Archive for the ‘Cutts, Anna Payne’ Category

“a doll . . . dressed to show us the fashions”

ANNA PAYNE, Dolley Payne Todd Madison’s youngest sister, lived with Dolley until she married in 1804. Sarah “Sally” McKean, the daughter of a Pennsylvania politician, was one of a number of “belles” of Philadelphia and a friend of Dolley’s. She also befriended Anna. Sally’s letter to Anna which follows describes the fashions of the day in considerable detail. Note her mention of the “doll” sent from England dressed in the latest fashions. Wealthy women could have local dressmakers copy the styles in fabrics of their choice.

Philadelphia, June 10, 1796And now, my dear Anna . . . we will speak a little about Philadelphia and the fashions, the beaux. Congress, and the weather. Do I not make a fine jumble of them? . . . Philadelphia never was known to be so lively at this season as at present; for an accurate account of the amusements, I refer you to my letter to your sister Mary. I went yesterday to see a doll, which has come from England, dressed to show us the fashions, and I saw besides a great quantity of millinery. Very long trains are worn, and they are festooned up with loops of bobbin, and small covered buttons, the same as the dress: you are not confined to any number of festoons, but put them according to your fancy, and you cannot conceive what a beautiful effect it has. There is also a robe which is plaited very far back, open and ruffled down the sides, without a train, being even with the petticoat. The hats are quite a different shape from what they used to be: they have no slope in the crown, scarce any rim, and are turned up at each side, and worn very much on the side of the head. Several of them are made of chipped wood, commonly known as cane hats; they are all lined: one that has come for Mrs. [Anne Willing] Bingham is lined with white, and trimmed with broad purple ribbon, put round in large puffs, with a bow on the left side. The bonnets are all open on the top, through which the hair is passed, either up or down as you fancy, but latterly they wear it more up than down; it is quite out of fashion to frizz or curl the hair, as it is worn perfectly straight. Earrings, too, are very fashionable. The waists are worn two inches longer than they used to be, and there is no such thing as long sleeves. They are worn half way above the elbow, either drawn or plaited in various ways, according to fancy; they do not wear ruffles at all, and as for elbows, Anna, ours would be alabaster, compared to some of the ladies who follow the fashion; black or a colored ribbon is pinned round the bare arm, between the elbow and the sleeve. There have come some new-fashioned slippers for ladies, made of various colored kid or morocco, with small silver clasps sewed on; they are very handsome, and make the feet look remarkably small and neat. Everybody thinks the millinery last received the most tasty seen for a long time. . . .
Mind that you write me a long answer to this, and that very soon.
Your sincere and affectionate friend,
Sally McKean.

Sally McKean married the Spanish minister plenipotentiary to the United States, Carlos Martínez de Irujo, in 1798. After the birth of her third child she moved with her husband to Spain in 1808 from which she never returned. Anna Payne married Richard Cutts, a Massachusetts congressman in 1804. James Madison served as President Jefferson’s Secretary of State, was elected president in 1808 and served two terms. Dolley played a much more active role in public life than did her predecessors. She often served as Jefferson’s hostess and as the ‘first lady,” wearing her trademark turban, presided over grand dinners and entertainments in the redecorated public rooms in the presidential mansion.

See more information about Dolley Madison HERE. Sally McKean’s letter to Anna Cutts can be found HERE, pages 18-21.

posted September 29th, 2016 by Janet, Comments Off on “a doll . . . dressed to show us the fashions”, CATEGORIES: Cutts, Anna Payne,d'Yrujo McKean, Sarah (Sally),Don Carlos, Marques de Casa d'Yrujo,Fashion,Madison, Dolley,Philadelphia

“fine riding-parties and musical frolics”

SARAH “SALLY” MCKEAN, a belle of Philadelphia particularly enjoyed the company of members of the Spanish delegation to the United States in the 1790s.Writing again to her friend Anna Payne, Dolley Madison’s younger sister, she described the activities they enjoyed. Anna married Richard Cutts, a congressman from the Maine section of Massachusetts; her portrait was painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1804. Her hair and clothing reflect the popularity of French fashions in the United States at that time.

Philadelphia, September 3, 1796MY DEAR Anna, I received yours by Mr. Taylor and duly delivered its inclosure. You can have no idea, my dear girl, what pleasant times I have; there is the charming Chevalier, the divine Santana, the jolly Viar, the witty and agreeable Fatio, the black-eyed Lord Henry, the soft, love-making Count, the giggling, foolish, and sometimes the modest, good Meclare, who are at our house every day. We have fine riding-parties and musical frolics. However, I will refer you to my letter to your sister Madison, as I am tired of writing, this being my third letter to-day.
Mr. and Mrs. Jandenes set sail about the middle of July, with the two dear little children in good health and remarkably fine spirits. I am to have a large packet of papers from them as soon as they arrive in Spain, telling me all the news, and also a very elegant Spanish guitar, on which I intend to learn to play. Signor Don Carlos has given me a few lessons on that instrument. I have one at present, lent me by Santana, and we have a famous Italian singer, who came with the Minister, who can play on any instrument, and is moreover the drollest creature you ever saw. He sings divinely, and is the leader of our fine concerts. I am serenaded every night with divine music. I must say divine, for it is so much above the common music.
I long with the greatest impatience for the month of October, that I may have the pleasure of embracing my dear Anna ; for Heaven’s sake make as much haste to town as you can, for we are to have one of the most charming winters imaginable. Santana and Fatio send their compliments to you, and Meclare told me to be sure to give his best and most sincere love to you; he looks quite handsome, and is smarter than ever. God bless you, my dearest, and believe me to be your sincere friend and admirer,

Two years later Sally McKean married the Don Carlos, (Marques Don Carlos Maria Martinez de Casa Yrujo y Tacon) mentioned in the letter who was the Spanish ambassador, and became Marquesa de Casa Yrujo. Samuel H. Wandell, in his biography of Aaron Burr described Don Carlos:

He was an obstinate, impetuous and rather vain little person with reddish hair; enormously wealthy, endlessly touchy, extremely intelligent and vastly attractive … he liked America, he understood it and enjoyed it; he was tremendously popular at Philadelphia, and at Washington when he condescended to appear there; he was on intimate terms at the President’s House. If he lost his temper from time to time, and thought nothing of haranguing the country through the newspapers, he served his King with energetic loyalty; he went about his business with dignity and shrewdness; he never forgot the respect due to his official person, however much he might indulge his democratic tendencies in private intercourse; he was the only Minister of the first rank in America, and consequently the leading figure in the diplomatic corps; he contributed to American society the brilliant qualities of his elegant and felicitous personality; he was a very great gentleman.

After the birth of their third child, Sally and Don Carlos left for Spain. Her husband lost favor with the American government by his disapproval of the Jay Treaty and the Louisiana Purchase and his opposition to the ceding of Florida to the United States. Sally returned to America with him on several occasions and continued to carry on a correspondence with her friends.

The text of the letter can be found here.The portrait of Don Carlos can be found here. For more information about Sally McKean see this site.

posted January 11th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Amusements,Cutts, Anna Payne,d'Yrujo McKean, Sarah (Sally),Don Carlos, Marques de Casa d'Yrujo,Entertainments,Madison, Dolley,Philadelphia

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