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Garvey, Patrick

by T. C. Parramore, 1986

d. 1810

Patrick Garvey, merchant and physician, first came to public notice in Philadelphia in 1780. In the course of a heated and extended controversy involving charges against Dr. William Shippen, director general of the Army Medical Service, for his so-called misuse of funds, Garvey emerged as one of Shippen's critics. As an accountant employed by Dr. Andrew Craigie, apothecary general of the Continental Army, Garvey declared that he had been urged by Shippen to alter the books to cover certain neglects by the director general. During the controversy, Garvey was jailed briefly on suspicion of illegally trading with the British Army. By 1782 he had been released.

In 1783 Garvey, who supported himself as a merchant but claimed to be a physician, moved to Winton, N.C. Here he was publicly active for several years as a merchant, physician, and promoter of various enterprises. He gained some further notoriety in 1786, when he composed and circulated a satirical manuscript lampooning various prominent figures in eastern North Carolina. Described by an acquaintance as a "bold, Ioquacious Irishman," Garvey became an ardent Federalist in the struggle over adoption of the new federal Constitution in 1787 and 1788. In the spring of 1788, as the election for the North Carolina constitutional convention approached, Garvey became embroiled in the contest in Hertford County and in a confrontation with anti-Federalist leader, the Reverend Lemuel Burkitt. Chased by anti-Federalists from a church where Burkitt was delivering a harangue against the new constitution, Garvey and Elkanah Watson, another dedicated Federalist, drew a cartoon of Burkitt and posted it at the courthouse door in Winton on the morning of the election. The incident touched off a riot, but Burkitt was elected and that summer cast his vote with the anti-Federalist majority.

In 1789, Garvey moved to the newly created village of Murfreesboro, also in Hertford County, and became a partner in a rum and whiskey distillery. He was an active Mason, a justice of the peace, and a leading citizen of Murfreesboro until his removal to Jonesborough, Camden County, around 1799. There he was postmaster for some time before his death.


T. C. Parramore, "Doctor Patrick Garvey," North Carolina Medical Journal 29 (1968).

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