Diary of John Adams, volume 3

Fryday July 20 1787 London. AA Fryday July 20 1787 London. Adams, Abigail
Fryday July 20 1787 London.

This day three years I landed at Deal. Since that time I have travelld to France, to Holland and several parts of England but have never kept any journal, or record except what my Letters to my Friends may furnish nor have I ever perused this Book since it was first written till this Day when looking into the first page, it excited all my former emotions and made the Tears flow affresh. I have now determined on this journey to keep a journal. This Day we set out from Grosvenour Square on a Tour to Plimouth. Mr. Adams, myself, Mrs. Smith and Son about 3 months old, her Nursery maid, Esther my own maid and Edward Farmer a footman, our own Coachman and a postilion. Our first Stage was to Epsom in the county of Surry where we dinned. This place is famous for the races which are held there. From Epsom we proceeded to Guilford where we put up for the Night. This is an agreeable road and a highly cultivated Country.


From a MS designated as M/AA/r (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 197), described in note 1 on the entry of 20 June 1784 in AA's Diary, above. Though AA, JA, and AA2 all kept journals at times during their excursion to the west of England, the results, even when combined, are meager and leave numerous gaps. JA's few fragmentary notes have been placed after AA's journal entries, which cover only the first nine days of a month's trip of some 600 miles. AA2's record is longer than either her mother's or her father's, but since the MS has not been found and the text as published (AA2 Jour. and Corr. , 1:84–94) is not trustworthy, it has not been included in the present edition, though it has been occasionally quoted or cited in editorial notes.

The excursion had been recommended by the Adamses' physician, Dr. John Jeffries, because AA's health had been poor throughout the winter and spring (AA to Mrs. Cranch, 16 July 1787, owned by Dr. Eugene F. DuBois, N.Y. City, 1957). JA and AA had also been warmly and repeatedly urged by John Cranch of Axminster, nephew of AA's brother-in-law, Richard Cranch, to visit Devon, the county from which the Cranches and Palmers of Braintree, Mass., had emigrated. JA having completed the second volume of his Defence for the printer (though only just in time), and WSS being absent on a mis-204sion for Congress to the Queen of Portugal, the moment was opportune for a family excursion. (On WSS's mission to Portugal, April–Aug. 1787, see his report to Jay, 12 Sept., with enclosures; Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789, 3:69–84.)

21. AA 21. Adams, Abigail

We set out about 9 in the morning, stoped and baited at Farnham, dinned at Alton and reached Winchester about 8 oclock. Robert Quincy Earl of Winchester formerly resided here and was I presume an ancestor of my mothers, bearing the same arms. There is a Cathedral Church here, it being a Bishops See. The present Bishop of Winchester is Brother to Lord North whose Seat and park is in Farnham. There is a remarkable high Hill calld Catharine Hill just after you quit Guilford near two miles long from which one has a good view of the Town which seems to be placed between 2 Hills. The Houses are very old. In further examining respecting this earl of Winchester, I find that Saar de Quincy was created first Earl of Winchester by King John in 1224 and signed Magna Charta. In 1321 the title is said to be extinct, but this I do not believe as my Ancestors who went to America bore the same Name and Arms. And I well remember seeing when I was a child a parchment containing the Descent of the families in the possession of my Grandfather and that it was traced back to William the conquerer who came from Normandy. Saer de Quincy was a French Marquiss. Mr. Edmund Quincy borrowed this Genealogicall Table of my Grandmother for some purpose and lost it as he says.1 If the Tittle had been extinct for want of Male Heirs, it is not probable that an illegitimate ospring would have taken pains to have preserved the Geneoligy. These matters have heitherto been of so little consideration in America that scarcly any person traces their desent beyond the third Generation by which means the Britains sometimes twit us of being descended from the refuse of their Goals and from transported convicts. But it is well known that the first setlers of New England were no such persons, but worthy conscientious people who fled from Religious percecution to a New World and planted themselves amidst Savages that they might enjoy their Religion unmolested.


“As the old Gentleman [Col. Edmund Quincy] is still living, I wish Mr. Cranch would question him about it, and know what Hands it went into, and whether there is any probability of its ever being recoverd, and be so good as to ask uncle [Norton] Quincy how our Grandfather came by it, and from whence our Great-granfather came? where he first settled? and take down in writing all you can learn from him, and Mr. Edmund Quincy respecting the family. You will smile at my Zeal, perhaps on this occasion, but can it be wonderd at that I should wish to Trace an Ancestor amongst the Signers of Magna Carta” (AA to Mrs. Cranch, 15 Sept. 1787, MWA).