This letter was written by John Delaware Lewis, a Russian merchant, of Cornwall Terrace, Regent’s Park. He was married to Eliza Emma Clewlow, the daughter of James Hamilton Clewlow, a purser in the Royal Navy. Their children were John Delaware Lewis (1828-1884) and Amy Eliza Lewis (1829-18xx).
John Lewis’s brother, William David Lewis (1792-1881), came to Europe from New Jersey in 1814 at the conclusion of the War of 1812 as a secretary to the United States Peace Commission. He soon resigned his office, however, and joined his brother John as a commission merchant in St. Petersburg, Russia. He returned to Philadelphia where he began his own import commission business in Philadelphia in 1825, helped finance several early railroads, and was cashier of Girard Bank, 1832-1842. He served as collector of customs for the Port of Philadelphia, 1849- 1853, despite the strenuous efforts against confirmation by his fellow Whigs from Pennsylvania. Lewis then retired to his estate near Florence, N.J., where he continued to take an active interest in business affairs. He was an ardent supporter of the Union during the Civil War.
Lewis wrote the letter to his sisters who were the wives of Vaughan and Patterson in Wilmington, Delaware.
Addressed to Mrs. E. L. Vaughan & A. L. Patterson, Wilmington, State of Delaware
via Ship Florida
St. Petersburg [Russia]
August 10th 1829
My Dear Sisters,
On the 6th inst., my dearly beloved late wife departed this life in London after having given birth to a daughter and has left me a wretched man, for we were truly happy together. A few weeks previously, her mother died suddenly. In the course of ten months, I have lessed three of my family. This calls on me to prepare and I trust my beloved sisters, you will think seriously, and religiously, of a future state. In a few years and we shall be all numbered with the dead. Indeed, in a few hours perhaps. How awful! To be found like the foolish virgins without oil in our lamps! I pray devoutly that your hearts may be turned to the God of all Righteousness and that you may worship him in spirit and in truth, forgetting all past little animosities and feuds, and that you may live in the bonds of Christian love with each other, & your oldest brother call on you to do this.
My son, John Delaware, and daughter Amy Eliza (my only children by my wife) are in London, whether intend going next October after my beloved mother and wife.