| Perez Morton (1750-1837) purchased the land at the corner of Dudley & Burgess Streets in 1794 and added to it twice. He and Sarah Wentworth Apthorp Morton (1759-1846) moved from Boston to the Dorchester site in late 1796 or early 1797. Sarah said that the house was built according to her own "whimsical plan". Charles Bulfinch was a cousin to Sarah, and it has been stated also that he designed the house.
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The house was located on Dudley Street nearly across from the James Swan House.
On Sept. 27, 1803, Perez mortgaged the property to his brother Joseph Morton. On July 7, 1808, Joseph Morton sold the estate to Cornelius Coolidge. Sometime before that the family had moved out. The property was later acquired by the Taylor family. It was taken down in 1891.
The Mortons moved 1803 and 1808 to a piece of land purchased by Sarah at what is known as Allen's Plain, fronting on Pleasant Street and adjoining Stoughton Street. The house was known as the Pavilion. Perez died there in 1837. In 1841 Sarah sold the property to William D. Swan, instructor, of Dorchester. It was demolished in the 1880s.
The Mortons were married at Trinity Church, Boston, on Feb. 24, 1781. They moved to the mansion that had belonged to Sarah's grandfather and later to her uncles Thomas and Charles. As the property of a Loyalist expatriate, it was subject to confiscation, and in 1784, Perez Morton purchased the rights of Charles Ward Apthorp, of New York, and Thomas Apthorp, of London, to the property. There was a family scandal in the late 1780s, and it is supposed that Perez had an affair with Sarah's sister Fanny who killed herself. The first American novel, The Power of Sympathy, was assumed for a time to have been written by Sarah since it dealt with a similar situation. Scholars now attribute the novel to William Hill Brown, a neighbor of the Mortons who knew about the scandal.
Three poems that appear in Sarah's collection My Mind and Its Thoughts appear to date from the period of the affair. They are an essay on "Marriage," a poem, "Stanzas to a Recently United Husband," and another poem, "Conciliation."
Sarah's publications include poems contributed to literary magazines. Her first long poem was published in December, 1790, Ouabi: or The Virtues of Nature, An Indian Tale. In Four Cantos. Boston: Isaiah Thomas and Ebenezer Andrews, 1790. Other works include: Beacon Hill. A Local Poem, 1797; The Virtues of Society. A Tale Founded on Fact, 1799; My Mind and Its Thoughts, in Sketches, Fragments, and Essays, 1823.
In 1806 Perez was elected Speaker of the lower house in the General Court of Massachusetts and was re-elected in 1807, 1810 and 1811. He was appointed to Attorney General in 1810 to fill a vacancy. He served in this position until 1832.
Clapp, David. The Old Morton and Taylor Estates in Dorchester, Mass. Boston: Press of David Clapp & Son, 1892. Reprinted from the N. England Historical and Genealogical Register for Jan., 1892.
McBride, Marion A. "Some Old Dorchester Houses." New England Magazine, May, 1890.
Orcutt, William Dana. Good Old Dorchester: A Narrative History of the Town, 1630-1893. Cambridge: The University Press, 1908 [c1891]
Pendleton, Emily and Ellis, Milton. Notes from Philenia. The Life and Works of Sarah Wentworth Morton, 1759-1846. The Maine Bulletin, Dec. 1931, v. xxxiv, no. 4.
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Created: August 22, 2003 Modified: December 7, 2003