Date: August 26, 1778
“Bedford [Pennsylvania or Massachusetts?] 15 miles from Camp
Dear Doctor [Nathaniel Ames III],
When I was with you in Dedham, I expected my brother would have gone to Boston immediately on my arrival in Camp: but business so happened that he did not go, and therefore I had not the opportunity which I expected to forward the balance of the account. By this conveyance, which is the only one that I could trust to that I have had, you have enclosed £36. I left the minute which I took of the balance and know not exactly what it is, but imagine it must be near this Sum: more or less please to give me Cr for it on account.
Soon after I arrived from Boston, I received directions to report to this place: here I have been since and here I expect to tarry some months perhaps. If you will be so obliging as to acquaint me with the situation of affairs, and of that particularly which we convened on last, & direct a letter to me at this place, I shall acknowledge the favor among others.
You must pardon, my dear Sir, my want of complaisance (if it was such) in not returning to your house, but really I would not have seen the person whom I suppose you intended to introduce me to on any account; if my conjecture was wrong. I ask a thousand pardon.
I shall be very happy to hear from you soon, and I am with respectful Compliments to Mrs. Ames.
Your obliged friend and humble Servant
Source: Letter transcribed in part in Robert Brand Hanson’s Diary of Nathaniel Ames, Camden, Maine: Picton Press, 1998, p. 332. I transcribed this full text from the original manuscript letter at Dedham Historical Society, Dedham, Massachusetts.
Commentary: William Eustis (1753-1825) writes to Dr. Nathaniel Ames referring to Eustis’ partial settlement of an account in the name of Dr. Joseph Warren. Robert Brand Hanson, editor of Ames’ diary, believes that this payment was for attendance at the birth and maintenance of Warren’s potentially illegitimate child Sally, born June 28, 1775, the daughter of Sally Edwards. These expenses were incurred posthumously relative to the account of Joseph Warren.
In the first paragraph is unclear whether young Dr. Eustis is referring to his familial brother or to a fraternal brother Mason or Spunker.
Standing alone, the letter documents a payment being made by Eustis to Ames in the latter’s absence. One can’t tell precisely whom William Eustis is talking about in the last paragraph.
The general context and knowledge of what is in the Ames account book is somewhat more revealing, though still ultimately puzzling.
This is 1778. Joseph Warren has been dead for three years. William Eustis is a Continental Army physician. He passes through Dedham, and pays Dr. Nathaniel Ames (III) the then current bill a toddler, whom I think is the illegitimate Sally Edwards. Ames in not around at the time, so Eustis leaves an amount he thinks is due, along with this letter as explanation. The mother, also named Sally Edwards, has left Dedham just after the Siege of Boston in the Spring of 1776. In the summer of 1776, Joseph Warren’s fiancée Miss Mercy Scollay, in a letter by her to Mrs. Dix, labels a Sally Edwards as a “little hussy.” In Dedham of 1778 just the baby remains under the supervision of Dr. Ames, who has hired a nurse to care for the child.
William Eustis seems to adamantly refuse to meet the innocent child. Why? One thing is for certain: he is up to his eyeballs in some manner in this episode involving his deceased mentor Joseph Warren. What is William Eustis’ involvement with Joseph Warren’s “fair incognita pregnans?”