B

orn in PortsmouthJonathan Warner (1726 - 1814) followed the mercantile path of his father, Daniel Warner, owning ships by the 1750s.  On May 5, 1748, Jonathan had married Mary Nelson of the Nelsons of Boston at the house of Mary's Uncle Theodore Atkinson in Portsmouth.  Theodore Atkinson was married to Hannah Wentworth, sister of both Sarah Wentworth Macpheadris Jaffrey and Mary Wentworth Nelson, who was Mary Nelson's mother.  

By 1760, Warner was widowed with a young daughter, Mary "Polly" Warner (1749 - c.1770).  That year, he married Mary Macpheadris Osborne, the cousin of his deceased wife and family friend.  As stated, Mary was an heiress and widow.   Before the Revolutionary War broke out, Warner was a member of the King’s Council, and during the conflict, the Committee of Safety brought him to an Exeter jail after he refused to sign the Association Test.  Like many businessmen who had strong financial ties with English trade, Warner straddled the political fence.  Near the beginning of the war, Mary died, and in 1781, he married another wealthy heiress, Elizabeth Pitts, daughter of leading Boston patriot James Pitts and granddaughter of James Bowdoin.  While his political allegiance has remained a mystery, there is no doubt about Warner’s business acumen.   After the Revolutionary War, Warner resumed his mercantile ways and later became active in local and state government.  He served as moderator for the town of Portsmouth.

In 1810, Elizabeth died, leaving her vast estate to her husband.  Warner survived long enough to see the Great Fire of 1813 gut Portsmouth and leave a path of devastation that included the land opposite the Warner House on Daniel Street where Warner purportedly had a store, which may have been the wooden dwelling Archibald Macpheadris had built in the late 1710s.  As the town began to rebuild the following spring, Jonathan Warner’s life was slipping away.  He died on May 15, 1814, in the same house he had resided in for 54 years.

We well recollect Mr. W. as one of the last of the cocked hats. As in a vision of early childhood, he is still before us, in all the dignity of the aristocratic crown officers. That broad back, long skirted brown coat, those small clothes and silk stockings–those silver buckles, and that cane, we see them still, although the life that filled and moved them ceased half a century ago..

—Charles Brewster, Brewster's Rambles About Portsmouth, 1848

 

Next:  The Sherburnes

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