J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Priscilla Thomas Finds a Husband

The following story was written by Benjamin Marston Watson (1780-1851) and submitted by his younger brother John L. Watson to the New England Historic and Genealogical Register in 1872. It concerned two of their ancestors.
Noah Hobart [1706-1773]…was the school teacher in Duxbury, Masstts., having graduated at Harvard College in 1724, and become acquainted with Priscilla Thomas [1709-1796], a very interesting young girl, daughter of Caleb Thomas, a respectable citizen of that town. Their acquaintance ripened into an engagement, & mutual promise of marriage, whenever his circumstances w’d permit him to discharge ye debts he had contracted for his education.

While this understanding subsisted between them, & they were enjoying ye happy relation of affianced lovers, & calmly waiting for such improvement in their affairs as w’d justify their marriage, John Watson Esq., of Plymouth, my Great Grand Father, being a Widower, having seen Priscilla, was much pleas’d with her, although ye serious difference of nearly thirty years existed in their ages, he being about 50, & she 22 years old.

Being, however, thus charm’d with Priscilla, he proceeded to Duxbury & call’d on her parents, & made known to them his views & wishes in relation to Priscilla, & requested their consent to visit their daughter, with ye object of offering himself to her in marriage. They inform’d M’r Watson that Priscilla was engaged to Mr. Hobart, but they w’d call her & let her speak for herself, they seeming pleas’d with ye offer, as M’r Watson’s circumstances were known to be very eligible. . . .

Priscilla was call’d, & appear’d gratified with an offer from so rich a suitor, & observed that she w’d see Noah, & talk with him about it. She convers’d with Noah, and he thought that, upon ye whole, it was not advisable for her to lose so good an opportunity; & as he was still so much in debt for his education, that it was quite uncertain when he w’d be able to relieve himself from his embarrassments, & be in a condition to marry her.
Well, that’s not how love stories work out, is it?

TOMORROW: Can this marriage be saved?

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