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Clark, Abraham (15 February 1726–15 September 1794), surveyor, politician, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth), New Jersey, the son of Thomas Clark, a farmer, town alderman, and county judge, and Hannah Winans. Although he was referred to as “the poor man’s counsellor,” as far as is known he had no formal education or legal training, having turned as a young man to surveying and writing land conveyances because a “frail” constitution made him unfit for active farming. He did transact a good deal of legal business, including drawing up deeds, mortgages, and other papers. He married Sarah Hatfield (or Hetfield), probably in 1749. They had ten children, six or seven of whom survived childhood....

Article

Hull, John (18 December 1624–30 September 1683), goldsmith, mintmaster, and merchant, was born in Market Hareborough, Leicestershire, England, the son of Robert Hull, a blacksmith, and Elizabeth Storer. He came to Boston with his family in 1635 and was trained as a goldsmith (synonymous with silversmith) by Richard Storer, his half-brother, between about 1639 and 1646....

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Leeds, John (18 May 1705– March 1790), public official, surveyor, and mathematician, was born at Bay Hundred, Talbot County, Maryland, the son of Edward Leeds and Ruth Ball. Leeds, apparently self-educated, developed an expertise in mathematics and an interest in astronomy. He married Rachel Harrison in a Quaker ceremony in 1726; the couple had three daughters. He resided in Talbot County for his entire life and held a variety of public offices, beginning in 1734 as a justice of the peace....

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Revere, Paul ( December 1734–10 May 1818), craftsman, patriot, and businessman, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Paul Revere, a goldsmith, and Deborah Hichborn (or Hitchborn). Revere’s father, born Apollos Rivoire, emigrated from France to Boston in 1715 at the age of thirteen and apprenticed with John Coney, a prominent local gold/silversmith. Shortly before his marriage he changed his name, first to Paul Rivoire and then to Paul Revere. The son’s birth date has long been the source of confusion since only his baptismal date, 22 December 1734 OS and 1 January 1735 NS, is recorded. Revere’s early life, fairly typical of boys of his day and economic status, included basic schooling at the North Writing School. During his teens he entered into a formal agreement with fellow North End youths to ring the bells at Christ Church for a fee. Revere’s own words, “My Father was a Goldsmith. … I learned the trade of him,” confirm that as the eldest surviving son, he apprenticed with his father, thus beginning his most enduring occupation. Though overshadowed by the fame of his son, the elder Revere’s skill as a gold/silversmith may actually have equaled that of his son. The younger Revere noted that his father died “in the year 1754, he left no estate, but he left a good name.” Just nineteen years old, Revere ran the shop with the help of his mother. In 1756 he received a commission as a second lieutenant of artillery and spent the better part of a year on an unsuccessful expedition to capture the French fort at Crown Point on Lake Champlain....

Image

Paul Revere. Drawing by Charles Févret de Saint-Mémin. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-7407).

Article

White, John (fl. 1585–1593), painter, was the second governor of the Virginia colony (in what is now North Carolina). Nothing is known of White’s origins; however, he was born probably in England, perhaps in Cornwall, sometime between 1540 and 1550. White most likely was educated as a limner, or illustrator, and a John White, possibly the same, is listed in 1580 as a member of the Painter-Stainer’s Company, a London guild. White may have traveled with Martin Frobisher’s 1577 expedition to Baffin Island in search of a northwest passage to Asia as attested by his paintings of Inuits; however, these paintings are copies based on lost originals, probably by White but possibly by someone else....