Archive for the ‘Tilghman, Henrietta (Hetty)’ Category

“who but you . . . are the Cock of the Company”

For your delectation, more gossipy correspondence between two Maryland girls: Henrietta Tilghman (the sister of Tench Tilghman who was an aide to General Washington) and her cousin Mary Pearce known as Polly. (See previous posts here and here.) Henrietta wrote again to Polly from Bayside, April 3, 1785[?].

My Dear Polly
I might as well be out of the world as to hearing from you, tho’ you might write at any time and send your Letters to Molly who would enclose them to me, but you are a lazy Mortal, and I am afraid will not mend as you grow older, but rather be worse. I spent two happy days about a week ago with Grandmama . . . she is in very good Health and Spirits, and only waits for good weather to go to my aunts. She desires me to give her best Love to you all when I wrote to you again, and accordingly, I have complied with my promise. So you have been frolicking it at Chester Town, I have heard of your fine doings I assure you such a thing could never be brought to bear when I was at Home, tho’ I used both prayers; and intreaties, but my back is no sooner turned than you whip down, who but you, and are the Cock of the Company, (to use an Expression of Sally Chews*) you have but one way to make up for it, and that is to persuade Harry [Polly’s brother] to bring you down to see me, tell him if he will come I will contrive to get one of my Cousins down from Queen Ann’s to keep him Company. I really am anxious to know whether Harry will succeed or not; I am sure he has my good wishes, and I am sure I shew my regard for him when I wish him that Lady for a wife. I am not partial to her because she is my relation, for that out of the Question, I think she will make any Man Happy who has the good luck to gain her affections, and I wish that man may be your Brother. Mr Tilghman desires me to give his Love to you, and tell you that as he does not expect I shall live very long, he expects you will hold yourself in readiness to perform your promise of being Mistress of the Bayside but I say do not put much dependance on that, for it has been proved that our family tho’ they may have a great deal of sickness are very tough, and some of them have as many lives as a Cat and I may happen to be one of that kind, so that my advice to you is to look out for some clever fellow to keep you Company in the meantime. The Baron I hear is at last a going to be Married, so that your opinion of his being born odd was without foundation, they say there was never a Jack in the World that could not find a Jill, and truly I am inclined to be of that opinion. . . .
Hentre M. Tilghman
* Sarah Chew, the daughter of Chief Justice Benjamin Chew of Philadelphia

The identity of the Baron is uncertain. I don’t think “being born odd” suggests that he was gay; I believe it merely means that although he was a bit strange he could still find a woman who would marry him.

The letter can be found on this SITE, pages 35-36.

posted August 31st, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Courtship,Marriage,Pearce, Polly,Tilghman, Henrietta (Hetty)

” . . . to see you well settled in the World.”

After the rather somber story of Frances Slocum, perhaps it is time to present a few entertaining excerpts from the gossipy letters of Mary and Henrietta Tilghman, called Hetty. (See a previous post.) Their brother was the well-regarded Colonel Tench Tilghman, aide and private secretary to General George Washington, who may be best known for the speed of his ride conveying news of the surrender of the British at Yorktown to the Confederation Congress in Philadelphia. The sisters lived in Maryland and had numerous family connections there but also in Delaware and Philadelphia. Their correspondent in these exchanges was Mary Pearce, a cousin known as Polly.

Chester Town April 28 [1783 or 1784] If my Dear Polly can find time enough to give what I am going to say a serious reading, I shall be glad. . . . I have many reasons for wishing you well and speedily married, two or three of which I will give you. In the first place, my great Love and affection for you makes me wish to see you well settled in the World. Secondly, I am afraid if you stay where you are much longer you will grow fast to the place, and thirdly, and lastly I shall have my spirits, which are rather low at present a little raised by change of scene, for remember I tell you, the marriage would not be good or lawful, without I was present. Now I am upon the subject of Matrimony I must tell you a little of P.H. (Mary Helmsey, known as Polly.) she is Positively to be married the last day of this month, her Birth Day, and I had the Honour of seeing her Clothes which were made in Philadelphia. She has a white Mantua Robe, trimed with silver and a pink striped satin Habbit, and a Petticoat trimed with Gause. . . . I sent the Bride an elegant White Sattin Pincushion, and garters of the same, with white Ribbon strings, I should take a great Pleasure in exercising my Genius upon the same Occasion for you. If you give me timely notice to get my own things in readyness I will come up and titivate you from top to Bottom. Do my Dear Polly let the Matter be Concluded on shortly, for I dont know anything but your Death, or Marriage, that wold carry me to Cecil this Summer, and you may guage [sic] which would please me the best. I hear the Gentleman has gone to work in a very prudent manner, they say he has made sure of Papa, Uncle Jemmy Earle, Brother Harry, and that he has paid a visit to Uncle Michael, and Aunt Molly, so you see I have very good intelligence, but shall wait to hear from you before I shall believe anything certain about it. I would have you seriously Consider every thing before you answer this Letter, and according as you deal honestly, and Candidly, with me shall I be able to judge how much regard, and affection you have for one who whatever change you may go through still continues to be your affectionate
H.M. Tilghman P.S. as you value either yourself or me burn this when read, for you are too apt to be careless of your Letters.

Hetty’s joking aside, marrying well and being settled was the goal of most women. The earlier the better, as spinsterhood set in at a young age and a family’s unmarried daughter was likely to become the caretaker of her siblings’ children and/or her parents in their old age.

The letter can be found on this SITE, pages 27-29.

posted August 20th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Clothes,Courtship,Fashion,Marriage,Tilghman, Henrietta (Hetty)

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