Susanna Boylston

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Susanna Boylston
BornMarch 5, 1708
DiedApril 17, 1797(1797-04-17) (aged 89)
(m. 1734; died 1761)
John Hall
(m. 1766; died 1780)
Children4, including John Adams

Susanna Boylston Adams Hall (March 5, 1708 – April 17, 1797) was a prominent early-American socialite, mother of the second U.S. president, John Adams and the paternal grandmother of the sixth president, John Quincy Adams.

Early life[edit]

Susanna was born in Brookline, Province of Massachusetts Bay, on March 5, 1708. Her parents were Peter Boylston (c. 1673–1743) and Anne (née White) Boylston (1685–1772).[1] Her paternal grandparents were Dr. Thomas Boylston and Mary (née Gardner) Boylston,[2][3][4] and her maternal grandparents were Benjamin White and Susanna (née Cogswell) White.[5]

The Boylstons were one of the most respectable families in New England and among her relatives was cousin Ward Nicholas Boylston, a benefactor of Harvard College, and uncle Zabdiel Boylston, the celebrated Physician who performed the first surgical operation by an American physician and was known for inoculating hundreds of people in Boston during a severe smallpox outbreak.[6] Cousin Mary Boylston was mother of Mary Hallowell, wife of Chief Justice of Upper Canada John Elmsley.

Personal life[edit]

In 1734, Susanna was married to John Adams Sr. (1691–1761).[7] She is among the least well known of the famous Adams family, for her name appears infrequently in the large body of Adams writings. Historian David McCullough notes that no writings of hers survive, though it is known that others would often read to her, suggesting that she might have been illiterate.[8] In his memoirs, John Adams wrote that "as my parents were both fond of reading...I was very early taught to read at home.".[9] Together, John and Susanna were parents of the following children:

  • John Adams (1735–1826), the 2nd president of the United States.
  • Peter Boylston Adams (1738–1823), a farmer, militia captain of Braintree, Massachusetts.
  • Elihu Adams (1741–1775), a company commander in the militia during the American Revolution who died from dysentery.

Five years after the death of her first husband, she married Lt. John Hall (1698–1780) on October 17, 1766. Reportedly, Lt. Hall did not get along with her grown children. Susanna died in Quincy, Massachusetts, on April 17, 1797, around a month into her son's presidency.[6]


  1. ^ The Family of Elisha Thayer, by J. Farmer, Hingham, 1835
  2. ^ The Alden Kindred of New York City & Vicinity by Violet Main Turner and E. Huling Wordworth, New York, 1935
  3. ^ Epitaphs from the Old Burying Ground in Watertown, by William Thaddeus Harris and Eward Doubleday Harris, Boston, 1896
  4. ^ New England Marriages Prior to 1700, by Clarence Almon Torrey, Page 294
  5. ^ The Hawley Society based in large part on The Hawley Record, by Elias Sill Hawley, 1890
  6. ^ a b "Founders Online: Obituary of Susanna Boylston Adams Hall, 29 April 1797". The Adams Papers, Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 12, March 1797 – April 1798: Harvard University Press. Retrieved 4 April 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  7. ^ "John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776, sheet 2 of 53 [electronic edition]". Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society.
  8. ^ McCullough, David (2001). John Adams. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. p. 30. ISBN 0-684-81363-7.
  9. ^ Autobiography of John Adams, "Parents and schooling," p. 2.

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