1 February 1820

Eliza Fenwick, Barbados, to Miss Hays, 1 Upper Cumming Street, Pentonville, 1 February 1820.1

Barbadoes  Feby 1st 1820

(My Birth-day)

       The delicious dream is at an end – We do not come home! My dear prudent considerate Friend your knowledge of the West Indian character seems almost intuitive – something even more decided & exact than enquiry & experience gives. Five months since we were promised, most regularly promised eighteen of our Pupils to carry home to England – Two others were engaged three months since to follow us in the course of one year, yet after the arrival of The Concord, in which I had engaged Passages to the amount of four hundred Guineas and had advertised having done so in the Barbadoes papers; nay even after their own preparations were mostly made six of the promised Pupils were withdrawn. and  I ought not to have been astonished yet I was thunderstruck. Your letter had only arrived a week before, and Mrs Rutherford with her eye, full of tears exclaimed “How exactly Miss Hays knows them[”] Twelve remained faithful to their word, but upon the nicest calculation we could jointly make, and with the chance of casualties I could not reckon on making the income ^of twelve^ meet the expenditure and limitted as our means are by the heavy losses we have sustained I dare not speculate; therefore in my turn I was forced to disappoint those who depended on me and give up the project. I took two days for consideration and that determination was the result, though made with bitter mortification. Poor Eliza however suffer’d far more than I did. She pines to rear her boys in England and dreads for them the sensual indulgencies & luxury that most Children here are allowed. Happily her own health is much better and should she have a relapse I shall insist on her taking a voyage home if she merely stays while the Ship unloads & loads & returns in the same Vessel.

        You my dear friend will I know regret that our meeting in this world is defer’d (perhaps for ever) but you will commend the sacrifice of affection to duty. We are doing well here very well have an excellent school; have paid all the debts that Mr R—s unfortunate speculation involved us in and are clear of the world. To the best of my belief & judgment I have but two doubtful debts ^though a long line of sure ones^ on my books – one is  large yet it will most probably be paid in time, the other which I think I shall lose2 does not exceed £25.

            You may rest assured Dear Mary every means has been tried to discover some family connections for the destitute Miss Haman but neither father nor mother were natives of this world and not a human being can we discover on whom she has a claim except her mother-in-law to whose dissolute conduct the father owed his ruin & death & who now lives openly with the Galant probably rioting in the plundered spoils of her unhappy husband. Lord Combermeres3 private secretary, Captain Grant, is doing me the kindness to set on foot a military enquiry of the ^back^ transactions & stations of the regiment by which he hopes to find where the Parents were married & she baptized. If we can get ^certificates of^ these Lord Palmerstone4 (in answer to a Memorial which Captain Grant & the Honble Major Finch assisted me to draw up in due form) has written to the Governor (Lord Combermere) to say the Child on proof of her legitimate birth shall be put on the Fund and an annual allowance granted to me. It will be but small I suppose.

      Farewell Dear dear Friend. Let us meet often in thought though separated in Person. Eliza joins me in every affectionate remembrance and thanks for your good advice. With her usual power of mind she has regained her composure and says it [will be] for the best. She is bent on making & saving money & hopes if she [cannot] bring them, to send her boys in a few years to England.

       Pardon a short letter. We are in the midst of the [bustle] created by our preparation for our Annual Examination & Ball which we deferred from Christmas to February on account of our going away. You may suppose in an expensive Country like this, where dress is carried to an excess, and where ^fine^ dancing is idolized and when we have near sixty heads & imaginations to regulate and keep cool on the occasion, and yet to consider of laces & flowers and trimmings, how inadequate the day is to the demands made on it, but I would not miss the Packet.

                        God bless and Protect you

                                    Prays yours ever

                                                E. Fenwick


March 16th

This did lose the Packet & I have been involved in toil & trouble ever since little Elizabeth has been near death & Mrs R—s night & day attendance on her Child brought in all her worst complaints[.] Thank God the Attack though severe has not been long & she is again amending. We have removed 4 days since to a most commodious cool & pleasant house which I always admired but little thought I should ever inhabit – Excuse further particulars for I am overwhelmed with bustle

                        Yrs ever & truly

                                    E. F.


Address: To | Miss Hays | No 1 Upper Cumming Street | Pentonville

Postmark: None



1 Fenwick’s birthday. Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, New York Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 200-02; not in Brooks, Correspondence.    

2 loose] MS

3 Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere (1773-1865) served as Governor of Barbados from 1817-1820. 

4 Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865) served twice as Prime Minister of England in the mid-19th century. From 1809 to 1828 he served as Secretary of War.