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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Sunday, November 20, 2022

“Your wish that the alliance between our son and your daughter were completed”

As I quoted yesterday, in early 1748 the Maine grandees Sir William Pepperrell and Samuel Waldo exchanged letters reassuring each other that their children wanted to get married.

Andrew Pepperrell’s long delay in setting a date with Hannah Waldo was starting to cause talk in Boston, as Samuel Waldo hinted in a 20 March letter:
I hope all impediments to a consummation will soon end in their mutual happiness, and to the satisfaction of their respective friends, as well as the mortification of those who are foes to every one. . . . though I have no reason to suspect his honor in the pending affair, yet the delay (the consequence of which is not to be foreseen) must be very disagreeable to us. Your own concern for the issue of it will excuse my anxiety for the future welfare as well as present peace and honor of my daughter, toward which it is my duty to contribute my best endeavors.
Hannah’s sister Lucy Waldo had married Isaac Winslow; they and their children appear above in a portrait by Joseph Blackburn now at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Winslow wrote from Boston several times that spring passing on his sister-in-law Hannah’s regards to the man who was supposed to marry her, as on 9 May:
I had the pleasure of drinking your health last evening at my father Waldo’s, about 10 o’clock. It was at that time when your dear Miss Hannah drank the toast, with the usual becoming blush on her countenance. She desired me to send you her compliments
Winslow also suggested various trips between Boston and Kittery that would bring the young people together. But Andrew Pepperrell never suggested a firm date for those trips, either.

Finally on 3 Sept 1748, the engagement was formally announced in the Kittery meetinghouse. Usually that meant the wedding was only weeks away.

But then Andrew complained of a lingering fever. And he undertook a new shipping project. His father wrote on 16 December, “If Andrew would go and be married, I would willingly undertake one winter journey more; but he has got a vessel which he will endeavor to fit out this winter, contrary to my advice, which I am afraid will make him sick again.”

Waldo replied:
I should think that could stand in no competition with the grand affair of a settlement for life, which he has been now nearly two years engaged in, and it gives me no small concern, as the honor of either of the parties, as well as my own, are engaged therein, it should be seemingly in suspense; the many rascally stories that are industriously bruited gives great amusement to some ill-natured persons among us, and no small chagrin to the friends of either party.
Still the months dragged on. On 20 Feb 1749, Winslow wrote to his father-in-law Waldo, who was then in London:
The affair with Mr. P———ll & Miss remains much as you left It I have hitherto omitted saying any Thing of it as I’ve been at a Loss what to say; & Miss Hannah has been of Opinion yt. it was best to be silent on ye. Affair at present. Every post almost has brot. some apology for his not coming & Mr. [Nathaniel] Sparhawk still thinks favourably of him; A short time must I think determine his Intentions
The next month, Sir William wrote to Waldo:
Mrs. Pepperrell joins with me in your wish that the alliance between our son and your daughter were completed, which I do think would be a satisfaction to all their friends, and a means of putting a stop to the talk of their enemies, as there are none without some. As I have often urged him to finish the affair, and he has declined to let me know the time designated, I have no thoughts of mentioning it to him again.
But other people were definitely still talking about the situation.

TOMORROW: Clustering around young Andrew.

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