Lebanon New Hampshire’s Inventor, Mesmerist, Mental Healer, and "Father of New Thought": Phineas Parkhurst "Park" Quimby (1802-1866)

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby was born in 1802 to a blacksmith and his wife.

They moved to Belfast Maine when Phineas was two years old, and where Phineas apprenticed as a clock-maker. Otherwise he had very little formal education.

In 1838 he began to study a new technique called “mesmerism.” For several years he traveled with Lucius Burkmar giving exhibitions, and attracting the attention of the newspapers and general public. The “History of the City of Belfast in the State of Maine,” reports (on page 419) “In 1844, a successful surgical operation was performed on a lady while under mesmeric sleep, by Dr. A.T. Wheelock; the sleep having been induced by Mr. P.P. Quimby. An account of the experiment appeared in the “Boston Medical and Surgical Journal’ for May, 1845.”

Phineas P. Quimby

Phineas P. Quimby

Over time he developed a practice of mentally aiding healing of those with illnesses, opening his own office in 1859 in Portland, Maine. During the last eight years of his life, he treated over 12,000 ill people, using a technique he called “The Quimby System.”

Mary Baker Eddy (founder of the Christian Science movement) was once a student of Phineas Quimby. One source even goes so far to say that Mary Baker Eddy was loaned Quimby’s unpublished manuscripts, and that “after a long and bitter controversy, Mary Baker Eddy returned Quimby’s manuscripts to Quimby’s family, and in 1921 the Quimby Manuscripts were finally published in book form.”

Quimby believed that disease was caused by “wrong beliefs.” His principles and teachings are sometimes called “Quimbyism.”  He died in Belfast, Maine on 16 January 1866 of an abdominal tumor.

*Additional Reading*

Sketch of Phineas Quimby, by his son George Quimby-

The Collected Works of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby Resource Center

The Quimby Manuscripts (PDF)

Dr. Quimby’s Discourse on Science


The likeness of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby is taken from The New England magazine, Volume 6, Issue 33, published in Boston MA, March 1888, page 261, as part of a biographical sketch written by his son George (see link above).


Robert Quimby, son of William, b. 1625 in Farnham, Surrey, England and d. 7 July 1677 in Amesbury MA. He m. 7 Jan 1653 in Amesbury MA to Elizabeth Osgood. She b. 1643 in Salisbury MA and d. 1694 in Amesbury MA. They had 7 children including +John Quimby, b. 7 Sep 1665 in Salisbury MA

John Quimby, son of Robert & Elizabeth (Osgood) Quimby, b. 7 Sep 1665 in Salisbury MA, Essex Co MA and d. 23 June 1717 in Newton, Middlesex Co MA. He m. 1687 in Salisbury MA to Mary Mudgett, dau of Thomas & Sarah (Clement) Mudgett. She b. 30 Apr 1667 in Salisbury MA and d. 17 Aug 1710 in Salisbury MA. He m2) 1 May 1713 in Watertown MA to Elizabeth Hyde. She b. 12 Dec 1703 in Newton MA and d. 8 March 1763 in Litchfield CT. He had 10 ch by his first wife, including his son, +Robert Quimby, b. 13 Dec 1701 in Salisbury MA.

Robert Quimby, son of John & Mary (Mudgett) Quimby, was b. 13 Dec 1701 in Salsibury, Essex Co MA and d. abt 1747. He m. 16 Dec 1725 in Hampton, Rockingham Co NH to Judith Sanborn, dau of Benjamin & Sarah (Worcester) Sanborn. She b. 26 Oct 1708 in Hampton NH.
Children of Robert & Judith (Sanborn) Quimby [may be more]:
1. Eleazer Quimby, b. 1728 Hampton Falls NH
2. Asahel Quimby, b. 1735 in Hampton Falls NH; father of Bradbury Quimby who m. Sarah Shackford, dau of John Shackford Jr, in in 1778. Bradbury had a ch. Charlotte Shackford who m. 1800 Capt. Noah Weeks.
3. Elisha Quimby, b. 1738 Hampton Falls NH
4. +Jacob Quimby, b. 20 June 1740 in Hampton Falls NH
5. Sarah Quimby, b. 30 Apr 1743 Hampton Falls NH

Jacob Quimby, son of Robert & Judith (Sanborn) Quimby, b. 20 June 1740 Hampton Falls, Rockingham Co NH and d. 11 Aug 1776 Hampton Falls, NH. He m. abt 1766 in Chester NH to Anna Robie, dau of John & Ann (Williams) Robie, and widow of Jonathan Towle. She b. 28 June 1743 in Chester NH and d. 5 July 1808. They lived in Chester NH on No. 63, 2d P., 2d D where — Palmer later lived.
Children of Jacob & Anna (Robie) Quimby:
1. +Jonathan Quimby, b. 18 Sep 1765 in Chester NH
2. John Quimby, b. 8 Aug 1769 in Candia, Rockingham Co NH; brought up by Col. Stephen Dearborn, and went to Stanstead PQ Canada. He married and his widow married James Varnum, son of James.

Jonathan Quimby, son of Jacob & Anna (Robie) Quimby, b. 18 Sep 1765 in Chester NH and d. 29 Nov [or 30 Dec] 1827 in Belfast ME. He m. 23 March 1790 in Chester NH to Susanna White, dau of William and Mary (Mills) White. She b. 21 Dec 1768 in Chester NH and d. 18 Aug 1827 in Belfast ME. The father, a blacksmith by trade, removed with his family to Belfast ME in 1804 from Lebanon NH, when Phineas was about two years of age [1804]. Their house in Belfast ME on corner of High and Spring street, opposite his blacksmith shop.
Children of Jonathan & Mary (Mills) Quimby:
1. William Quimby b 30 Apr 1792; d. 23 Jan 1879; m. Alphia Waton; Had ch: Aurelia Ann, Julia Maria, Mary Elizabeth, Sarah Elizabeth, Francis Augusta, Ellen Adelaide, William Edward, Herbert Converse, Robert C.
2. Daniel Quimby b 1794; d. 23 Sep 1830; m. Alice Towle
3. Sally Quimby b 15 Dec 1795; d. 6 Feb 1874 in Belfast ME; m. John Wales; had issue
4. Betsy Quimby, b. 25 Dec 1797; d. 23 March 1826; m. Job White
5. Johnathan Towle Quimby b abt 1799 Lebanon NH; d. 4 Dec 1842 Belfast ME; m. 1 Feb 1821 Belfast ME to Abigail Buckmore. Had ch: Betsy, Jonathan T. and Martin White.
6. +Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, b. 16 Feb 1802 Lebanon NH
7. Robert White Quimby, b. 11 Dec 1804; m. 30 Oct 1831 Hannah Giles. Had ch: Frances Olive, Susan, Charles Giles, Annie E., and William H.

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, son of Jonathan & Susannah (White) Quimby was born in the town of Lebanon NH, 16 Feb 1802 [his birth was also recorded in Belfast, Maine not an unusual occurrence] and died in Belfast ME 16 January 1866 of “bilious fever and tumor.”   His parents moved to Belfast Maine when he was 2 years old. He attended the town schools irregularly and was apprenticed to a watch and clock-maker and later not only made clocks but became an inventor of some note. “His education, which was supplemented in mature life by reading, was however, for the most part derived from close observation , and from his own original experiments, his active, penetrating and inventive mind leading him to investigate.” He married 23 Dec 1827 in Belfast ME to Susannah Burnham Haraden, daughter of Deacon William White & Mary Mills. She died 19 April 1875. They are buried in Belfast, Maine.
U.S. Census > 1860 United States Federal Census > Maine > Waldo > Belfast
P.P. Quimby 58 M [occup] M.D. 3500/1500 NH
Susanna Quimby 57 F Maine
Augusta Quimby 26 F Maine
George A. Quimby 19 M Maine
Children of Phineas P. & Susannah B. (Haraden) Quimby:
1. John Haraden Quimby, b 14 Feb 1829; d. 27 Nov 1899; m. 21 June 1859 Annie Maria Noyes. She b. 1838, d. 1925. Child: William Henry Quimby, b. 12 Oct 1863, d. 1932. He m. 4 Oct 1866 Annie Blodgett. She b. 1863, d. 1920.
2. William Henry Quimby, b. 19 Apr 1831 Belfast Maine; d. 14 Aug 1857
3.  Susan Augusta Quimby b. 26 Maine 1833 Belfast, Maine, d. 1928; she m. James Woodbury Frederick. He was born 1859, d. 1897.
4. George Albert Quimby, b. 8 June 1841 in Belfast ME, d. 1915; m. 8 June 1885 to Adelaide E. Chase, dau of George S. & Ellen M. (Brown) Chase. She b. 8 Apr 1859, d. 1939. Children: Katherine Chase Quimby, b. 22 March 1887 Belfast ME (m. Harry Carter & Harold Hollingshead); Elizabeth Augusta Quimby, b. 21 Apr 1888 in Belfast ME (m. Charles Chipman Pineo)

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