What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“He proposes to tarry in Providence, and continue the Practice of Physic and Surgery.”
Thomas Truman was an obvious choice for assisting the executors of the estate of Samuel Carew in December 1772. Truman placed an advertisement in the Providence Gazette “to give Notice to all Persons who have Accounts unsettled with Doctor SAMUEL CAREW … that his Books are put into my Hands, by the Executors.” Truman had previously served an apprenticeship with Carew, making him familiar with the doctor’s business and, likely, some of the patients and others who had outstanding accounts. The former apprentice stated that anyone wishing to settle accounts could find him “at the House and Shop lately occupied by Doctor CAREW.”
Truman used this notice in the Providence Gazette for more than assisting the executors in finalizing Carew’s estate. He also informed readers that he planned to remain in town and “continue the Practice of Physic and Surgery” at the same location where Carew previously saw patients. That made it all the more important that Truman remind the community of “his Apprenticeship with Doctor CAREW” and that many “Gentlemen and Ladies” were already familiar with him because they “kindly favoured him in the Way of his Business” during that apprenticeship.
Truman adroitly positioned himself as Carew’s successor, hoping to acquire and expand that clientele. He had learned “the Practice of Physic and Surgery” from Carew, knew many of his patients, and now provided services at the same location, “the well known Shop, lately improved by Dr. CAREW.” In this endeavor, patients could expect him to “giv[e] the closest Attention” and that “his Bills will be reasonable.” All of this meant that Carew’s patients did not need to experience any sort of disruption in the services he formerly provided if they opted to treat Truman as the doctor’s successor. Simultaneously, the advertisement also advised readers who had not been Carew’s patients that a new doctor provided care and sold “an Assortment of genuine Medicines” in Providence.