Thursday, March 29, 2012

Treasures from the SFC: Loyalist Women of Massachusetts, Part II

"...when Law, humanity, nor justis is Sufferd to take place__"

The final post in our Women's History Month series picks up the theme from our previous installment, charting the experience of Loyalist women behind American lines in eastern Massachusetts. Today's letter by Sarah Dering Thomas, the aunt of Elizabeth Dering (the recipient of both letters), continues the story from where Anna Winslow's note left off. Writing in May 1781, Sarah left no doubt that the Loyalists in her area were still suffering from persecution from their Whig neighbors. Like Winslow, Thomas looks to religious imagery to help contextualize the problem, hoping "to loose an earthly inheritance for an heavenly one." Of particular note in this letter is a possible reference to Loyalist flight: Dering's Cousin Charles is preparing for a voyage, which one can easily imagine meant an escape from the increasingly ascendant Whigs, during a period of the war where British fortunes were beginning to ebb. Of particular note in this letter is the fact that Elizabeth Dering, despite her family's political affiliations, seemed to enjoy freedom of movement and socialization in Boston, a hotbed of Revolutionary fervor. For the full story, please see the complete transcript of the letter below.


Sol Feinstone Collection No. 1352
Sarah Thomas to Elizabeth Dering, Marshfield, MA, 17 May 1781
Transcribed by WP Tatum III, March 2012

“Marshfeild May 17th 1781

My very dear Neace,
                        I rejoice much to hear you have got up to Boston, I please myself much it will not be long before I shall se you at our retirement, where the you may not meat with such agreeable entertainment and pleasing society as amongst your Boston friends, I will venture to assure you no friend you have can give you a more hearty welcome or be more gratified with your company then myself and family__ I am much obliged to you for your letter: the sympathy of a friend is pleasing when one is in troble and that is all my best friends can doe for me for me, in my present unfortunate situation_ when Law, humanity, nor justis is Sufferd to take place__ but my dear if the present offlictions which are but for a moment may but Work out for us a a [sic] far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glorey__ it will be a happy exchange to loose an earthly inheritance for an heavenly one__ your Cos Charles sent us word he could not spair you yet for he should want some of your assistance in giting his things redy for his intended Voige but as sure as it will be agreeable to you I shall be happy to improve the first moment I have your leave to send the Chaise for you__ Your Cos all desire to be pertecularly remembered to you and your Cos Sally hopes you have her letter safe which she wrote you last week I pray offer my proper respects to all the worthy family where you reside and believe me to remain Your affect Servt S Thomas [pg 1]”

Have something you want to share, such as a question, research find, or a personal story about the Library? Email Will Tatum at  

No comments:

Post a Comment