wind outside, or noise of distant picket firing, would bring us back to realize that we were not in the lecture room of a professor, but in the heart of the wilderness, surrounded by deadly enemies.” Another man in the army said: “He was the only Dwight that I met in the army—but I heard of others, and always good things—I never heard a bad thing said of a Dwight.”

After graduating from Brown University and the Harvard Medical School he devoted his time to travel and research, both here and abroad. He always followed developments in medicine and surgery, but his reading went far beyond that field and into the general literature of his times. He was a profound admirer of John Stuart Mills and Sir William Hamilton, whose works he carried with him all through the war, also of Edgar Allen Poe, and, until the day of death, Sarah Helen Whitman was one of his dearest friends. He was intensely interested in philosophy and psychology, and in Providence he was widely recognized as a man of ability, and was dearly loved for his handsome features, winning smile, and generous heart.

Gamaliel Lyman Dwight married, in January, 1871, Anne Ives Carrington, daughter of Edward and Candace Crawford (Dorr) Carrington. Anne Ives Carrington was a beautiful, brilliant and talented woman. A noted leader in all the social and philanthropic activities of the city and State; admired and loved by all who knew her. This unusual couple by their beauty and charm, both physical and mental, were the center of attraction wherever their footsteps turned.

The mother of Anne Ives Carrington was of the Dorr family, her name before her marriage having been Candace C. Dorr, a descendant of the widely known Dorr family of New England. The first of this line was General Edward Dorr, born in 1648 or 1649, died in 1733 or 1734; he married, in 1679, Elizabeth Hawley, born in 1656, died in 1719. Their son, Captain Ebenezer Dorr, who lived from 1687 to 1760, married, in 1709, Mary Boardman, who was born in 1689 and died in 1728. Their son, General Ebenezer Dorr, born in 1712, died in 1782; he married, in 1735, Amy, born in 1714, died in 1782. Their son, General Ebenezer Dorr, born in 1739, died in 1809; he married, in 1762, Abigail Cunningham, born in 1739, died in 1798. Their son, General Sullivan Dorr, born in 1778, died in 1858; he married, in 1804, Lydia Allen, born in 1782, died in 1859. They had seven children: Thomas Wilson, Allen, Ann Allen, Mary Throop, Sullivan, Jr., Candace Crawford, and Henry Crawford. Of these, Candace Crawford Dorr was born in 1815 and died in 1886; she married Edward Carrington, born in 1813, died in 1891.

The ancestral line of Edward Carrington was likewise a notable one, going back to Edward Carrington, who came from England in early Colonial days, and who is mentioned as of Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1634, and as attaining the dignity of a freeman in 1636. From Massachusetts, the family went to Connecticut. The father of the Edward Carrington with whom we are concerned herein was General Edward Carrington, born in New Haven, Connecticut, November 2, 1775, died in Providence, Rhode Island, December 23, 1843. He became active in the business world, was interested in foreign trading, and in 1802 represented an American commercial house in China with headquarters in Canton. For several years during that period, he was United States Consul to Canton, a post that he filled at the time of his sailing for the United States in 1811. He had much to do with that phase of British injustice which contributed to the second war between the United States and England, having received frequent appeals from American ship-owners and captains to redress the wrongs they suffered through imprisonment of their sailors by British naval ships and press gangs. He had sharp correspondence with the English authorities, and in every case stood firmly by the American contention against impressment. He returned to the United States in 1811, just before the situation became so acute that war followed. His service to his country was very valuable, and he was always a loyal supporter of the government during this period. Under the trade name of Edward Carrington and Company, he became associated, in 1815, with Samuel Wetmore, of Middletown, Connecticut, with whom he manufactured ships for foreign commercial trade. At one time he had twenty-six ships engaged, sailing and trading under the house flag in all parts of the world, and was considered one of the most successful ship owners in America. From 1815 to 1843, the year of his death, he was extensively engaged in cotton manufacturing, in Providence and elsewhere. In 1828 he built the Hamlet Mill and in 1832 the Carrington Mill, both in Woonsocket. He was one of the principal promoters of the Blackstone Canal, and was one of the outstanding citizens of his day. In his later years he was assisted by his nephew, Isaac M. Bull, who as his agent in China was a strong element in his commercial eminence in that field. General Carrington married Lorania Hoppin, daughter of Benjamin and Ann Hoppin. And it was their son, Edward Carrington, who was born May 10, 1813, at the Carrington mansion in Providence, and died there May 2, 1891, who married Candace Crawford Dorr. The children of Edward and Candace Crawford (Dorr) Carrington were:

  1. Anne Ives Carrington, born in 1849, died in 1904.
  2. Edward Carrington, Jr.

Gamaliel Lyman and Anne Ives (Carrington) Dwight became the parents of one daughter, Margarethe L. Dwight, who was born in Berlin, Prussia, on November 8, 1871, and now lives in her great-grandfather’s old home, “The Dorr Mansion.”

The death of Dr. Gamaliel Lyman Dwight, which took place in 1875, was a cause of widespread sorrow among all who knew him. He had contributed much to the life of his period and to that of Rhode Island, where he was widely known and respected for his achievements; and his kindly and gentle character was everywhere recognized as that of a delightful companion and a true friend.

Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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