Archive for the ‘Jay, Peter Augustus’ Category

“I am quite a country boy”

Following is a letter from Elizabethtown dated 18 July 1781, in the handwriting of SUSAN LIVINGSTON but signed by Peter Augustus Jay, to Sarah Jay in Madrid. Peter was only five so he couldn’t have written the letter no matter how precocious he may have been. It is charming.

I thank my Dear Mama for her kind letter, and good advice, and my dear Papa for his remembrance.

I hope when you return to our Country you will find your little son as you expect, and not be disappointed,

Aunt Susan teaches me to read; every hour the bell rings, and then I go in the office to say my lesson. Aunt Caty [Catharine Livingston] sends me books from Phila. I learn in a very pretty book of Tales, one page has a picture and the opposite one a tale to explain it, all the book through. I have finished with the Continental Primmer. . . .

As soon as I read well Aunt Susan will teach me to write, and then I can have the pleasure of writing to my absent friends. I have a pocket-book full of letters that Grand-Pa printed for me last winter. Every fortnight allmost I received a letter from him, and last month Grand-Mama and I went to meet Grand-Papa and spend a few days with him at Cousin David Clarksons, who lives three miles this side of Princeton. It was a long ride for such a little fellow as me.

Aunt Caty sent me a top, and Uncle Watkins [the husband of his aunt Judith Livingston] made me a Kite for pastime. I am quite a country boy clad in a striped linen waistcoat and trowsers, and sometimes I hoe in the garden and gather the gooseberries and currants, and I help to rake hay on the Lawn in the hay harvest.

We have plenty of fine fruit this summer, while we had cherries, the boys collected from all parts of the Country here, not less than fifty in a day, and soon stripped our trees.

Mama says I must write her what I wish her to bring me. I should like a hat, a pair of shoe and knee buckles, and a pair of sleeve buttons—if she pleases.

Hannah [PA Jay’s nurse] says I must not forget to mention her, but she won’t tell me what to say about her. She has not left me, and is very good to me, and gives her love to Mama. She has received the fine handkerchief and is much obliged to Papa for it. . . .

Please to give my love & duty to Papa & my love to Uncle Henry [Brockholst Livingston] & Cousin Peter [Munro, the son of John Jay’s sister Eve].

I am dear Mama, Your very Affecte. Son,

Peter Augustus Jay at age 21:

See the whole letter at the Columbia University Digital Library Collection of the John Jay Papers HERE. The portrait is by James Sharples and is in the collection of the New-York Historical Society.

posted November 3rd, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Children,Jay, John,Jay, Peter Augustus,Jay, Sarah Livingston,Letter-writing,Livingston, Catharine "Kitty",Symmes, Susan Livingston

” I write now in great haste”

On 27 May 1781 SUSAN LIVINGSTON wrote from Elizabeth Town, New Jersey, to her sister Sarah Jay who was in Madrid where her husband John had been sent on a diplomatic mission. At that time Sarah was the only wife of an American diplomat who went abroad with him. The Jays left their young son Peter Augustus with the Livingston family; it was Susan who assumed the major responsibility for his care and education. In her letter Susan remarks on the difficulty of keeping in touch by mail. Writers and recipients usually began their letters by noting the dates of letters they had received. Letters destined for Europe were often carried by friends who were going abroad. Duplicates were frequently sent by different means in the hope that at least one letter would get through. They were often entrusted to the captains of ships bound for cities in Europe where they would be forwarded to their destinations. Letters had first to reach the port of departure; remember that the voyage across the Atlantic took at least six weeks, more in bad weather, and there was always the danger of the vessel being captured by the enemy or by privateers, as Susan describes.

It has given me real concern to find that of all my letters to my Dear Sister one only has reached her. I cherished a hope that some written last Summer would undoubtedly have gone safe. . . . It is impossible to recollect the number I have written, nor can I account for the miscarriage of all of them, without suspecting that some have never reached Phila and others never left it; the carelessness of People with respect to these letters is really unpardonable, many have been lost betwixt Kitty and me since her residence in Philadelphia by Gentlemen that one would have imagined would have made a point of honor out of their safety.

I penned a number of sheets last July at Baske [Basking Ridge just west of Elizabethtown], part of which contained a particular detail of British maneuvres in this State the preceding month. . . . While the enemy lay at the Point . . . we all made good our retreat, except Mama and Mrs. Linn [Susan’s sister Mary who was married to James Linn]. During the 3 weeks they were at the Point, our House was between two Fires. . . . Mama had a forced march 5 miles across the Country. She was so terrified that she was sure she could not survive. . . . Your little Heroe was here when they first pushed into the Country, and was much amused with the sight of such an Army. He shook hands with a British Gentleman who bid him not be afraid, and said he supposed the Child had been taught to think they would tear him to pieces. . . .

You must do me the justice dear Sister to believe that I have wrote very frequently to you since the last mentioned Letter. In the Fall I gave you an account of Arnold’s Perfidy, and several other interesting matters in Letters that went with Colonel Palfrey who sailed from Phila with some other Gentlemen in a new Merchantman, the best that has been built since the War; Mr. [Robert] Morris was principal owner. There’s great reason to think the Ship is lost, as she has never been heard of since; one that sailed in company with her was captured and carried to England. It is said that General Arnold was to be recompensed for his treachery by the value of the Stores at West Point which amounted to ƒ30,000. He has carried on the War with great acrimony to the Southward. Does Spain furnish any examples of such finished Villains?

I wrote you the 10th of this month . . . I write now in great haste, otherwise I shall lose the opportunity of sending this to Phila. Harry [Henry Livingston, Jr.] recommends it to us to send our Letters from Newberry Port as the safest Channel of conveyance, but the risk they run of being lost, in such a long Journey is almost equal to the dangers of the voyage. . . .

The three unarmed Vessels Harry wrote by from LOrient are all safe in Port; he reasoned prudently when he declined sending any thing in those Ships, and prefered the Luzerne, but our wisest measures are often baffled by events; the Luzerne was captured 9 Days after she left France. I can only say we are truly unlucky. Mr Morris is a great loser by the Capture, her Cargo was very valuable. . . .

Adieu my dear Sister. God bless you, and all that are dear to you.

Source: John Jay: The Making of a Revolutionary, 1780-1784, edited by Richard. B Morris (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), 185-187.

posted October 31st, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Arnold, Benedict,Jay, John,Jay, Peter Augustus,Jay, Sarah Livingston,Letter-writing,Morris, Robert,Philadelphia,Symmes, Susan Livingston

“The Doctor proposes to Inoculate our little Fellow”

SUSAN LIVINGSTON (1748-1840) was the oldest daughter of William Livingston and Susannah French. (The couple had thirteen children.) Her father was the governor of New Jersey, a member of the Continental Congresses, and a brigadier general in the New Jersey militia. Susan, her younger sisters, Sarah and Catharine (Kitty), known as “the three graces,” were very popular. Sarah became the wife of John Jay in 1774. The Livingstons often had the care of Peter Augustus, the couple’s son, during the war. Susan wrote her sister Sarah on November 1, 1777 in care of John Jay who was in Kent, Connecticut at the time. The letter contains details of the military activity in the area and around Philadelphia as well as family news. (The Livingston home, Liberty Hall in Elizabethtown, was looted and damaged during the Revolution by both sides.)

Dearly beloved Sarah
I am in expectation of the arrival of the Post every moment, he usually comes in on Friday Evening, and returns next Morning as he goes no further than Morris Town. . . . I do not know where to direct to you; we are afraid Mr. Jay has lost all his Clothes that were at Kingston. Mama says if your warm Petticoat is lost, she can spare you one, rather than you should suffer for want of it.

Papa has been home since Sunday Evening, the Accounts he brought are old now, and not worth writing, on the 23d Inst. 5 or 6 Men of War, warped through an opening they had made in the lower Cheveaux de Frieze*, and came up to attack our Fort and Ships and Gallies but they found the Navigation so difficult, that they set Fire to the Augusta of 64 and the Apollo of 32 Guns, and the rest made the best of their way back again. A few days before 2500 of the Enemy (most of them Hessians) under the command of Count Donolp. attacked Fort Mercer or Red Bank, and were soon obliged to retreat in a most shameful and confused manner, leaving behind them killed and wounded 1500. The Count is a Prisoner—they also left 12 pieces of Artillery.

The 22nd our Troops attempted a stroke upon a detachment of six Regiments lying at Grays Ferry [near Philadelphia] where they had thrown a Bridge over the River. They marched all night and reached the Ground about Sunrise, but the Birds were flown, they had suddenly the preceding night deserted the Post, left all their works unfinished and broke up the Bridge. To day Sen’night there was a very warm Engagement, but reports respecting it are so vague, and contradictory, I cannot pretend to give you any account of it.

The Articles of Capitulation that appeared in Loudons last Paper are not relished this way, neither by Whigs, nor Tories, the latter say if Mr. Burgoyne was in a Situation to obtain such Terms he ought to have fought, the Former say if Burgoyne was obliged to surrender at all, Gates might have brought him to what Terms he pleased, so that it looks as if the two Generals wished to avoid fighting. The troops will go home and Garrison the Forts abroad, and let those Garrisons come to America—so it will be only an exchange of Men.

The Doctor proposes to Inoculate our little Fellow next week. He is now a fit subject for it, his blood is well purified, he has pretended to inoculate him often, so he will not be afraid of it. You know old Woodruff, that carts for us, his Son that lived next door to Dr. Darby, died a few days ago of the Small pox the natural way, and now his Widow and Child have it, the old Man has never had it, he stayed in the same House with his Son till a day or two before he expired, they are not entitled to much pity, for they say the Avarice of the old Man prevented their being inoculated. The Child will perish with it, it is thought.

. . . . Our house is a Barrack there was a whole Artillery Company in it, so I expect every thing will be destroyed.

We have not heard from B[rockhol]st [her brother]** since the last action to the Northward. (I have no doubt but his Letters have miscarried) but Mama has allmost persuaded herself he is among the Slain, and if there was any mourning to be purchased, I do not know but she would exhibit a dismal Spectacle of bombazeen and crepe. . . .

We had the Taylor here (that you engaged) these three weeks, which has kept Kitty tightly employed. She is his Journey-woman. Mr. Jay’s green suit is turned. Papa has brought home a Cargo of broken things, so that we have not eat the bread of Idleness since you left us. . . .

I think this scrawl as it is . . . entitles me to a few Lines from your fair hand. This I submit to you and whether you write or not, I am yours most Affectionately.

* An object of timber and spikes placed in a river to rip the hulls of vessels attempting to pass
** Brockholst was a lieutenant colonel and an aide-de-camp to General St. Clair in 1776 and 1777.

Susan makes reference to the battle of Saratoga which the Americans under General Horatio Gates won over the British and Hessian forces under General John Burgoyne. The Articles of Capitulation were very generous allowing what was called the Convention Army to to return to Britain on the condition that they not serve again in America. Both Gates and Burgoyne were criticized as Susan notes. Can you imagine a man, especially a buttoned-up one like John Jay, wearing a green suit!!

Source: John Jay: The Making of a Revolutionary, 1745-1780, edited by Richard. B Morris (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), 445-47.

posted October 28th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Burgoyne, Gerneral John,Clothes,Gates, General Horatio,Hessians,Inoculation,Jay, John,Jay, Peter Augustus,Jay, Sarah Livingston,Livingston, Brockholst,Livingston, Catharine "Kitty",New Jersey,Philadelphia,Saratoga,Smallpox,Symmes, Susan Livingston

“. . . . the return of Peace”

SARAH LIVINGSTON JAY, still in Paris with her husband John in July 1783, wrote again to MARY WHITE MORRIS. (See previous posts here, here, and here.) Sarah was pregnant and gave birth to Ann (Nancy) in August. (Daughter Maria had been born in Madrid in February of 1782; a son Peter Augustus had been entrusted to the care of his Livingston grandparents and aunts at Liberty Hall in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, when the Jays had departed for Spain in 1779.) The Preliminary Articles of Peace, which John Jay had helped negotiate, had been ratified by Congress in April, and the Definitive Treaty ending the Revolution would be signed in Paris in September. A busy time.

Your very friendly letter my dr madam dated the 5th of Janry last, did not reach me until the 20th of May, & was the first I had the pleasure of receiving from you for the space of 12 or 15 months, therefore you’ll readily believe that nothing could be more acceptable to me.
You do me justice my dear madam in believing that the sincere attachment I feel for mr. Morris & yourself is extended to yr. children; for permit me to assure you that nothing could afford either mr. Jay or myself greater pleasure than opportunities of serving them; indeed my chagrin at parting with them was heighten’d by the reflection that I shd now be depriv’d of the pleasure of evincing my friendship for their parents by attentions to them. Mr. Jay obtain’d a promise from Robt. to write him once a fortnight, but Tommy seem’d to think the request rather large as he had other correspondants, & therefore did not positively acquiese in the proposal, at least as to the frequency. Mr. Ridley has already recd. letters from them expressing their satisfaction with their situation, & I was not a little pleased to find that they still remembred us.—they are amiable sensible boys, & I think promise to repay the tenderness & liberality of their indulgent parents. . . .
Thank you my dr madam for your congratulations on the return of Peace, & most sincerely partake yr. joy in that event, not only on account of the [?] of blessings that our country will derive from it, but likewise for the flattering prospect it affords me of embracing in a few months my dr mrs. morris & other amiable friends—
Kitty [Sarah’s sister, Kitty Livingston] you say intends leaving you soon—how I pity her feelings on that occasion, for tho’ tis true that an affecte. mother & sister whom she loves attend to with impatience her return to them, yet, where so much gratitude & esteem is due, a sensible heart like hers must melt at separation—how delicately does my dr. mrs. morris insinuate herself into the hearts of her friends—she knows too well the friend she writes to doubt the pleasure she receives from her obliging expression of regret at parting with her sister.
If yr sweet little Maria is grown out of my remembrance, how much must miss hetty be altered [Maria and Hetty were Morris children]—please to embrace them both for me & believe me to be most sincerely attached to you & yours. . . .
Mr Jay joins with me in assurances of regard & esteem for you & mr morris
I am dear Madam
Yours &c.
Sa. Jay —
Mrs. Morris/To be presented by Captn Barney

Mary Morris was undoubtedly grateful for Sarah’s news of her children who had been sent to Europe to be educated. Matthew Ridley was a family friend who would marry Sarah’s sister Kitty after his first wife’s death. Kitty spent a great deal of time with the Morrises in Philadelphia, leaving her mother in the care of her sister Susan in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Sarah’s father William Livingston, governor of New Jersey, commander of the state militia, delegate to the various Congresses, and signer-to-be of the Constitution, was away a good deal. His home, Liberty Hall, was ransacked by both British and American troops who alternatively occupied it as battle lines shifted. The family sought refuge with friends or relatives.

Robert Morris Collection, Henry E. Huntington Library. The illustration is of the final page of the Peace Treaty affixed with the seals of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, John Jay, and the British negotiator David Hartley.

posted July 13th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Americans Abroad,Children,Education,Jay, Peter Augustus,Jay, Sarah Livingston,Livingston, Catharine "Kitty",Morris, Mary White,Paris,Ridley, Matthew,Treaty of Paris, 1783

“an iron oven fix’d in the Jam of his Kitchin fire-place”

Most cooking in eighteenth century kitchens was done over a wood fire on the open hearth of a large fireplace. There was usually a crane or trammel to which a cast iron pot (or pots) was attached by a hook. The pot could be raised or lowered and swung out over the hearth to be emptied or added to.

Hearths were quite large and extended out into the room so that hot ashes could be shoveled out from the main fire to construct what in effect were small “burners” on the hearth apron over which pans on trivets could be placed. Long legged pan called spiders (on the right in the illustration) were also used, mainly for frying. Heat could be regulated by the size of the piles of ashes and kept up to temperature by the addition of more hot ashes from the main fire. There were other kinds of cookware in use like Dutch ovens, small three-sided ovens using reflected heat for baking biscuits, for example, as well as ingenious roasting devices including spits, and even toasters and waffle irons, several of which can be seen in the illustration.

There was usually a baking oven in the wall on one side of the fireplace, with a small flue to the chimney, called a beehive oven because of its domed shape. Heating it involved building a fire on the brick floor and, when the floor and sides were heated to the correct temperature, the fire was shoveled out and the items to be baked placed, using a peel, on the floor of the oven, avoiding the excessively hot spots. Then a metal door was inserted into the opening to contain the heat. Bread and pies were baked first as they required the highest temperatures. When they were finished other dishes and casseroles that cooked at lower temperatures could be added as the oven cooled. And when the oven was barely warm it could be used to dry herbs for example. I marvel at the efficiency which with these brick ovens were used.

In the late eighteenth century, however, improvements began to be introduced. Cast iron ovens fitted inside the fireplace itself were a new feature. Sarah Livingston Jay, recovering from an illness at her sister Caty Livingston’s home at Oak Hill on the Hudson River, wrote of such a one to her husband John who was in the process of building a home in Bedford in Westchester County, New York, to which the two hoped to retire.

June 27th 1801My dear Mr. Jay,
The tender interest you take in my health is most grateful to my feelings, & redoubles the satisfaction I have of assuring you that it still continues to mend. When Brockholst [Sarah’s brother] was here he mentioned to Mr. Livingston that he had had an iron oven fix’d in the Jam of his Kitchin fire-place so constructed as that the smoak & heat from the Kitchin Chimney kept it perpetually hot & that all the meet, puddings, Cakes & Custards used in his family were cooked in it, so that it had superseded the use of spits & tart pans &c. There is but one that fixes them & he has thirty dollars for the Oven & fixing it in the Jam. I thought best to mention it before you shd. have built yours. If you think it worthy yr. attention you can let Peter [their son] examine his Uncle’s, & inquire of him the person’s name who makes them. Brockholst says his Cook says it saves half the work of Cooking, a great deal of fuel & being in constant readiness is inconceivably convenient. Mr. L. says the person’s name is Batchelor, a white smith*. . . .

Mr. Livingston & Catharine give their love to both of you. If our son is with you when you receive this Give my love to him & accept my best beloved the assurances of gratitude & affection from
yours sincerely
Sa. Jay

* a worker in iron who finishes or polishes the work

Sarah Jay’s letter can be found on page 276 of Selected Letters of John Jay and Sarah Livingston Jay by two colleagues and myself; for details click on the image at the bottom of the column on the right. The illustration is of the KITCHEN c.1800 at Blennerhast Mansion on an island in the Ohio River. More information about housewives and cooking can be found HERE beginning on page 203.

posted September 18th, 2014 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Daily life,Food,Jay, Peter Augustus,Jay, Sarah Livingston,Livingston, Brockholst

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