Thornton, William (1759-1828)

Physician, architect, inventor, public official.

Traveled in France and the British Isles before he returned to Tortola (1786). Emigrated to Philadelphia. Became a citizen of the United States (1788).

Designed a new building for the Library Company of Philadelphia (1789). His plan for the Capitol building in Washington was accepted (1793).

Settled in Washington (1794). Member of the board of commissioners that supervised the development of that city (1794-1802). Superintendent of the Patent Office (1802- 1828). Held patents for improvements in steamboats, distilling and firearms.

Author of numerous works including Cadmus: or, a Treatise on the Elements of Written Language, an essay on teaching the deaf and mute, which won a gold medal from the American Philosophical Society (1793).

Captain of militia. Justice of the peace. Commissioner of bankruptcy.

Born on the Island of Tortola in the Virgin Islands. At the age of five moved to Lancashire, England following the death of his father. Studied at the University of Edinburgh. Received a medical degree from the University of Aberdeen (1784).