Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
(800) 937-3880

Lot #119
John Hancock

The 23-year-old Hancock writes his brother from 1760 London, relaying good wishes on their sister’s marriage and inquiring about the family slaves

This lot has closed

Estimate: $15000+
Sell a Similar Item?


The 23-year-old Hancock writes his brother from 1760 London, relaying good wishes on their sister’s marriage and inquiring about the family slaves

Exquisite ALS signed "Jno. Hancock," three pages on two adjoining sheets, 7 x 8.75, December 27, 1760. Letter to his brother, Ebenezer Hancock, in part: "I have before me yo'r agreeable Letters of Nov'r 6th by Capt Bride, & desire you will write one by every oppry [opportunity] & acquaint me more particularly with the Circumstances of my Uncle's Family. I am glad to hear you are well, & earnestly beg you will give great Attention to Business, & let yo'r Conduct be such as to merit the Esteem of all about you, & Remember that the Diligent Hand maketh Rich. I hope at on my Return to find you a Compleat Merch't I am much please'd at the Advantages you have before you, of which I doubt not but you will make the proper Improvement.

I observe by yo'r Letter our Sister is Married, & that you was with them at the Celebration of it, I wish them great Happiness & Satisfaction, & I hope they will meet with nothing to Interrupt their Quiet, they have my best wishes, I shall write you again soon. Have me Remembered in the strongest Terms of Affection to my Uncle & Aunt Love to all in the Family, particularly Hannah & Betsy. How is Molly, & how does Cate behave. Is Agniss a Breeding, Is Prince as gouty as ever, & Hannibal as peevish as formerly tell him I think of him, as he was the last of the family I saw on the Wharf. How is Thomas & in short all. I have been lately ill, but am upon the Recovery, hope soon to get abroad again. I wish you, with Hannah Betsy & all the family many happy New Years." He adds another thought to the adjoining page, in full: "Tell Hannah that Mr Barnard's where I am ill, is a young woman who is Remarkably Tender & kind to one in any Illness, & often brings her to my mind, that I am as well attended as I could ever desire, & that I am very well off, but had much rather be ill, if I must be so, where my Aunt & she is, But that this young woman is exactly the Image of her in Respect of a good and tender Nurse." Also addressed on the reverse by Hancock, "To Mr Ebenezer Hancock Jr., Boston." In very good to fine condition, with archival reinforcements to the intersecting folds, and repaired seal-related paper loss to the integral address leaf.

In 1760, Hancock lived in London while learning the English side of his uncle and adoptive father Thomas Hancock's merchant firm; John would inherit the firm and family fortune after Thomas passed away four years later. He happily notes his sister Mary's marriage to Richard Perkins, and asks about the rest of the family, including his uncle and aunt Thomas and Lydia Hancock, as well as aunts Hannah and Betsy. Most interestingly, however, he inquires about "Molly," asks if "Cato" was behaving, is curious if "Agniss" was pregnant or having children, queries whether "Prince" still had the gout, and if "Hannibal" remained "peevish." These were the Hancock family's slaves, who lived with them at their mansion on Beacon Hill in Boston. Hancock was clearly compassionate towards the slaves, considering them a normal part of the family-he was generous enough to bring them gifts upon his return to Boston. A very early and interesting family letter from one of the nation's most famous founders.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autographs and Artifacts
  • Dates: #565 - Ended September 12, 2019

This item is Pre-Certified by PSA/DNA
Buy a third-party letter of authenticity for $250.00

*This item has been pre-certified by a trusted third-party authentication service, and by placing a bid on this item, you agree to accept the opinion of this authentication service. If you wish to have an opinion rendered by a different authenticator of your choosing, you must do so prior to your placing of any bid. RR Auction is not responsible for differing opinions submitted 30 days after the date of the sale.