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
Sa. Jay —
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.