- Eric Howard Christianson
Prescott, Oliver (27 April 1731–17 November 1804), physician and soldier, was born in Groton, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin Prescott and Abigail Oliver. His mother became a widow when he was seven, and to later meet his college expenses, she had to petition the General Court to sell some unimproved land. At age fifteen he entered Harvard with the class of 1750, ranked fifth out of twenty-one students. Following graduation, he served an apprenticeship of undetermined duration with Dr. Ebenezer Robie of Sudbury. Returning to Groton, Prescott began a long and successful medical practice. He took his M.A. at Harvard in 1753, arguing in his thesis that the certainty of life after death could be deduced from nature. In 1756 he married Lydia Baldwin, a young woman he met while serving his apprenticeship. They had seven children, three of whom died in the diphtheria/scarlet fever epidemic of 1765–1766. For most of the next twenty years he was a busy general practitioner. He briefly held commissions under the king in the Massachusetts militia during the French and Indian War, when he attended Acadian exiles and wounded soldiers. During these early years Prescott ventured into politics. His leadership and growing anti-British views won long-term endorsement from Groton voters. He served as town clerk for thirteen years and selectman for thirty-one. In 1765 he was elected chairman of the town committee to protest the Stamp Act, and in 1774 clerk of the town’s Committee of Correspondence....