2. JA is almost certainly alluding to Boylston's cousin, Thomas Boylston of London (1721–1798), though in calling him John Boylston's namesake an ambiguity is introduced, especially since there were no other John Boylstons alive at the time. The only other male Boylston recorded as then living in England or America was Ward Nicholas Boylston, born Hallowell (1749?–1828), on whom see JA, Diary and Autobiography
; CFA, Diary
, 3:5, 13, 146; Oliver, Portraits of JA and AA
, p. 35, 38; Oliver, Portraits of JQA and His Wife
, p. 122–129; Adams Genealogy. But Ward Nicholas Boylston had left Boston in 1773 when still a young man, had resided in London from 1775, a loyalist, at the time was an officer in the British militia, and seems not to have been known to JA before May 1783. Though he was much later to become a benefactor of Harvard as his late uncle Nicholas (1716–1771) had earlier been, he was not at this time possessed of such a fortune as would enable him to contemplate substantial benefactions (Jones, Loyalists of Mass.
, p. 48–50; Thomas Boylston to JA, 20 April; JA to Thomas Boylston, 12 June 1783, both in Adams Papers
, the second LbC
Thomas Boylston, Ward Nicholas' uncle and sometime patron and employer, was at the moment a man of great wealth; he never married, had long been notoriously of a disposition to seize an opportunity to have legal or other work done where there was no fee, and though there is elsewhere no record of an interest in making Harvard College his heir, he did nurse philanthropic notions toward Boston, both during the time he had a fortune and after he was stripped of it in 1793 by the failure of the London firm of Lane, Son, & Frazer. Boylston, already wealthy by his own efforts and as principal heir of his even wealthier brother Nicholas, and already with a reputation for stinginess, had left Boston for London by 1779, taking a purported £100,000 with him. His emigration seems to have been dictated more by economic than political considerations, and there is little to connect him with loyalism in London. He renewed relations with JA as soon as
there was a likelihood of the resumption of commerce between the United States and Great Britain, and between 1783 and 1785 developed several schemes for the import of whale oil from America and the export of sugar, processed in his refinery, to the United States. JA, bent on the encouragement of trade, lent his help to the project and recommended Boylston in letters to Jefferson as “one of the clearest and most solid Capitalists, that ever raised himself by private Commerce in North America” (25 Sept. 1785) and to Lafayette, 13 Dec. 1785: “You may depend upon it, he will do nothing but what is profitable. No man understands more intuitively, everything relating to these subjects, and no man is more attached to his interest.” JQA and TBA have provided admirable sketches of Thomas Boylston as he was just after he served his term in bankrupts' prison, though their accounts of him, like those of others, seem heavily colored by the many unpleasant anecdotes of him given currency by Ward Nicholas after he became aware that he was not to be Thomas' heir. See JA, Diary and Autobiography
Adams Family Correspondence
; Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd
, 8:550; 9:41–42, 45–46, 88–89; Jones, Loyalists of Mass.
, p. 49; H. E. Scudder, ed., Recollections of Samuel Breck
, Phila., 1877, p. 159–160; [Ward Nicholas Boylston,] The Will of Thomas Boylston, Esq.
[Boston, 1816]. In the Adams Papers
: JQA, Diary, 25 Oct. 1794; TBA, Diary, 16, 25 Oct. 1794 (M/TBA/1 and 2, Microfilm Reel Nos. 281, 282); Thomas Boylston to JA, 23 Dec. 1782; JA to Isaac Smith Sr., 2 Sept. 1785; to James Bowdoin, 24 March 1786 (both LbC's
). See also Adams Genealogy.