Papers of John Adams, volume 15

354 From John Singleton Copley, 11 November 1783 Copley, John Singleton Adams, John
From John Singleton Copley
Tuesday Morng [11 November 1783]1

Mr: Copley presents his compliments to Mr: Adams, has seen Lord Mansfield and been informed that it is necessary to be early at the House, Mr Copley will go with Mr Adams and his friends at 12 o’Clock precisely, and shall be glad to know where they are to meet and thinks there will be no dificulty in gaining Admittance2

RC (PHi:Dreer Coll.); addressed: “John Adams Esquire”; endorsed: “Mr Copely” and in another hand “1783.”


This date is derived from accounts by JA and JQA of their attending the House of Lords at the opening of Parliament on Tuesday, 11 Nov. (JA, D&A , 3:150–151; JQA, Diary , 1:202–203). JA indicated that “Mr. Copely . . . procured me, and that from the great Lord Mansfield [William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield], a place in the house of lords, to hear the king’s speech at the opening of parliament, and to witness the introduction of the Prince of Wales, then arrived at the age of twenty one.”

The most detailed description of the event is JQA’s in his 14 Nov. letter to Peter Jay Munro (NNMus). There he wrote that the House was “this year uncommonly Crowded, because the Prince of Wales was sworn in and took his seat as Duke of Cornwall— I had a fine opportunity of seeing the King, the Prince of Wales, and all the peers, spiritual and temporal; it was a very magnificent sight indeed the Robes of the Lords were scarlet and white the Kings and the Prince of Wales’s were a Purple Velvet, with a white kind of a Cape, which came down, to about the middle of their Backs; and a Golden Chain round their necks, the King had his Crown on when he delivered his most gracious speech from the throne; he speaks (or rather reads, for he read his speech) most admirably well I believe there was not a person in the House, lost one word of what he said the speech is of no great importance to you and so I shall not say anything about it. The Prince of Wales took his oaths in a very gay manner. he look’d up,—and down,—and then on one side,—and then on the other,—and was smiling all the time; he is a very fine figure of a Man, I never saw so handsome a Prince and the King is also a very good looking Man,—but their Robes shew them to great Advantage—”


Artist John Singleton Copley not only socialized with JA during his 1783 sojourn in London but painted his portrait. For more on the Copley portrait of JA, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, Nos. 6 and 7, above.