Thomas Paine Biography


(History of the World: The 17th and 18th Centuries)

Article abstract: Paine was a participant in both the American and French revolutions, and, through his writings, he attempted to foment revolution in England as well. He was interested in the new scientific ideas of his age, spent considerable energy on the design of an iron-arch bridge, and tried to resolve the age-old conflicts between science and religion by espousing Deism.

Early Life

Thomas Paine was born February 9, 1737, in Thetford, England. His father, Joseph Pain (the son later added a final “e” to his name), was a Quaker staymaker. Working as a craftsman, he provided whalebone corsets for local women. Paine’s mother, Frances Cocke, the daughter of a local attorney, was an Anglican, older than her husband and of difficult disposition. As a daughter died in infancy, the Pains then concentrated all of their efforts on their son. Thomas was taught by a local schoolmaster from the age of seven to thirteen and then apprenticed to his father to learn the trade of a staymaker. This was clearly not entirely to his liking, as he managed at one point to run away and spend some time at sea. Upon his return, he practiced his craft in various places in England. In 1759, Paine married Mary Lambert, but his wife died a year later. Dissatisfied with his occupation, he tried others, including a brief stint at schoolteaching and perhaps also preaching. Still seeking his niche in the world, Paine returned home for a time...

(The entire section is 2513 words.)