Monday, April 4, 2016

Who was the boy named Gustavus Scott?


Before he was the Honorable Gustavus Scott, a lawyer, 

a Member of Continental Congress,

 George Washington's compatriot,


my (6x) Great-Grandfather ...

 Who was the boy named Gustavus Scott?


"My name is Gustavus, but I like to make an anagram of my name. You know... Augustus, the builder of the Roman Empire, Caesar Augustus? I like reading about the Roman Emperors. I could be an emperor.

"I am twelve years old, the youngest of nine children. My pa is the minister of a church in the village of Dumfries in the Virginia Colony. I'm glad we don't live down by the church. I like it better up here in the hills. I fish in the big river behind our farm, and we sail stick boats down the creek hoping they get all the way to the Chesapeake Bay and maybe out to the Atlantic Ocean.

 "We have a big family, but my oldest sisters are married and gone. Pa owns a few slaves to help ma with the livestock and garden. My pa's parish is called Dettigen Parish. It's very, very long, and sometimes he's gone for many days visiting folk and preaching in distant churches in the parish.

"Early on the morning of September 4 in 1765, a pistol shot ended my childhood! How could that happen, you ask? Oh, I didn't get shot, but my brother caused the family a lot  of trouble. My brother John was in a duel. His opponent, who was shot in the thigh, died late in the night.

"Can you imagine it? Our father is a most respected man. The minister's son cannot be involved in a duel! The night before the duel, after Johnny had calmed down, and our brother-in-law Cuthbert had talked to him, Johnny really didn't want to fight a duel, but he was determined to challenge Col.John Baylis! You can see the original letters on the next page.

Johnny doesn't believe in killing. So Cuthbert agreed to be Johnny's Second and try to stop the duel from happening.  There are several versions of what happened that morning, September 4, 1865, but the end result is that the man Baylis was wounded by a shot from a gun held by Cuthbert Bullitt, himself a lawyer and court magistrate!

"I understand my brother. Johnny has a high regard for our family name, and when he heard Colonel Baylis insulting our father and our entire family, his pride just built up to the point where he couldn't do anything but accept Col Baylis's challenge.  At the duel, Cuthbert was trying to talk Colonel Baylis into giving up the idea of dueling, but it got all tangled up, and sadly Cuthbert shot Baylis.

"The month since the duel has been nothing but trouble. There had to be a trial of Cuthbert, but he was judged to have acted in self-defense. There has been no peace at Westwood in this last month. Talking! Decisions! My father is determined to send Johnny away to Scotland to finish his education .

And...  I'm to go with John to study at King's College in Aberdeen! I'm excited! I've been tutored at home by a colonist who studies at William and Mary's College over in Williamsburg. In Scotland, I will be in a real school, and the teachers will have had an English education. I'm ambitious. Do you know what I hope? After Aberdeen, I will go to London to read the Law. I can do anything I put my mind to! My sister Helen tells me so.

"The time of our family troubles has passed, and finally the day has come for the sailing! This morning I'm aboard a cargo ship bound for England. The air is filled with fine mist, but I can see the sun as we slip into the outgoing tide of Chesapeake Bay headed for the Atlantic Ocean. As the green hills fade, naturally I think of Alexander, my oldest brother who was lost at sea only a few years ago while making this same crossing to Scotland."

Will I see these Virginia hills again?"

Imagined narrative based on fact.  Pat Murray Scott
Source: Horace V Hayden's VIRGINIA GENEALOGIES, pages

Letters In the Matter of the Duel, September 4, 1765, in the village of Dumfries, Virginia - SCOTT, BAYLIS, and BULLITT

On September 2nd, John Scott wrote two letters, one to Colonel John Baylis, challenging him to the duel, and one to his brother-in-law, Cuthbert Bullitt. He asked his brother-in-law to be his “Second,” and to deliver the letter to John Baylis. He says it will do no good to try to change his mind.

Letter #1. Letter to Cuthbert Bullitt from Johnny Scott

“Dear Sir:  Enclosed I have sent you my letter to Baylis, which I have not sealed. If you have any material objection to it you must come up with my Father tonight and between us we will write another.  But I would not have it postponed any farther if it is possible to avoid it, because as I am resolved to fight, nothing shall hinder me.  I think we can’t come together too soon, therefore you must not let a trifling objection prevent your giving him the enclosed. Pray don’t talk to me any more about prudence, forbearance, and the consequences of what I have undertaken, for I am resolved to be deaf to all you can say.  And if you are so unkind as to refuse to attend me, rather than submit to such insults as Baylis has offered me, I will engage him in private and run the risk of his taking advantage of his strength.
    Your ever affectionate brother,   John Scott”

Letter #2: John Scott to Colonel John Baylis

   " Westwood, Monday September 2d, 1765

Sir:  Your scurrility to me the other day, when you so manfully drew your sword upon a naked man, I should have passed by as unworthy of my resentment, nor should I have paid at Tyler’s,
because I regard it as below the resentment of any gentleman.  But as soon as I heard that you had dared to cast aspersions on the character of my Father (whose sacred function would have protected him from any but a wretch dead to every sentiment of virtue and honor), I no longer hesitate to call you to that account which your repeated insults the best of men so loudly called for.  I shall therefore expect you next Wednesday morning at the back part of Quantico church, armed with pistols and attended by some gentleman, furnished with a pair of the same instruments. I think it necessary that we should each come accompanied by some gentleman in whose honor we can confide, not only as it may be serviceable to the survivor to produce proof that he killed his antagonist in an honorable way, but because the great disparity in our strength might lay me open to advantages which I have too much reason to think you would very readily make use of.  I therefore insist upon seconds, and I would have them be of reputation. You are at liberty to choose whom you please for your attendant, and I shall endeavor to get one to attend me to whom you can have not exception.
"Your humble servant,               John Scott"

Letter #3: Cuthbert Bullitt’s reply to John Scott

"Dear Sir:  I received yours. You request me not to dissuade you from your intentions. Did I not, from cool reflection, think they were better left alone, I would not.  The danger I shall say nothing of, tho’ much might be urged upon that head. Do you get anything by putting it in his power to take your life? Has he not an equal chance to prove fortunate? If so, the only thing you can gain is loss of life. If you kill him what great advantage do you get? You deprive a fellow creature of his life; you render his wife miserable; you ruin his innocent babes who have never injured you.  Think!  Oh think how heavy it will be on your conscience to have the curses of the widow and the orphan trending you to your grave. Sure to any man who is a Christian it will be a dreadful thought to take away the life of another deliberately and in cold blood. And what do you get by the victory? Nothing, believe me, dear Johnny. No man will think the better of you. If you kill Baylis, you must fly your country, give up your promising fortunes, and become an exile in a foreign land far from your friends and relations. What must I say to your father? What can I answer to your mother when, in the utmost distraction, she reproaches me with your death and asks her son at my hands. Dear Johnny, let me advise, let me entreat you to give over this rash enterprise. What you have yet done is unknown to every one but myself. No one will accuse you of want of courage, but all will of rashness. This one step will ever put it out of your power to pursue the vocation you are intended for. Let me know tomorrow what you intend. I shall not deliver yours until I receive an answer to this. If nothing can divert your purpose you must bring powder and bullets for the pistols you have with you. I shall only add that the consequences of the duel, that is Baylis’ or your death, will be as fail to me as to you. We shall both by the law forfeit our lives; this I do not mention by way of excuse. I shall wait your answer tomorrow impatiently.
"I am dear Johnny, your attached   “C Bullitt”

NOTE: Letters and a newspaper article from the newspaper of the day (probably the Virginia Gazette) were saved by John Scott’s family and given to Horace E. Hayden for his history of the Scott family.
See VIRGINIA GENEALOGIES by Horace E. Hayden pp 605 - 607.

Saturday, April 2, 2016


There was a lot happening in the colonies in 1765! People in all thirteen colonies were very angry with the King of England. King George II had ordered a new tax, which became known as the Stamp Tax.  Colonists already paid many taxes to England. They believed that the King and the English Lords were unfair to make the colonists pay a tax for to England for all things that used paper, like newspapers and playing cards.

Here's a picture of people protesting the Stamp Act and hanging a stuffed figure of a British soldier.
Many links explain the beginnings of the American Revolution.  Here is one:

Patrick Henry was a lawyer in the Colony of Virginia where your (6x) Great-Grandfather Gustavus lived with his father, the Reverend James Scott and his brother Johnny.  People n the village of Dumfries knew that Patrick Henry had spoken with passion and anger about the unfairness of the Stamp Tax before the Virginia House of Burgesses. His speeches were printed in handbills and newspapers, and people recited the most exciting parts to each other. Under the influence of Patrick Henry's speeches, the Virginia Burgesses wrote up resolutions about the Stamp Tax, and then sent their protest and a resolution saying that they would not pay the taxes to the King of England, King George II.

The Virginia colony challenged the King in London. This was very exciting!

You and I have to slow down our thinking right about here. We twitter, text and e-mail, but in 1765 getting a message to London and back to Williamsburg was slow, slow, slow! An ocean voyage could take 26 days, or 6 weeks, or nine weeks, or longer. So multiply by two, and add in days needed for the King to blow his top and write his reply, and you can figure that by September 2nd, when Johnny Scott lost his temper with John Baylis, tension in all thirteen colonies must have built to a high pitch! It doesn't surprise me at all that young man like Johnny Scott would behave so boldly, so unlike his father! His role model was Patrick Henry. If somebody pushed too far, he would stand up for his convictions! It was the way to be a man in the New World! The seeds of revolution were planted!


The Lives of the Scotts and American History

May 1765 -
Patrick Henry gives his first speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses, opposing the Stamp Tax.

September 4, 1765 -
Johnny Scott fights a duel with Colonel Baylis, who is mortally wounded.

Fall, 1765
Johnny and Gustavus Scott sail for England and Aberdeen, Scotland.

May, 1767-
Gustavus Scott is listed as student of the law at the Middle Temple, London, England.

1771 -
Gustavus Scott has returned to America and begins practicing law in the Colony of Maryland. One of the many lawyers in the Maryland and Virginia colonies is Patrick Henry

1773 -
The Boston Tea Party occurs

1775 - Patrick Henry's speech: "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death"
click here to hear a You Tube re-enactment of Patrick Henry's speech