Richard Shuckburgh


Dr. Richard Shuckburgh was the military surgeon at the fort in Albany during the 1740s and 50s. However, how many different Richard Shuckburghs held that post remains an uncertainty at this time. Also, a number of same-named individuals were alive and in America during the eighteenth century. The fragmentary sketch that follows attempts to focus on the Richard Shuckburgh who was in Albany during the middle decades of the eighteenth century.

This individual may have been of German origins or could have been the same-named individual who was the son of an English noble family.

Perhaps he was serving in America as early as the mid-1730s. On June 27, 1737, he was commissioned a surgeon in the "Independent Company of New-York" commanded by Captain Horatio Gates. Perhaps he came to Albany sometime thereafter.

Traveller Dr. Alexander Hamilton visted with the garrison surgeon "Mr. Shakesburrough" while in Albany during the summer of 1744.

In March 1747, John, the son of Richard and Mary Shuckburgh, was baptized at the Albany Dutch church - the only reference in the extant church records.

He is said to have spent time in England during the mid-1750s.

A Richard Shucksburgh received a number of commissions as surgeon to British forces during the 1750s and 60s.

During that time, a same-named individual was an associate of Sir William Johnson who nominated him to be secretary of the Indian commissioner following the death of Peter Wraxall in 1754. He does not appear to have been confirmed until re-nominated by Johnson and confirmed in 1768.

Shucksburgh is often thought to have been the author of the traditional tune "Yankee Doodle". However, other origins have been claimed for what is today the "State Song" of Connecticut. While most of the historical attention associated with him has been focused on Yankee Doodle, our interest in him is on the other parts of his life - particularly his time in Albany - which is full of unanswered questions.

In 1734, he may have been the individual who was a member of a party exploring what became Delaware County. In 1755, he received a tract of land in the Mohawk Valley.

A Richard Shuckburgh is said to have died in Schenectady in August 1773. In September, Sir William wrote to Shucksburgh's wife informing her of his death and mentioning debts her husband owed. A newpaper obituary called him "a gentleman of very genteel family and of infinite jest and humor."

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Richard Shuckburgh has not been assigned a CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.
Chief among the traditional sketches is this note from NYCD;
See also: Theodore H. Fosseick, Dr. Richard Shuckburgh: "Yankee Doodle" lyricist, surgeon, Capt. Horatio Gates' Independent Company, surgeon, His Majesty's 17th Regiment of Foot, secretary, Indian affairs to Sir William Johnson, Amazon reference to an evasive book. USA Today Interview with Paul Huey. A journal article by Louis H. Roddis appears promising. Encyclopedia entry from 1919.

first posted: 12/30/10