“Flying from Home”

MARY WHITE MORRIS (1749-1827) was the daughter of Thomas White, a lawyer and surveyor, and Esther Hewlings Newman White. Her brother, William White, became the bishop of the American Episcopal Church. In 1769, Mary married Robert Morris (1734-1806), the Philadelphia merchant and financier, who almost single-handedly arranged the financing of the Revolutionary War, his own firm profiting handsomely in the process. With many others, in the winter of 1776, Mary had left the city in expectation of the arrival of British troops. She sought refuge with her stepsister Sophia Hall near Aberdeen, Maryland, her distress heightened by the medical needs of her son Thomas. Members of the Continental Congress moved their deliberations to Baltimore but left Robert Morris to oversee affairs in Philadelphia. At the time of this letter, the Morris children included Robert, Thomas, Esther “Hetty”, and William. Charles (b. 1777), Maria, and Henry would follow.

December the 20 [1776]Dear Mr. Morris
I had not time by Joseph [a servant] to acknowledge the Receipt of your Letter by Mr. Hudson, we were at Suscohanah Ferry, I was Sorry the House was so crowded, tho with Delegates, he could not get Lodging, Else should have had more of His Company, He took an Oppertunity of telling me his House in Baltimore, was at our Service, my answer was, I should be Governd by You intirely, in my Future place off Aboad; I long to give You an Account, of the many Difficulties, and uneasyiness we have Experienced in this journey Indeed my Spirits, were very Unable to the task, after that greatest Conflict, Flying from Home, the Sufferings of our poor little Tom, distress’d us all, and without the Affectionate assistance of Mr. Hall, and the Skillfulness of Doctor Cole, whose Services I shall never forget, I don’t know what might have been the Consequence, as it was a boil of an uncommon Nature, and Required the Surgeons Hand; we had reason to Apprehend too, we should lose our goods, the many Circumstances, of this Affair, I must leave till I see you, as neither my Patience, nor Paper will hold out, Only that Mr. Hall. . . . Invited me to Lodge at His House, which when I declined, he politely Offerd me any Services in his power, and finding I had goods to be Carted Down he Immediately Offerd his Teems, which as soon as they arrived at the Bridge, were press’d for the Publick, but after all the Dangers, Ive the Pleasure to inform you, they are safely housed in this Hospitable Mansion. . . .
Joseph has returnd to Town for His Cloaths, I lent him our White Horse, he will wait on you for my nedles that are in a White nedle book in our tea table Draw[er] in the back Parlor, if they are not there Hero must apply to Anna for She must find them, Excuse me for troubleing you for what youll call trifling but indeed they are very necessary to me. . . .
I was Upstairs with my Children, when my mother Deliverd me your first Letter, you never Saw greater joy Sparkell in the Eye, then did Bobs, when he found it was from his Pappa, Read it out loud, mamma, will you, do mamma, till he was observed, which put a Stop to his Pleaseing Curiosity, your Darling Daughter is very Hearty and Saucier than ever, Bil is as stout as Ussiall, but Tom looks very thin, and will while his Sore Discharges as it does at Present, do give me the Pleasure of Hearing from you by every Oppertunity
your Affectionate M. Morris

The letter is in the Robert Morris Collection: Henry E. Huntington Library, Lists No. 5, pages 53-55, transcribed by Louise North. [Microfilm, courtesy of Dr. Elizabeth Nuxoll]. The portrait is by Charles Willson Peale.

posted June 1st, 2015 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Children, Health, Money, Morris, Mary White, Morris, Robert, Philadelphia


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