|Attorney General of the
Province of Massachusetts Bay
November 1767 – 1775
|Born||August 24, 1729
|Died||September 27, 1796
Saint John, New Brunswick
|Children||Jonathan Sewell, Chief-Justice of Lower Canada.
Stephen Sewell, Solicitor General of Lower Canada
He was born in Boston on August 24, 1729 to Jonathan and Mary (Payne) Sewall. Sewall's father was an unsuccessful merchant who died at a young age. However through scholarships, funds raised by his pastor William Cooper and with the help of his uncle, Chief Justice Stephen Sewall, Sewall was able to attend Harvard. Sewall graduated from Harvard College in 1748, and was a teacher in Salem until 1756. He married Esther Quincy, a daughter of merchant Edmund Quincy. After studying law, he began a successful practice in Charlestown and served as attorney general of Massachusetts from 1767 to 1775. In 1768 he was also appointed Judge of Admiralty for Nova Scotia.
In 1759 Sewall became a very close friend and patron of John Adams, the future second President of the United States. At the urging of Governor Francis Bernard, Sewall offered Adams the position of Advocate General in the Admiralty Court. Adams declined. A devout Loyalist, Sewall took his family to England in 1775 after a mob stormed his family home in Cambridge. (He was subsequently named in the Massachusetts Banishment Act of 1778.) Adams, in his diary, grieved that his best friend in the world had become his implacable enemy. While Adams was assigned to London as a U.S. minister to the Court of St. James's in 1785, he looked up his old friend and they had a two-hour meeting. Both men were entrenched in their own ideas and no reconciliation was possible; Adams considered Sewall a casualty of the war.
In popular culture
- Shipton, Clifford Kenyon (1995), New England life in the 18th century: Representative biographies from Sibley's Harvard graduates, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, p. 565., ISBN 0-674-61251-5
- Stark, James Henry (1910). The Loyalists of Massachusetts and the Other Side of the American Revolution. Salem Press. p. 455. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
- Jonathan Sewall: Odyssey of an American Loyalist, Carol Berkin. Columbia University Press (1974) ISBN 0-595-00020-7