Judge Royall Tyler, Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon
In his notebook for Friday, July 13, 1838, Nathaniel Hawthorne recorded his notion to create a fiction about the destructive Judge Royall Tyler and his victim, Elizabeth Hunt Palmer:
"A political or other satire might be made by describing a show of wax-figures of the prominent public men; and, by the remarks of the showman and the spectators, their characters and public standing might be expressed. And the incident of Judge Tyler as related by E--- might be introduced."
In The House of the Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne creates the criminal and lascivious Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon. The real-life model for this fiction was the Brattleboro resident Chief Justice Royall Tyler. Judge Tyler died in August 1826 in the house at Park Place and Putney Road, after a twelve-year wasting away of his face beginning in 1814-- first the nose, then the jaw, and the eye.
Knowing that Royall Tyler was gruesomely forced to swallow his own sloughing tissues, and that another relation had died from a "lingering cancer of the eyes", Hawthorne made Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon the victim of an heriditary family curse---
Nathaniel Hawthorne's mother-in-law Elizabeth Palmer, Mrs. Nathaniel Peabody, wrote about Royall Tyler and his relations with her sister Mary Palmer, in the November 1833 "Christian Examiner" article entitled "Seduction"---
We hope we deserve to be called pure, in some good degree; but to us it did not seem to be pure for a polished man of literary eminence, to enter the sanctuary of sleeping innocence, of absolute childhood, for the basest purpose. We did see it, however, and though more than forty years have since passed by, we recollect with almost incredible vividness the shudder of terror and disgust which then shook our infant frame. We have traced the career of that man. He seduced the woman, whose children he would have corrupted, caused the self-murder of a wife and mother, and afterwards married the daughter of that victim. He is dead, and the horrors of his mind, during a lingering disease, were the dreadful fruits of sin; but not of disgrace, for this man had a good standing in society..
Royall Tyler admitted to his youthfully arrogant and dissolute life, but he only regretted the limitations which his seedy past placed upon his career and later ambitions. The basic allegations, never disputed or denied, include his declaring his marital intentions upon Mary first when he was twenty and she was two years old, and repeating these intentions when she was eight or nine, calling her then "my little wife".
These intentions Tyler carried out aggressively with a secret marriage in 1794, designed to avoid the personal and political embarrassment of their child conceived out of wedlock.
Before this final marriage to his "bird in a cage"---as he referred to Mary---Tyler committed repeated "youthful indiscretions". His illegitimate son Royal Morse was born in 1779 to Katharine Morse, a well-known "character", the sweeper and cleaning woman in the Harvard College buildings. This fact was recorded by John Langdon Sibley, the long-time Harvard librarian and historian.
Tyler later fathered at least one daughter, Sophia, born in 1786, and possibly another daughter, Catherine, born in 1791, on Mary Palmer's mother Elizabeth Hunt, Mrs. Joseph Pearse Palmer, when her husband was absent for a considerable time.
The "self-murder" referred to by Elizabeth Palmer (Peabody) may be to an abortion of another child by Tyler. (Her reference to "the dreadful fruits of sin" may be to syphilis). Judge Tyler had excellent reasons to try to discourage biographers, saying, "I do not thank the author who pursues his hero into the recesses of domestic life, and exhibits the disgusting infirmities of our common nature."
That great friend of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, fully comprehended the secrets in "The House of the Seven Gables", and so he asks in "Moby Dick; or, The Whale"---
The central conflict in "The House of the Seven Gables" is between Hepzibah Pyncheon and the conniving Jaffrey Pyncheon. Royall Tyler is the model for Jaffrey, and Elizabeth Hunt Palmer became Hepzibah. And the historic house that inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne's Seven Gables is Elizabeth Hunt Palmer's boardinghouse at the corner of Beacon Street and School Street in Boston.
Is there evidence for this? Yes. The evidence is in the Boston land records. These land records show that the same man---Capt. John Turner---owned two mansions. The first mansion on Beacon Street in Boston, was built on the property that John inherited from his father Robert, and the mansion that was built later on what is now Turner Street in Salem.
Nathaniel Hawthorne opens his romance with this description: "Half-way down a by-street of one of our New England towns. . ." Turner Street in Salem was always a dead-end into the harbor, never a by-street between two greater thoroughfares.
The Boston Evening Transcript in 1855 carried the Nathaniel Ingersoll Bowditch "Gleaner" article that descibes the grant of six square rods for Boston's beacon---
Robert Turner, a shoemaker, who is found in the colony as early as 1637, seems to have gradually extended his pasture up the slopes of the hill, so that he owned eight acres near the summit at his death, his land stretching westerly nearly to Hancock Street. The oldest deed from the town to him bears date 1670. His son John sold to Samuel Shrimpton, in 1673, a gore of what is now the State-House lot, bounded east on the way leading from the Training-field to the Sentry Hill: and this way, then thirty feet wide, makes the beginning of that part of the present Mount Vernon Street, which on the modern maps bends at a right angle and joins Beacon Street. John Turner dying in 1681, his executors sold his land to the same Shrimpton, who thus acquired "all Beacon Hill."
Samuel Barber in his "Boston Common; A Diary of Notable Events, Incidents, and Neighboring Occurrences" says that this gore was "a small strip of land (23 x 180)". When John Turner died in 1681 his executor was empowered to sell his "house and land on the upper end of the Common or Training Field and the land on Beacon Hill".
Annie Haven Thwing describes the Beacon Hill by-street---
According to the Book of Possessions the estates on Beacon Street were in the New Field, and bordered on the Common. In 1640 it was "ordered that the street from Atherton Haugh's be laid out to the Centry Hill." This became School Street east of Tremont Street, but it included Beacon Street west of Tremont Street . . . It was called "the highway leading into the common," "the highway to John Turner's house," "the way between the house of the late John Turner and the almshouse"; In 1708 called "Beacon Street," from the corner of Somerset Street. The rest was included in School Street.
The almshouse stood at the corner of present-day Park Street and Beacon Street, across from the State House. The corner of Tremont Street and School Street was called "Fairweather's Corner", the owner Fairweather being Robert Turner's son-in-law. "Centry Hill" is the early name, Sentry Hill, for the sentry or beacon that stood there.
1722, 1728, 1769
Elizabeth Hunt and Joseph Pearce Palmer operated a boardinghouse on the north side of Beacon Street during 1784-1785 after leaving Watertown, Massachusetts, and again, at the same place, during 1787-1789 shortly before leaving Boston. This house is pictured on several old Boston maps which were drawn in 1722, 1728, and 1769, engraved for Capt. John Bonner and for William Burgess.
All three maps show the ancient house's three gables that face to the south---the remaining gables are not represented. The retired ships captain John Bonner would know from experience, the value of accuracy in charts and maps.
Mary Palmer, the widow of Judge Royall Tyler, recalled living in her grandmother Elizabeth Hunt Palmer's boarding house---"We lived in a house which made the corner of School Street and Beacon Street, opposite the splendid dwellings of Mr. Samuel Phillips and Gov. Bowdoin."
Governor James Bowdoin and the Palmers had gardens that ran back toward Somerset Court, later Ashburton Place---"Our garden and his were only separated by a board fence . . ." Mary also added that School Street, in the eighteenth century, ran up Beacon Hill only so far as the present Somerset Street---which was not laid out until 1801.
Lines Locate Future Garden Board Fence And Somerset Street
George Palmer was born in this boarding house on September 4, 1788.
Elizabeth Hunt Palmer resented her boarder Royall Tyler gaining a financial interest in her boardinghouse by paying her debts. She was forced to accept his money when all of her creditors suddenly without warning descended upon her at once---while her husband was away on business in Maine.
Could this situation have been engineered by Royall Tyler? This unstable young lawyer was experienced with debt collection, beginning with his dunning of the former clients of John Adams---who soon came to distrust him, both professionally and personally. Tyler also used debt persecution for political gain in 1787 by hounding the hapless and embattled farmers of Daniel Shay's Rebellion, tracking the fugitives all the way to Vermont.
Mary Palmer Tyler gives a child's most innocent witness to her future husband Royall Tyler's "rescue" of the Palmer family from the circling pack of creditors---
She immediately wrote to my father, but there were no steamboats or railways then and his business could not be left instantly, in fact many weeks elapsed and he did not come. At length, one day, an officer came with a writ, the grocer would wait no longer, and the baker was out of patience, and several other petty demands had agreed to join and send in their claims all at once. Poor mother was frightened and distressed, we children expected to be all carried off to jail. Mother wept and entreated, assuring the officer that all would be paid when her husband came home, who was expected every day. All in vain, their duty was to have security somehow or other. I shall never forget the joy with which I heard your blessed father's footstep on the hall floor. I flew to him exclaiming, 'Oh, Mr. Tyler, how glad I am to see you. You will help us, I know.'
The arrival of "our deliverer" here seems to be all too dramatically well timed, like the rehearsed scene from a stage play, or like the melodramas that Tyler absorbed and even wrote. "The Contrast" between good and evil! Who will play the cad who convinces the creditors to strike in unison at the damsel in distress?
Nathaniel Hawthorne arranges the furniture in "The House of the Seven Gables" so that his reader is free to see the worst that may be inferred---that Royall Tyler committed the crime of debt fraud against Elizabeth Hunt Palmer, then emotionally blackmailed her into sex that was complicated by birth, then deserted her, stealing away her daughter with a secret marriage, and finally retreating to safety in Vermont---counting upon his victims to remain silent in order to avoid further crippling of the broken Palmer family by scandal.
Royall Tyler committed these crimes. "The Contrast" here between the good, and the evilly inclined, not only struck Nathaniel Hawthorne's sense of the moral picturesque---it deeply angered him. In "The House of the Seven Gables", Hawthorne proceeds to prove his own precept, to "Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred!"
Located Originally On Galen Street
"The Watertown Beauty"
Elizabeth Hunt was born on October 1, 1755 to John Hunt and Ruth Fessenden.
Betsey had so many relatives in Boston on November 2, 1772 that she and Joseph Pearse Palmer "decided to escape a wedding at home" by taking a coach and four to Sandborn's Tavern in Hampden, New Hampshire. They were married by Rev. Paine Wingate. The wedding party included James Foster Candy, the Boston bookseller, Paul Revere, and Israel Keith.
I was married in my riding habit. This was made of silk calmet, light colored, trimmed with silver lace, vest of blue satin, the little spencer, which, according to the fashion of those days, set close to the body, sleeves and all, and was turned over to the lapels, with blue satin.
Elizabeth Palmer was a lively beauty, observed without fashionable weakness, or vapors. Joseph Palmer reportedly excelled all the guests in dancing the hornpipe. Soon after this, Betsey opened Salem's assembly ball with Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson's son and always recalled that
My dress at this time, was a sky blue lutestring negligee, which style of dress those who are familiar with those times will remember but I cannot describe to your comprehension.
Two years later in Boston, Betsey was sitting and rocking the baby when she heard the gate and the door open, so she opened the parlor door and saw "three stout Indians".
She screamed, but did not then faint because she recognized Joseph's voice, this high Son of Liberty, saying "Don't be frightened, Betsey, it is I. We have only been making a little salt water tea." The other Indians were Stephen Bruce and Foster Candy. Following the Boston Tea Party, Joseph Palmer was on the British "black-list".
Betsey had a fine saddle horse, side saddle, and riding habit---all bridal gifts from Joseph Pearse Palmer. The horse was called "Rising Sun" and was bought for the purpose of teaching Betsey to ride. This animal was ruined when Joseph rode quickly to answer the call to arms following the Battle of Concord.
On the day before the Battle of Bunker Hill, the young and worried Dr. Joseph Warren, a boarder in the Hunt house during the session of the Provincial Congress, asked the women in the Hunt family to prepare lint and linen bandages. Elizabeth Hunt Palmer recalled that---
I am sure that I liked him better than anybody . . . he was a handsome man and wore a tie wig. He had a fine color in his face and light blue eyes. He dined with us and while at dinner said "Come my little girl, drink a glass of wine with me for the last time for I am going on the Hill tomorrow and I shall never come off."
Her daughter Mary remembered an evening entertainment, with French officers in attendance---
I thought that mother looked beautiful in her white dress and beautiful hair and complexion and so did the officers.
Brattleboro historian Henry Burnham describes Elizabeth Hunt Palmer, recalling his seeing her in 1830, when she was seventy-five years old---
Tyler, when a gay gallant of 20, in scarlet coat and short clothes, entered the house of his friend, Mrs. Joseph Pearce Palmer, of Boston, and took from her arms her infant child (Mary Palmer) and said: "This child will become my wife." Time verified his prophecy, and her children, now venerable in years, and those who have gone, with honorable record, to their final sleep, have blessed her memory. In the varied--in the elevated departments of human effort--in the pulpit, at the bar, mercantile and teachers' desk, her children have proved the character of their maternal parentage. That mother who was little Mary Palmer, when seated in her mother's arms at the dining table of Gen. Joseph Warren, when he partook of his last dinner, and received the parting hand from his most intimate friends for the last time, before marching to his death on Bunker Hill. This interesting event we learn, not for the first time, from the memoirs. We heard, near 1830, the aged Mrs. Palmer relate the story. She said: "My husband was an early associate and intimate friend of Joseph Warren, therefore we, with other of his friends, were invited to dine with him", as he said, "for the last time." Beautiful in her old age, seemingly, as "Madame Recamier," with swimming eyes and trembling lips, she continued: "Joseph Warren was an ardent patriot, an accomplished scholar, elegant in manners, universally beloved, and was the idol of Boston. After dinner, we all and each bogged and prayed that he would not go to the battle-field; but vainly did we try to move him; he firmly believed the cause demanded the sacrifice of his life, and he must obey that demand. Amidst the flames, constant roar of artillery, and panic-stricken inhabitants, I fled from the city with my little Mary crying and clinging to my bosom."
There is no known portrait of Elizabeth Hunt Palmer, called "the Watertown Beauty". But Henry Burnham's comparison of her to Juliette, Madame Recamier may not be accidental. The Hunt family and Elizabeth's contemporaries may have considered the resemblance, and may have told Henry Burnham so. Juliette's jet black hair is certainly comparable to Mary Palmer Tyler's locks---
Some time after Royall Tyler's death in 1826 and before 1830---possibly following Sophia Peabody's visit in 1828--- Elizabeth Hunt Palmer moved to Brattleboro, Vermont. She may have resided with her daughter, Mary Palmer Tyler, but it is also likely that she lived with her first cousin William Fessenden's widow Patty Holbrook Fessenden, at the old Fessenden bookstore on Main Street---
William Fessenden was the fledgling printer in Brattleboro who had hired Elizabeth Hunt Palmer's son Edward as an apprentice in 1797, shortly before Edward drowned in the Connecticut River.
William Fessenden's older brother was Thomas Green Fessenden, the author of the popular satirical poem "Terrible Tractoration!" and the editor of "The New England Farmer". Nathaniel Hawthorne boarded with the family of Thomas Green Fessenden in Boston at No. 53 Hancock Street, beginning in January 1836. Hancock Street is located immediately west from Beacon Hill.
Thomas Fessenden died on November 11, 1837 and Hawthorne attended his funeral in Mount Auburn Cemetery. Hawthorne was composing a tribute to his friend for the "Atlantic Monthly" when Elizabeth Hunt Palmer died in Brattleboro on January 8, 1838, only two months after her cousin.
She was buried in the Prospect Hill Cemetery. Her gravestone has been etched and scoured by acid rain, but the pitted lettering remains---
Joseph P. Palmer
Jan. 8 1838
aged 83 Years.
Nathaniel Hawthorne soon wrote in his Notebook entry for July 13, 1838---
A political or other satire might be made by describing a show of wax-figures of the prominent public men; and, by the remarks of the showman and the spectators, their characters and public standing might be expressed. And the incident of Judge Tyler as related by E--- might be introduced.
Elizabeth Hunt Palmer's more fitting memorial is as Hepzibah Pyncheon in "The House of the Seven Gables", in the Beacon Street, "Half-way down a by-street in one of our New England towns . . ."
Watch-Makers On School Street, Boston
Richard Cranch was born October 26, 1726, at Kingsbridge, Devonshire, England, a seaport town near Exeter. He was the youngest son of John Cranch and Elizabeth Pearse, and the grandson of Andrew Cranch and Ebuff his first wife, and great-grandson of Richard Cranch, staunch Puritan.
The Cranch family was in engaged chiefly in woolen manufacture, with prosperous shoemakers, grocers, and farmers as well. Richard was bound as an apprentice to a maker of wool-cards, but at the age of twenty, purchased the remainder of his time and came to America in the large ship "Wilmington" with his sister Mary and his brother-in-law Joseph Palmer, arriving in Boston on November 2, 1746.
Portrait By John Singleton Copley
During the following year, accordingly, Richard Cranch is named as a wool card maker with a shop "well up School Street". Later he became a watch-maker with Joseph Palmer, also in this shop on the south side of School Street, and "nearly opposite where the City Hall now stands".
Richard Cranch And Joseph Palmer's Shop
William Price Map Of Boston 1743
This shop is also described as standing "next door above the French Meetinghouse". This small, brick "French Church" served Huguenot families in Boston such as Paul Revere's. It stood on the south side of School Street, between present Province and Washington Streets. Richard Cranch sold his watchmaker's shop in 1755.
Richard Cranch "left Boston owing to the prevalence of the Small-pox" during 1750, during the last year for the Old King's Chapel at School and Tremont Streets---
The Germantown Glassworks in Braintree, later Quincy, Massachusetts was the first practical industrial development in colonial America, with Benjamin Franklin advising its guiding spirit Joseph Crellius, and personally investing in eight house lots. Joseph Palmer and Richard Cranch leased land from Colonel Joseph Quincy on August 24, 1750 and the works commenced operations.
German glass-blowers housed in a large, round building, made wine seals and "glass bottles of all capacities". This wine bottle seal labelled "Thomas Hutchinson Esq. 1755" was crafted imperfectly and rejected, shortly before the May 28, 1755 fire that destroyed everything---
Joseph Palmer's holdings in Germantown also included salt factories, a chocolate factory, and a spermaceti candle works. German stocking weavers associated with Boston's Peter Etter also labored in Germantown.
Another proprietor in Joseph Palmer & Co. was Isaac Winslow, a nominal Loyalist who finally fled to Nova Scotia when his uncle Richard Clarke was discovered in an untimely manner to be a consignee for tea in Boston.
This shop bill was executed for Joseph Palmer & Co. by Nathaniel Hurd, a Boston goldsmith and engraver some time before his death in 1777---
Germantown products were sold by the watch repairer Richard Cranch in the store on School Street until March 6, 1760, when he sold out his interests to Joseph Palmer, who maintained two stores on the Long Wharf with his warehouses, all managed by his son Joseph Pearse Palmer---
Engraving In Detail By Paul Revere
Richard Cranch was admitted on March 5, 1749 to the West Church, Boston, and married on November 25, 1762, Mary Smith, the daughter of Rev. William and Elizabeth Quincy of Weymouth. She died on October 17, 1811, the day following her husband's death. Richard Cranch introduced his sister-in-law, Abigail Smith, to John Adams.
This advertisement appears in the Boston Newsletter for April 13, 1775---
Richard Cranch, Watchmaker, hereby informs his customers that he has removed from his house near the Mill-Bridge, Boston, to a house in Braintree, nearly opposite the Rev. Mr. Winslow's Church, a few rods south of Mr. Brackett's Tavern, where he proposes carrying on the watch-makers business as usual. And as he has a number of watches in his hands, belonging to his customers, he desires such as cannot conveniently call for them at his house in Braintree to leave a line for him at the Shop of Messieurs Nathaniel & Joseph Cranch, who will convey the same and receive the watches for the owners as soon as they are finished.
Joseph Cranch was the son of Richard Cranch. Nathaniel Cranch became the namesake for Nathaniel Cranch Peabody, the younger brother of Sophia Amelia Peabody, Mrs. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Nathaniel C. Peabody was the family historian who published Richard Cranch's handwritten memorandum dated April 11, 1805 in the New England Historical Genealogical Register, Volume 27 for January 1873.
John Adams greatly respected his brother-in-law Richard Cranch, as seen in this letter posted from Philadelphia on September 18, 1774---
To Mr. Richard Cranch Boston favoured by Mr. Revere
My dear Brother
I thank you most kindly for your obliging Letter. And beg the Continuance of your Correspondence. Every Line from Boston is a Cordial, and of great Use to us in our Business. It is a grief to my Heart that I cannot write to my Friends so often and particularly as I wish. But Politicks I cant write, in Honour. I send the Votes of Yesterday, which are ordered to be printed, and this is the only Thing which we are yet at Liberty to mention even to the People out of Doors here. -- The Congress will support Boston and the Massachusetts or Perish with them. But they earnestly wish that Blood may be spared if possible, and all Ruptures with the Troops avoided. Break open my Letters to my Wife, and then send them as soon as possible.
My Love to sister, the Children and every Body.
Aut mors aut vita decora
Either death or an honorable life.
Richard Cranch was concerned with the difficulties encountered by his brother-in-law John Adams in his efforts to release his daughter Abigail from the unwelcome attentions of the interloper Royall Tyler, who appeared by turns dissipated, profligate, morbid, aggressively cheerful, excessively self-dramatizing.
John Adams hired Royall Tyler to collect debts from his former law practice clients. Adams was a stern judge who did not tolerate Royall Tyler's stealing his family's personal correspondence before it was opened, or his displaying such letters openly in local taverns.
John Adams' friend and associate Benjamin Guild, who operated the Boston Book Store in Cornhill, referred to these thefts as "a large breach of trust". One letter that Tyler concealed until forced to return it, had been addressed by John Adams' daughter Abigail to Elizabeth Hunt Palmer.
Abigail, who preferred to be called Amelia at that time, later Nabby, was a little shy, yet independent, charming, witty, and spoke in a low, precise voice. John Adams thought that this portrait captured her drollery and modesty---
The name Amelia, which Abigail took for her signature, was cherished and kept in the Palmer family, from Amelia Palmer, through to Sophia Amelia Peabody, Mrs. Nathaniel Hawthorne.
When Richard Cranch died, John Adams said, "Never shall I see his like again. An invariable friend for sixty years."
Be it known, that this Morning, before Break of Day, a Brigade, consisting of about 1000 or 1200 men, landed at Phip's Farm, at Cambridge, and marched to Lexington, where they found a Company of our Colony Militia in Arms, upon whom they fired, without any Provocation, and killed six men, and wounded 4 others.
By an Express from Boston, we find, that another Brigade, are now upon their March from Boston, supposed to be about 1000. --------- The Bearer, Tryal Russell, is charged to alarm the Country, quite to Connecticut: And All persons are desired to furnish him with fresh horses, as may be needed. I have spoken with several who have seen the deceased and wounded. Pray let the Delegates from this Colony to Connecticut, see this: they know Col. Fuller, of Brookfield, one of the Delegates.
one of the Committee of S----y.
This message from General Joseph Palmer of the Committee of Safety was carried by Israel Bissell, Paul Revere, Tryal Russell, and other post riders throughout New England.
Formerly Cotton Hill, Named For John Cotton's House
The Rev. John Cotton's house, garden, and one and a half acre site was originally in the central part of present Pemberton Square, with his lands extending up the hill as far as Somerset Court, now Ashburton Place. His antiquated residence was considered to be the oldest house in Boston when it was still standing about 1822. The unaltered back part of the house still had its diamond-shaped panes of glass set in lead. Apparently John Cotton's house was torn down by the time of this 1829 map. Cotton Hill itself was not levelled until the early 1830s.
John Fayerweather was also a substantial landowner in Boston. In 1681, through inheritance from his father-in-law, Robert Turner, and purchase from his brother-in-law, Ephraim Turner, he owned a house on Beacon Hill with a plot of land 260 feet wide fronting on Beacon Street and extending back 490 feet.
The inheritance included also a strip of ground three rods in breadth adjoining Mr. Lynde's. He and his wife Sarah also took over from her father's estate another piece of land between the Bowdoin estate and the State House, measuring 190 feet on Beacon Street, 490 feet on the east line, 140 feet in the rear, and westerly 571 feet on the highway leading to the monument, a total of 2¾ acres.
He sold some of the land in 1703; and when he died in 1712, the Beacon Street frontage was described as extending back to Freeman Street, about 300 feet deep.
An Inventory of the Estate and Goods of Robert Turner, deceased, apprised Dec. 16th 1664, by Edward Fletcher, John Hull. Amt. L1221.17s. Mentions, the Dwelling House and Land thereto belonging, the House Confirmed to Mr Fairweather & Land belonging, the New Farme and all the Land at Centry Hill, the Farme House & Lott at Muddye riuer, & other Land there, Interest in Land & Mineralls at Chelmsford, 1/32 part of the Shippe Supplye, &c. Penelope Turner deposed to this Inventory of the estate of her late husband, Jan 31st 1664.
While courting Sophia Amelia Peabody, the granddaughter of Elizabeth Hunt Palmer, Nathaniel Hawthorne lived in three places within one city block of this ancient gabled house---at the Tremont House, then No. 53 Hancock Street, and finally at No. 3 Somerset Court from March 1838 to the autumn of 1839.
Hawthorne walked along Somerset Street, Beacon Street, and School Street on his way to work at the Boston Custom House, and back again to Somerset Court---which now forms the east end of Ashburton Place.
Nathaniel Hawthorne must have been curious about this gabled house. The Turner family had owned the land. Did he learn that Captain John Turner visited his sister Sarah in this house? Did Hawthorne know that Captain John Turner had also built this Boston gabled house, as well as the mansion in Salem that Hawthorne observed while visiting his cousin Susannah Ingersoll?
Hawthorne may be describing the specific architectural ornamentation of the first John Turner mansion, and later Palmer boardinghouse, with this description---
Its whole visible exterior was ornamented with quaint figures, conceived in the grotesqueness of a Gothic fancy, and drawn or stamped in the glittering plaster, composed of lime, pebbles, and bits of glass, with which the wood-work of the walls was overspread. . . .On the triangular portion of the gable that fronted next the street, was a dial . . .on which the sun was still marking the passage of the first bright hour. . .
It also seems likely that the Turner family mansion on Beacon Hill had an arched window---to which Hawthorne devotes an entire chapter in his romance. Clifford climbs---
to the second story of the house, where, at the termination of a wide entry, there was an arched window of uncommonly large dimensions, shaded by a pair of curtains. It opened above the porch, where there had formerly been a balcony, the balustrade of which had long since gone to decay, and been removed.
No arched window has ever been located at the Turner mansion in Salem.
Nathaniel Hawthorne also implies the presence of a secret staircase in his romance, which allows Clifford to appear unexpectedly to Hepzibah immediately after Judge Pyncheon's death. There is the possibility that John Turner's mansion on Beacon Hill in Boston had such a concealed staircase.
Elizabeth Hunt Palmer died on January 8, 1838 in Brattleboro, Vermont---only two months after the death of her first cousin Thomas Green Fessenden in Boston, and six months before Hawthorne referred in his notebook on July 13, 1838 to the "incident" about "Judge Tyler."
Since Hawthorne was writing the tribute to his Boston friend Thomas G. Fessenden at this time for the "Atlantic Monthly", he almost certainly heard about the destructive Judge Royall Tyler from the Clarke and Peabody family descendants.
Another source of information for Hawthorne about this Beacon Hill neighborhood was Elizabeth Palmer Peabody---Hawthorne's future sister-in-law. Early in 1822, the Boston activist Eliza Lee Cabot had helped Elizabeth to "gather a school" to serve the social elect. Elizabeth's first school in Boston was located at the corner of Hancock Street and Mount Vernon Street.
Elizabeth resided with the family of Augustus Peabody, Esq., a Boston Counsellor at law, beginning in May 1822, in their five-story townhouse near the copper-plated State House on Beacon Hill, and towering above the old Governor Hancock mansion.
Her room on the east end of the fifth floor commanded an excellent prospect easterly toward "all of Boston. . .a perfect view of the beautiful harbour with its islands and vessels". The Bulfinch estate gardens lay directly below Elizabeth's room. Elizabeth may have seen old John Turner's gabled mansion below also, where her grandmother Elizabeth Hunt Palmer had conducted her School Street boardinghouse.
Drawing By A British Officer
Armed Transport H. M. S. Symmetry --- Frigate H. M. S. Glasgow
Drawn By John Graves Hale
Engraved By T. Wightman
No. 3 Somerset Court
Near The Elizabeth Hunt Palmer Boarding House Site
Hawthorne's landlady at the boarding house---known widely as Clarke's Place at No. 3 Somerset Court, was Rebecca Parker Hull, the widow of Samuel Clarke, Junior. Rebecca's deceased husband was the nephew of Hepzibah Clarke (The Clarke family chart below is helpful).
Hawthorne almost certainly first heard about Hepzibah Clarke from the notoriously gossip-loving raconteur Rebecca. As a youngster Samuel Clarke, Junior, with his widowed mother, visited the Palmer family in Germantown, and later boarded with them in Boston.
Rebecca Parker Hull (Clarke) had accepted Nathaniel Hawthorne as her boarder, although it had been several years since she had closed regular business operations. Her Clarke's Place was famous as the major Boston Transcendentalist meeting place which hosted the "Conversations" of Margaret Fuller. Amongst her former tenants had been two of the future sisters-in-law for Nathaniel---Elizabeth Peabody and Mary Peabody, later Mrs. Horace Mann.
Mrs. Samuel Clarke, Junior
Rebecca Parker Hull was the daughter of Gen. William Hull, the Revolutionary War hero who had narrowly escaped hanging for the "treason" of surrendering the fort at Detroit during the War of 1812. Rebecca's children were the Rev. James Freeman Clarke and the artist Sarah Freeman Clarke.
Rev. James Clarke married Nathaniel and Sophia in 1842, and delivered Hawthorne's funeral tribute in Concord in 1864. When James Freeman Clarke built a new chapel for his Church of the Disciples on Freeman Place in 1848, it was on land formerly owned by Robert Turner.
The Hepzibah Pyncheon character is also based, in a minor way, on another Hawthorne kinswoman named Hepzibah Clarke, Mrs. James Swan. James Swan had spent twenty-two years in a Paris prison for debt, and when he was finally released, he died shortly therafter. With his penchant for the "moral picturesque," Hawthorne may have associated Swan with his Clifford Pyncheon.
Hepzibah Clarke---the granddaughter and daughter of Hepzibah Williams and Hepzibah Barrett, and the mother of Hepzibah Swan---was noted for her distinctive black lace-trimmed turban. The outdated turban is characteristic of the proprietress of the Seven Gables. Both Hepzibah Clark and Hawthorne's mother, Elizabeth Clarke Manning, shared the common ancestor Thomas Clarke of Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Corner With Somerset Street At Right
Edward Bromfield Mansion At Left
Greater Boston Real Estate Board
The owner of this Beacon Street land was Robert Turner, innkeeper or innholder of the Anchor Tavern on Washington Street---Robert Turner, the father of that same Captain John Turner who built the Salem mansion in 1668. The Anchor was the Washington Street destination for visiting members of the General Court, for country clergy summoned to synod, and to the assembled jurors.
Robert Turner was esteemed as much for his punch as for his pudding, but the track which lay along the back of the Anchor, running from the Exchange in King street and passing by Mrs. Phillips' into Water street, was thence called "Pudding Lane". Pudding Lane it remained until 1766, when it was enlarged, following a demoralizing fire, and finally emerged as modern Devonshire Street.
Robert Turner owned a large pasture of eight acres on Beacon Hill, which he eventually divided into three lots willed to his sons, Captain John Turner and Ephraim Turner, and to his son-in-law, John Fayerweather, husband to Sarah Turner---
It extended from five feet west of Somerset Street, around the State House lot to nineteen feet east of Hancock Street, and back to Derne Street and Ashburton Place. The western part was finally acquired by Thomas Hancock. The sons of Turner inherited in 1664, but eventually the greater part came into the hands of his son-in-law John Fairweather. He died in 1712, and part was bought by David Sears and the next lot westerly by Edward Bromfield in 1742.
Robert Turner.---The Last Will and Testament of Robert Turner, taken as hee spake it, 9th 5mo: 1664. I giue to my Eldest sonne, Ephraim Turner, my new Built house, a part wherof he now Dwelleth in, Reseruing to my Deare wife one roome to herselfe During her life time, either in the new end or the old, at her Owne choyce. Also unto my Sonne, Ephraim, my Garden runninge from the House Downe to the Lane, running upon a straight Line home to Joh. Toppins Fence. I giue unto my sonne, John Turner, all the other part of my now Dwelling house & the Ground below it, Bounded by Mr Coles Fence, the other side to bee so lefte as my sonne Ephraim may haue passage by the yeard and garden as they two may agree, by aduice of my Freinds heerafter named. Out of this part of my house Bequeathed to my sonne John, my will is, that my sonne Fairweather, & my Daughter, shall remayne in the Roomes they now Dwell in, for the time of four yeares next ensuing. To my sonne, Joseph, I give my barne beyond Dauid Titchburnes house; also, a parcell of Ground upon the Hill, to be in breadth at the Front [ ] 3 rods and Lye next to my sonne Johns Diuision, and to Runne through up to Mr Houchyes. Also I Confirme & Bequeathe unto my sonne, Faireweather, the house and land upon the Hill Formerlye Deliuered into his possession. I doe adde unto my sd sonne, Faireweather, a strippe of Ground about 3 Rod in breadth adjoyning unto Mr Lynes; also my will is, my sonne, Ephraim, shall haue a share of Land upon Center hill next my sonne Fairweather, to be four Rod Broade at the grout & Runne through with the other Diusions. Also to my sonne, John Turner, a portion of the sd land next to my sonne, Ephraim, to be three rods Broad Equall with my sonne, Joseph. To my Dear wife, I Bequeathe the thirds of all my houses, Lands and mooueables, and after Debts & Legacyes paid all the Lands abroade, the thirds to my said wife, who I make the sole Executrix of this my Last will and testament. I Giue to the Church of Boston, wherof through Mercy I haue so Long remained a member,
L20, to be paid in such pay as my Estate produceth; to the New Church, L5; L5 to ye Church of Cambridg; L10 to Mr Stalham, of Tarling, in Essex; L10 to Capt Oliuers Company; L5 to the other three Companyes, to each 50s; all which Legacyes I will to be paid out of the rents or sales of my Lands at Centrye hill or Muddy riuer, & to bee paid by my Dear wife, with the aduice & assistance of my Ouerseers, within Foure yeares next insuing the Date heerof, at the Discretion of my wife & Ouerseers, whose assistance, aduice & Counsell to my wife & Children I Earnestly Intreate, whose names Follow:---Elder James Penn, Thomas Grubb, William Bartholmew.
Test. John Alcocke.
24th Aug. 1664. Elder James Penn and Thomas Grubb deposed.
An Inventory of the Estate and Goods of Robert Turner, deceased, apprised Dec. 16th 1664, by Edward Fletcher, John Hull. Amt.
L1221.17s. Mentions, the Dwelling House and Land thereto belonging, the House Confirmed to Mr Fairweather & Land belonging, the New Farme and all the Land at Centry Hill, the Farme House & Lott at Muddye riuer, & other Land there, Interest in Land & Mineralls at Chelmsford, 1/32 part of the Shippe Supplye, &c. Penelope Turner deposed to this Inventory of the estate of her late husband, Jan 31st 1664.
William B. Trask, "Abstracts From the Earliest Wills on Record in the County of Suffolk, Mass.". The New England Historical and Genealogical Register For the Year 1859, Volume XIII. (Boston: Samuel G. Drake, Publisher, 13 Bromfield Street, 1859), pages 9-15.
[In this will Centry Hill or Centrye hill is Sentry Hill, later called Beacon Hill. Muddy River refers to Brookline, Massachusetts]
Robert Turner arrived in Boston on the "Griffin" on September 4, 1633, in company with Richard Fairbanks. This account was assembled by Gregg L. Mattocks and posted on May 23, 2009---
On 4 November 1646, having apparently paid his "custom of wines," Richard was again granted, by the Massachusetts government, a license to sell alcohol. This was probably the last time Richard was licensed directly by the Colony, thereafter the law permitted him to seek permission to operate from the selectmen of the town of Boston.
On 30 June 1651, Richard witnessed a deed of Robert Turner. Shortly thereafter, on 14 August 1651, Richard witnessed the will of Robert Turner, shoemaker of Boston. The testator Robert Turner was not the same man as Robert Turner, vintner, with whom Richard had likely traveled aboard the Griffin, and it does not appear that the shoemaker and vintner were even related.
In addition to other legacies, Robert Turner, the shoemaker, left "forty shillings unto John Spurrs wife." John Spoore had been recorded as the "brother" of James Mattocks, and Mattocks was soon to become the father-in-law of Richard's daughter Constance. The shoemaker's bequest to Spoore's wife Elizabeth was the only legacy not proved to have gone to one of his relatives. One wonders then if Elizabeth Spoore might have been related to Robert Turner.
Richard Fairbanks may have found it more difficult to run his tavern profitably as competition increased. "By 1648, five ordinaries could sell beer, wine, and hard liquors, and eight others could sell beer and fermented drinks, for a total of thirteen places where the public could legallv gather to drink alcohol in a town of approximately three thousand people."
lf Elizabeth had died by this time, the workload might have been too much for the grieving widower. Richard may have realized that his daughter Constance was going to marry soon, and his son Zaccheus may have been dangerously ill. For whatever reasons, by 2 April 1652, Richard seems to have decided to leave the tavern business behind.
On that date, Richard exchanged land with Robert Turner of Boston, vintner, Turner receiving "one dwelling house, garden & yard, while Richard received "one dwelling house, garden & yard" and "6 acres or thereabouts of enclosed ground . . . in the Fort Field."
The apparent imbalance of the exchange might be explained by the prime location of Richard's establishment. It is known that Robert Turner soon built a new house on the property he acquired from Richard. On 5 October 1652, Turner paid a fee to be allowed "to have his new house jet out farther into the street (than his old house now standeth)."
Turner operated a successful tavern for several years, which was known in his time as The Anchor. He died in 1664. The vintner left his "new built house" to sons Ephraim and John. John operated the inn. After John's death, the establishment came into the hands of George Monk who married John's widow. Under Monk, the tavern was known as The Blue Anchor.
The Salem mansion that became known as "The House of the Seven Gables" had lost all but three of its original gables long before the visits by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The first known photograph was taken in 1857, showing these three gables. It is not known if this mansion ever had seven gables at any one particular time.
In order to garner more tourist dollars as a matter of stated policy, the owner Caroline O. Emmerton hired the controversial Boston architect Joseph Everett Chandler in 1909 to add all the "missing" gables---including one which was subsequently built in the wrong place---
with eight gables rather than the planned seven."
The "one story appendage" was added in 1915 to meet the tourists' expectations to find Hepzibah Pyncheon's "cent shop". Historical authenticity was violated in the enlargement of the original east room of the 1668 house, which had also already been divided in 1909.
A "secret staircase" was re-discovered in 1888 when the owner Henry Upton removed the ancient central chimney---Nathaniel Hawthorne had implied the presence of such a staircase in his "The House of the Seven Gables", although he did not describe it.
Architect Joseph E. Chandler left no written or photographic record of the evidence which he found. He simply had little antiquarian interest or concern for evidence. He destroyed historic records for Captain John Turner's mansion in Salem.
In 1907 Chandler destroyed the former living quarters of Paul Revere when he removed the third floor of this silversmith patriot's house in North Boston.
Scholars looked the other way. In any case, Nathaniel Hawthorne had Captain John Turner's Boston mansion in mind for his romance, not the captain's Salem mansion.
Nathaniel Hawthorne visited his second cousin Susannah Ingersoll at this Salem mansion built in 1668 by Captain John Turner.
Susannah Ingersoll's widowed mother Susannah (Hathorne) Ingersoll died in 1811 and Susannah Ingersoll found herself in an inheritance battle with her cousins in the family of her maternal uncle Colonel John Hathorne.
Susannah thought that possession was nine-tenths of the law, and she refused to depart the premises. The subsequent physical altercation at the house attracted the attention of the Rev. William Bentley, who came to Susannah Ingersoll's rescue---
This morning I was with her only daughter who has been beset by the Col's family with the ferocity of tigers. They insisted upon entrance into the house and apartments. The daughter had swooned upon the death of her mother and was very low. I took such charge as she desired me for which I expect their vengeance.
Rev. William Bentley hid the house keys and Susannah's money from "the hungry expectants".
Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon seems finally to be a blend of Judge Royall Tyler, John Hathorne, and the Rev. Charles Upham---the man primarily responsible for Nathaniel Hawthorne losing his Custom House appointment.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's sense of the "moral picturesque" must have been sounded by the notion that Captain John Turner, away for years at sea, still owned two elaborate mansions---in Boston and in Salem as well.
Yet for the purposes of sound scholarship, any connection between Hawthorne's romance and this Salem mansion---as opposed to the Boston mansion---remains unconvincing. This remains a standing academic conundrum.
Grandmother Tyler's Book, The Recollections of Mary Palmer Tyler (Mrs. Royall Tyler) 1775~1866, Edited by Frederick Tupper and Helen Tyler Brown. ( New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, 1925).
Henry Burnham, Brattleboro, Windham County, Vermont; Early History, with Biographical Sketches of some of its Citizens. (Brattleboro, Vermont: Published by D. Leonard, 1880). See especially page 86.
Nathaniel Cranch Peabody's efforts to bring some light to these family concerns is explored in Bruce A. Ronda's "Elizabeth Palmer Peabody; A Reformer on Her Own Terms" (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Harvard University Press, 1999).
The best source and account for Royall Tyler's career with John Adams is by Page Smith, "John Adams" (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1962).
Albert Richmond Morcom excavated the Germantown Glassworks in 1955. His report is in the newsletter for the Quincy Historical Society, "Quincy History" for Summer, 1989 available at http://www.glswrk-auction.com/034.htm.
Corner Of Orange (Washington) And Essex Streets
Corner Of Milk And Congress (Dalton) Streets
Nathaniel Dearborn Engraving
Lawrence Park Drawing 1910 From Studies By C. K. Bolton And Alexander Corbett
Engraving By John J. Harley
Royall Tyler's political fame rests on his persecution of the ruined, fugitive farmers of Daniel Shay's Rebellion. Tyler's literary fame rests on "The Contrast" (1787), sometimes said to be "the first American play"---influenced by Richard Sheridan's The School for Scandal, and by the repulsive ideas and specious arguments of Bernard de Mandeville, especially in "The Fable of the Bees; or Private Vices, Publick Benefits".
Royall Tyler's social fame rests on his failed and eccentric courtship of Abigail "Nabby" Adams, the daughter of the then-future President John Adams and his wife Abigail. Adams family biographers detail Tyler's emotional excesses and his manipulative, hypocritical, and ugly temper tantrums.
Following the same pattern of courting both mother and daughter with the husband/father absent, that he would use later with more success against the Palmer family, Royall Tyler aroused John Adams' resentment. The future President wrote to his wife Abigail, "I don't like this method of courting Mothers. There is something too fantastical and affected in this Business for me. It is not nature, modest virtuous noble nature.". Nabby escaped.
Royall Tyler's father was Royall "Pug Sly" Tyler, Sr., a successful politician well acquainted with the hypocrisies needed to gain public acclaim. Pug Sly had sent John Adams a copy of Mandeville's "The Fable of the Bees", with the comment that Mandeville "understood human nature and mankind better than any man that ever lived. . .Every man in public life ought to read that book to make him jealous and suspicious, &c.".
The Royall Tyler house still stands at 10 Park Place, Brattleboro, Vermont. Sophia Peabody visited this house in 1828, long before her marriage. Her sister Elizabeth Palmer Peabody visited during the week of July 14, 1854.
Henry David Thoreau likely met Mary Palmer Tyler here in 1856, along with her neighbor Mrs. Rev. Addison Brown. Mary Palmer Tyler lived in the house until her death in 1866. Una Hawthorne saw this house in May 1868. She knew the story about the drowning of her kinsman Edward Palmer in 1797, and she almost certainly visited the Prospect Hill Cemetery.
Struggling in a narrow literary field, Nathaniel Hawthorne carefully considered the successful career of Washington Irving. In terms of pure imagination, "The House of the Seven Gables" was born from the tales by Irving called "The House of the Four Chimneys" and "The Haunted House".
There are deep and major parallels in themes, characters, names, and buildings in these two tales, which Hawthorne lifted from Washington Irving in his deliberate effort to absorb and to promote the Massachusetts legendry in the manner in which Irving approached New Amsterdam history.
Thomas St. John's family is from Pittsfield in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. He graduated from Drew University, then lived in Montclair, New Jersey before moving to Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Brattleboro, Vermont.
His has published with the University of Utah's "Western Humanities Review", the Ball State University "Forum", and the alternate news website "Counterpunch".
The Bostontown Records, 1634-1661, The Book of Possessions of Suffolk County, describes for the lot F.68, "Richard Fairbanks retained a lot in the rear of those on School street".
Atherton Haugh's house and garden lot "well up School-street" stood next to lot that later contained Richard Cranch and Joseph Palmer's wool card making and watch repair shop on School Street. Cranch and Palmer were the ancestors of Nathaniel Hawthorne's wife Sophia.