Famous Paines in History
(Updated 14 January 2006)

You may be surprised to discover that there are many famous Paines especially if you remember that the Paine name is closely linked to other spellings such as Payne and Payan.

Craig Payne has done extensive research on the early history of the Paine/Payne name and the early bearers of the Paine/Payne name. Click here to visit his site.

To see the latest addition to this page click here.

Members of the Paine family have been involved in many memorable historical events from Thomas Paine - below - who was a leading liberal, to Thomas O. Paine who was involved in putting man on the moon.

Thomas Paine

The most famous Paine of modern times is of course Thomas Paine -

Archive of Thomas Paine Works

Thomas Paine Original

Encarta article and additional links


Thomas Paine

The Anglo-American revolutionary writer Thomas Paine, b. England, Jan. 29, 1737, d. June 8, 1809, called for American independence in his 1776 pamphlet COMMON SENSE, which was widely distributed and had a profound influence on public opinion in America. An English excise officer, Paine was dismissed (1774), probably for agitating for a salary increase, and emigrated to America on the recommendation of Benjamin Franklin. In Philadelphia from 1774, Paine became a journalist and essayist. After the publication of Common Sense, which sold 100,000 copies in 3 months, he continued to inspire and encourage the patriots during the Revolutionary War in the series of pamphlets called The Crisis (1776-83).

Paine returned (1787) to England after the war and published The Rights of Man (1791-92), in which he defended the French Revolution in response to Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). Outlawed for treason, Paine fled (1792) to France, became a French citizen, and was elected to the National Convention. Imprisoned (1793-94) during the Reign of Terror, Paine wrote the first part of Age of Reason (1794), a deistic statement of his religious views. All Paine's works reflect his belief in natural reason and natural rights, political equality, tolerance, civil liberties, and the dignity of man. His Age of Reason and his criticism of George Washington in Letter to Washington (1796), however, made him unpopular. Paine returned to the United States in 1802 and died in poverty.

Bibliography: Aldridge, A. O., Tom Paine's American Ideology (1984); Ayer, A. J., Thomas Paine (1989); Fruchtman, J., Thomas Paine and the Religion of Nature (1993); Keane, J., Tom Paine (1995).

Hugues De Payens - first Grand Master of the Knights Templar.
(died 1128)

Traditional history tells us that Hugues de Payens and Geoffrey de St. Omer arrived at the palace of King Baldwin II with the desire to defend Christian pilgrims from the attack of the infidels. While this is a romantic notion, there seems to be strong evidence that de Payens was already in the Holy Land and may in fact have served in the army of the Godfroi de Boullion during the First Crusade.

Along with de St. Omer and seven others he formed the Order of the Knights Templar, taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience at the feet of the Patriarch of Jerusalem.

John J. Robinson, in his book "Dungeon Fire and Sword" makes the claim the de Payens was 48 years of age when he became the first Grand Master of the Knights Templar having already served in the Levant for 22 years.

Little is actually know about de Payens's youth other than that he was a knight from the area of Champagne in Burgundy. His Lord was Hugh, Count of Champagne who had granted lands to the young Bernard of Fontaines (later St. Bernard) to build Clairvaux Abbey.

For the first nine years de Payens and his followers accepted no new members. The company then left the Levant in order to solicit funds and recruits and at the Council of Troyes on January 13th 1128 the Templars received a Rule of Order penned in part by Bernard of Clairvaux himself. Latterly, Bernard's letter of exhortation would propel the Order of the Temple to dizzying heights of fame and fortune.

Hugues de Payens would see the Order through nearly twenty years until his death in 1136.

(Visit http://www.templarhistory.com/hugues.html for the complete article from which the above extract was taken.

John Knowles Paine

American composer, organist, and music teacher John Knowles Paine, b. Portland, Maine, Jan. 9, 1839, d. Apr. 25, 1906, pioneered in the establishment of music as an academic discipline in the United States. His training and aesthetic outlook were German, and his own compositions were derivative of German models. He was, however, the first major American composer of large-scale orchestral works. He became a lecturer and recitalist in the Boston area and was appointed an instructor of music at Harvard in 1862. In 1875 the course became accredited, and he was made the nation's first full professor of music. Among his students were such notable American composers as Frederick Converse, Arthur Foote, and John Alden Carpenter. Paine's works include two symphonies, symphonic poems, choral works, a never-performed opera, chamber music, songs, and organ and piano pieces.

Bibliography: Chase, G., America's Music, 3d rev. ed. (1988); Schmidt, J.C., The Life and Works of John Knowles Paine (1980).

John Howard Payne

The American playwright John Howard Payne, b. New York City, June 9, 1791, d. Apr. 9, 1852, was a child prodigy of the American theater who began publishing in his teens. The first American dramatist to earn a reputation abroad, he wrote the popular romantic tragedy Brutus: or the Fall of Tarquin (1818) for the English actor Edmund Kean. Payne also wrote the song "Home, Sweet Home" for the opera Clari; or, The Maid of Milan. Approximately 60 plays are credited to him.

From a book "History of Walker County Georgia", byJames Alfred Sartain, Vol I is written;
" John Howard Payne was an author of some note and an activitist who was part of many people in the US who where agitated concerning the removal ofthe Indians to the West during the early 1800's.  The press was full of the subject during the 1820-1830 time period and many people came into the Cherokee country(including NW GA) in order to secure first hand information on the subject.  John Howard Payne, author of "Home Sweet Home" went to Georgia for this purpose.  At the time of his visit the State of GA had troops patrolling the Cherokee nation to preserve the peace.  These troops, suspecting Payne of some ulterior purpose, if not sedition, arrested him on suspicion.  He was domiciled at the time of his arrest at the home of John Ross at Rossville."

John Ross was a Chief of the Cherokees in the region.

Our thanks to Thomas Payne Tulsa, OK for this information

Eugene G. Payne
A Pulitzer Prize winner in 1968 for a cartoon. He was a cartoonist for The Charlotte (NC) Observer.

John B. Payne
A United States Secretary of the Interior in 1920.

Henry C. Payne
A United States Post Master General 1902-1904.

Capt. David L. Payne
A leader of the "Boomers" who demanded that Unassigned Lands to be opened to settlement in the late 1880's in Oklahoma.

Dolley (Payne) Madison
Was the wife of the 4th President of the United States, James Madison. She was one of the most famous first ladies.

William Payne
A mathematician who made an early and important writing on the play of and the game of checkers in 1756.


Thanks to Craig Payne for all of the above


For the official biography of the late Thomas O. Paine, who led NASA to the moon, check out

Craig has also sent details of:

Robert Treat Paine

Paine, Robert Treat (1731-1814), American jurist and revolutionary
leader, born in Boston, and educated at Harvard College.
After serving as a chaplain during the French and Indian War (1754-1763), Paine studied law, and in 1770 he prosecuted the British soldiers on trial for their part in the Boston Massacre.
From 1774 to 1777 Paine was a delegate to the Continental Congress and was one of the signers of the
Declaration of Independence.
From 1777 to 1790 he was the first attorney general of Massachusetts, and was a state supreme court judge from 1790
to 1804.

General Charles Jackson Paine - won the America's Cup in three races in the 1880s (and also was a director of three major railroads in the American West and Mexico, financed with Boston capital).  Gen Paine distinguished himself in the Civil War by leading colored troops to victory in Louisiana and Virginia; his brother Sumner left Harvard College to join the Army and was killed at Gettysburg only weeks later.

Our thanks to Tom Paine for the above (author of "Growing Paines" - some copies still available at $25 - contact him direct at: jubileep@attbi.com )


He also draws attention to two other key sources: Sarah Cushing Paine's "Paine Ancestry" (1912), and the Paine Family Records, a periodical that appeared in the 1880s and charts the various branches that first settled throughout Eastern Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Not sure whether this one is famous or infamous:

One John R Payne was hung in St Ives Cornwall during his Mayoralty because he was a Catholic. He was treated to a meal at the Globe Inn and then hung in the Market Place for saying the Catholic Mass. This was in 1578

Thanks to Keith Varnals for this.


If you are interested in tracing your family history and linking your family to other Paine families around the World visit the Family History Page - there is at least one family tree from UK , USA and Australia

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