Dr. Duncombe was the first physician on record to come to Sacramento. A Native of Stanford, Connecticut, he moved to Upper Canada (now Ontario) to become a landowner and member of Parliament. Ontario's first medical school, the Talbot Dyspensary at St. Thomas, was established by Dr. Duncombe and a Dr. Rolf. Both Dr. Duncombe and Dr. Rolf became leaders in the William Lyon Mackenzie Rebellion of 1837. This group of reformers tried unsuccessfully to unseat the system wherein the British Government and appointed administrators could overrule the elected Assembly. The rebels were hunted down as traitors and many found their way to the United States. Dr. Duncombe's escape was described as follows:
"Dr. Charles Duncombe who had rallied a rebel force at Scotland, South of Brantford, spent one night hidden in a bed between a farmer and his wife. Another night, after friends put him to bed dressed as "Grandma" he received a respectful good nights from a posse tramping through the house in search of Dr. Duncombe. After a four week flight he reached his sister in London, Ontario. Disguised as "Aunt Nancy" he was taken by sleigh to the border post at Sarnia. Militia guards escorted him across the St. Claire River to the American shore - whereupon "Aunt Nancy" shouted, "go back and tell your Commander you have just piloted Dr. Duncombe across the river!"
Dr. Duncombe found his way to Sacramento about 1843, although he apparently did not practice medicine until 1851. He was active in Masonry, in fact he was one of its founders in Upper Canada. Upon his death his friends erected a special monument with the inscription "A Friend of Liberty." This monument can be seen in the Old Masonic Section of the Old City Cemetery in Sacramento. His wife Lucy is buried beside him. Far away in Scotland, Ontario, is a plaque commemorating Dr. Duncombe, who rallied a rebel force at that location December, 1837. Near St. Thomas, Ontario, his old house has been made a museum displaying medical equipment.