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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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Consul’s Coat

Next month Augusta Auctions in New York will offer this fine red broadcloth cutaway coat along with tan buckskin britches, which belonged to Thomas McDonogh, Britain’s first consul in Boston. The auctioneer’s webpage shows several more images of the garments.

The most detailed profile of McDonogh that I could find appears in The Wentworth Genealogy:

He is represented as having been the private Secretary of Gov. John Wentworth [of New Hampshire]. Correspondence preserved amply proves that they bore the most intimate relations to each other, and that Mr. McDonogh adhered to the Governor’s person, as well as his cause, until he left Portsmouth, N. H.

He was born in Sligo, Co. of Sligo, Ireland. After leaving Portsmouth, N.H., he married Harriot, daughter of Roper and Rachel (Burnett) Dawson. Both her parents were born in England, but the father died on Staten Island, New York, 14 June, 1771, and it is believed that her mother lived there at the time of the marriage. . . .

Some time prior to 1800, Mr. McDonogh was appointed British Consul at Boston, which office he held until his death, in 1805, aged about sixty-five. He was buried at Milton, Mass., in the tomb of his son-in-law, the late Hon. Peter O. Thatcher [1776-1843]. When the Duke of Kent (Queen Victoria’s father), and…Charles-Mary Wentworth visited the United States, they made their headquarters at his hospitable mansion.
At the time of that writing in 1870, Thomas McDonogh’s unmarried daughter Caroline owned portraits of him and his wife.

Which makes me think that seeing the consul’s coat is all well and good, but it’s on a modern dress form without a head. That makes it hard to picture how the outfit originally appeared. If only there was a period image of this garment being worn.

Oh, hey.

This image of McDonogh’s portrait comes from the website of William Vareika Fine Arts in Newport.

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