Charles Ninian Edmonston, author of My Own Edmonstons, collected a number of family letters. These letters are briefly paraphrased, or quoted from, in his book. I am placing this Beatty family letter here in its entirety. It was written 10 October 1770 to Mrs Bridgett Beatty of Wilmington [North Carolina], care of Archibald McLaine, Esq in Philadelphia, from her brother, John Day. A note is appended to the end of the letter, probably written by Charles Ninian Edmonston, that reads, "A descendant of these Beattys was Maria Beatty who married Thomas Benton Edmonston, son of Ninian Edmonston. She died 11 April 1898, no record of the date of her birth. Married 20 April 1876." Thomas Benton Edmonston is my first cousin five times removed. The original letter was in the possession of JN Himes of Haywood county, North Carolina, probably in the 1960's.
By a letter from Mr Archibald McLaine I received the Malacholy acct of the death of my dear old Uncle and of my brother's Beaty. I cannot easily describe the shock it gave me. Your situation appears to me truly distressing and afflicts me the more as I cannot properly quit this place in order to [be of] any assistance for I am connected in business with a man who knows nothing of it and of course the whole would stand still were I to go to you. Besides this I have another consideration equally interesting. My own affairs have been greatly embarrassed these few years past and I have waded through a sea of usury and apprehension in order to preserve a valuable estate to my family which I now find will be impossible as no person has ever lent me money on it but with a view to get my estate for a trifle which has drove me to the necessity of throwing myself out of the one usurer into that of another and as there is no one in Novascotia able to purchase my estate I am necessitated to dispose of it by a lottery which is to make its appearance next week. Thus situated, my dear sister, I cannot go to your assistance without injuring my family more than I can do you service. I now write to Mr McLaine respecting your affairs. Let me request it of you to exert yourself and be industrious to bring your matters to a speedy conclusion for the endeavors of your best friends will not succeed unless you stir yourself. Let me beg of you to avoid lawsuits; they have been destructive to our family. I would further recommend it to you not to leave N. Carolina until you are finally settled otherwise depend upon it they never will, at least I never could learn that any person could ever get their matters closed in that province in their own absence. When you can with advantage to yourself and safety of your property leave that country and would choose to come to this province my house and a hearty welcome from all thats in it is at my dear sister's service. Mrs Day cincerely joins me in condolance to you. I am, my dear Bridgett, yr very affectionate brother, John Day.
Comments by Blanche Aubin Clarkson Hutchison, drawn from "My Own Edmonstons and a Few Others", by Charles Ninian Edmonston, 1971.
For more details on MariaBeatty, visit her page at FamilyStories, pamgarrett.com. If you would like to read more about the Postal Service in 1770’s America, you might enjoy Benjamin Franklin: Man of Letters.
Photo: Lady Reading a Letter; Gerard ter Borch (1617-1681); oil on canvas; current located at Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon, France; courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.