“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, CATEGORIES: Courtship, Marriage, Pearce, Polly, Tilghman, Henrietta (Hetty)


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