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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0009-0024

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-09-24

24th.

Townsend went to Topsfield to hear a cause tried before a justice. Stedman has been hunting all over the neighbourhood for his horse, who disappeared on Saturday. Thomson has an whole week respite from his school; but did not come to the office in the afternoon: I was there alone: Amory return'd from Boston between 4 and 5, and at about 6 set off for Exeter. Tomorrow he goes to Portsmouth and Wednesday morning he intends to be here again.
Amidst the noise of the Office, which was greater than usual because this is the last day, before the sitting of the court of common-pleas in this town, I made out however to read about 80 pages of Blackstone's Introduction, and making a few extracts.1 I copied others in the evening till quite late; and at this moment my fingers are so fatigued with writing, that I positively, must throw by, my pen.
{ 294 }
1. William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England . .., 4 vols., Oxford, 1765–1769, and subsequent editions. JQA's extracts have not been found.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0009-0025

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-09-25

25th

I have given up all pretences to study any more this week. The Court of Common-pleas sits here; and I shall attend that. It was near one o'clock this day before they met and then they immediately adjourn'd till the afternoon. I was there after dinner. Nothing was done but calling over the actions. Judge Greenleaf1 gave a very short charge to the grand Jury, in which he observed to them, that frequently persons were charged, by malicious enemies, of crimes whereof they were entirely innocent; and he recommended to them to be upon their guard, so as not to be deceived by false accusations, of that nature. The court adjourned by five o'clock. I went and took a walk with Mr. Symmes and Townsend. Symmes was sworn in at the Court of common-pleas, this time last year: but has not I believe an immediate prospect of making his fortune in the profession. I was with Townsend at his lodgings till between 7 and 8 o'clock.
Mr. Bradbury2 this afternoon told me a piece of news which shock'd me exceedingly. That Sam. Walker was rusticated; and for a crime, which is the more infamous, because it can be attributed neither to youthful levity, nor to the extravagance of ebriety.3
1. Benjamin Greenleaf, chief justice of the Essex co. court of common pleas and father-in-law of Theophilus Parsons (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 13:86–90).
2. Theophilus Bradbury, a Newbury-port lawyer, in whose office Theophilus Parsons had studied law (same, 14:143–146).
3. Several days earlier Walker had been found guilty of stealing money and a shirt from another student's room. He served out his year of rustication and in Sept. 1788, after a humble confession, was restored. He eventually graduated in the class of 1790 (MH-Ar: Faculty Records, 5:270–271, 319–321).

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0009-0026

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-09-26

26th.

Attended court the whole day. Little was done in the forenoon except calling over the cases. But in the afternoon, a cause was tried by Jury, between one Smith and James Brown. Smith had attached certain lands as the estate of Brown's father, to satisfy a debt due to him: Brown claim'd those lands, as his property, and produced in court two deeds, by which his father had made over the lands to him. The question to be tried by the Jury was, { 295 } whether those deeds were valid, or whether they were given merely to evade the payment of the father's debts and in order to secure himself a maintenance during the remainder of his life. Mr. Parsons for the plaintiff proved, that for the real estate of the father, which at that time was assessed at £450. James had only allowed him about 230, and that the chief of this was by paying debts for which he had been previously bound with his father. Mr. Sullivan1 for the defendant, endeavoured to show that such deductions were to be made from this estate as would reduce it to about 280£, and that some other charges ought to be added, to what James had allowed his father, which would make his contract quite equitable. The pleadings were very interesting, and it was after 7, in the evening, before the case was given to the Jury.
The Court then adjourned till the morning, at 9 o'clock.
1. James Sullivan, former superior court judge, legislator, newspaper polemicist, and later governor of Massachusetts (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 15:299–322).
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, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/