Papers of John Adams, volume 3

From George Washington

From Perez Morton

From Samuel Gelston, 19 January 1776 JA Gelston, Samuel From Samuel Gelston, 19 January 1776 Adams, John Gelston, Samuel
From Samuel Gelston
Fryday 9 OClock 19 Jan. 1776 1 Sir

Pardon me for the Liberty I take in Sending a Billet to a Gentleman of your exolted Station and Character, when I have not the Honour to be in the number of your Acquaintance. Had not my situation been Really distressed, I should not have done it. When the Council Rose 406Yesterday p.m. I was Acquainted by one of the Members That they had come into sundry Resolutions on my Matters and that Business was to be finished in the afternoon by a comitte chosen for that purpose. Since which I am told the court have it under Consideration. How far that may be consistant with the present Constitution I dont pretend to say, but I'm sure it is widely Different from every Idea I have Formed of the Custom of Courts. Perhaps there may be something very extreordinary in my case to Require it.

For God's sake Sir take a View of my Situation, to be dragd from my family and Business upwards of an Hundred miles through thick and thin, mud and mire bearing the insults of the Missled and unknowing for a supposed offence only—for I think no one in his sences can condemn me with Regard to the supplys.2 As to anything further it is merely Information the wait of which can have no Enterence into the mind of a Man of your knowledge and candour especially in this day of Anarchy and Confusion. Pray Sir consider me and my situation and use your Influence to bring about a speedy Settlement of my Affair and Let me know my Doom, which Shall ever be most Gratefully acknowledg'd by Sir Your most Obedt. and very Huml. Servt.,

Saml: Gelston

RC (Adams Papers, microfilmed under Jan.? 1775); addressed: “To The Honl John Adams Present Favour Cpt Palmer”; docketed: “Mr Gelston Jany 1775.”


Since Gelston dated his letter Friday and mentioned Council resolutions passed “yesterday,” and since the committee report on him was sent down from the Council on Thursday, 18 Jan., a date of 19 Jan. for his letter is indicated (Mass., House Jour. , 1775–1776, 3d sess., p. 163).


Dr. Samuel Gelston (1724–1782) of Nantucket, described as “a bold and staunch friend to Government,” was ordered by the General Court on 18 Dec. 1775 to be arrested and brought to Watertown. He was accused of supplying provisions to Capt. James Ayscough of the British sloop Swan (same, p. 53; Shubael Lovell to Ayscough, 16 Nov. and Col. Nathaniel Freeman to George Washington, 12 Dec. 1775, Naval Docs. Amer. Rev. , 2:1044; 3:66; Vital Records of Nantucket, Boston, 1925–1928, 5:328). A joint committee, of which JA was a member, was formed on 4 Jan. to consider Gelston's case, but the Council and House could not agree on what course to take. The Council proposed to release him on his good behavior secured by a bond for £1,000, but the House wanted him confined to jail for the security of the colony. The stalemate resulted in the naming of a new committee. Meanwhile Gelston escaped with the help of a John Brown, whom he bribed. Both men were brought back to Watertown in February and confined by order of the General Court until further notice ( House Jour., p. 111–112, 163, 194–195, 202, 212, 234, 242; Boston Gazette, 5 Feb.).