Diary of John Adams, volume 3

July 24–25


July 26[–27] AA July 26[–27] Adams, Abigail
July 26–27

Our next Stage was Bridport a small Sea port but a very bad harbour. No trade only in coal which is carried there by water for the supply of the inhabitants. We dinned there, and then proceeded for Axmister, the first town in the County of Devonshire. Here we put up at the best Inn I ever saw, the George kept by a Mr. Ellis.1 The appartments were not only neat and convenient, but every thing had an air of Elegance and taste. Here we were visited by Mr. John Cranch a Nephew of my Brother Cranch who is an Attorney and resides here.2 The Town is a little narrow dirty village, but a great through fare, all the Plimouth, Exeter and many other Stages passing through it. Went with Mr. Cranch to see the Manufactory of carpets for which this place is famous. The building in which this buisness is carried on is by no means equal to an American Barn. The whole Buisness is performd by women and children. The carpets are equally durable with the Turky, but surpass them in coulours and figure.207 They are made of coars wool and the best are 24 shillings a square yd., others at fourteen. They have but two prices. From thence we went to a tape manufactory which are the only two manufactories in the Town. Mr. Cranch invited us to drink Tea with him. He is a single man, of a delicate complexion, small features, about 26 or 27 years old. He never looks one in the face and appears as if he had been cramped and cowed in his Youth. He has a good understanding, which he has improved by reading, and appears a virtuous amiable man. He accompanied us to Exeter and Plimouth.3


“In obedience to your command about the inns, permit me to acquaint you, that I think you will be accomodated much to your satisfaction at the George, here; and I shall expect to be honor'd in due time with your preparatory commands to the host and hostess (Ellard) as to beds, horses, time, &c, if necessary, that you may suffer no inconvenience which it might have been put into my power to prevent” Cranch to AA, Axminster, 17 July 1787, Adams Papers).


Upon learning of JA's presence in London during his first visit there late in 1783, John Cranch had sent him compliments and a present of two hares for his table (Cranch to JA, 17 Jan. 1784, Adams Papers). (The hares had to be eaten by the bookseller John Stockdale, to whose care they were sent, because JA and JQA had left England for Amsterdam; see Stockdale to JA, 20 Jan. 1784, Adams Papers.) Other gifts followed after the Adamses settled in Grosvenor Square. From his letters Cranch appears to have been warmly pro-American in his politics; see especially Cranch to AA, 7 Nov. 1786 ( Adams Papers), commenting on Ramsay's History of the Revolution of South-Carolina , a copy of which the Adamses had presented to him.


“27th..., Mr. C. dined with us, and requested we would take tea at his cottage; he came at six to attend us. He lives in a small, neat cottage; every thing around him has an air of taste, united with neatness. He has a variety of small prints, the heads of many eminent persons, and the six prints, Hogarth's representation of la marriage a la mode. He has also a painting of Sir Walter Raleigh, which is thought an original picture; it was lately left, by an old gentleman who died, to the British Museum. Mr. C. says he has a great inclination never to deliver it; he thinks it ought to be preserved sacred in this county, because its original was born here in the parish of Baidley, and that Sir Walter's character stands very high throughout the county of Devonshire. Papa observed that his character did not appear unexceptionable; he answered that none of his faults were known here; they believed only in his virtues and excellencies” (AA2, Jour. and Corr. , 1:86).

This portrait of Raleigh by the Dutch-English artist “Cornelius Jansen, at Mr. J. Cranch's, Axminster,” is also mentioned by JA (entry of July-Aug., below). It appears not to have survived; at any rate it is not entered in Alexander J. Finberg's “A Chronological List of Portraits by Cornelius Johnson, or Jonson,” Walpole Society, 10 (1921–1922):1–37; and recent searches by museum officials in England have not brought it to light.