Select Adams Miscellany

Here are some Adams stories and accounts over the years:

Origin of the Adams Name

The Adams name denotes someone who is the "son of Adam," a Hebrew personal name meaning "man" from the Hebrew word adama which translates as "red earth."  The derivation undoubtedly has its roots in the Bibilical account of Adam's creation by God in Genesis.

The name gained popularity in Europe following the advent of Christianity when parents were encouraged to name their children for saints and Biblical figures.  References to the name in written records may be found as early as the thirteenth century.  In 1281, Alianor Adam was listed in the Assize Rolls for Cheshire and in 1327 William Adames in the Subsidy Rolls for Worcestershire. 

Jack Adams, Street Character

Jack Adams lived in Clerkenwell Green and became a street character in the reign of Charles II.   This half fool, half knave is constantly mentioned in pamphlets of the time.  In The Wits; or Sport upon Sport (published in 1682), the writer describes the comedians at the Red Bull Theatre.  On one occasion, when Robert Cox, a celebrated low comedian, played Simpleton the Smith, he used to come in munching a huge slice of bread and butter as part of his act.  Jack Adams, seeing him and knowing him, cried out: "Cuz, cuz, give me some! give me some!" to the great amusement of the spectators. 

This Adams seems to have turned astrologer and fortune-teller.  You got a better fortune from him for five guineas than for five shillings and he appears to have been as willing to cheat as his dupes were to be cheated.  There is an old print of Jack Adams, with a tobacco pipe in his girdle, standing by a table on which lies a horn-book and Poor Robin's Almanac.

William Adams, Master Potter

William Adams outshone his cousins in artistic ability and was reputed to be Josiah Wedgewood's favorite pupil.  He established his own pottery in 1789 where he made Queensware, "painted china glaze ware," transfer, basil, and Jasper until his death in 1805.

Under his control Jasper ware was made in quantity, including table sets, plaques for furniture and mantelpiece mounts, cylinders for candlestick bases and jewellry medallions. He also perfected a special shade for his ware, known as "Adams blue" for the distinctive color which approached violet.

There is a memorial to him and his forebears in St. Margaret's church in Wollstanton.  It reads as follows: 

"John Adams of Bermersley, Norton born c. 1540 and wife isabel and nephew Thomas Adams d. 1642 and wife Catherine d. 1647.
also Stephen Adams d. 1714 and wife Dorothy d. 1661
also Nicholas Adams of Burslem d. 1567 and wife Elizabeth
also William Adams, master potter of Tunstall d. 1617 (monument in Lichfield Cathedral)
also John Adams of Byrcheshead near Burslem d. 1641, buried in St. John's, Burslem
also William Adams of Bagnall d. 1727 and wife Elizabeth
also brother Edward Adams of Bagnall, Milton, Snead, Greenfields, d. 1712
also William Adams, eminent potter d. 1805 and wife Mary d. 1805
also William Adams of Greenfield near Tunstall and of Liverpool d. 1865 and wife Jane d. 1864
also brother Lewis Adams d. 1850
also William Adams of Greenfield, Tunstall, and Moreton House, Wollstanton d. 1905 and wife Laura Eliza d. 1914."

Early Adams in New England

The names of Alexander, Charles, Christopher, Fernandini, Henry, Jeremy, Nathaniel, Philip and Richard Adams are amongst those mentioned in Farmer's Register as early settlers in Massachusetts.  A partial listing of these Adamses goes as follows:

  • John came to Plymouth on the Fortune in 1621   
  • Jeremy, in Braintree in 1632, in Cambridge in 1635, and in Hartford in 1636 
  • Henry, with eight sons, settled at Mount Wollaston (Braintree) in 1634  
  • William in Cambridge in 1635, removed to Ipswich before 1642  
  • Robert, tailor of Ipswich in 1635, Salem in 1638, and Newbury in 1640  
  • Richard in Weymouth in 1635 
  • Richard, bricklayer, came to Salem on the Abigail in 1635  
  • Fernandini, shoemaker from London in 1637  
  • George, a glover, in Watertown before 1645 
  • and Christopher, mariner in Braintree in 1645, in Kittery, Maine before 1668.
Henty Adams

In The Dictionary of First Settlers of New England, Henry Adams is identified as possbly the first clerk of Braintree after its separation from Boston.  He himself died in 1646, leaving by tradition eight sons (although only five - Peter, John, Joseph, Edward, and Samuel - are mentioned in his will).   One of the sons returned to England, four removed to Medford and neighboring towns, two to Chelmsford, and only one, Joseph, remained at Braintree.

Robert Adams

Robert Adams came to Ipswich in Massachusetts Bay in 1635, bringing with him Eleanor and his first two children.  He resided in Salem in 1638 and removed to Newbury in 1640.  He acquired a large farm there.  He died in 1682.  His sons were John, Isaac, and Jacob.

Jeremy Adams

In The Original Proprietors by Mary K. Talcott, Jeremy Adams was in Braintree in 1632, removed soon to Cambridge, and came to Hartford in 1636.  He married about 1639 Rebecca, widow of Samuel Greenhill.  He was licensed to retail liquors in 1660 at a tavern on the site of the present Universalist church.  His wife Rebecca died in 1678 and he married a second Rebecca, the widow of Andrew Warner.  He died in 1683.


Samuel Adams and the Boston Tea Party

In the months prior to the Boston Tea Party, Adams penned a circular warning other colonies about the tea tax and how it would "serve both to destroy the trade of the colonies and increase their revenue."  He asked for a vote to see if the people were in favor of Philadelphia's decision to force tea agents to resign.   Boston citizens responded with support for the measure.  Adams then went to other towns and asked if they would support Boston's opposition to the tea tax.  The unanimous answer was yes.

On November 28 1773, a cargo ship named Dartmouth was ib Boston harbor, carrying 114 chests of East India tea.  This vessel was sonn joined by two more ships, the Eleanor and the Beaver.  Adams called for a meeting to discuss the options for the Boston citizens, whether to destroy the tea illegally or else to submit to England's colonial rule.

Suddenly a cry of "Boston harbor a teapot tonoight" went up.  Some who heard it knew it to be a secret command for a covert operation.  A group of eighty men dressed as Mohawk Indians boarded the three vessels and over the course of three hours dumped all 342 chests of tea into Boston harbor.

Charles Adams and His Creamery

Charles Adams arrived at the Rich Hill township in Missouri in 1867 and, a year later, purchased land and built and equipped an up-to-date creamery.

“From a small beginning it grew to a wonderful enterprise.  Adams' butter was as staple as sterling gold in any market.  Adams labored with earnest zeal to make the business go.  Friends stood by him; and he stood by his friends.  An enemy he never had.  He was perhaps the most widely loved man in Livingston county."

In 1887 he was awarded the blue ribbon Sweepstakes Premium for butter at the American Dairy Show in Chicago. In 1894 he was awarded First Premium for his butter at the St. Louis Fair.   The Adams creamery grew over time into a retail grocery store in Chillicothe and then into a large wholesale grocery business in 1889 when his sons and son-in-law joined him.

John Adams and the TV Mini-Series -  A New York Times Review

When John Adams begins acting like a pompous windbag, his wife Abigail reproaches him with a simple word.

"Ambition," Abigail warns, when Adams tells her that he will get a lot of attention if he defends British soldiers in the Boston Massacre trial.  "Vanity" is what she says to steer her husband away from what she calls "ostentatious erudition." "Casting" is what she might have told the producers of this new seven-part HBO mini-series.

Based on David McCollough's biography of Adams, the second President, John Adams is certainly worthy and beautifully made.  But Paul Giamatti is the wrong choice for the hero.  It's not his fault.  In this historical drama, Mr. Giamatti is a prisoner of a limited range and rubbery, cuddly looks - in 18th century britches and wigs, he looks like Shrek.  And this leaves the mini-series with a gaping hole at its center.  What should be an exhilirating, absorbing ride across history alongside one of the least understood and most intriguing leaders of the American Revolution is instead a struggle.

Mr. Giamatti tries valiantly to do justice to the quicksilver contradictions of Adams's character.  This son of a New England farmer was described by David McCollough as "high-spirited and affectionate, vain, cranky, impetuous, and fiercely stubborn."  One possible reason Abigail is so often tasked with uttering single-word sketches of Adams's personality is that Mr. Giamatti cannot make those traits stand out distinctly on his own.

John Adams begins in 1770 and comes to an end on July 4 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independance and the date of Adams's death at ninety.   So the mini-series does not focus solely on the drama and political brinkmanship in Philadelphia at the moment when members of the Continental Congress debated whether to break with the British crown and assert independence.

Abigail Adams, the woman who stayed home in wartime managing the farm and raising four children, is the moral center of the mini-series; hard-working, thoughtful and devoted to her husband and the cause of freedom, women's as well as men's.

"I long to hear that you have declared an independancy," she wrote in a March 1776 letter to Adams.  "And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.  Do not pus such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands."

Some of the dialogue is borrowed from the Adamses' correspondence during long separations.  With words but also with eloquent gestures and glances, Laura Linney evokes Abigail's humor, loyalty, and fierce intelligence.

The Last Confederate: The Story of Robert Adams

Robert Adams was a South Carolina cotton planter who had fallen in love with Eveline McCord, a school teacher from Pennsylvania.  Just as they met, the Civil War was upon them.  All he knew was tied into the bloody conflict and the one thing he held onto was his love for this northern woman.  He knew his struggle to protect his lands and the life that he had built would be great; and he saw that he might have to sacrifice all that he had to the conflict.  His quest for survival grew as the war worsened. 

As the tables turned, he was ultimately captured and sent to prison.  He lost his best friend, his town was burnt, and the war was all but lost.  Robert's connection to Eveline weakened as he lost the path he believed he was on.  Her love for him would be the one thing that would carry him through.

The film, The Last Confederate: The Story of Robert Adams, was released in 2007 and had been written, produced, and co-directed by Julian Adams.  Julian also played Robert Adams, his real-life great great grandfather, in the film.

Much of the film was shot at Wavering Place which had belonged to Robert's brother, James.  The watch carried by Julian Adams was the actual watch that Robert had worn during the War.  Made in England in 1801, it had been handed down from Robert's grandfather, Joel Adams.

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