1789: Eliza Day to Mary Peace

What Eliza Day might have looked like in 1789

This letter was written by Eliza Day of Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, England. We learn from this letter she had been a student at the Tottenham Quaker School for girls in north London and, while there, formed the acquaintance with an American named Mary Peace (1775-1852) from Charleston, South Carolina, who attended the same school for one year.

Mary Peace was the daughter of merchant Isaac Peace and Elizabeth Gibson, who were both originally from Barbados, but settled in Charleston, South Carolina. Mary married Rowland Hazard (1763-1835), the son of Thomas “College Tom” Hazard (1720-1798) and Elizabeth Robinson of South Kingstown, R.I. He entered a mercantile partnership in 1789 with his first cousin John Robinson Jr. (1767-1831) of Charleston, South Carolina. Peter Ayrault was admitted to the partnership in 1794, which then became known as Hazard, Robinson & Co. By 1796, business was being transacted under the name of Hazard & Ayrault. This partnership was dissolved around 1803. Hazard continued financing merchant voyages for most of his life, often trading with his older brother Thomas “Bedford Tom” Hazard Jr. (1758-1828). His trade was largely along the Atlantic coast and the Caribbean, with Charleston, New York and Rhode Island serving as hubs, and his cargo included everything from salt to spermaceti oil to cheese. Hazard seems to have been a substantial merchant, although not one of the largest of his day. He suffered serious financial setbacks around 1807, when several of his ships were captured by French privateers acting under the Decrees of Berlin and Milan. In 1802, Hazard began to invest in the textile industry, acquiring a half interest in a South Kingstown fulling mill, and in 1804 a carding machine in the same location. This was the beginning of the Narragansett Cotton Manufacturing Company. After 1810, Hazard’s son Isaac P. Hazard came to play an important role in this business. In 1819, Isaac and another son, Rowland G. Hazard, took full control of this company and developed it into the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company, which became one of the dominant businesses in southern Rhode Island. In 1819, Hazard settled in Pleasant Valley, N.Y. as his primary residence, where he resided until his death. He continued to travel frequently to South Kingstown and Charleston for both family and business reasons. He sold his financial interest in the business to his son Isaac in 1821. [Source: Rhode Island Historical Society]

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Isaac Peace, Merchant, Charleston, South Carolina, North America

Third Day Evening
22d 12 [December] 1789

I received my dear Mary’s acceptable letter and was much pleased with its contents. I shall esteem every such favor as a mark of thy friendship for me and in future hope to manifest by a more speedy reply a greater regard for they favors.

I have thought several times lately that perhaps my friend ‘ere this has concluded her Eliza had forgotten her, or at least, her promise of writing frequently, but let me assure thee, tho’ I had forgotten neither, tho’ the Ocean divides us, and we are separated far, very far from each other, yet do I retain as great an affection for my absent Mary as I ever did, and tho’ I acknowledge I was very remiss in not complying with thy request sooner, believe me when I tell thee, my long silence did not proceed from forgetfulness of thee, but really from a consciousness of my own inabilities, and a very great dislike to letter-writing.

How often my dear girl! do I reflect on the many happy, happy hours we have spent with each other at Tottenham, like happy hours we perhaps may neither of us again enjoy, * what rendered our enjoyment still greater was our being favored with the company of our amiable Friend, and pleasing companion, Mr. Morris, for whom I always had and still continue to have so great a friendship, tho’ have not the happiness to tell thee I am favored with a return alas! my Mary I fear not, perhaps it may be supposition thee will very likely say when thee read my scrawl, if its only that, I doubt not but my suppositions are too true. I wrote to her about four months ago and have not yet received an answer to my letter, therefore conclude she wishes no longer to have an intercourse with me. Ah! how I lament the loss of so dear a friend. But let me drop this unpleasing subject.

I have had a very pleasant excursion this summer into Norfolk to visit my Cousin Katharine Haycock who I dare say thee have not forgotten. I staid with her almost four months. She is the same droll girl that she was when at Tottenham, very little altered, except having grown much taller. We laugh and tell her if she grows much more, she will be six feet in height. I spent my time very agreeably with her and her kind parents, who I believe did all they could to make me happy while I was with them. The place they reside in is situated near the sea, the idea of which frequently brought to my remembrance my dear Mary in whose company I have spent so many happy days & months. Now should I forget to include some others of my schoolfellows, Esther Biddle was a girl I always had a regard & tho’ we have not kept up a literary intercourse since I left Tottenham, I expect we neither of us can assign any just reason for our dropping a correspondence with each other. I believe I wrote her the last letter, however, intend writing another to her soon.

I expect Eleanor Healey will come & pay me a visit ‘ere long. She resides about thirteen miles distant from us. She is a good-natured girl, & I hope we shall enjoy her company when she comes. I believe she has left school about six months.

I suppose Marianne or Esther Morris informed thee of the death of Susanna Harrison — poor dear girl. I believe she was taken off rather suddenly. Her M____ grieved much for her. I don’t wonder at it. She was a lovely girl.

Perhaps thee will think it strange when I tell thee I have been but once to London since I left school. I’ve frequently since regretted not going to Tottenham when I was so near but my stay in ____ was so short that it would have been inconvenient for me to have gone. I think Tabby Forster was married before thee left England. Have not heard whether she has any family. Governess yet remains in a single state. She has been lately very dangerously ill, but is I believe now much better, tho’ not as well.

I am much obliged for the copy of ____ thee sent me on the death of thy dear departed friend, Isabella Wakefield. I was much pleased with them. If thee would send me inclosed in thy letter when thee write, a copy of the verse M. M. was to send me, but which she has not yet sent, with any other pieces of thy brothers composing, I should esteem it a favor.

When thee write, don’t forget to mention whether thee continue to learn Geography. I have lately purchased a Terrestrial Globe, but seldom practice much upon it for want of a tutor. Thee, my Mary, can plead no excuse for not continuing to be as fond of the study as thee was when at school as I have no doubt but thy brother would take great pleasure in instructing thee in such an agreeable amusement.

I wish I could communicate some interesting news to my distant friend, but I hear so little else. My scrawls appear very in____. Indeed, my dear, thy Eliza is but a poor newsmonger. I wish I was a better when I write to thee, I had need be, as we so seldom hear from each other.

Have thee heard of thy old friend William Wakefield or WB? Give my respects to thy brother & thy parents. Tho’ I was so remiss in not answering thy letter before, I trust thy good nature will excuse me & request thee will not fail to write as soon as thee can after the receipt of my letter. Excuse very bad writing & most egregious mistake as I wrote in haste. Shall now conclude wishing my dear girl all the happiness that we can expect to enjoy here. Thy truly sincere and affectionate friend, — Eliza Day, junr

Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, England

BIshop’s Stortford [Hertfordshire, England]

____ I may just ask thee if thee have even a distant prospect of visiting Old England next summer, or at any future period, if thee ever do come again into this Quarter, I fully expect thee will not forget Bishop’s Stortford


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: