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Dalrymple family letters, 1805-1835 (majority within 1805-1811)

20 items

This collection contains correspondence addressed to James and Azubah Dalrymple of Framingham and Marlborough, Massachusetts, as well as 2 letters addressed to their son William. William Dalrymple wrote 14 letters to his parents while seeking work in Boston and Montréal and wrote about his impressions of Canada and the residents of Québec. Additional material includes personal correspondence from family friends and from the Dalrymples' daughter Ann.

This collection contains 17 letters addressed to James and Azubah Dalrymple of Framingham and Marlborough, Massachusetts; 2 to their son William; and 1 to their son John.

William Dalrymple wrote 14 letters to his parents while living in Boston, Massachusetts, and Montréal, Québec, between 1805 and 1811. He worked a number of jobs and spent some time as a shoemaker's assistant in Providence, Rhode Island (September 17, 1805). While working at a store in Boston, he commented on the prices of hardware and requested that his parents send him a pair of shoes, to be made by his brother John (March 24, 1808); later that year, he traveled to New York and shared his impressions of the city (June 13, 1808). In May 1809, he moved to Montréal, where he discussed Canada's ties to European culture (June 27, 1809) and reported his opinion of local residents (September 28, 1809). His letter of April 3, 1810, to his brother John encourages John to take advantage of local schools (April 3, 1810). William responded to the death of his young sister Sally in his letter of May 8, 1810, and wrote his final letter home on May 7, 1811.

William Dalrymple received two letters from George Rich, who provided his opinion on the economic climate of Baltimore (December 24, 1806) and awaited the arrival of the United States schooner Revenge, which would bring news of international tensions between the United States, Great Britain, and France (October 26, 1807). His later letter also refers to William's efforts to become a playwright. James and Azubah Dalrymple also received letters from their daughter Ann, who wrote about a family in Cambridge (June 17, 1823); Jabez Green, a friend, who requested news of his son Benjamin in New York City and mentioned the construction of a canal between Albany and Lake Erie (September 17, 1824); and Timothy Woodbridge, a Presbyterian minister from Austerlitz, New York, who reported the death of James Dalrymple, Jr., on August 28, 1835 (September 2, 1835).


Edward Nicholas Heygate journal, 1853-1857 (majority within 1853)

1 volume

This journal is Edward Nicholas Heygate's illustrated, narrative account of his travels in Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean from May 1853 to February 1855. Heygate, an Englishman, described the stops on his itinerary as well as his modes of transportation, life in the Bahamas, and return to London.

This volume (approximately 80 pages) contains Edward Nicholas Heygate's narrative account of his travels around Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean from May 1853-February 1855. Ink drawings appear throughout the journal.

Edward Heygate composed his narrative based on a diary he kept while traveling from England to North America, living in the Bahamas, and returning to Liverpool. The first section, entitled "Notes and Illustrations on America" (pp. 99-145), covers April 28, 1853, to July 17, 1853. During that time, Heygate recorded his experiences on his journey from Liverpool to the Bahamas. Following his arrival in Canada in mid-May, he visited Boston, New York City, Niagara Falls, Charleston, Montreal, and other locations. Heygate recorded his impressions of the major cities and attractions, giving particular attention to his modes of transportation, which included steamboats, railroads, and carriages. He also noted his general impressions about Americans and local culture. Among other leisure activities, Heygate attended several chariot races and a lecture by Lucy Stone on women's rights (June 18, 1853). The account ends upon Heygate's arrival in Nassau, Bahamas, in July 1853.

The second section of the journal, "Notes on the Island of Nassau. Bahamas. 1853" (pp. 149-169), recounts Heygate's life in the Caribbean, including his description of Nassau and a recapitulation of his visit to Havana, Cuba. These passages are dated from July 18, 1853-February 1855, and conclude with his arrival in Liverpool, England. This portion of the volume begins with regular diary entries, though Heygate wrote less frequently as time went on.

Heygate interspersed ink drawings throughout his account, and captured images of many of the sights he witnessed during his travels. He also composed ink and watercolor maps of North America and the Caribbean, which he annotated to show his traveling routes (pp. 6-7), and of New Providence, Bahamas (p. 13). Two items are laid into the journal: a pencil sketch and notes on Heygate's modes of transportation.

An Index of Illustrations (.pdf) contains additional information on visual works within the Heygate journal.


John Porteous letter book, 1767-1769

1 volume

The John Porteous letter book documents the business endeavors and concerns of a fur trader and merchant active in New York, Montreal, and Michigan between 1767 and 1769.

The John Porteous letter book contains 83 letters written by Porteous and 4 by his secretary on his behalf, comprising a total of 251 pages of material. Covering the period between March 8, 1767, and November 1, 1769, the letters primarily concern the business affairs of Porteous and his trading firm, Duncan, Sterling & Porteous, located in New York, Michigan, and Montreal. The letters include numerous details of trading activities; travel between Schenectady, Niagara, Detroit, Fort Michilimackinac, and Montreal; relationships and transactions with clients, traders, and Native Americans; and occasional social and family matters. Recipients of letters included James Sterling (22), John Duncan (10), Robert and Alexander Ellice (13), and James Phyn (5).

The letters touch on numerous details of the trade services provided by Duncan, Sterling & Porteous. In his correspondence, Porteous enumerated and discussed shipments of the various items distributed by the company, such as bear and beaver pelts, spirits, salt, clothing, stones, and food items. Several letters also communicate orders for supplies to Porteous' associates. Porteous frequently noted the sale of items to British soldiers, including Lieutenant Perkins Magra, a cartographer and later consul to Tunis, and Captain Patrick Sinclair, who oversaw the construction of Fort Mackinac. On March 15, 1767, he noted that payments owed to him by the 17th Regiment of Foot were in arrears; elsewhere, he recorded the comings and goings of several military officials, including General Thomas Gage (May 26, 1768). Additional letters discuss the quality and prices of the available products and the increasing difficulty of finding labor at a moderate price.

Porteous's correspondence also sheds light on the firm's efforts to serve their many clients. On June 9, 1767, Porteous wrote to Sterling that he was "at a loss how to excuse" him after a client refused to accept a shipment a brandy that had been sent by Sterling in lieu of rum. Another letter provides a glimpse of the difficulty of working with independent-minded trappers, including one whom Porteous found "unwilling to come to any written agrement[.] only says I may depend upon him" (July 16, 1767). On June 6, 1767, he expressed concern that white traders were slow to arrive at Fort Michilimackinac. Coaxing payments from debtors also proved difficult and is the subject of several letters. Porteous commented occasionally on his encounters with Native Americans and their attitudes toward the British. On July 2, 1767, he reported that Jean-Baptiste Marcotte, a trader near Michilimackinac, had been "Pillaged by the Indians," and in other letters he mentioned gifts intended for the Ojibwe. While in Detroit on February 26, 1768, he assessed Native Americans there as "not very well intent'd this spring" but predicted that no war would take place.

Another frequent topic is Porteous' continual travel between various regions, including New York, Michigan, and Montreal. His journeys were sometimes hindered by the elements, as on March 23, 1767, when he noted to fellow merchant Hayman Levy that he was "obliged to remain" in Schenectady "until our river is open." The letters also contain occasional personal news, such as the health and death of family members and references to pastimes.