Gift of Sarah Preston Adams in 1805 to
The First Parish in Dorchester, Dorchester, MA
Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1911. American Church Silver of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, with a few pieces of Domestic Plate., no. 850, p. 102.
Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, loan, 1938-2011
John Henry Buck, Old Plate, it's Maker & Marks, 1903, p. 240.
E. Alfred Jones, The Old Silver of American Churches, 1913, p. 148.
Patricia E. Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths and Jewelers, 1998, p. 851.
Sarah (Sally) Preston, daughter of Remember Preston (1724-1761) and his wife Sarah Davis (b. 1726), was born on 1 March 1749 in Dorchester, MA. On 1 August 1776 she married Dr. Samuel Adams (1744-1819), a widower twice over and distant relative of the patriot Samuel Adams and President John Adams. The Sol Feinstone Collection of the David Library of the American Revolution, Washington Crossing, PA, contains a number of letters written by Dr. Adams during the Revolutionary War, including thirty-one courting letters to Sarah Preston. During the War, Dr. Adams acted as surgeon to the 18th Continental Regiment of Foot. A letter written to Sarah on 10 March 1776 from the lines outside Boston records Dr. Adams' affection for his future wife:
My Dear Sally
Your Sudden, and to me unexpected return to Dorchester has made me very dull deprived of your agreeable company I have nothing left to entertain and amuse me in my leisure hours__ when I reflect on the pleasure I enjoyed when my dear Sally was so near me that when ever I wanted to unbend my mind from cares & business, could have recourse to her agreeable company. I am ready to murmur at my present Situation and impatiently wish for the happy moment to arrive when I am to meet my Sally to part no more __ but I forbear__ would beg that the loss of your company may in part be made up by a line from your fair hand__ I am my Dear Sally in the Sincerest bonds of love yours
In another letter dated "Boston, March 26th, 1776" Dr. Adams discusses the dangerous threats faced by the regiments , including a small-pox epidemic. He begs of her:
-- don't give yourself any uneasiness on my account – there is one able to keep me from the small pox and all other dangerous and I doubt I shall have my Sally's prayers for my preservation –
My Dear Sally with Sincere Love
I am affectionately yours
At the time of the 1808 donation of this tankard, Sarah's family had become well-established in the Church and in the Dorchester community. Daniel Preston (1649-1726), Sarah's great-grandfather, was born in Dorchester and served as a Church Deacon and Elder. The donation of the present tankard to the Church was likely inspired by Sarah's great-uncle, Remember Preston (1678-1755), who donated the Jonathan Trott beaker (lot 121). Sarah Preston was also donor of the early 19th century baptismal basin to be offered as lot 123 in this sale.
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