George Ticknor on The Prescott Family

William Hickling Prescott and George Ticknor (1791-1871) were close friends, and as they were both historians, colleagues as well. When Prescott died, Ticknor decided to pay both personal and professional tribute to him by writing his biography.

In the Appendices of the resulting book, Ticknor included a “brief-ish” summary of the Prescott family in America, including both stories of the colonel and stories of the judge.

Here is Appendix A of Ticknor’s Life of William H. Prescott, 1863.





THE Prescott family belong to the original Puritan stock and blood of New England. They came from Lancashire, and about 1640, twenty years only after the first settlement at Plymouth and ten years after that of Boston, were established in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, where not a few of the honored race still remain.

Like most of the earlier emigrants, who left their native homes from conscientious motives, they were men of strongly marked characters, but of small estates, and devoted to mechanical and agricultural pursuits, — circumstances which fitted them as nothing else could so well have done for the trials and labors incident to their settlement in this Western wilderness. But, even among men like these, the Prescotts were distinguished from the first. They enjoyed, to an uncommon degree, the respect of the community which they helped to found, and became at once more or less concerned in the management of the entire Colony of Massachusetts, when those who took part in its affairs bore heavy burdens and led anxious lives.

John, the first emigrant, was a large, able-bodied man, who, after living some time in Watertown, established himself in Lancaster, then on the frontiers of civilization. There he acquired a good estate and defended it bravely from the incursions of the Indians, to whom he made himself formidable by occasionally appearing before them in a helmet and cuirass, which he had brought with him from England, where he was said to have served under Cromwell. His death is placed in 1683.

Of him are recorded by Mr. William Prescott, father of the historian, the following traditionary anecdotes, — given him by Dr. Oliver Prescott, — which may serve, at least, to mark the condition of the times when he lived.

“He brought over,” says Mr. Prescott, “a coat of mail-armor and habiliments, such as were used by field-officers of that time. An aged lady informed Mr. Oliver Prescott[1] that she had seen him dressed in this armor. Lancaster (where Mr. Prescott established himself) was a frontier town, much exposed to the incursions of the Indians. John was a sturdy, strong man, with a stern countenance, and, whenever he had a difficulty with the Indians, clothed himself with his coat of armor, — helmet, cuirass, and gorget, — which gave him a fierce and frightful appearance. It is related, that when, on one occasion, they stole a valuable horse from him, he put on his armor and pursued them, and after some time overtook the party that had his horse. They were surprised to see him alone, and one of the chiefs approached him with his tomahawk uplifted. John told him to strike, which he did, and, finding the blow made no impression on his cap, he was astonished, and asked John to let him put it on, and then to strike on his head, as he had done on John’s. The helmet was too small for the Indian’s head, and the weight of the blow settled it down to his ears, scraping off the skin on both sides. They gave him his horse, and let him go, thinking him a supernatural being.

“At another time the Indians set fire to his barn. Old John put on his armor and rushed out upon them. They retreated before him, and he let his horses and cattle out of the burning stable. At another time they set fire to his saw-mill. The old man armed cap-à-pied, went out, drove them off, and extinguished the fire.”

Jonas, a son of the first emigrant, was born in 1648, and died in 1723, seventy-five years old. He lived in Groton. He was a captain of the yeomanry militia, at a time when the neighborhood of the savages made such a post important to the safety of the country; and he was a justice of the peace when that office, also, implied a degree of consideration and authority now unknown to it.

Benjamin, one of the sons of Jonas, was born January 4, 1695-6. He represented his native town many years in the General Court of the Colony, was a colonel in the militia of his own county, and of the adjoining county of Worcester, and in the year before his death, which occurred in 1738, was delegated to the important service of defending the territorial rights of Massachusetts against the claims of New Hampshire, before a royal commission appointed to adjudge the case.[2]

Benjamin had three sons, each of whom distinguished himself in the line of life he had chosen.

The eldest, James, remained on the family estate at home, and cultivated and managed it. He passed through all the degrees of military rank, from that of an ensign to that of colonel. He represented Groton, for a long period, in the General Court, and was afterwards in the Colonial Governor’s Council. At the outbreak of the Revolution, taking the popular side, he became a member of the Provincial Congress and of the Board of War, and, after the peace of 1783, was successively sheriff of the county and Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. He died, more than seventy-nine years old, in 1800, at Groton, where the family had then been settled above a century.

Oliver, the youngest son of Benjamin, was born in 1731. He was graduated at Harvard College in 1750, and became subsequently an eminent physician in Groton and its neighborhood. But, like others of his family, he turned to public affairs, both military and civil. In 1777, and for several years afterwards, he was of the Governor’s Council, and in 1778 he became one of the major-generals in the service of the Commonwealth. A severe illness in 1781 somewhat impaired his activity, and the same year he was appointed Judge of Probate for his native county of Middlesex, an office which he held, to the great acceptance of all, till his death. He, however, never ceased to be interested in his original profession, and, besides other marks of distinction for his medical knowledge, he received in 1791 the degree of Doctor in Medicine, honoris causâ, from Harvard College. He died in 1804, leaving several sons, the eldest of whom, Oliver, delivered an address before the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1813, on the Secale cornutum or ergot, which was found so important in relation to the use of that remedy, that, besides being reprinted in this country and in London, it was translated into French and German, and inserted in the thirteenth volume of the Dictionnaire des Sciences Médicales. He died at Newburyport in 1827.

William, the second son of Benjamin, and grandfather of the historian, was of a more bold and enterprising nature than his brother James, and has left a name which will not be forgotten. He was born in Groton on the 20th of February, 1726; but, in a spirit of adventure common throughout New England at that period, and not yet unknown, he preferred to remove farther into the land and establish himself in the primeval forest. This he did, before he was of age. But it was not necessary for him to go far. He removed only a few miles, and afterwards, when he had served as a soldier, caused the land on a part of which he had settled to be made a township, naming it after Sir William Pepperell, who had just then so much distinguished himself by the capture of Louisbourg. Pepperell is in the upper part of the county of Middlesex, just on the line of the State, and next to the town of Hollis, which is in New Hampshire. There, not above a mile from the border, he always lived, — or at least he always had his only home there, — holding his estate, as his great-grandson continues to hold it still in 1862, under the original Indian title. The Indians, indeed, long continued to be his near neighbors; so near, that there were periods of anxiety, during which those who went to the field with the plough did not feel safe unless their rifles stood leaning against the neighboring trees.

This was a rude training, no doubt; and living, as he did, among the savages, an unmarried man, it seems early to have given him soldier-like habits and tastes. At any rate, when he was twenty-seven years old, he was a lieutenant in the militia, and at twenty-nine, in the true spirit of adventure, entered, with the same rank, the regular service in the Colonial troops sent to remove the French from Nova Scotia. This was in 1755. But the service was a short, and not an agreeable one. On his return home, therefore, he left the army, and married Abigail Hale, a descendant, like himself, of the original Puritan stock of the country. It was a fortunate connection for the young soldier, who now seemed to have settled down on his farm for a peaceful and happy life, retaining only so much of his military tastes as was implied by accepting the command of the yeomanry of his neighborhood.

But troublesome times soon followed, and a spirit like his was sure to be stirred by them. This he early permitted to be seen and known. In August, 1774, he counselled his assembled townsmen to stand by the men of Boston in their resistance to the unjust and unconstitutional claims of the royal authority, and embodied their thoughts and purposes in a fervent letter which is still extant. “Be not dismayed,” he said, “nor disheartened in this day of great trials. We heartily sympathize with you, and are always ready to do all in our powe for your support, comfort, and relief, knowing that Providence has placed you where you must stand the first shock. We consider, we are all embarked in one bottom, and must sink or swim together.”[3] Soon afterwards, in 1775, being recognized as a good soldier, who in Nova Scotia had become familiar with the discipline of a camp, and being, besides, no less known for his political firmness, he was made colonel of a regiment of minute-men, who, as their name implies, were to be ready at a moment’s warning for any revolutionary emergency. It was a duty he loved, and it was not long before his courage and firmness were put to the test.[4]

On the 19th of April, 1775, within an hour after the news reached him of the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord, he hurried to Groton, and, collecting as many of his men as he could muster, and leaving orders for the rest to follow, marched to Cambridge, hoping to overtake the British troops, then in full retreat towards Boston. This, however, was impossible. But a force, full of the active and devoted spirit of the time, was rapidly collected at Cambridge, under the command of General Artemas Ward. By his orders, Colonel Prescott was despatched on the evening of June the 16th, with about a thousand men, to Charlestown, where, in the course of the night, he threw up a redoubt on Banker’s Hill, — or to speak more accurately on Breed’s Hill, — and fought there, the next day, the first real battle of the Revolution, manfully putting in peril that reputation, which, to a soldier, is dearer than life, and which, if the cause he then espoused had failed, would have left his own name and that of his descendants blackened with the charge of rebellion. But things did not so turn out. He was, indeed, defeated, — mainly for want of ammunition, — and driven from the hill, which he was among the last to leave. A brave resistance, however, had been made, and the defeat had many of the results of a victory. When Washington heard of it, he exclaimed, “The liberties of the country are safe”;[5] and Franklin wrote, “England has lost her Colonies forever.”[6]

Colonel Prescott continued in the army until the end of 1776,[7] when, on the retirement of the American troops from Long Island, the excellent manner in which he brought off his regiment was publicly commended by General Washington. But from this period until his death, except during the autumn of 1777, when, as a volunteer with a few of his former brother-officers, he assisted in the capture of Burgoyne at Saratoga, he resided on his farm in Pepperell. He did not, however, withdraw himself entirely from public affairs. He served as a Representative in the Legislature of Massachusetts, and when the formidable insurrection known as “Shays’s Rebellion” broke out in his own county of Middlesex, he hastened to Concord and assisted in protecting the courts of justice, and in preserving law and order. He died on the 13th of October, 1795, and was buried with the military honors becoming his life and character. His widow, an admirable person, full of gentleness and dignity, survived him many years, and died in 1821, at the advanced age of eighty-eight.

They had but one child, William, who was born on his father’s farm, August the 19th, 1762, and lived there, in great simplicity, until 1776. His early education was entirely due to his mother, for whom he always felt a deep reverence, and of whom, late in his own life, he said: “She was more remarkable, than any one I have ever known, for her power of governing children and young people, and that without any austerity in her manner. They all respected, loved, and obeyed her. Her kindness won their hearts. I feel that I am indebted to her wise and affectionate government and guidance of my childhood and youth, — her daily counsels and instructions, — for whatever character and success I may have had in life.” Considering what Mr. Prescott had become when he wrote these words, a more beautiful tribute could hardly have been paid to womanly tenderness and wisdom.

But, at the age of fourteen, he was placed under the instruction of “Master Moody,” of Dummer Academy, in Essex County, then known as the best teacher of Latin and Greek in New England, and — what was of no less consequence to his pupils — wholly devoted to his duties, which he loved passionately. Nearly three years of careful training under such an instructor almost changed the boy to a man, and four years more at Harvard College, where he was graduated in 1783, completed the transformation.

But as he approached manhood, he felt the responsibilities of life already crowding upon him. The first of these, and probably the one that pressed heaviest upon his thoughts, was the idea that, for the seven preceding years, he had been a burden upon the small means of his father, when he might rather have been a relief. This state of things he determined at once should no longer continue, and, from that moment, he never received any pecuniary assistance from his family. On the contrary, after the death of his father, whose life, like that of most military men of his time, had been one of generous hospitality, rather than of thrift, he assumed the debts with which the estate had become encumbered, and, for above a quarter of a century, made the most ample and affectionate arrangements for the support of’ his much-loved mother, who thus died in peace and happiness on the spot whese she had lived above sixty years.

His earliest resource, when he began the world for himself, was one then common among us, and still not very rare, for young men who have left college without the means necessary to continue their education further. He became a teacher. At first, it was for a few months only, in Brooklyn, Connecticut; but afterwards for two years in Beverly, Massachusetts. Here he lived very happily in a cultivated society, and here he studied his profession under Mr. Dane, a learned jurist and statesman, who afterwards founded the Law Professorship in Harvard College that bears his name. During this period Mr. Prescott received an invitation to become a member of General Washington’s household, where, while pursuing his legal studies, he would have acted as the private tutor of a youthful member of the family, to whom its great head was much attached. But the young law-student declined the offer, in consequence of his previous engagements, and his college classmate, Lear, took the coveted place.

Mr. Prescott began the practice of his profession in Beverly; but, at the end of two years, in 1789, finding the field there not wide enough for his purposes, he removed to the adjacent town of Salem, the shire town of the county, and the seat of much prosperous activity. His success, from the first, was marked and honorable, and it continued such so long as he remained there. During a part of the time, he entered a little, but only a little, into political life, serving successively as a Representative of Salem and as a Senator for the county of Essex in the Legislature of the State. But, although he took no selfish interest in the success of any party, he maintained then, as he did till his death, the opinions of the Federalists, who received their name from an early and faithful support of the Federal Constitution, and who subsequently devoted themselves to sustaining the policy and measures of Washington during his civil administration of the affairs of the country. In truth, however, while Mr. Prescott lived in Salem, he gave himself up almost exclusively to his profession, in which his talents, his integrity, and his industry gained for him so high a rank, that, as early as 1806, he was offered a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth; an offer repeated with much urgency in 1813, but one which, on both occasions, he declined, partly from the state of his family, but chiefly from considerations connected with his health. His refusal occasioned no little regret; for it was a place to which he was admirably adapted by the judicial character of his mind, by his moral courage, and by a singular power he had of holding any subject under advisement until the last moment, and then deciding it as promptly and firmly as if he had never hesitated.

But from 1803, when he ruptured a blood-vessel in his lungs, and was compelled, in consequence, to give up all severe occupation for many months, he was never an active or vigorous man. To relieve himself, therefore, from a kind of business which was quite as onerous as it was profitable, and which made his life in Salem more burdensome than he could well bear, he determined, in 1808, to remove to Boston. He did so, however, with reluctance. He had many kind friends in Salem, to whom he and his family were sincerely attached. He had passed there nineteen years of great professional usefulness, enjoying the respect of a very intelligent and thriving community. He had been happy much beyond the common lot, and he was by no means without misgivings at the thought of a change so important and decisive.

His removal, however, proved fortunate beyond his hopes. His professional business in Boston, while it was less oppressive than his business in Salem had been, insured him immediately an increased and ample income. Into public affairs he entered little, and only so far as his duty plainly required; for political life was never agreeable to him, and, besides this, it interfered with his professional labors and the domestic repose he always loved and needed. But from 1809 he served for a few years in the Council of the Commonwealth, under Governor Gore and Governor Strong, and enjoyed all the confidence of those eminent and faithful magistrates, as they enjoyed all his. In 1814 he was elected, by the Legislature of Massachusetts, to be one of the delegates to the Convention which, in that year, met at Hartford, in Connecticut, to consider the condition of the New England States, exposed and neglected as they were by the general government, during the war then carrying on against Great Britain. It was inconvenient and disagreeable to him to accept the office. But he had no doubt that he ought to do it. Nor did he ever afterwards regret it, or fail to do justice to the honorable and high-minded men who were associated with him in its duties.

He went to that remarkable Convention, fearing, unquestionably, from the great excitement which then prevailed throughout New England on the subject of the war, that rash measures, tending to affect the integrity of the Union, might be suggested. But he was present through the whole session, and found his apprehensions entirely groundless. “No such measure,” he said, “was ever proposed in the Convention, nor was there,” in his opinion deliberately recorded long afterwards, “a member of that body who would have consented to any act, which, in his judgment, would have tended directly or indirectly to destroy or impair the union of the States.” If there was ever a man loyal to the constitution and laws under which he lived, it was Mr. Prescott; nor did he deem any one of his associates at Hartford, in this respect, less faithful than himself.

In 1818 he was appointed Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the City of Boston, and accepted the office, thinking to hold it so as to facilitate his retirement from the practice of his profession. But he found it more laborious and engrossing than he had anticipated, and resigned it at the end of a year.

In 1820-21 he served as a delegate from the city of Boston to theConvention for revising the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and, on its first organization, was made chairman of the committee charged with the most difficult and perplexing subject that was submitted to that body for discussion and decision, — the representation of the people in their own government. It was not an enviable post; but, by his wisdom and moderation, by an energy and a firmness that were still always conciliating, and by a power of persuasion that rested on truth, he at last led the Convention to a decision, although, at one critical moment, it had seemed impossible to decide anything. The members of that body, therefore, as distinguished for talent and for personal character as any that was ever assembled in Massachusetts, always felt — even those who had differed from him — that they and the Commonwealth were under lasting obligations to his wisdom and integrity.

He continued at the bar until 1828, making in all above forty years of service to the law. During more than half of that time his practice was as extensive, as honorable, and as successful as that of any member of the profession in the State, which, while he belonged to it, numbered in its ranks such men as Sullivan, Parsons, Dexter, Otis, and Webster, all of whom, except the last, ceased to be members of the bar before he did. During the whole of his professional life he enjoyed, in an eminent degree, the kindly regard and sincere respect of his brethren, and of the different members of the courts before which he was called to practice, no one of whom ever, for a moment, imagined that any spot had fallen on the absolute purity and integrity of his character. Of his distinction as a jurist there was as little doubt. Mr. Daniel Webster, when, with much sensibility, he announced Mr. Prescott’s death to the Supreme Court, then in session at Boston, well said of him, that “at the moment of his retirement from the bar of Massachusetts he stood at its head for legal learning and attainments.”

The last sixteen years of his life were spent in the quietness of his home, where his original nature, disencumbered of the cares that had oppressed him during a very busy life, seemed to come forth with the freshness of youth. He read a great deal, especially on subjects connected with religion, ethics, metaphysics, and history, — all of them sciences of which he never tired. Agriculture, too, the occupation of some of his earlier days, had great charms for him; and he showed no little skill in cultivating the estate on which he was born, and where, during much of his life, and especially the latter part of it, he spent a happy portion of each year. But whether in the city, or at Pepperell, or on the seashore at Nahant, where, during many seasons, he passed the hottest weeks of our hot summers, he loved to be surrounded by his family, — his children and his grandchildren; and with them and among his private friends, he found in his declining years what, in the intervals of leisure during his whole life, he had most enjoyed and valued.

It was in this happy retirement that there broke in upon him the light which so gilded the mild evening of his days, — the success of his son as an historian, shedding new distinction on a name already dear to his country, and carrying that name far beyond the limits of the language spoken by all who had borne it before him. Mr. Prescott in the innermost circle of his friends never disguised the happiness his son’s reputation gave him, although certainly, from the instinctive modesty of his nature, nothing could be more graceful than the way in which he expressed it.

But there is an end to everything earthly. In the autumn of 1843, while at his old home in Pepperell,[8] he had a slight attack of paralysis. He recovered from it, however, easily, and, except to the ever-watchful eyes of affection, seemed fully restored to his wonted health. But he himself understood the warning, and lived, though cheerfully and with much enjoyment of life, yet as one who never forgot that his time must be short, and that his summons could hardly fail to be sudden. In the last days of November, 1844, he felt himself slightly incommoded, — not, as before, in the head, but in the region of the heart. As late, however, as the evening before his death, no change was noticed in his appearance when he retired to bed, nor is it probable that, after a night of his usual comfortable rest, he noticed any change in himself when he rose the next morning. At any rate he went, as was his custom, quietly and directly to his library. But he had hardly reached it, when he perceived that the messenger of death was at his side. He therefore desired the faithful attendant, who had for many years been attached to his person, not to leave him, and a few moments afterwards, surrounded by the family he so much loved, in the full possession of his faculties, and with a peaceful trust in his Maker and in the blessedness of a future life, he expired without a struggle. It was Sunday, December the 8th, 1844, and on the following Wednesday he was buried in the crypt of St. Paul’s Church.

While he was a young lawyer in Salem, Mr. Prescottn was married, December 18th, 1793, to Catherine Greene Hickling, daughter of Thomas Hickling, Esq., earlier a merchant of Boston, but then, and subsequently until his death at the age of ninety-one, Consul of the United States in the island of St. Michael. It was a connection full of blessing to him and to his house during the fifty-one years that it pleased God to permit it to be continued. Few women have done more to relieve their husbands from the cares of life, and to bear for them even a disproportionate share of its burdens. Still fewer have, at the same time, made their influence felt abroad through society, as she did. But she was full of energy and activity, of health, cheerfulness, and the love of doing good. Probably no woman, in the position she occupied among us, ever gave her thoughts, her conversation, and her life in so remarkable a degree to the welfare of others. When, therefore, she died, May 17th, 1852, nearly eighty-five years old, it is not too much to say that her death was mourned as a public loss.[9]

Mr. and Mrs. Prescott had seven children, all of whom were born to them in Salem, between 1795 and 1806, but four died without reaching the age of a single year.

Of the other three the eldest was the historian.

The next was Catherine Elizabeth, who still survives ( 1862). She was born November 12th, 1799, and was married September 28th, 1819, to Franklin Dexter, son of Samuel Dexter, the eminent lawyer and statesman. Mr. Franklin Dexter was born in 1793, and, after a careful academical and professional education, and a visit to the most interesting and cultivated portions of Europe, established himself as a lawyer in Boston. He rose early to distinction at the bar, and by his courage, his quickness of perception, his acute and manly logic, and an intellectual grasp which the strongest could not escape, he vindicated for himself a place in the front rank of a company of eminent men, such as New England had never before seen collected. But his tastes and his preferences led him into paths widely different from theirs. His mind turned instinctively, to what was refined and beautiful. He loved letters more than law, and art more than letters; so that, perhaps without deliberately intending it, he always sought much of his happiness in both, and found it. When, therefore, he had reached an age at which, with a constitution of only moderate vigor, repose became desirable, and had obtained a fortune equal to the wants of one who never over-estimated the worth of what the world most desires, he gave himself more and more to the happiness of domestic life and to the pursuit of art, towards which, from an early period, he had — and perhaps rightly — thought his genius more inclined than to any other. But life was not long protracted. He died in 1857, leaving behind him in the minds of his contemporaries a persuasion, that, if his severe taste in what related even to his favorite pursuits, and the fastidious acuteness with which he looked quite through the ways of men, and detected the low motives which often lead to power, had not checked him in mid-career, he might have risen to an eminence where he would have left behind him not a few of the rivals to whom, during the active years of his life, he had willingly yielded the honors of success.

The only brother of the historian who lived beyond infancy was Edward Goldsborough, who was born at Salem, January 2d, 1804. At a suitable age, after the removal of his father to Boston, he was sent to the same school in which his elder brother had laid the foundation for his distinction. But his tendencies were not then towards intellectual culture, and, at his own earnest desire, he was placed in a counting-house, that he might devote himself to mercantile pursuits. A taste for letters was, however, somewhat to his own surprise, awakened in him a little later; and, with sudden but earnest efforts to recover the time that had been lost, he succeeded in obtaining a degree at Harvard College in 1825. Subsequently, he studied law with his father, under the most favorable circumstances; and after 1828, when he began the practice of his profession, he not only took his fair share of the business of the time, but, as so many of his family before him had done, he served the Commonwealth both in its Legislature and in its military organization, rising to the rank of colonel in the militia. This seemed for a time to satisfy a nature too eager for excitement and distinction. But after seven years of great activity, a change came over him. He was grown weary of a busy, bustling life, full of temptations which he had not always effectually resisted. His religious convictions, which from his youth had been strong, if not constant, now became paramount. He was pained that he had not better obeyed them, and, after many struggles, he resolutely determined to give himself up to them entirely. And he did it. He began at once a course of regular studies for the ministry, and in 1837 was settled as an Episcopalian clergyman in a retired parish of New Jersey, where he devoted himself earnestly to the duties he had assumed. But his labors were severe, and his health failed under them; slowly, indeed, but regularly. Still, no anxiety was felt for the result; and when he determined to visit the Azores, where several of his mother’s family, as we have seen, had long resided, he embarked with every promise that the mild climate of those Fortunate Isles would restore the impaired forces of his physical constitution, and permit him soon to resume the duties he loved. But on the second day out, a sudden attack — perhaps apoplectic and certainly one of which there had been no warning symptom — broke down his strength at once; and early the next morning, April 11th, 1844, he died without a movement of his person, like one falling asleep, his watch held gently in his hand, as if he had just been noting the hour. After his settlement as a clergyman in New Jersey, he was married to an excellent and devoted wife, who survived him only a few years, but they had no children. William Hickling Prescott, the historian, as it has already been recorded, has three surviving children, viz.: —

  1. William Gardiner Prescott, born January 27, 1826, and named after his father’s friend, William Howard Gardiner, Esq. He was married November 6, 1851, to Augusta, daughter of Joseph Augustus Peabody, Esq., of Salem, and they have four children, —

      Edith, born April 20, 1853,

      William Hickling, born February 22, 1855,

      Linzee, born November 27, 1859,

      Louisa, born February 19, 1863.

  1. Elizabeth Prescott, born July 27, 1828, and married, March 16, 1852, to James Lawrence, Esq., son of the late Hon. Abbott Lawrence, Minister of the United States at the Court of St. James from 1849 to 1853. They have three children, —

      James, born March 23, 1853,

      Gertrude, born February 19, 1855,

      Prescott, born January 17, 1861.

  1. William Amory Prescott, born January 25, 1830, and named after his mother’s brother and his father’s friend, William Amory, Esq. He is unmarried (1862).




[1] Born in 1731, and died in 1804.

[2] This has sometimes been otherwise stated, but the record leaves no doubt upon the matter. See Journal of the House of Representatives, August 12th, and October 13th, 1737.

[3] Bancroft “History of the United States,” Vol. VII. ( Boston 1858), p. 99. This is the document already alluded to, ( ante, p. 403, note,) as sent by Mr. Bancroft to Mr. Prescott the historian.

[4] Two circumstances in relation to this commission are worth notice. The first is, that, with a disregard to exactness not uncommon in times of great peril, the month and day of the month when the commission was issued are not given. The other is, that the President of “the Congress of the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay” who signed it is General Joseph Warren, who fell a few days later on Bunker Hill; and the justice of the peace before whom, on the 26th of May, 1775, Colonel Prescott took the oath of allegiance, was Samuel Dexter, one of the leading men of the Colony, — the grandfather of Mr. Franklin Dexter, who, nearly half a century later, married a granddaughter of the same Colonel Prescott, — a man of severe integrity, and of an original, strong, uncompromising character, who, during the short period in which his health allowed him to occupy himself with political affairs, exercised no small influence in the troubled commonwealth. A notice of him, by his son, the eminent lawyer, who died in 1816, may be found in the “Monthly Anthology” for 1810. Mr. Dexter, the elder, was the founder of the Dexter Lectureship of Biblical Literature in Harvard College. At the time when he signed the commission of Colonel Prescott, he was a member of the Provincial Congress. Colonel Prescott, it should be noted, served as colonel before he took the oath, namely, as early as the month of April.

[5] Irving “Life of Washington” ( 1855). Vol. I. p. 488.

[6] The last words of Vol. VII. of Bancroft “History of the United States” ( 1858).

[7] His commission in the army of “The United Colonies,” signed by John Hancock, President, and Charles Thomson, Secretary, is dated January 1, 1776, and constitutes him Colonel of the “Seventh Regiment of Foot.”

[8] See ante, p. 190.

[9] See ante, p. 358.


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