Elisha Payne

Elisha Payne (7 March 1731 – 20 July 1807) was a prominent businessman and political figure in the states of New Hampshire and Vermont following the events of the American Revolution. He is best known for serving as Lieutenant Governor of the Vermont Republic and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Vermont.

Elisha Payne
3rd Lieutenant Governor of the Vermont Republic
In office
October 1781 – 1782
Preceded byBenjamin Carpenter
Succeeded byPaul Spooner
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Vermont
In office
Preceded byMoses Robinson
Succeeded byMoses Robinson[1]
Member of the New Hampshire Senate
2nd District
In office
Preceded byFrancis Worcester
Succeeded byFrancis Worcester
Personal details
Born(1731-03-07)March 7, 1731
Canterbury, Connecticut, British America
DiedJuly 20, 1807(1807-07-20) (aged 76)
Lebanon, New Hampshire, United States
Resting placeEast Lebanon Cemetery
Spouse(s)Anna Waldo (1753–1759)
Elizabeth Spaulding (1762–1809)
RelationsElisha P. Jewett (grandson)
Ruth Payne Burgess (great-granddaughter)
Alma materYale College
Military service
AllegianceUnited States United States
Branch/serviceVermont militia
New Hampshire militia
Years of serviceVermont militia: 1781
New Hampshire militia: 1775–1776
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Major General in the Vermont militia[2]
US-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel in the New Hampshire militia[3]
Elisha Payne House, Canterbury (Windham County, Connecticut). Today the Prudence Crandall Museum.


The son of a prominent cleric of the same name, Elisha Payne was born in Canterbury, Connecticut, on March 7, 1731. He graduated from Yale College in 1750, studied law, and attained admission to the bar. In addition, Payne was a partner with his brother-in-law in a successful mercantile business.[4]

From 1765 to 1768 Payne served in the Connecticut Assembly.[5]

In 1774 Payne relocated to Orange, New Hampshire, then called Cardigan, where he practiced law, farmed, and operated a successful saw and gristmill. In addition, he served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.[6]

In 1775 Payne was appointed a lieutenant colonel in the New Hampshire militia. In 1776 he was named a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas and Register of Probate for Grafton County.[7]

In 1780 Payne relocated to Lebanon, New Hampshire. During this period Vermont was an independent republic, and for several years there was a political movement to join New Hampshire's Connecticut River Valley towns, including Lebanon, to Vermont. In 1778 members of this movement tried to induce Payne and his townsmen to join by appointing Payne to Vermont's Governor's Council, but Payne declined.[8][9]

In 1781 Payne was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives. He was subsequently elected Lieutenant Governor of Vermont and appointed Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court. In addition, he was appointed a major general in the Vermont militia.[10][11] Payne was appointed in 1782 as one of Vermont's delegates to negotiate with the Continental Congress.[12]

After the attempted union of western New Hampshire and Vermont was ended, Payne resumed his involvement in New Hampshire politics and government, serving in the New Hampshire Senate from 1786 to 1787, and the New Hampshire House of Representatives from 1787 to 1788. He served in the New Hampshire House again in 1790, 1793, 1796 to 1797, and 1800.[13]

Payne was Treasurer of Dartmouth College from 1779 to 1780, and a trustee of the college from 1784 to 1801.[14]

In 1788 Payne was a Delegate to the New Hampshire convention that considered adoption of the United States Constitution and voted for its ratification.[15] Payne also appears to have been the final clinching vote of the New Hampshire legislature that ultimately ratified the United States Constitution.[16] The final vote in the New Hampshire legislature was 57–47, which means that Payne's fifty-third vote was the deciding vote needed to officially ratify the United States Constitution.

Payne died in Lebanon on July 20, 1807.[17] He was buried in East Lebanon Cemetery.[18]


  1. ^ Russell Taft, The Green Bag magazine, The Supreme Court of Vermont, Volume 5, 1893, pages 562-563
  2. ^ Vermont General Assembly, Records of the Council of Safety and Governor and Council of the State of Vermont, Volume 2, 1874, page 339
  3. ^ Frederick Chase, A History of Dartmouth College and the Town of Hanover, New Hampshire, Volume 2, 1891, page 329
  4. ^ Paine Family Records, by Henry D. Paine, Volume 2, pages 260 to 262
  5. ^ A History of Dartmouth College and the Town of Hanover, New Hampshire, by Frederick Chase, Volume 1, 1891, page 447
  6. ^ Early History of Vermont by Lafayette Wilbur, Volume 2, 1900, pages 380 to 381
  7. ^ The Bench and Bar of New Hampshire, by Charles Henry Bell, 1893, pages 557 to 558
  8. ^ Magazine article, A Trip to Cardigan -- Elisha Payne, by Walter Harriman, Granite Monthly magazine, October, 1880, pages 10 to 12
  9. ^ Ethan Allen and His Kin: Correspondence, 1772-1819, by Ethan Allen, edited by John J. Duffy, Volume 1, 1998, page 86
  10. ^ Provincial and State Papers, compiled and edited by Nathaniel Bouton, Volume 10, 1877, page 288
  11. ^ Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History of Vermonters and Sons of Vermont, compiled by Jacob G. Ullery, 1894, page 173
  12. ^ The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, edited by Rossiter Johnson and John Howard Brown, Volume 8, 1904, Payne-Payne page
  13. ^ Gazetteer of Grafton County, New Hampshire, by Hamilton Child, Volume 1, page 14
  14. ^ History of New Hampshire, by John Norris McClintock, 1888, pages 435 to 437
  15. ^ The Documentary History of the First Federal Elections, 1788-1790, by Merrill Jensen and Robert A. Becker, Volume 4, 1976, page 812
  16. ^ [1], Volume 10, pages 18–19
  17. ^ Lamb's Biographical Dictionary of the United States, edited by John Howard Brown, Volume 6, 1903, pages 174 to 175
  18. ^ Cemetery inscription transcriptions, East Lebanon Cemetery, by Frances L. Hanchett & Peggy McKinney, June, 2011, page 3

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Benjamin Carpenter
Lieutenant Governor of Vermont (Independent Republic)
Succeeded by
Paul Spooner
Preceded by
Moses Robinson
Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court
Succeeded by
Moses Robinson