Strangers to Us All
Lawyers and Poetry

John Gardiner


John Gardiner was "born in Boston in 1731; died near Cape Ann, Massachusetts, 15 October, 1793, studied law at the inner temple, London, and was admitted to practice in the courts of Westminster Hall. He became intimate with Churchill, the satirist, with Lord Martsfield, and with John Wilkes, in whose cause he appeared as junior counsel in 1764. He also appeared for Breadmore and Meredith, who, for writings in support of Wilkes, had been imprisoned on a general warrant. He practiced a short time with success in the Welsh circuit, and then procured in 1766 the appointment of attorney general in the Island of St. Christopher, West Indies, where he remained until after the American Revolution, when he returned, in 1783, to Boston. A few years later he removed to Pownalboro, Maine, and represented that town in the Massachusetts legislature until his death. While a member of that body he procured the abolition of the law of primogeniture, promoted several legal reforms, and was earnest but unsuccessful in his arguments for the repeal of the statutes of 1750 against theatrical entertainments. The law that he sought to abolish remained in force until 1793, when it was repealed. Mr. Gardiner was one of the most influential of the early Unitarians of Boston, and prominently participated in the transformation of King's chapel, of which his father was one of the founders, from an Episcopal into a Unitarian Congregational Church. He met his death by drowning while on his way to the general court of Massachusetts. In connection with his efforts to repeal the anti-theatrical laws while he was a member of the Massachusetts legislature, he published a 'Dissertation on the Ancient Poetry of the Romans,' with incidental observations on certain superstitions. He also wrote a political tract in verse entitled 'Jacobinial,' a satire on the republican clubs of Boston, a revision of which by the author was published in Boston in 1795." [Source: Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography]