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Shifting loyalties helped the
family survive a Revolution

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By Charles W. Brewster

Editors Note: C.W. Brewster was a Portsmouth columnist in the mid-1800's. This article includes his opinions and may not reflect current research or current values.

Pleasant street - Livermore - The Church - Vestry - Parsonage - Matthew Livermore - Samuel - Edward St. Loe - The mansion.

See Sam Livermore in Framers of Freedom

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ALTHOUGH not always the case, streets sometimes have significant names. In going south from Market square, we proceed for half a mile through what once was regarded the most attractive street in Portsmouth, on which governors, lawyers, clergymen and merchants had residences, and pass over a neck of land with water not very far distant on either side--hence Pleasant street was very appropriately named. Diverging from it there is now no street more spacious, level, and refreshing to the eye of the rambler, than Livermore. It was named for him who owned the site long before the latter street was opened.

At the entrance of Livermore street, on the south side, stands a brick block of three tenements, where thirty years ago the Pleasant street church was built. Its builders not heeding that prophecy which rather belongs to the profane than to the sacred, "Westward the star of empire takes its way"--found out too late that the location was wrong, if nothing else,--and after trials by several societies, which were swept by the current to the more western localities,--the church at the age of twenty-five years passed under the hammer to an enterprising individual, and was laid aside from its sacred use. Its belfry was dismantled, the sanctum or western portion, with the pulpit, were cut off, and the building with its hundred and twenty pews was turned into three tenements, and its pastor, deacons, wardens and sexton, are now all represented by Thomas H. Odion, who finds the investment he has made more profitable, pecuniarily, than it ever was before.

The next building on Livermore street, though of no towering pretensions, has yet its history. In 1813, at the corner of Pleasant and State streets, where Mr. Thacher's store now stands, the N. H. Union Bank house was burnt. Many will recollect the brick safe standing prominent amid the ruins on the next morning. Over the safe a new banking-house was erected, and used until a new location was found. The house was then removed to Wentworth street, and arranged for a chapel and Sunday school room for the South Parish. In 1828 it was sold to the Pleasant street Society, and was removed to its present location. It was again used as a chapel and school room for several years by the new society, then sold to an individual who raised the roof and made it what it is, a comely dwelling. Next comes the brick residence of Capt. Thomas Tarlton, built by the South Parish for Rev. Dr. Parker, soon after the street was opened to the water. We now pass over to the only mansion on the north side of Livermore street, which sits alone and claims to be a primitive settler, being older than the street itself, having been built facing Pleasant street, much like the original position of the Jaffrey house on Daniel street, with a similar open yard and balustraded fence in front to the street. After remaining there for more than half a century, on the opening of the street to the water between forty and fifty years ago, its front was changed from Pleasant to Livermore street, and it was removed back a short distance to its present locality. It was early the place of residence of Hon. Matthew Livermore, if not built by him.

This gentleman, who was born at Watertown, Mass. in 1703, at the age of twenty-one came to Portsmouth as a school master, and kept the grammar school seven years. In 1731, he became an attorney-at-law, and was soon after appointed Attorney General of the Province, and Advocate for the King in the courts of admiralty. These offices were profitable to him. It was not unlikely that he built this house as early as one hundred and twenty years ago. Both this house and that of Rev. Dr. Haven, north of it, were gambrel-roofed; between them was a small building, used by Mr. Livermore for his office, and in later years was the office of Hon. John S. Sherburne, also of John Wendell.

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Samuel Livermore lived in the house on Livermore street (probably with Matthew) during a part of the administration of Gov. John Wentworth. He was born in Waltham in May, 1732; was a relative, not a brother, of Matthew Livermore. He settled in Portsmouth about 1758; was appointed by John Wentworth King's Attorney for New Hampshire, and became his most necessary adviser in the troubles. From that moment till his death, in 1803, (except about two years required for deliberation before October, 1777,) he was in almost uninterrupted service of the King, or of his country--serving from the last named epoch as Delegate, Representative and Senator in Congress, and as Chief Justice of the State. The late James Sheafe, our Duke of Wellington in sagacity and in manners, spoke with unreserved admiration of his strong common sense. The late Judge Smith illustrated by amusing anecdotes the almost absolute influence with which he presided at the Convention which formed the present Constitution of New Hampshire. It is subscribed with his name. The author of the Life of William Plummer pronounces a eulogy upon his talents; and a far better judge, the late Charles H. Atherton, in his memoir of Claggett, declared that Samuel Livermore was the great man of New Hampshire in his time. Samuel had a farm in Londonderry, where he lived at two different periods. There Arthur Livermore was born. Edward St. Loe was born in Portsmouth in 1762. Here he received his education and practiced law; Arthur lived in Holderness and was about forty years ago a member of Congress. Edward married here, and occupied the Rindge house, on the present site of the Jacob Sheafe house, corner of Daniel street. He also occupied the Storer house near the Academy. He was the owner of the old mansion on Livermore street, but we do not know that he was ever an occupant. He sold it in 1809, to Dr. Nathaniel A. Haven.

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It is said that Edward St. Loe Livermore and Jeremiah Smith of Exeter, were at one time attentive to two ladies in the same family in Concord. That was a pleasant day on which Edward invited his lady love to ride. One of the best vehicles and most sprightly horses were selected. The animal was restive, and Edward, on reaching the door, regarding it unsafe to take in company until the horse was subdued, drove by without stopping. Again he approaches from the opposite direction, and again drives by Jehu-like, and after again passing and re-passing in a manner very unaccountable to the lady and her indignant mother, who regarded the whole proceeding as a matter of trifling with their feelings, Edward at length stops and enters the house. Before he had time to make an explanation, the spirited mother boxed his ears with a little of other demonstration than that of favor. At least, Judge Smith so decided in his own mind, and who shall question such a Judge's decision? for the Judge, though a greater favorite, being a considerate man, shrugging up his shoulders, retired from his suit, not being willing to subject himself to similar treatment. Edward, however, persevered and the lady became his bride. He had three children: Samuel, Caroline and Harriet. The last we heard of the latter she was in Jerusalem, having been twice thither, wishing to close her days in the Holy Land.

After the death of Matthew Livermore in 1776, the house was for some years occupied by his daughter, Mrs. Greenwood, who was, we think, his only child. Afterwards it was occupied by Nathaniel Sparhawk, Col. E. J. Long, Capt. John Porter of the Navy, John Wardrobe, Mr. Toscan, the French consul, Capt. Samuel Ham, and some others. In 1809, when Livermore street was opened, it came into the possession of the late Dr. Nathaniel A. Haven, and in 1813 was owned and occupied by Alexander Ladd. The spacious garden extended on one side of the house to Pleasant street, and on the other to the creek. It was afterwards owned and occupied by Samuel E. Coues, and in 1854 it was purchased by Albert R. Hatch, and is now his place of residence.

Text scanned courtesy of The Brewster Family Network
Copy of Rambles courtesy Peter E. Randall
History Hypertext project by
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