Adams Family Correspondence, volume 7

Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams, 28 September 1786 Cranch, Mary Smith AA Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams, 28 September 1786 Cranch, Mary Smith Adams, Abigail
Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams
My dear Sister Braintree Sep 28th 1786

In the begining of this month I made a visit to Haverhill found them all well. Mr Duncan married to a maiden Lady about sixty years old a sister of Judge Greenliefs of Newburry port. We made the Weding Visit. It is the easiest thing in the world for Some people to Bury wives and get new ones. If you hear of any of your acquaintance losing a wife you may expect in the next letter, at least to hear that they are looking out for another. Our good uncle Tufts—but hush—he is not yet fix'd—a sure sign that they think the mariage State the happiest. In my next I expect to tell you something of un-349cle Smith. He and Cousin Betsy went with us to haverhill. We return'd through Newbury and Salem. Dolly Tufts is soon to be married to a mr oddion of Marvelhead,1 but the most extraordinary of all is that miss Nabby Bishop is certainly soon to be married to Doctor Putman of Danvers. He liv'd with his uncle at Salem when we liv'd there.2 He is a Bachelor of about forty has a fine estate, and is a Man of Sense—in some things. “Keeps a matter of twenty head of cattle milk tweilve Cows, chirns thirtty pound of Butter a week, but you see I shall have nothing to do with the Dairy as it were. The Doctor has an old woman to take the care of that. I shall be married directly, and if I do not like to live in the country, the Doctor says as how he has interest money enough to maintain us in the most genteelist manner in town.”—These are the things which I am to suppose have captivated her. She brought him to see us last week, not a word did I hear of his Person or his abilities. She talk'd of those things only, of which she could judge. He is a comely man, and has a good understanding I assure you, is very affable and very Polite, but why, oh! why? when a man has so hansome an Estate will he be so solicitus to add acre to acre, rather than seek for a wife who opens her mouth with Wisdom and in whose heart is the law of kindness?3 For her mothers sake I rejoice.

There was last Teusday a Publick Exibition at Cambridge.4 JQA and W—— C figur'd a way in a Forensick disputation. The Question was “whither inequality among the citizens is necessary for the preservation of the Liberty of the whole.” JQA afirm'd that it was and gave his reasons. W—— C deny'd it and gave his. Your son reply'd and ours clos'd it. They did not either of them, speak loud enough, otherways they perform'd well. There composition was good. There was also a Latin oration and an English one a Dialogue, a Syllogistick-disputation and a piece of Greek and Hebrew Spoken by two young Gentlemen. It was almost, equal to the performances of a commencment day. There were near four hundred persons Gentlemen and Ladies, present. Betsy and I were there, but We felt too much for our young Friends to be there again when any of them are to bear a part. Your Sons were well Cousin JQA has quite got well of his dissorder. Lucy is still at Haverhill. I made mrs Allen a visit when I was there. She looks very well and very happy, has a fine number of good looking Cheeses upon her Shelves and lives well and is much lik'd in the Parish.

Uncle Quincy has not yet been off his Farm. I do not now expect he will this winter. It is a Strange whim, he can walk about upon it 350as well as ever he could, his hip has never been intirely well, but it would be better if he would ride. Quincy Thaxter and Nancy are married.5

Your Brother Adams and mother Hall spent this afternoon with me in company, with mrs Thayer Deacon Adams wife and Daughter and mr Adams eldest Daughter of Luningbourge.6 She is a very pretty Girl, comily and polish'd, and has a very sprightly Sensible countenance.

We desir'd captain Cushing to take a Dozen of chocolatt for you, but he Said he could not. I have heard from mr William White in Whose imploy he goes that he order'd the capt: to present mr Adams with part of a Box in his name. So that I hope you have not wanted it.

My Health is much better than it was, but I am very thin riding is of great Service to me.

Doctor Simon Tufts is just gone in a consumtion. Aunt Tufts cannot hold out much longer. She is very aged and very infirm. Mrs Tufts has a Severe trial her Father and one of her Brothers are sick and cannot continue long. Her youngest Son is with mr Shaw, but is dangerously sick with a Lung Fever, has not been out of his Bed for twelve days.7 Poor Lucy has had a Sad time for her visit. Billy and the two Betsys have been sick also, but they are much better.

All the papers Pictures &c, are at last deliver'd up, all but the Pockit Books. I told the Doctor that I thought he had better not mention these, as I knew he had made cousin charles a present of one of them. I think he was very lucky to get the other things. You would be surpriz'd to hear how much he owes to labourers in this Town above two hundred pound I am told. Besides this, your Brother8 said this day, that his Farm is mortgaged for six hundred more. If this is true he cannot hold out long at the rate he lives. When I was at a certain house in Boston9 the other day I was attack'd upon the Subject of my Niece's conduct. Many Slighty things were said of the coll; her Brother and Sister pretend to know him. I felt angry and spoke my mind very plainly. I have not a doubt but it was communicated. I wish'd it might be: I hope you can read this I do not wish any Body else too.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs Cranch 28 Sepbr 86.”


Dolly Tufts, daughter of AA's cousin Samuel Tufts of Newburyport, married George Odiorne of Exeter, N.H., on 4 Oct. 1787 (Vital Records of Newburyport, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849, 2 vols., Salem, Mass., 1911, 1:399; 2:348, 488).


Abigail Bishop, daughter of John and Abigail Tufts Bishop of Medford, married Dr. 351Archelaus Putnam, Harvard 1763, on 12 November. The bride's mother was AA's cousin ( Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 15:476). Richard and Mary Cranch lived in Salem 1766–1767 (vol. 1:53).


A reference to Proverbs, 31:26.


Harvard's fall exhibition occurred on 26 September. See JQA's account of the preparations and the proceedings in Diary , 2:93, 99–104 .


Quincy Thaxter married Elizabeth Cushing of Hingham on 27 August. His sister Anna married their cousin Thomas Thaxter, also of Hingham, the same day (History of the Town of Hingham, Massachusetts, 3 vols. in 4, Hingham, 1893, 3:235, 236).


This group of Adams relatives was composed of Deacon Ebenezer Adams (1737–1791) of Braintree, a double first cousin of JA, his wife Mehitable Spear (1737–1814), and probably their daughter Alice (b. 1770); the Deacon's sister, Ann Adams Savil Thayer (1731–1794) of Braintree; and the Deacon's niece, Elizabeth Adams (1766–1852), eldest daughter of Rev. Zabdiel Adams (1739–1801) and Elizabeth Stearns (1742–1800) of Lunenburg (Adams, Geneal. History of Henry Adams , p. 401, 410, 411).


Mary Cranch reports on the health of the family of AA's cousin Dr. Simon Tufts and his second wife, Elizabeth Hall, including the doctor's mother and AA's aunt, Abigail Smith Tufts (1701–1790); his father-in-law, Stephen Hall, who died on 1 Dec.; and their son Hall (1755–1801). Elizabeth Hall Tufts had four brothers alive in 1786. The first to expire, Aaron Hall (b. 1737), died 19 March 1787 from dropsy (Vital Records of Medford, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850, Boston, 1907, p. 382, 387; Charles Brooks and James M. Usher, History of the Town of Medford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, rev. edn., Boston, 1886, p. 540–541, 544, 562, 563).


That is, JA's brother, Peter Boylston Adams.


The home of Joseph Pearse and Elizabeth Hunt Palmer.

Elizabeth Smith Shaw to Abigail Adams, 1 October 1786 Shaw, Elizabeth Smith Peabody, Elizabeth Smith Shaw AA Elizabeth Smith Shaw to Abigail Adams, 1 October 1786 Shaw, Elizabeth Smith Peabody, Elizabeth Smith Shaw Adams, Abigail
Elizabeth Smith Shaw to Abigail Adams
My Dear Sister Haverhill October 1st. 1786

This Day is the Aniversary of Eleven Years since our dear Mother left us poor Pilgrims, to sojourn here a little longer upon Earth, while she (as we trust)1 went to spend an eternal Sabbath in the blissful regions of immortality. The anual return of those Days, upon which some beloved Friend has been taken from me, I devote more particularly to the recollection of their amiable Qualities, and their many Virtues. I bedew their Ashes with a grateful, reverential, tender, silent Tear.—And while my Memory lasts,

“she shall a while repair, To dwell a weeping Hermit there.”2

I closed my last-Letter telling you, that your and our Thomas B. A. would leave us the next morning. I now have the pleasure of informing you that he acquited himself honorably, and was received without any dificulty. Mr Shaw carried him to Braintree, and left him there. It was not possible for love, nor money to get a Chamber in Colledge, and Doctor Tufts has put him to board with Mr Sewall. I hope the dear Lad will continue to deserve the Love of every one. 352Mr Shaw was exceeding fond of him, and I tell him, really pines after his Nephew.

My Uncle Smith, and Cousin Betsy, Brother and Sister Cranch have made me a visit. It really grieved me to see my Uncle so dejected. His Voice had that mournful Cadence, and was upon that key, which bespeaks our solicitude, and pity. He appeared to have a bad cold, and I observed to him, that I feared he had not eat a sufficient quantity of food to support him. “Yes Child I have, (said he) but my food, nor my Sleep does not seem to do the good it used to—Nothing appears to me as it did once.” Indeed, my Cousin Betsy, and he, both are deeply affected by their late Bereavment. My Uncle is not one of those passionate Mourners who easily throw of their Weeds, and dry up their Tears in the Bosom of another Love. But he is a good man, and behaves with dignity, and discovers proper magnimity, and Resignation of Mind, to the sovereign Disposer of Events.

Mr Allens Family all dined here, on a Saturday and we returned the compliment the next Monday. As her Freinds, and Relations are nearly the same with mine, I think they can make an agreeable division of their Time between us. Uncle, and his Daughter, Brother and Sister went home through Newbury, and I hear Sisters health is much better for her Journey.

I wish my Brother, and Sister Adams could as easily make me a Visit. Thy Sister would indeed, with pleasure “greet thy entering voice.”—But ah me! mountains rise, and Oceans roll between us. You are doing good:—that is my Consolation—and that, is what I heard Betsy Quincy tell her Brother, God sent him into the world for, and all the rest of the Folks. I often tell my little Daughter, I wish she would do half so well herself, as she teaches, or pretends to teach Others.

When I closed my last letter to you, I had many more things to say, and I then intended to have begun another immediately, but since that time we have had somebody sick in the Family, though none with a settled Fever till about three weeks ago a Scholar of Mr Shaws, the Son of Dr Simon Tufts was seized with a Cold, which threw him into a fever upon his Lungs. He never set up, and had his Cloaths on for fiveteen Days, and what rendered it peculiarly distressing to me, was that his Father was in the last stages of a Consumption and it was not posible for his Parents to see him. His Mother was so overcome with the news of her Sons illness, that she almost fainted away. Poor Woman her Situation was indeed distress-353ing. Every little while the Dr bleeds extreamly, and every turn they fear will be the Last. So that she could not leave him, unless we had been very desirous of her coming. But Hall Tufts was very good to take medicine, and was very easy with my Care, which was some releif to my Mind. I have endeavoured that he should not suffer for the want of maternal tenderness, and he is now recovering as fast as any one could expect. How pleasureable it is, to tend upon a person, when we can smile, and say, “they are much better.” I hear that Quincy Thaxter, and his sister Nancy were married at Mr Gays house. QT to a Miss Cushing, and N.T. to her Cousin.

The young widower Cushing, they say is courting his Sister Betsy Thaxter, but I can hardly believe it.3

Miss Nabby Bishop is published, do you see, and is going to be married to Dr Archelaus Putman, a Nephew of Dr Putmans of Salem a Gentleman of independant Fortune.

Mr Shaw talks of going to Bridgwater in about a week or fortnight, and we shall hear more as we pass through the Town. Perhaps I may pick up some anecdotes that may amuse you. At present my thoughts are not very bright, they have of late been so contracted, and absorbed in a dark, Chamber, arround a sick bed, that I believe I need some relaxation, and diversion to call up my Spirits.

Mr Thaxter and Miss Betsy are going to Boston next week. We have chosen him one of the Commitee, to answer an address of the Select men of Boston. I think he has drawn one that will do him honour.4

At present our States are in a dissagreeable Situation. The time is now come, for all to know, what manner of Spirits we are of, and whether we will support Government or not. The Court meet at Newbury the5

RC (Adams Papers.)


Closing parenthesis editorially supplied.


William Collins, “Ode Written in the Beginning of the Year 1746,” lines 11–12.


John Cushing and Elizabeth Thaxter, the elder sister of the first Mrs. Cushing, did not marry. In Dec. 1787, Cushing wed Christiana Thaxter, the cousin of his first wife (History of the Town of Hingham, Massachusetts, 3 vols. in 4, Hingham, 1893, 2:165, 3:233).


On 11 Sept., the town of Boston adopted a circular letter censuring those fomenting Shays' Rebellion and endorsing the governor's efforts to preserve state government. On 3 Oct., the town of Haverhill voted to approve Boston's address and appoint a committee to draft a reply. Haverhill's response, dated 10 Oct., concludes: “This town has borne its full share of all the burdens, losses and expences of the late war, and its subsequent proportion of public expences since the peace.—The present form of government we deliberately adopted and wish not to see it sacrificed—We are ready therefore, to join you in a firm and vigorous support of our Constitution, in the redress of grievances, and in promoting industry, oeconomy, and every other virtue which can exalt and render a nation respectable.” For the full printed 354text of Boston's circular letter see Massachusetts Centinel, 13 Sept.; for Haverhill's response, see Boston Independent Ledger, 16 October.


At this point, the text ends at the bottom of the fourth MS page of the letter; any continuation is missing.