Christian Forbearance Does Not Apply to This Little Hussy

in about Warren

by Miss Mercy Scollay

Date: July 27, 1776

[to Mrs. Dix] “Eben [Ebenezer Warren, Joseph’s brother] comming in for me and said his mother wanted to see me very much when I arrived at the old Ladys [Mrs. Mary Stevens Warren] she told me Mrs M—r [Miller] had sent out that morning and desired to have Betsy [Elizabeth Warren, Joseph’s eldest daughter] come and have it [smallpox inoculation] with her little boy, but she did not chuse to give her consent till she had heard what my mind was concerning the matter[.]

I did not hesitate to give my consent and now will tell you my reasons; in the first place I thot that she [Mrs Miller] was no friend to me, in some of her whimsical moments she might befriend the dear little girl, in the next place it might stop the censures of the world respecting old storys, when the old Lady countenaced her, and lastly I thot as they referd it to me I had better not say much least they should think I was prejudiced and I was not unaquainted with her art. The old Lady ask’d me if I was against going to see Betsy there intimating that she should be unwilling to have her go without I would visit her; I told her she might depend on it I would see Betsy let her be where she would, that I was not much acquainted with the Lady, and there was some places I had rather frequent than that house, but I would visit Betsy even there the dear little girl begd I would go with her when she came to Town to be inoculated and I promised her I would not doubting she would treat me with civility I accordingly went; and was treated with the most audacious insolenc[e]; I need only say she put on all her haughty airs behaved ungenteely that uncle Eben [Ebenezer Warren] who was present resented it for me, and told me he should not blame me if I never went to her house again. Indeed I never have been, but have sent to enquire after Betsy and the messengers have been treated with as much [im]politeness as your Friend, she has taken Sally Edwards who may (you know I was so concerned about) to live with her and has already learned her to be as impudent as herself and the little hussy treated [Mercy’s own] mama (who condescended to go there to invite Betsy here to spend the day) in the most saucy manner you can conceive and when the chaise was sent in mamas name, Betsy was denied coming with this verbal answer that she was engaged while the deer little creature stood by and dare nt say one word…”

Source: Mercy Scollay Paper 1775-1824, Cambridge Historical Society, Cambridge, MA.

Discussion: On her return to Boston following the Siege, Mercy Scollay alternated between depression and a pugnacious assertion of her role as advocate for Warren’s orphaned children. This letter details a running feud between Mercy and Elizabeth (Mrs. Charles) Miller over the residence and care of eldest child Elizabeth Warren (about 1765-1803) and a Sally Edwards. Mrs. Miller’s contrasting view of the situation can be found in a surviving letter from her to Dr. John Warren.

The source of Mercy’s animosity to the “little hussy” Sally Edwards is not precisely known. As detailed in my new biography of Joseph Warren, it may have had something to do with a Sally Edwards for whom Dr. Joseph Warren secretly had arranged obstetrical care in Dedham over a year beforehand. Mercy Scollay, whose deep Christian beliefs and humility are notable in her many surviving letters, extended neither to Mrs. Miller nor Miss Edwards. Sally and Edwards are common given and surnames, so the identity of the controversial resident at the Miller’s in 1776 is unclear, much less whether it is, with certainty, the same person with whom Dr Joseph Warren had arranged clinical care. A Sally Edwards who married Paul Revere, Jr., eldest son of the famous Patriot, in 1782 is definitely someone else, according to a modern lineal descendant of the Edwards.

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