Samuel Tenney

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Samuel Tenney
Hon Samuel Tenney MC - from History of Byfield.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Hampshire's at-large district
In office
December 8, 1800 – March 3, 1807
Preceded by William Gordon
Succeeded by Francis Gardner
Personal details
Born (1748-11-27)November 27, 1748
Byfield, Massachusetts
Died February 6, 1816(1816-02-06) (aged 67)
Exeter, New Hampshire
Political party Federalist
Spouse(s) Tabitha Gilman Tenney (1788-1816)
Residence Exeter, New Hampshire
Alma mater Harvard College
Occupation physician, scholar, scientist, judge, politician, statesman
Religion Congregationalist

Samuel Tenney (November 27, 1748 – February 6, 1816) was a United States Representative from New Hampshire. Born in Byfield, Massachusetts, he attended Dummer Academy there and graduated from Harvard College in 1772. He taught school at Andover and studied medicine, beginning practice in Exeter, New Hampshire. He was a surgeon in the Revolutionary War. He tended the wounded patriots following the Battle of Bunker Hill then for the next year served as Surgeon's Mate alongside Massachusetts troops. For the balance of the war he was a surgeon attached primarily to the 1st Rhode Island Regiment. He was present at the surrenders of Burgoyne and Cornwallis; encamped at Valley Forge, PA, during that fierce Winter 1777/78; was designated Acting Surgeon General of the Army upon general orders of General George Washington; and then returned to Exeter at the close of the war where he took up politics and other scholarly pursuits. He was a delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1788 and a judge of probate for Rockingham County from 1793 to 1800.[1] He was secretary of the New Hampshire Medical Society and commissioned Paul Revere to produce the first engraving of that organization's seal. Used the pseudonym "Alfredus" to publish commentary as part of public debate over the design and ratification of the U.S. Constitution.[2] He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1791,[3] and was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1815.[4]

Circa 1800 he commissioned a home which was built in the center of Exeter on Front Street next to the First Church, now part of the Front Street Historic District. It would be his primary residence in New Hampshire. In 1893, long after Samuel's death, the home was relocated to 65 High Street to make way for construction of a new County Courthouse. On November 25, 1980 the Samuel Tenney House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Rockingham County, New Hampshire.[5]

Tenney was elected as a Federalist to the 6th U.S. Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William Gordon; he was reelected to the 7th, 8th, and 9th Congresses and served from December 8, 1800, to March 3, 1807. While in the House, he was chairman of the Committee on Revisal and Unfinished Business (Eighth and Ninth Congresses). Upon retiring from Congress, he continued to pursue literary, historical, and scientific studies and died in Exeter in 1816; interment was at the Winter Street Burial Ground.[6]

In 1788, Tenney married Tabitha Gilman (1762–1837). Tabitha, born in Exeter, was descended from one of New England's mainline families. Tabitha's father Samuel Gilman died in 1778 and it is believed she stayed at home helping to raise her six younger siblings. Tabitha Gilman Tenney is a notable author in early American Literature. In 1801, while living with Samuel in Washington D.C., Tabitha wrote and published her most recognized work, Female Quixotism: Exhibited in the Romantic Opinions and Extravagant Adventure of Dorcasina Sheldon. Samuel and Tabitha Tenney had no children. Upon her 1837 death in Exeter, she too was buried at the Winter Street Burial Ground.[7]


  1. Samuel Tenney at the Biographical Director of the United States Congress. accessed 2010.07.08
  2. Kaminski, John P. and Saladino, Gaspare J. The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, Vol. XIII, Page 412. State Historical Society of Wisconsin; Madison, WI; 1981.
  3. "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter T" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 28, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  5. Tolles,Bryant Franklin; Tolles, Carolyn K.; and New Hampshire Historical Society. New Hampshire Architecture: an illustrated guide, Page 53. UPNE, 1979. accessed 2010.07.10
  6. Samuel Tenney. accessed 2010.07.07
  7. Tabitha "Tabby" Gilman Tenney. accessed 2010.07.10


United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
William Gordon
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Hampshire's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by
Francis Gardner