“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, CATEGORIES: Childbirth, Illness, Maryland, Pearce, Polly, Tilghman, Molly


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