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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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

“She would not marry one who had occasioned her so much mortification”

Toward the end of 1750, the families of Hannah Waldo (shown here) and Andrew Pepperrell gathered in Boston for their long-anticipated wedding.

Samuel Waldo, the father of the bride, was in London working on his large land claims in Maine and Nova Scotia, but other relatives were in Boston.

Andrew’s parents, Sir William and Lady Pepperrell, traveled down from Maine for the ceremony. The baronet had written to his friend Waldo “that he now had every reason to hope that the long talked of alliance of their two families would soon be completed, much to the joy of himself and family,” according to biographer Usher Parsons.

One important person was still missing, however: the groom. Parsons reported, “a few days before the one appointed for the wedding arrived, Andrew wrote to [Hannah] that circumstances had occurred which would make it necessary to defer it to another day, which he named, as more convenient for himself.”

Hannah Waldo had been awaiting this marriage since 1746. The engagement had been publicly announced in 1748. And here was another delay. That finally pushed her to take control of her own course.

Parsons wrote:
She returned no answer; the guests from far and near, minister and all, assembled at the appointed hour and place, when she enjoyed the sweet revenge of telling Andrew that she would not marry one who had occasioned her so much mortification, and who could not have that love and friendship for her that was necessary to her happiness.
The Pepperrells went back to Maine.

When Samuel Waldo heard the news in London, he wrote to the baronet:
I was greatly chagrined at the news of my daughter’s changing her mind and dismissing your son after the visit you mention, which I was apprised of by her, and concluded that the affair would have had the issue I had long expected and desired, and that the ship which brought the unwelcome news of a separation, would have given me the most agreeable advice of its consummation; but I find she was jealous that Mr. Pepperrell had not the love and friendship for her that was necessary to make her happy. This I understand from her letter to me, and that the last promise made when your son was in Boston was disregarded by him in not returning at the period he had fixed.

This disappointment to a close union with your family, which above all things I desired, has given me great uneasiness, and the addition thereto will be greater if I should find the fault lie on my daughter; but be that as it may, I should be very sorry to have it break friendship between us, or any of the several branches of our families;—those of yours I assure you I wish as well to as my own, and I shall, if ever in my power, convince them of it.
Back in Massachusetts, the young people had to get on with their lives.

TOMORROW: Separate ways.

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