Papers of John Adams, volume 15

From Thomas Pownall, 30 November 1783 Pownall, Thomas Adams, John
From Thomas Pownall
Richmond currey Novr. 30—83—

I feel so uneasy about the manner in which you went from hence to London without your Servants—& with a Man not used to drive— 382that I cannot satisfye myself without sending a Servant to know how you gott to town I hope without any accident—& that You & Your son are well.1

RC (NjMoHP); internal address: “Govr Pownall P:H:C to the Honle Mr Adams”; addressed: “The Honble Mr Adams / &c &c / &c.”


According to JQA’s Diary, he and JA set out for Richmond, about ten miles from London, at nine o’clock on the morning of 29 Nov. and returned that evening for dinner (JQA, Diary , 1:206). Indeed, Pownall’s concern was probably over the lateness of JA and JQA’s return to the city. According to his later account, JA’s purpose in making the excursion was to visit Pownall, former governor of Massachusetts, and Richard Penn, Pennsylvania proprietor (JA, D&A , 3:151). In a 2 Dec. letter to Peter Jay Munro, JQA expanded on his Diary entry, noting that it was reputed “to be the most Beautiful Spot in England, or perhaps in Europe; it is a pretty steep hill, which Commands a plain of a vast extent; in this Plain, you see, the river Thames, winding round and round; the midst of the Meadows, which, even at this Season, are Universally covered with Verdure.— it is a most Beautiful Spot: at a small distance from the Hill; down on the Banks of the Thames, —is Twickenham, formerly the Residence, of ALEXANDER POPE no wonder he was a Poet.— I should think, that a Man who pass’d his days, in such a Romantic Situation, can be no other than a Poet” (NNMus).

Pownall again wrote to JA, probably in Dec., when he was in London (Adams Papers, filmed at [1783]). With that letter the ex-governor sent a copy of his two-volume work, Administration of the Colonies, probably the sixth edition published at London in 1777 that is now in JA’s library at MB, bearing the inscription: “Govr Pownall presents as a Testimony of his Esteem & Respects this Copy of the following work to Mr. Adams” ( Catalogue of JA’s Library ). In the same letter, Pownall indicated that he would visit JA on the following day “with that Person whom He yesterday mentioned to Mr Adams.” That “Person” may have been Gustaf Adam, Baron von Nolcken, the Swedish envoy to Great Britain. In a 10 Feb. 1784 letter to the president of Congress, JA indicated that Nolcken, at the minister’s request, had been introduced to him by Pownall (LbC, APM Reel 107). For additional information on the JA-Pownall relationship, particularly with regard to Pownall’s writings about America, see Edmund Jenings’ letter of [ca. 8 July 1783], note 6, above.