Plaintiff for the Recovery of the Estate from Charles Apthorp

in about Warren

Date: December 18, 1769
“Last week an interesting trial came on before the Superior Court now sitting here, wherein Dr. Joseph Warren, administrator on the estate of Nathaniel Wheelwright, Esq; late of Boston, deceased, was plaintiff, for the recovery of part of the estate which the said Nathaniel had made over to Charles W. Apthorp, Esq;– The trial lasted four days, and we hear, the Jury brought in their verdict in favour of the Administrator.”
Source: Boston Gazette and Boston Evening-Post. The same article appeared simultaneously in both newspapers
Commentary: Warren pleaded this case in person in Massachusetts province Superior Court. It was unusual for a physician to personally be an advocate in court, and was further notable for his success. The allegation was that Mr. Apthorp had illegally accepted assets from Wheelwright when death was imminent, thereby cheating creditors out of their share of remaining assets. The estate was insolvent, so creditors expected partial payment of their debts in the best case.
This situation is notable for the size of the Wheelwright estate (its insolvency was enough to generate financial woes for lenders and borrowers in Massachusetts); and the involvement of a full-time physician as its administrator. Despite the fact that debts exceeded assets, fees taken by the administrator of a large and complex estate, money taken before distribution of the residua to creditors of the estate, could be lucrative for the administrator. Joseph Warren as appointed to the role in late 1767 by Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson in the latter’s additional role Judge of Probate for the province. This act could be interpreted as political patronage by the Loyalist Friends of Government to attract Joseph Warren to their camp. Earlier In 1767 Joseph Warren’s pseudonymous Paskalos had kind words for Hutchinson, and as Philo Physic, focused on ostensibly nonpartisan issues of medical malpractice.
John L. Bell posted an engaging explanation of the Wheelwright bankruptcy here. Even Joseph Warren’s Loyalist medical mentor, Dr. Lloyd, was owed 1,000 Pounds on a loan extended to Wheelwright. The insolvency had triggered a chain of bankruptcies and financial woes as debts were called due from Paul Revere, John Scollay, and Joseph Warren’s mother, among many others.

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