The summer of 1765 was one of the most eventful of Sally’s young life. Peter returned in June, having set up as a doctor in his hometown of Middleborough the previous year. He began his courtship of her, and mentions that “the family was very agreeable” to it, despite his struggles in establishing himself in medical practice. In August he asked for and received then-Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson’s permission to marry Sally. We have no evidence for Sally’s feelings about her engagement, but she seems to have known Peter quite well by the time they became engaged, and it’s likely she was at least fond of him.
On August 26, 1765, just a few days after Sally’s engagement, a far less pleasant change took place in her life. Tensions had been rising steadily in Boston since the news had broken about the Stamp Act back in the spring. The tax was scheduled to take effect in November, and Sally and Peter’s uncle Andrew Oliver had been appointed as the commissioner charged with issuing the stamps. On August 14, the Sons of Liberty organized a protest where they hung and burnt Andrew Oliver in effigy, then marched to his house and threatened to destroy it unless he resigned as stamp agent. After Oliver’s resignation the next day, a crowd showed up at the Hutchinson house in Boston and demanded that the lieutenant governor denounce the act himself. They were calmed down and dispersed, and Hutchinson avoided having to make a statement.
|Tile from Hutchinson House (1884.0116c)|
When Sally and her family returned to their home the next morning, they discovered that it had been destroyed by the mob. She lost much of her clothing, including several items belonging to her late mother, and most of the family’s furniture was ruined, as well as the structure of the house itself. They returned to Milton until their house could be rebuilt.
Peter visited the family in Milton and found Sally “most terribly worried and distrest [sic].” Find out what happened to them when the series concludes in our next post.
By Marielle Boudreau, Education Associate and Revolutionary Character