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Bancroft, Edward, 1744-1820

Naturalist; born in Westfield, Mass., Jan. 9, 1744; was a pupil of Silas Deane (q. v.) when the latter was a school-master. His early education was not extensive. Apprenticed to a mechanic, he ran away, in debt to his master, and went to sea; but returning with means, he compensated his employer. Again he went to sea; settled in Guiana, South America, as a physician, in 1763, and afterwards made his residence in London, where, in 1769, he published a Natural history of Guiana. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and Fellow of the Royal Society. While Franklin was in England on a diplomatic mission, Dr. Bancroft became intimate with him; and through the influence of the philosopher became a contributor to the philosopher became a contributor to the Monthly review. He was suspected by the British government of participation in the attempt to burn the Portsmouth dock-yards, and he fled to Passy, France. Soon afterwards he met Silas Deane, his old teacher, in Paris. and offered to assist him in his labors as agent of the Continental Congress. His ways were sometimes devious, and Mr. Bancroft, the historian, accuses him of being a spy in the pay of the British government, and of making a dupe of Deane. After the peace, Dr. Bancroft obtained, in France, a patent for the exclusive importation of the bark of the yellow oak, for the dyers, and afterwards he obtained a similar patent in England. Dr. Bancroft never returned to America. He died in England, Sept. 8, 1820.

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