Wolverhampton BTW

John Curtis Chamberlain

Chamberlain, John Curtis, 1772—1834

by Benjamin Colbert

John Curtis Chamberlain was born on 5 June 1772, the son of Deacon John Chamberlain (c.1745-1813) and Mary Chamberlain, née Curtis (c.1748-1818). He studied law at Harvard in 1793 and practised as a student of law in the office of Hon. Benjamin West, of Charlestown, N.H., and it was here that he was likely to have met Susannah Willard Hastings (1730-1810), also of Charlestown, and recorded the captivity narrative she dictated to him. The extent to which his editing may have shaded into original composition is unknown, but he is sometimes credited as the author of The Captive American (1796) (see Saunderson).

Chamberlain opened his first law practice in Alstead, New Hampshire, in 1796, and married Nancy Hubbard (b. 1779) the following year. He returned to Charlestown as West’s law-partner from 1804, earning a reputation for his scholarship and eloquence at the bar. He was a New Hampshire representative in the 11th US Congress from 1809 to 1811. In 1826, he relocated from Charlestown to Honeoye Falls, in western New York, and died in Utica, New York, on 15 November 1834.


Lincoln, William. History of Worcester, Massachusetts, from Its Earliest Settlement to September, 1836. Worcester: Moses D. Phillips and Co., 1837. 270. Print.

Saunderson, Henry H. History of Charlestown, New-Hampshire, the Old No. 4, Embracing the Part Borne by Its Inhabitants in the Indian, French, and Revolutionary Wars. Claremont, N.H.: Claremont Manufacturing Co., 1876. 298-306. Print.


Title Published
The Captive American 1797 Editor

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