This letter was written from Bordeaux, France, by Samuel Fenton Ashton (1804-1888), the orphaned son of Isaac Ashton (17xx-1818). Isaac and his brother, Samuel Ashton (1773-1837), were cabinet makers in Philadelphia. Samuel — to whom this letter was addressed — was married to Catharine Louisa Reynolds (1775-18xx) and had several sons.
Apparently Samuel F. Ashton was quite a traveler. The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera at the Winterthur Library (Winterthur, Delaware) has a letter from Cincinnati by Samuel to his “uncle Samuel Ashton, Philadelphia” dated October 1, 1823, in which he claims be can live better as a store clerk in Cincinnati than in Philadelphia but plans to go on a flat boat to Natchez later in the month, stay there for the winter, and then go to South America in the spring. He adds that he prefers traveling to staying in one place. The library has another note written by Samuel to his uncle on 13 October 1829 in which he thanks his him for his help. It was written on board a ship while sailing to New Orleans.
Addressed to Mr. Samuel Ashton, No 273 South Second Street, Philadelphia, United States
December 10, 1828
Mr. Sam. Ashton
I shall not attempt in this to give you a description of my adventures, wreck, description of this place, nor any thing of the kind. My journal will, should I arrive safely at home, gratify you in all those respects. I merely intend this, should any accident befall me, to inform you of my fate. By perseverance and the assistance of Mr. Gerezier, who since my arrival here has been really my friend, I have succeeded in getting a passage to New York in the ship Brunswick, Capt. Baetzer, of Bremen, who has aged to take me a free passenger — he being very young and totally unacquainted with the coast of America. We shall sail in 10 or 12 days. I do not expect a passage short of 60 or 70 days, and shall probably see you about the first of March.
Since my arrival here, I have been boarding with Madame Humphries, who keeps one of the best houses in Bordeaux. I found my accommodations here much more elegant than I had any idea Uncle Sam’l would be willing to pay for. The family speak English, and all the American Captains who live ashore board here. When I arrived here, there was but one American vessel in port, and she was bound to St. Andero. At present there are two — the ships The Milton and Margaret; one for New Orleans; the other for Baltimore. Neither of them will sail for some time. One of the crew of the Brig, and Capt. Grey’s son, have gone in the American Brig Eliza to St. Andero and from thence to Havanna. The remainder will probably go to New Orleans in the ship Milton. I give you this information in case any enquiry should be made by their friends.
It is unnecessary to add more as I expect to follow the receipt of this very closely. My respects to relatives and friends, if any should think me worth an enquiry. my love to Aunt and children. And believe me yours sincerely, — Sam. F. Ashton