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

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