Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The First Love Letter from America?

I just sat reading 'River Diary', one of Ronald Blythe's delightful books.   In it I read of the migration from the Stour Valley in the East of England to The New World - and in particular to New England.

Whole families went - how brave in 1630 when they really had little idea of what awaited them when they got there.  Many children died en route on the sea journey, as did many of the livestock they took with them.  And I love the way that they even took seed corn, but of course in those days the seed had not been dressed, so they also took many of our native wild flowers - scabious, corn cockle, poppies, thistles.

The leader of the group which sailed on the Arabella was one, Mr Winthrop.   He went alone, arranging for his wife and family to follow on another ship.   And it is his letter which survives - and which, as Ronald Blythe suggests, may well be the first love letter from America.

In it he writes:

Mine own, mine only, my best beloved.   Methinks it is a very long time since I saw or heard of my beloved and I miss already
the sweet comfort of thy most desired presence, but the rich goodness and mercy of my God makes supply of all wants.   He sweetens all conditions to us, he takes our cares and fears from us.   He will guide us in our pilgrimage.   My dear Wife, be of good courage:  it shall go well with thee.   Once again let us kiss and embrace.   Your ever John Winthrop.

It would be so interesting to find out what happened when they got there.

Here on the farm the second load of straw has just arrived.   We are mainly grass farms round here, with either milk or suckler herds.  Any 'corn' which is grown usually goes for 'whole crop' and becomes part of the Winter feed.   So most farmers have to buy in their Winter straw (mainly for bedding).   We over-Winter mainly in-calf cows and heifers from our friend and neighbour - they will begin to come in around the end of October - so all the straw needs to be here well in advance - hence two loads today.

I wonder if there are still Winthrops in Massachusetts.


jinxxxygirl said...

Aaahh how lovely... people just dont' write like that anymore.. such a loss... I write 'snail mail' letter quite often but i must say none as lovely as that. :) Writing is fast becoming a lost art. I heard on the news that some people want them to stop teaching it at school , saying its not necessary anymore... What is this world coming to??? Have a wonderful day Weaver! Hugs! deb

Doc said...

There are indeed Winthrop’s in Massachusetts. John Winthrop was a Puritan lawyer and between 1629 and his death in 1649 he served 12 terms as governor. His son John was one of the founders of the Connecticut Colony.

hart said...

"Winthrop's wife, Margaret, was expecting a baby, so he decided it was best to leave her and some of his children at home for that year. About three months after departure, Winthrop's ship arrived at Salem, and he founded the settlement of Shawmut Peninsula community that later became known as Boston. Later, Margaret arrived in New England. Winthrop learned that two of his children had died, one of them being the baby daughter he'd never seen."

angryparsnip said...

What a lovely letter.
And what a shame that more people do not write letters. I have several letters from my mother that I cherish and notes and cards from friends. How many e-mails, IM or Lines do we print out to save.
143 = I love you
urw = you are welcome
ruok = are you ok
i<3u = I love you

Must print out these lovely words to save and cherish.

cheers, parsnip

Heather said...

Those early settlers needed their faith to sustain them through all kinds of hardships. I don't think I would have their courage or fortitude. Even love letters had a formality about them back in those days.

Willow said...

I enjoyed this book too !!
Yes ~ There are indeed still Winthrops here in Massachusetts :)

Gwil W said...

There's a Winthrop University in the USA. You can google it. Maybe there's a connection?

Joanne Noragon said...

I have looked at most of this country and marveled that men and women wrested it from itself. The sheer physical labor is unimaginable.

Terra said...

What a romantic letter, showing his love for his wife and for His God. How good their love story continued in the USA, per one of the comments above.

Terry and Linda said...

I can't imagine the thrill and the fear of taking out like that! My hat is off to those wonderful fore-fathers and mothers otherwise I will still be in the British Isles!!


Juhli said...

Some of my ancestors actually came over in Winthrop's group. They were brave and/or desperate I would think.

Canadian Chickadee said...

What a beautiful letter. Kind of puts a different perspective on their traipsing halfway across the globe to go to a place about which they knew little or nothing. It's amazing that anyone survived.

Rachel said...

And as the fields around here are cleared of straw I watch the lorries disappearing each day. The road sides are covered in loose straw. Nice to see them arriving in the Dales. We need each other.

Hildred said...

Pat, Charles' ancestors came to America with the Winthrop Fleet - his sister and one of our sons have done considerable genealogical research into the journey. "Daniel Finch, with his brother Abraham and two sons, John and Abraham left Essex Co. to emigrate with John Winthrop's fleet, 1630" The family originated from Yorkshire. Alas, no sweet love letters amongst the records.

Cro Magnon said...

And over here they're only too pleased to get rid of straw. We need an international 'agreement'.

The Weaver of Grass said...

How lovely to hear all these Winthrop connections - thank you so much for contributing to our collective knowledge.