1821: Elizabeth Mock to John Massey

This letter was written to John Massey (1776-1839) shortly after the death of his wife Susannah Mock (1784-1821). They were married in 1804 in Boston by the Rev. Thomas Baldwin. One of their children — only two years old when Susannah died — was Francis Allen Massey (1819-1899). He is the only child of this couple appearing in on-line genealogy records. Another child named James Madison Massey (1812-1822), reported as the son of John Massey of Boston, died in early March 1822. The letter tells us that the couple’s oldest daughter, probably born about 1806, was named “Susan” or Susannah Massey.

The Boston City Directory for the early 1820s lists a John Massey with the occupation (variously) as “hemp dresser” or “flax dresser.” I can’t be certain this is the same John Massey, however.

The identity of the author of this letter is even less certain. It was signed by Elizabeth Mock. She may have been a sister of Susannah Mock, but I think this is unlikely. I believe that Elizabeth was a widow at the time she wrote this letter, that her husband’s surname was Mock, and that her deceased husband was the brother of Susannah Mock. She refers to many “brothers” in the letters but it is impossible to know if these were biological brothers or brothers-in-law.

There was an Elizabeth Mock who died in Boston on 19 October 1821. Her residence was on Boylston Street and  her death was recorded as being caused by a “slow fever.”  Her cryptic newspaper obituary said she was a 52 year-old widow when she died, which would place her birth about 1769.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Mr. John Massey, Boston, State of Massachusetts

New Brunswick [New Jersey]
April 23, 1821

My Dear Brother,

In order to rectify the mistake that I made in my last letter, I will now inform you I received your letters on Saturday the 21st and from that learnt the mistake that I had made. I wrote to you as if I had received a letter from you but my mind being over burdened with grief at the melancholy news that I forgot that the letter I received was from my brother Andrew and ___ having a desire to write to you before I answered his so I hope you will not think it a miss, but only take it as the effects of a disturbed mind.

Top of Letter

I have no doubt, my Brother, but that you feel your loss to be irreparable for when you look at the grave of your wife and the mother of your dear little ones, you must feel as if your hope and comfort was all gone. But my dear brother, be not discouraged that God that has afflicted you is able to comfort you and to make up your loss and to raise up your oldest daughter to be a mother to your younger children. And I pray that God who is able to do all things will so fit and prepare her mind by his grace to discharge her duty both to you and her brothers and sisters. I feel desirous to be with you and I sometimes think of coming but my mind is unsettled at present. It is a great journey for me to undertake alone. Yet not withstanding, if you think I can do anything for your children, you will let me know in your next letter.

Bottom of Letter

You mentioned the arrival of my brother George in town. I am happy to hear that he is in good health and likewise my brother Ferdinand. It affords me great pleasure to hear from my friend. Although I am placed at a great distance from them, yet their memory is dear to me and should I be so happy as to see them once more in this life, I should be too happy. But that God in whose hands are the issues from death he only knows whether we shall ever see each other in the flesh again. But I hope to be resigned to the will  of him who does all things well. You will understand me concerning the letter that I got from my brother Andrew. It was written in his own name and not in yours. The mistake was on my side and not his but I felt desirous to come to you not thinking your daughter Susan big enough to take charge of your family. I want very much to see my brother George and all the rest of you.

I now conclude with my best love to you all. I shall ever subscribe myself your sister until death, — Elizabeth Mock


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