Back to London 1707 -1723
In London Edward struggled with the case and argued with his brother-in-law Burrell Massingberd. Although Chancery, Burrell and Sir William Massingberd agreed that Elizabeth’s portion should be paid out upon the plantation and that it should be owned by her and her children, Edward obstructed this move. The courts also required paper proof of the land deal with Smith. The expected return of Edward to South Carolina, therefore, did not happen. Elizabeth wrote on Feb 14th 1707 from Charles Town:
‘I hope before this that my husband is out of England…I would have him take care how he comes or ventures anything for it is believed by many he will never see Carolina again he having done such injuries to this county that many of the planters threaten him very hard if he ever comes here again’
She goes on to write of her children Burrell and Harry:
‘I have sent your nephew Burrell to Latin school and when he has learned as much as he can in this country I intend to send him to England to finish learning and to be bred a lawyer. I thank God that both my children are sensible children as any of their age poor Burry is a little backwards in his learning for want of money to put him to school sooner but what he has been put to he takes to very well little harry could tell all his letters when but two years old. I ask’d Harry what he had to say to his uncle and he told me I must tell you he is a very good boy and then he says ‘my uncle will send me royal ginger cake’ I rite it you just as the child told it me of his own accord without anything being said but what I rite poor Burry is at school so cannot send you word what he says but I hope before long he will write himself. We have had here the coldest driest winter as likewise the summer as was ever known in Carolina which has been a great loss to the inhabitence of this country [the rest of this letter is lost to damage]. (LAO 2MM B/7/27)
This was the last letter from Elizabeth in South Carolina for some time. Matters in England had taken a turn for the worse. When Edward had left England in 1700 he was fleeing creditors as he had ‘misapplied between £1300 and £1400 of the Government’s money which came into his hands as he was a Port collector in the Excise’. As a result of this he was arrested and placed in the Fleet prison for debt. By this time too, much of the money Elizabeth was due to inherit had already been given to them by her brother Burrell in advance of the settlement.
Shortly after, Elizabeth returned to England with her two sons leaving the older step-son Edward, who was established by now on his own plantation, and the two step-daughters behind. The family were shipwrecked and rescued on route home, but Elizabeth still managed to carry the documents relating to the plantation with her. However, the court in London regarded them as invalid. The plantation was abandoned and, as no payments had ever been made, it reverted to Landgrave Thomas Smith in 1711.
Elizabeth set up home in London sharing a house with her sister Anne for a while. Edward Hyrne died in 1711 and the widowed Elizabeth continued to live on in England.
A letter from step-son Edward Hyrne dated 1721 from his plantation at Worlds End, South Carolina, reveals that Elizabeth and her sons had never given up hope of returning. The letter is addressed to her at the Carolina Coffee House, Birching Lane, London.
‘as to your land I have not heard anything about itt no doubt when you are here you may get some though I know of non at present. I have thought of one more way to come by land and I think the very best way which is for my brother to marry a wife that has land, no doubt his personall qualifications with what he is sufficient recommendation on account of bro Harry, a few more years must pass over his head before he is master of land by that means…
When you come here if any of your friends will consign a small cargo to you, I believe itt would turn to good account for there is much money to be got by this trade. Madam your dutiful son Edward Hyrne
My daughter Nancy gives her duty to you and my son Ned is always talking about his grandmother and asking a thousand questions about you’. (LAO 2MM B/7/66)
In 1723 Elizabeth (then aged 43) and her two sons (Burrell aged 22 and Harry aged19) returned to South Carolina on the ship the True Love with a consignment of merchandise.
Return to Charles Town
This is the first surviving letter Elizabeth wrote home upon her arrival in South Carolina and is fairly typical of the correspondence (which comprise of money wrangles, family news, trivia, tragedy and events of an epic quality spanning almost sixty years). LAO 2MM B/7/75
Charles Town January 21st 1725
I received your too letters which I should have answered much sooner had not one Hammerton from Horncastle who arrived here in the beginning of the Summer told us you were gone out of England and it was not commonly known where it being upon some account of the Government as to particulars he did not know and that Cosen Weslyd was dead and this made me resolve not to write until I heard from some of my friends in England and about a fortnight ago I received a letter from Sister Anne which mentions nothing of the terrible story but if you wondered you did not hear from me as well you might and indeed it was a great pleasure to me to find that it was only a story raised by that young drunken fellow, I am sorry to hear of poor Bro Henry’s being so ill in his sad condition it may please God he may be better in time tho I think there is but little reason to expect it and not as you observe he may live many years and so that may be great arrears at his death for he doth not expend above half of his annuity which may occasion great and chargeable dispute between our children when we are dead especially if you should leave your children under age so the your affairs should come into other peoples hands that may not keep true accounts would still make it more intricate. As to my tax pounds I believe you lawfully answer the payments of it, it being given to me before too witnesses and at the same time my brother offered to give it me in writing but I knowing it was only his life trusted to his word and honnor for itt. That I am satisfied both my sister Anne and Mrs Wilkinson must well remember and do not in the least question but it will stand good in law.
As to my shoemakers bills you ask of I never had the things mentioned in it nor know anything of them I believe I did owe him for one pair of black shoes but I am certain as to it however I ordered my son Burrell to pay him for one pair and take a receipt in full which I thought had been done Tell after I left England and as to Mrs Mason I did mind to leave paid her some money but had forgot it in the distraction I was in when we left England and had my sister received ten pounds which I which I did not in the least question but she should have been paid in all that was due to her long before now however I am glad to hear she had been paid half. I hope you have by now received another letter if not too from my son Burrell’
Above: two of the earliest surviving houses in Charleston – though not quite as early as the ones Elizabeth would have known, it gives a good impression of what she would have seen upon her return to Charles Town in 1725.
‘now as to our own affairs in this place I found the face of affairs wonderfully altered the Town mightly increased and a great many handsome brick houses full of people a great demand for goods but little redy money. Land very dear that was anything good or near the Town or lay convenaint for water carriage every one held up their land very high believing I was resolved to bye att any rate because I had eight Negroes purchased with the money I sent out of England before us I had many to advise me some advised one thing some another but those whose advise I relied on most advised me to carry the goods into the country and sett up a store of all sorts of goods and deal either for ready money or by way of Barter for rice which was paid but was gott into the wrong place for it so it did not answer as I was in hopes it would which made me stay but six months att which time my son Harry came of age 20 I then resolved to lett him see the trade of the place and not to fix his money upon land tell he was capable of doing it himself and making a true judgement of which reality he should like best. I left him in the country to trade with our neighbouring Indians and gave him goods proper for that that occation believing that would give him a insight into bothTraid and of country life which he seemed to like pretty well but when his brother Edward [his older step brother] removed to another plantation which was a hundred miles distant from where he lived to make pitch and tar which att the time there was a great demand for and it bore a good price for it that there was considerable sums of money gott by itt we sent our Negroes upon shares to the pitch work and Harry was obliged to come and live in Town which he did not like by any means however I perswaded him to be easey till he came of age which was but five months and that his bro Burrell was a taking his part to himself as fast as he possibly could and that I would give my consent that he should doe whatever he liked best with his money and last June he arrived at the age of 21 years and still continues to like a plantation life much better than any other I gave my consent that he should look out for a plantation that was within our compass to purchase and that I would leave off triad and goe with him upon equall shares and keep his house untill he get a better house keeper this pleased poor Harry very much accordingly I advised him to treat with Landgrave Smith about a small tract of good land he had near the town which we have at last agreed for tho at a very dear rate we are to give six pounds an acre for it but the land is good, I hope it will be the answer. Harry is now there to gitt it surveyed it is all new land there was never any of it so much as cleared I doe not expect to gitt upon it myself before the latter end of next summer but Harry and some Negroes I hope will be there before long. I have lately bought me a Negroe boy whom I have bestowed a livery to wait upon myself I bless God we have had very good success in our Negroes for altho there has been a great mortality amongst them we have not lost one except a little girl ten days old whose mother is big again and our slaves prove all very well. I cannott say we have gott much since coming here but we have not lost and have now a very good prospect of gitting money Burrell by merchantdeing and Harry and myself by planting in a plantation about nine or ten miles from Charles Town upon the neck that lays between the Cooper and the Ashley Rivers, it is known on the map by the name Gourdens land. I expect we shall be much straightened att first for it generally takes more money to settle new land than one would resonably expect but I have a great deal of reason to hope that Harry will be both saveing and industrious so that I hope we shall overcome that difficulty, we shall be in the midst of a great many good neighbours and if we should ever have the misfortune of another Indian War att present we are in no apprehension of danger but if it should so happen we shall be as secure as in Charles Town I had forgot till now to thank you for your garden seed and tho I have but a very little garden where now am yett I distributed them among such friends as had promissed me some of the produce when I should want some of the seeds I putt into my own little garden lavendar, sage and apelkernalls etc. but they never came up I believe it might be occasioned by coming in the hold of the ship for that place is too hot for garden seeds and it was also to late being 2 months for the best season in this country.
Here is laitly arrived in this provence one Mr Robert Wright a gentleman of large family both of sons and daughters they apear to be very genteel people and to have a good substance it is said they have now 4 or 500 pounds in England at a place cald Sagefeild near Newcastle that he has been a member of the English Parliament, he has brought over a coach averall servants in livery, what was his reason for leaving England I cannot tell some say his father was a judge in King James’s reign and that he being a non[?] was weary of heavy taxes but I believe they indever to keep it privett be it so or not however he is like to make a good settler he has bought a large plantation with some buildings upon it upon Ashley river and has paid a great deal of money for it if you know of anything of him lett me know in your next, I believe by this time you may be weary of reading this long epistle for I think it is high time to conclude with my son Burrell duty joyn’d with my service to yourself and sister and all friends he being the only one with me at present is from
Your affectionate sister
The next letter is from Harry in which he explains that his mother and Landgrave Smith could not agree a deal on the land and that they have bought a plantation called Tugudoo ‘which is for severall causes, too tedious here to mention, in my opinion a much better bargain than what they were before about’.
To be continued…
© Pauline M Loven, B.A., 2010
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