30 September 1832

Mary Hays, Norwood Lodge, to Henry Crabb Robinson, [London], 30 September 1832.1

     My good friend, I was much alarmed, a day or two ago, by a paragraph in the Times paper respecting the Louisiana funds, – in which, I believe, you also have property. If so, tell me how you mean to act, & whether you can put me in a mode of procuring better security? – as any pecuniary anxieties are, at present, very detrimental to me. I shall return to Homerton to morrow – seven-night, & come back here the first week in November, most probably to fix my residence with my brother. When you can make it convenient & agreeable, I shall be glad to see you either here or at Homerton. In the mean time, a line addressed to me, to the care of my brother St Helen’s Place Bishopsgate Street, will be duly forwarded.2

         I trust in your former friendship to excuse the trouble I give you.

        With respect & esteem I remain your friend &c

                                     Mary Hays.


My brother desires me to say he shall be glad to see you.

Could I change my property 500 dollars, from the Louisiana funds to those of the United States?


Address: H. C. Robinson, Esqr

Postmark:  none

Note on back of letter by HCR, directed to Rev. Sprague, for whom Robinson gave the letter as part of the latter's massive collection:

Autograph of Mary Hays Authoress of the B Lives of illustrious women  Emma Courtney &c

H. C. Robinson

1 Gratz Collection, Case 10, Box 30, Pennsylvania Historical Library, Philadelphia; not in Brooks, Correspondence

2 About a decade before this letter Robinson had become the manager of Hays's monies, investing a significant portion of them in the Louisiana Funds (it is interesting that about the same time as this letter Ambrose Lanfear will move from New York City to New Orleans). Hays had been living for about nine years (since 1823) as a boarder in Vanbrugh Castle, Greenwich, which at that time was being used as a school operated by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Brown[e]. During these years several of Hays's nieces (along with her sister, Sarah Hills), lived nearby in large homes on Maze Hill (the Francis family had 12 children by 1824). Hays had recently given up her residence in the Castle to move in with her niece, Sarah Dunkin Wedd, who had formerly lived near her in Greenwich but now were living in the Homerton area of London. Sarah Wedd had given birth on 21 March 1832 (about six months prior to the above letter), an event that may have come with complications and, given her large family, provoked Hays to move in with her family and assist her with the care of her household, something Hays had done on several occasions with various family members.  On 12 September, however, Elizabeth Hays died. She was the wife of John Hays, Mary Hays's younger brother and friend of Crabb Robinson. Thus, a new crisis emerged that would require the services of Mary Hays, despite her advanced age of 72.  She would spend the remainder of the decade living with her brother and assisting in the care and education of his three daughters, reprising a similar role she had performed nearly three decades earlier when she instructed the Sarah, Emma, and Marianna, the three youngest daughters of John Dunkin (c. 1806-08) and several children of Thomas Hays (1809-13), especially his daughter Elizabeth.  During her later years (1832-40), when she lived in the home of John Hays, Mary Hays returned to her role as teacher/governess, this time with one of her youngest nieces  (there were more than sixty years between them), the future writer and feminist, Matilda Mary Hays (1820-97).