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MacNeven, William James, 1763-1841



  • Existence: 1763 - 1841

Biographical Note

William James MacNeven was born in 1763 at Ballynahown, near Aughrim, Co. Galway. Restrictions on professional education for Catholics led MacNeven to leave Ireland at age ten to study with his physician uncle. MacNeven received his medical degree from the University of Vienna in 1783. Returning to Dublin to practice medicine, MacNeven joined the campaign for Catholic emancipation and the United Irishmen. When the Irish rebellion of 1798 failed, MacNeven was arrested and confined, then banished in 1802. After two years as a captain in the Irish Legion of the French Army, MacNeven left France for the United States, arriving in New York in 1805 and resuming his medical practice. He received an honorary MD from Columbia College in 1806 and was appointed professor of obstetrics in the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1808. Later he became professor of chemistry, and is reported to be the first chemistry professor in the United States to set up a lab where students could conduct experiments. In 1826 MacNeven moved to the newly established Duane Street medical school, and continued to practice medicine until his retirement in 1839. MacNeven was also a founder or member of nearly every society formed in New York for the benefit and relief of Irish immigrants. He died in 1841.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

George R. Ingham collection of the William James MacNeven family


This collection contains family correspondence of exiled United Irishman William James MacNeven, a physician and medical school instructor during the nineteenth century, his wife Jane Riker MacNeven, and his daughter Jane Mary MacNeven. It also includes a brief travel diary, two legal documents, and a speech.

Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Dates: 1802 - 1848