Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PRESTON, Jonas, philanthropist, born in Chester county, Pennsylvania, 25 January, 1764 ; died in Philadelphia, 4 January, 1836. His father, of the same name, was a physician. His grandfather, William Preston, a Quaker, in 1718 emigrated from Huddersfield, England, and settled in Pennsylvania. Jonas entered on the study of medicine under Dr. Thomas Bond, of Philadelphia, and concluded his studies in the medical schools of Edinburgh and Paris, being graduated from the former about 1785. On his return he settled in Wilmington, Delaware, afterward removed for a time to Georgia, but returning to Chester, Pennsylvania, succeeded in establishing an extensive practice, particularly in obstetrics, in which tie was celebrated. At the period of the whiskey insurrection he volunteered his medical aid, and served with the troops. He was for many years a member of the legislature, serving in both the assembly and the senate. About 1812 he removed to Philadelphia, where he took an active interest in several benevolent and other institutions, such as the Pennsylvania hospital, Friend's asylum, Penn bank, and Schuylkill navigation company. His extensive observation in the practice of his profession led him to form the opinion, expressed in his will, "that there ought to be a lying-in hospital in the city of Philadelphia for indigent married women of good character," and he bequeathed about $400,000 for the founding of such an institution. Within a few months after his death the legislature of Pennsylvania passed an act incorporating "The Preston Retreat." The corner-stone of the hospital building was laid, 17 July, 1837, and the institution is one of the noted charities in Philadelphia.
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