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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2


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).

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0009-0027

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-09-27

27th.

The jury upon the case of Smith and Brown, gave their Verdict in favour of the Plaintiff, and declared the deeds fraudulent. The next Jury case which came on, was between William Bartlett and Daniel Dodge both of this Town. Dodge who is a Mason, engaged to build and plaister a brick house for Bartlett at a certain price, in the year 1778. In the course of his doing the work, the paper currency, depreciated considerably, and the question now is, whether Dodge is to be held to the original sum, or whether, the monies he received at different times is to be reduced by the scale of depreciation at those times. Parsons was for the plaintiff, Bradbury for the defendant. Parsons in the midst of his plea, broke off and proposed to leave the matter to a reference.1 The parties agreed, and the Jury, after being employ'd four or five hours upon this cause, were entitled only to half-fees. However they were probably gainers by the circumstance, for the case was so difficult and intricate, that they would have found it very difficult to agree upon a verdict.
After this was over two negroes, and two white men were arraigned for different thefts; all of them pleaded guilty; and were sentenced to whipping, hard labour &c. At about dusk the court adjourned to 9 in the morning. I dined at Mr. Tufts's. Thomson, { 296 } Little, and Putnam passed the evening with me. Putnam came to apply again for admission into Mr. Parsons's office. There was a bar meeting this evening, and the matter was to be laid before them, I saw Mr. Thaxter after the meeting was over, but he would not tell me what their determination was.
1. That is, to submit their dispute to an arbitrator or referee, a practice often followed in cases involving difficult factual issues or large quantities of evidence (JA, Legal Papers, 1:xliii).
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/