Mercy Scollay’s campaign to adopt Warren’s orphaned children did not succeed, though she took care of the children intermittently until Dr. John Warren returned to Boston in 1777. By then Dr. John had married Abigail Collins, the daughter of the governor of Rhode Island, whom he had met while in the Army. Dr. John and Abigail immediately started their own family and promptly adopted Joseph Warren’s four orphans.
We can imagine that Dr. John, following the dressing down by fictional Beatrice for his choice of treating Alan, was thereafter more tactful with the ladies. He got along well with spouse Abigail Collins Warren, having many children together.
Mercy’s letters advocating government support for the orphaned Warren children, and for her role in raising them, put her at odds at times with Warren’s brothers Ebenezer and John. By 1778 Benedict Arnold, who had met and apparently befriended Joseph Warren, but had not met Mercy, in Cambridge in April of 1775, donated five hundred silver dollars via Mercy toward the children’s welfare. In a time of inflation of Continental paper money, this was an impressive gift.
By 1780, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, and other luminaries succeeded in influencing the Continental Congress to support Warren’s orphans with half pay of a major general, retroactive to the time of his death, to be allocated for support of the orphans until the youngest reached the age of majority. In a time before life insurance or veteran’s benefits, and with the Continental government in dire financial straits, the commitment to Joseph Warren’s orphans is noteworthy. Joseph Warren’s St. Andrew’s Lodge of Masons also had been making donations toward their support. The financial picture was stabilizing nicely for them, though we can only imagine the emotional effects of being shuffled among sometimes fractious surviving family and friends; the siblings alternating separated then partly reunited, and with little say in the matter.
As an aside, no likenesses survive, to my knowledge or to previous biographers’, of any of Joseph Warren’s children, brothers Ebenezer or Samuel, or matriarch Mary Stevens Warren. So Lora’s drawings of them are speculative. Same is true for Nathan Hale. I am suspicious that one or another picture may be lurking in someone’s attic, so I remain on the lookout for them. In contrast, fine paintings, modeled from life, of Joseph Warren, Mrs. Elizabeth Hooton Warren, John Warren, Alexander Hamilton, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and many others exist. I know that Lora has taken pains to adapt those into her web comic and contemporary style.
Brother John Warren’s legal adoption of the children relieved Mercy Scollay of a formalized role in the matter. The two younger children lived for a time in the Scollay Boston household under Mercy’s tutelage.
Mercy never married nor had any children of her own. Her subsequent letters reveal that she was broken hearted, but found solace and strength in her Christian faith. She lived to age eighty-four, passing away on January 8, 1826, over 50 years after her lover’s passing.
Joseph Warren’s male children died as young adults without having a chance to make a mark in the world and without issue. The girls married, though only Mary had a child live to adulthood.
Elizabeth married General Arnold Welles, Jr. in Boston on September 6, 1785. She died childless at about age 39 on July 26, 1804.
Joseph ‘Josie’ Warren attended Harvard, graduating in the Class of 1786. He taught in the public school at Foxborough- Nathan Hale style. He was seized by an acute illness in April of 1790 and died after only a few hours illness at age twenty-two, possibly in uncle Ebenezer Warren’s house in that town. We do not know what happened in modern terms. It could have been, among innumerable possibilities, acute appendicitis. A routine and eminently survivable emergency in our modern age of antibiotics and safe surgery, appendicitis was unrecognized and deadly at the time. It was another century before a surgeon demonstrated the condition and a straight forward surgical cure, leaving no more sequelae than a lower right quadrant scar and the sufferer thinking twice about wearing skimpy swimming attire at the beach.
Richard Hooton ‘Dickie’ Warren traveled to Fredericksburg, Virginia, to pursue a merchant’s business. That was home to another Revolutionary War fighting physician and hero – General Hugh Mercer, who died of wounds suffered at the Battle of Princeton in January of 1777. Warren and Mercer were both named in the same Continental Congress resolution, sponsored by Sam Adams, for federal monuments to be built in their honor. Congress has never gotten around to building those. Dickie Warren died on a visit to Boston in April of 1797, age 28. Dickie’s demise remains unknown in modern terms. Causes may have included a severe case of malaria or yellow fever, both occurring in low lying areas of Virginia at the time. Such diseases could have had a fatal course if contracted by a Yankee, who had never encountered such maladies as a youth in Boston, on taking residence in the South as an adult.
Youngest child of Joseph Warren’s four, Mary ‘Polly’ Warren, married Samuel Lyman of Northampton, Massachusetts, in October 1797. By 1802 Mary was widowed. She re-married Judge Richard E. Newcomb of Greenfield, Massachusetts in May 1803. Polly died February 26, 1826, outliving octogenarian Miss Mercy Scollay by just a month. Polly was described as inheriting “the personal, as well as the mental qualities which are said to have characterized that distinguished patriot.” She had a child who continued the matri-lineal line and cherished the memory of grand dad Dr. Joseph Warren. Since publication of my biography of Joseph Warren, I have been in contact with Newcomb descendants of Polly Warren. I am working with them to locate interesting Warren artifacts that, if genuine, have never been known to scholars.
Remember, no regular Dreamer update today or Friday. Come back on Friday to read the last part of this series, and learn the fates of Dr. Joseph Warren’s three brothers: Samuel, Ebenezer, and John.
I’ll be in New London, Connecticut on Saturday, June 30th at 2 PM for the grand opening of the exhibit I wrote and drew for the Nathan Hale School House.