J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Henry Lloyd Worries about the Mail

The National Postal Museum has a webpage devoted to a 3 May 1775 letter from Henry Lloyd (1709-1795) to the New York merchants Oliver DeLancey and John Watts.

Lloyd was the eldest son in a mercantile family with roots in both Boston and Long Island, New York. He was a decided Loyalist. In March 1774 he tried to import tea into Boston, and a crowd destroyed it—part of the lesser-known second Boston Tea Party. By 1775 Lloyd was supplying the British military, which was the main topic of this letter.

At the time he wrote, Lloyd was besieged inside Boston with the British troops. He warned his New York colleagues that rebels might be opening their mail:
Your fav.r of 24th Ult.o [i.e., last month] came safe to hand Yesterday. Per Post & the Seal not broke, tho’ most of the Letters both publick & private were open’d before they got here & some of them stop’d, this Letter goes by a private Conveyance to Providence to be put into the Post Office there & hope it will reach you safe. . . .

Fresh provisions of all kinds are stop’d coming in here, & I don’t know how I shall be able to procure the Pork & Rice, Flour, & Pease I suppose may be had from Canada, some Butter I have procur’d here.
In 1776 Lloyd evacuated to Halifax with the royal authorities, and eventually the American governments confiscated his property in Massachusetts and New York. DeLancey and Watts remained in New York through the end of the war and then evacuated as well.

Henry’s younger brother James stayed in Boston after the siege. His neighbors knew he too was a Loyalist, but he was generally tolerated as a popular physician. James’s namesake son actually became a U.S. Senator.

(Photograph of the Lloyd brothers’ childhood home on Long Island courtesy of the Caumsett Foundation. The buildings are maintained by the Lloyd Harbor Historical Society.)

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