Dr. Nicholas Romayne was son of John Romeyn (a New York silversmith) and Juliana McCarty. A Jeremiah Romeyn, a "Dutch Reformed clergym[a]n," is noted by the Dictionary of American Biography as his brother. Nicholas was also known as Nicholas Romeyn, his birth-name; he altered the spelling himself.
He was born ca. Sept? 1756 (per his death notice). He was educated in 1765 at Hackensack Academy, Hackensack, Bergen County?, NJ, ; he studied under Peter Wilson. Nicholas changed the spelling of his name from Romeyn to Romayne when he was a young man to facilitate pronunciation, probably circa 1770. He was educated in 1774 at King's [later Columbia] College, Medical School, New York, NY. He was educated in 1780 at Edinburgh; he wrote a thesis on the formation of pus to secure a M.D. degree.
Nicholas married Susan Van Dam, daughter of Isaac Van Dam of St. Eustatia, after 1783 at New York, NY. He was elected Professor of the practice of physic at the Medical School of Columbia College between 1783 and 1787 at New York, NY. He was a member of the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York between 1784 and 1787. He was a member of the first Board of Trustees of Columbia College between 1787 and 1793 at New York, NY. He was granted a charter for the "College of Physicians and Surgeons" as part of Columbia University [sic], but the charter was suspended due to protests from Columbia College's trustees, who saw a conflict with their medical school circa 1791 at New York, NY. He was a lecturer in chemistry, anatomy and the practice of physic at Columbia College, but worked mostly in private classes so that eventually he "had a medical school of his own" between 1791 and 1792 at New York, NY. He was approached by "Queen's (now Rutgers) College at New Brunswick, N.J. for a degree conferring arrangement," but remained teaching in New York circa 1792.
He was a controversial member of the New York medical profession, yet he taught some notable students such as Dr. David Hosack. Romayne, who is considered today one of the founders of Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons, left no children. The whereabouts of his papers are unknown. They are thought not to have survived.
Nicholas appeared on the census listed in 1790 at New York, NY, on p. 134 as "Nicholas Romain" with one male over 16 and two females (Ages : 01-00-02-00-00). (Another "Nicholas Romaine" [thus] is listed on p. 126 (Ages : 02-00-05-00-00).)
He died on 21 July 1817 at New York, NY; a few
sources give his deathdate as 20 July 1817; but see the note in the Dictionary
of American Biography.
Note: The source of most of this information (except the census information) is Dictionary of American Biography vol. 8, pp. 127-28. Oxford University Press published (1999) the American National Biography with substantially the same biographical information, but noting that no personal papers survive and suggesting that he was a controversialist. DAB says that he was not survived by any children.
© 1999 Paul W. Romaine