21 June 1793

John Disney, [Sloane Street], to Mary Hays, Gainsford Street, Friday morning, 21 June 1793.1


Dear Madam

       I have this instant received your kind note wishing me to drink tea wth you this afternoon to meet Dr Priestley. By previous engagement I am going this morning into the city on business, – dine in the neighbourhood of Bedford row, and take Pall-Mall in my way home. – It is mortifying when plans run counter to each other, & the more ^so,^ as I have the longest day in the year before me to execute them. – I had hoped to have been able to have fixed on some day for our Richmond excursion,2 but I cannot do it at this moment. Particular circumstances do not leave us the disposers of our own time. I shall be with you today in spirit, envy you the society of not only one of the greatest, but one of the best of men.

       My wife & daughter join me most cordially in best respects to your house and

                        I am my dear Madam  

                                    Your sincere & affectionate friend

                                                J D.


Address: Miss Hays  | Gainsford Street | Horsleydown | Southwark

1 A. F. Wedd Collection, shelfmark 24.93(6), Dr. Williams's Library, London; Brooks, Correspondence 282.

2 Most likely the excursion (subsequent letters reveal that they did indeed go to Richmond) was to the pleasure grounds at Richmond Hill, which rises on the north side of the Thames, to the west of central London, overlooking the meadows that once surrounded Richmond Palace (demolished in the 1650s) and Richmond Park (a former hunting ground for Charles I). The Hill was known for its spectacular views of the meadows and the Thames; a Terrace Walk was built in the mid-eighteenth century to accommodate visitors. In 1772, George III combined Kew Gardens with nearby Richmond Gardens, under the supervision of the king’s gardener, William Alton, and his friend, Sir Joseph Banks.  Kew Gardens became the nation’s official botanical garden in 1840.