Archive for the ‘Pearce, Polly’ Category

“The tremendous majesty of her tete . . . “

Molly Tilghman of Maryland wrote to her cousin Polly Pearce in January of 1789 describing the hat of one of woman and the hair of another at a ball she attended. Other tidbits of gossip too. Wicked and amusing.

Fain wou’d I dissect Miss [Anna] Garnett for your edification in the important point of fashion but a regular discription of so complicated a piece of work is more than I am equal to. Did you never of a rainy day, empty all your Drawers on the Bed, in order to set them to rights? If you can recollect the confus’d mixture of Ribbon, Gauze, flowers, Beads, Persian feathers and Lace, black and white, you will have the best idea I can give you of Miss Garnetts Hatt, such a Hoop and Handkerchief too was never seen on mortal Woman before. Upon my Life she was as complete a Carricature as any in our Hall. Mrs. Bordleys Head, without a Hat, was quite equal to the other. The tremendous majesty of her tete, will never leave my memory, which with the fabric which was erected on it made her almost as tall as myself. As her situation prevented her dancing I had a great deal of sweet converse with her. . . .
Can you imagine my dear Polly that I want to be reminded of my promis’d visit to Poplar Neck. Surely you know me better. If it depended on my inclination, soon wou’d you see me, but alas how few of our pursuits are directed by inclination. If I wanted an additional inducement to visit you, the alteration you tell me of wou’d be a great one. A succession of Beaux is pretty enough amusement in this dreary season and it wou’d be doubly agreeable to me from the powerful charm of novelty. If it were possible to exchange some of our Belles for some of your Beaux, the Circles of both wou’d be much improv’d by it. Could not your ingenuity contrive it ?
On new years day Miss Nevitt was married to Mr Steele after a three years Courtship. Her reign has been brilliant, and she has clos’d it in very good time, while her train was undiminish’d. It is a nice point for a Belle to know when to marry, and one in which they are very apt. She understood the matter.
Pray what kind of being is this Jones you mention ? Not much I fancy from your manner of passing him over. I dare say it is near morning, so I will creep up to bed as silently as possible. See what I suffer for your sake. Indeed you must write to me oftener. I will make the best returns in my power, both in quantity and quality. I am not sleepy, but exceedingly dim sighted. My best Love to all from
ever yours
M. T.

The letter can be found in the Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 21, No. 3, 234-35.

posted September 7th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Courtship,Entertainments,Fashion,Marriage,Maryland,Pearce, Polly,Tilghman, Molly

“What shall we do with such a tribe of Girls?”

Continuing the correspondence between the Maryland cousins: Molly Tilghman sent a newsy letter to Polly Pearce at the end of January 1789.

Tho’ I got your Letter, my dear Polly, at eleven o’Clock this morning, and have been earnestly wishing to answer it ever since, yet this midnight hour is the first I have had to myself; from which you may judge whether my silence has proceeded from idleness, or constant employment. . . . I should not mind being fully employ’d all day if I cou’d sit up late at night, but from that I am cut off by Sister Nancy’s unconquerable aversion to any body’s coming into her room after she is asleep. This very Letter will cost me a Lecture, but I will incur it for the sake of justifying myself, and I hope this vindication, will make future ones unnecessary.
Sister N. has been a good deal at farly [Fairlee], and so often complaining when at home, that she has not divided the care of the family with me. T’is true Harriet has been very well, but you must know that the most favorable lying in brings a good deal of trouble with it, particularly at this season. For the first three Weeks I was not once out of the House. Indeed I was of such amazing consequence in the nursery, that nothing cou’d be done without me. You need not laugh Miss Polly, and accuse me of vanity. I can bring honorable testimony of my goods works, aye and of the necessity for them too. All this you will say is very true, but very dull also. I grant it, but you drag’d me into the detail by your uncharitable constructions of my silence.
Our little Caroline is a sweet Child*, tho’ the veryest fairy you ever saw. I have really seen a Doll as large, but she grows finely, and is extremely healthy. She is the picture of her Mother, from which you may judge of her pretensions to beauty. Her name is a whim of her fathers, who is hardly yet reconcil’d to his second Daughter. He was in as terrible a friz on the occasion, as if a title and vast estate had depended on the birth of a son. Poor Harriet has been so unlucky within the last fortnight, as to have a sore Breast, which made us very uneasy. It gather’d and broke in three days, and was as light as a thing of the kind cou’d be but in my life I never saw a Creature so terrified as she was. The idea of Lancets, Probes, and crooked scissors haunted her continually but happily none of them were necessary, and her Breast is now almost entirely well.

I am writing on without saying a word of Henny [Henrietta], though I am able to give such satisfactory accounts of her. The 15th of this Month she produc’d a Daughter**, (yes, another Daughter) with as little trouble as might be. What shall we do with such a tribe of Girls? She is call’d after my Ladyship. Not Molly, nor Polly, but Mary, and I have the additional honor of being her God Mother.

* the second child of Philemon Tilghman and his wife Harriet Milbanke
** Mary Tilghman,” the third child of Lloyd and Henrietta Maria Tilghman

Note the emphasis on having a male child. After this recounting of new births, Molly goes on (in the next post) to describe the hat of one of the women at the ball she attended the previous night.

The letter can be found in the Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 21, No. 3, 231-233.

posted September 3rd, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Childbirth,Illness,Maryland,Pearce, Polly,Tilghman, Molly

“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)

   Copyright © 2017 In the Words of Women.