Born in Ireland in 1744, Edward Hand acquired a medical education, came to America as a Surgeon’s Mate with the 18th Royal Irish Regiment of Foot in 1767, and was stationed at Fort Pitt. In 1774, he sold his commission, established a medical practice in Lancaster, PA and married well-to-do Katherine Ewing.
In 1775, Hand joined the Revolution against Great Britain as a Lieutenant Colonel of the First Pennsylvania Regiment. While stationed at Fort Pitt in 1777, Hand established a hospital to care for the troops. He served throughout the war, rose to the rank of general and brigade commander, appointed to the prestigious role as Washington’s Adjutant General, and was present at Yorktown in 1781, with the surrender of the British Army.
Hand was promoted to Major General, and in 1783, resigned to return to Lancaster where he developed a successful medical practice. As one of Lancaster’s most prominent citizens, he was elected to serve in various political roles, including Chief Burgess of Lancaster, member of the Continental Congress, and signer of the Pennsylvania State Constitution. He was one of the founders of the 1799 Lancaster County Almshouse and hospital.
In 1802, he died of cholera at his Rock Ford Plantation. He was buried in St. James Episcopal Church’s Cemetery. Although Edward and Katherine Hand had eight children, and several had early deaths, only two of their children produced heirs.