Main content

Title: Mary Cumming, Petersburg to Rachel Craig, Lisburn.
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileCumming, Mary/31
SenderCumming (n. Craig), Mary
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationmiddle class housewife
Sender Religionunknown
OriginPetersburg, Virginia, USA
DestinationLisburn, Co. Antrim, N.Ireland
RecipientCraig, Rachel
Recipient Genderfemale
SourceT 1475/2 p.111-115: Copied by Permission of Miss A. McKisack, 9 Mount Pleasant, Belfast.
ArchiveThe Public Record Office, Northern Ireland.
Doc. No.9006107
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by JM 29:10:1993.
Word Count1398
TranscriptMarch 9th. 1814.

My dearest Rachel,
I embrace with the greatest pleasure
another opportunity of writing to my beloved Sister; a
cartel is to sail in a few days from New York to Gothenburg,
which will take this letter. I was very much disappointed that
I did not hear from any of my friends by the "Ann and
Alexander", which arrived very lately from Liverpool.
William had a letter from his brother James by her. I hope,
however I shall hear from home very soon, as I have not had
a letter this long time. The last I received was from
Margaret dated in July and September. I hope some of my
letters have got to hand before this time, I was very sorry
some of them were detained so long after they were sent away,
I wrote a very long letter to my dear Margaret in January,
which I suppose she will get before this arrives.
I know my dear Sister will be pleased to hear that my
health this winter has been tolerably good. I have had few
returns of the ague and fever, and I hope will soon get
entirely quit of it. William has not had an hour's sickness
these twelve months, he is the picture of health and contentment,
for since the good news from England has reached
us he has been busily engaged puchasing tobacco, in expectation
that peace will take place during the Summer;
most sincerly I hope it may, for then our return to
dear Ireland will be sooner than it otherwise would be.
Tobacco has risen in price very much of late, William has
sold some here lately for double what he paid for it in
the begining of winter. He has now more than a thousand
hogheads on hands, the greater part is his own, the remainder
he purchased for Mr. Oliver and Mr. Brown of
Baltimore. If he can get this shipped off during the Summer
all will be well.
We purpose leaving this place about the beginning
of July, and spending a few months in Baltimore, and perhaps
going on to Philadelphia. I look forward with great pleasure
to this jaunt, for though I have so often been disappointed
in my plans of happiness yet I still continue to have the
same fondness for castle-building which I formerly had, indeed
it is a souce of great amusement to me in planning my
return to my beloved home once more. I very often dream of
you all, and my earnest prayer is that I may live to return
to Strawberry Hill, and find all its dear inmates well and
happy. Mrs. Freeland is much better than she was when I
wrote last, Agnes has been ill of the measles lately, she is
now recovered, and I expect to have her here next week to stay
some time with me. She is nearly about your age, I am sure
you would like her very much.
William and I attended the birth-night Ball on the
22nd of last month, I never was at so crowded an assembly
in my life, the hall is very large, yet it was so full of
company there was hardly room to move; the supper was very
elegant, I did not dance much, but was very much diverted
with the novelty of the scene. I had the good luck to get
beside my lively and entertaining friend, Mrs.Taylor, who
by her wit and humour is sure to keep one in good spirits.
I fancy I am a favourite of hers, as she is always extremely
kind and attentive to me. I was highly diverted with a
French gentleman, at the Ball. Mrs Taylor and myself were
chatting together when he came up, to whom he addressed
himself, he spoke bad English. "Mrs Taylor" he began.
"Does you intend dancing any to-night?" She said she believed
not. "If you do" he replied, "you had much betterre [better?]
take care of your toes, for as I was just dancing one reel
and not attending very much to mine, a gentleman he first
trod on one foot, and just as he was going to ask my pardonne [pardon?]
Mr. Cameron he jump on the other one." I cannot write in
the manner he spoke, but we were both very much diverted
with him. I do not like the reels half as well as the
country dances, I hope I shall be able to dance them when
I return.
I have been amusing myself lately working caps and
vandykes on India book muslin, it is much better than the
common kind, I hope I shall soon be able to send you and
Margaret some little things of my work.
The garden will soon be nice order, our peas will
soon be two or three inches above the ground. The gardener
and old Matt find constant employment. Oh, dearest Rachel,
I wish you could see old Matt at his work, he certainly
is one of the natural curiosities of the place. Many a
time I am diverted with him, his figure and face are very
different from any negro I have ever seen, both formed in
Nature's roughest mould, and to add another charm to his
appearance he has got an old helmet somewhere, which he
wears instead of his hat, and altogether you never beheld
so comical a figure as he is. I like him very much, he is
perfectly good-natured and obliging.
William gathered a great number of cucumbers one day
last summer, which when Matt saw, "Why, Master" he said,
"Some of them cucumbers you have pulled have got 'fever'",
meaning they were too ripe and turning yellow. Jenny expects
an increase to her family in Summer, I thought she would
not have any more, as Cora is seven years old, I would
rather not have any more children about the house, but
these things cannot be helped, and Jenny is a faithful
honest creature as can be.
The Petersburg ladies have instituted an asylum, called
the "Female Orphan Asylum", for the purpose of educating
poor orphans who had no one to take care of them, it is
about two years since the commencement of the plan and it
seems to have met with great success. They have a President,
Secretary, Treasurer, and twelve Direcrors. There is a
meeting of all the subscribers once a year at which time
they choose the different officers by votes. This meeting
took place on Monday last, at which time I had the honour
of being elected one of the Directors. William says I shall
soon be a great character in this country.
I am anxiously waiting for another arrival in hopes
of getting letters from Ireland, tell Margaret Byers I
expect a long one from her, I hope she and Miss McCully are
well, give my kindest love to them. Do not, my dear Rachel,
let any opportunity escape without writing to me, I was very
much pleased to see your last letter so well written. Tell
my dear Margaret I will expect a very long one from her for
the enormous budget I sent her lately. I hope my darling
James is well, when you write to him tell him to write a
long letter to me. Give my love to Andy and Sally, Do you
know I have taken it into my wise head that you will soon
be Miss Craig if you are not so already. I am sure my dear
James is a very handsome young man, how I long to see you
all! I wrote a long letter to my Father in December, which
I hope he will soon receive.
I have been a good deal amused reading the "Orlando
Furioso" of Ariosto, Mrs. Taylor lent it to me. Will you
ask my Father if he ever met with a book called "Salmagundi"
written by three very clever men of New York, but
whose names are not known. If he has not I will send it to
him if I can, for I am sure he would admire it.
William joins me in a thousand loves to you all.
God bless you my dear , dear Sisters, is the sincere
prayer of your

Mary Cumming.

I hope Mr. Neely is well, give my kind love to him. I wrote
to Mr. Gilmour lately.

Miss Rachel Craig,
Lisburn, Co. Antrim,