Note on Medical Condition of Samuel Richardson

in by Warren

Author: Joseph Warren

Date: March 21, 1765

Source: Original MSS in MB (Minute Books, Superior Court of Judicature, Office of the Clerk, Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County, Boston) 81, March Term 1765 SF #100482

“This may certify that about six Weeks ago I was called to visit Samuel Richardson son of Capt. Nathl Richardson. I found his nerves much disordered with frequent Twitchings and partial Convulsions attended with a Delirium. I bled him largely and gave him several Doses of Physick – upon which the Delirium ceased and his Nerves grew quiet. Upom Enquiry I found that He had at Times been liable to Disorders of this Kind in his Childhood.

[signed] Doctor Joseph Warren”

A memorandum in Clerk Samuel Winthrop’s hand across the foot of the document records that “upon the above Certificate he was discharged.

Commentary: This note is like a physician’s note rationalizing an absence from school. In this case the young man was not being excused as a truant, but rather from involuntarily testifying on behalf of the King’s administration relative to a riot in 1764. Warren’s participation in the episode, though exhibiting clinical justification, may constitute his earliest involvement as a Whig sympathizer.

According to Hiller Zobel in his classic Boston Massacre, “[Samuel] Richardson and Theodore Bliss ‘were bro’t into Court to give Evidence in behalf of the King.’ Upon their refusal to be sworn, the court ordered them ‘to his Majesty’s goal.’… He produced a kind of ‘excuse note,’ directed at the judges. John Avery, who was involved in this affair, was a member of Joseph Warren’s Harvard Class of 1759 and also belonged to the Loyal Nine. (p. 38 of the W.W. Norton 1996 reissued edition).

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