William Shippen

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For other people named William Shippen, see William Shippen (disambiguation).
William Shippen
Born (1712-10-01)October 1, 1712
Philadelphia, Province of Pennsylvania
Died November 4, 1801(1801-11-04) (aged 89)
Germantown, Philadelphia
Nationality American
Fields Medicine
Known for Anatomy
Children William Shippen, Jr. (son)

William Shippen, Sr. (October 1, 1712 – November 4, 1801) was an American physician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was also a civic and educational leader who represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress.


William was born to Joseph Shippen (1679 –1741, son of Edward Shippen, governor of Pennsylvania) and Abigail Grosse Shippen (1677–1716) at Philadelphia. His father was a prominent merchant. He built a large practice in Philadelphia.[1] In 1735 he married Susannah Harrison.

Shippen joined the vestrymen who founded the Second Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia in 1742. He joined Benjamin Franklin and other civic leaders to found the Public Academy in 1749 and served as one of its trustees. When it merged with another school to become the College of Philadelphia, he served as a trustee of the college from 1755 to 1779; the College is now the University of Pennsylvania. William's brother, Edward Shippen III (1703–1781, grandfather of Peggy Shippen) was one of the founders of Princeton University, for which William served as a trustee from 1765 to 1796.

The Pennsylvania Assembly chose Shippen as a delegate to the Continental Congress on November 20, 1778. He represented his state during congressional sessions in 1779 and 1780, after which he returned to his medical practice.

William remained active well into his eighties. He died at home in Germantown in 1801 and is buried in the First Presbyterian Churchyard at Philadelphia.


His son, William Shippen, Jr., followed his father in a medical career and served as Director of Hospitals for the Continental Army. William, Jr.'s wife, Alice Lee, was the daughter of Thomas Lee of the Lee family of Virginia; their daughter Nancy Shippen married Henry Beekman Livingston, the son of Robert Livingston (1718–1775).



  1. Brunton, Deborah. Scottish Universities. John Donald Publishers Ltd. p. 80. 


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  • Jensen, J E (June 1984). "Manuscript notes of William Shippen, Jr., MD found in the Faculty Library". Maryland state medical journal. 33 (6): 438–40. PMID 6379322. 
  • Louis, E D (April 1989). "William Shippen's unsuccessful attempt to establish the first "School for Physick" in the American colonies in 1762". Journal of the history of medicine and allied sciences. 44 (2): 218–39. PMID 2656855. doi:10.1093/jhmas/44.2.218. 
  • Olch, P D (1965). "The Morgan-Shippen Controversy: A Commentary On The Birth Of Medical Education In America". Review of surgery. 22: 1–8. PMID 14223403. 
  • Toledo-Pereyra, Luis H (2002). "William Shippen, Jr.: pioneer revolutionary war surgeon and father of American anatomy and midwifery". Journal of investigative surgery : the official journal of the Academy of Surgical Research. 15 (4): 183–4. PMID 12217182. doi:10.1080/08941930290085958. 

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