Peter Oliver, by William Williams, 1781 12
Peter Oliver (1713–1791), Chief Justice of Massachusetts, was impeached by the House of Representatives in early 1774 because he was willing to accept his salary from the Crown. John Adams, although he was not a member of the House at the time, provided the legal underpinning for the bill of impeachment. When Gov. Thomas Hutchinson refused to preside at a Council meeting to hear the charges, thus thwarting the effort to get Oliver removed, jurors refused to participate whenever Oliver was on the bench, claiming his impeachment made him unfit. The closing of the courts in the province in protest against British measures caused Oliver to wait out events in Boston under the protection of British troops. When General Howe evacuated Boston in March 1776, Oliver went with the troops and loyalists to Nova Scotia. Within a few months he was in England (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates
The portrait painter, William Williams (1727–1791), an Englishman, went to Philadelphia at the age of twenty and spent over thirty years there. He returned to his homeland in 1780, where he painted Oliver. See Linda Ayres, Harvard Divided, Cambridge, 1976, p. 20–21. This publication is the catalogue of a Bicentennial exhibit at the University.
Courtesy of the Oliver Family.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2007.