Letter

Scope and Content

From Lady Dornford at Deptford Road, [London]. Fletcher's letter arrived at the right time. She had just returned from London 'wearied and pained with many things'. Dornford had heard that her deceased husband's two oldest sons [from a previous marriage] are alienated from one another to the extent of not writing to one another. Nevertheless they first joined forces to upset her - one to issue a caveat and the other went to his tenants and urged them not to pay Dornford their rent. With the Lord's assistance however, they were prevented by process of law from proceeding. Spiritual matters are discussed.

Reference is made to the health of her dear [daughter] Esther. She had a fever in June. Reference is made to a visit to Devon. Her physical problems have not had the desired effect on her spiritual state. Dornford feels that the girl 'lacks [the] simplicity of manners' required to mix with the poor of the Church. Dornford by contrast when she feels that a person is sincere in their faith, then she loves them before God and likes to mix with them occasionally. In the normal routine of their lives, the Dornfords have become accustomed to mix with wealthy and influential people and Domford fears that this experience has 'intoxicated' the poor girl. 'She is a very fine young woman and was much admired, I say young woman because she has all the appearance of one, taller then her father or mother. She has a greatly improved mind…& sad to say much praised. This is slow poison. All my reproof after this lost its weight. I was firm against every persuasion. I would not suffer her to go to a ball or play - and tho I did not insist on her going with me to hear the gospel in the meeting - as I knew in the church there was the gospel in the prayers, yet I made a point not to yield in what I believed essentially wrong …I trust the Lord will give me wisdom and understanding that I may not err by being too strict…' Esther would delight Fletcher with her fine memory for sacred sings. When health and strength permits she sometimes sings and plays very sweetly. [Charles] Simeon 'regards her for my sake and her dear brother [Thomas] Thomason. In the event of Dornford's death, he [Simeon] would be Esther's guardian.

They heard [Joseph] Benson preach in their chapel [Deptford?] morning and afternoon - 'he was improving the sudden deaths in the [Methodist] Society from these words "I am hear ye think not of'.Dornford found it very profitable and her two young companions appeared affected and Esther was so attentive that she said that she was thinking of writing the sermon down, but on the following days said very little about it.

Dornford's grandson Josiah has brought home a wife from Scotland. 'a nice well-disposed young woman…I I was glad to hear the pleasure she expressed at our family worship. I gave Josiah a book of Mr [John] Wesley's prayers and desired he would be chaplain and I pressed upon his wife to continue it. He replied he always did on a Sunday and read a sermon too - but I answered, every day needed the preservation & care of his heavenly Father.

They were of good resolutions when they left me to join his ship. He is commander of a [Royal Navy] gun brig and has 50 souls committed to his charge. The ship is now in dock at Sheerness…'

Hannah, who Dornford raised from infancy, and is working as a governess to a family, wrote this week to ask her approval of a man who has made her a proposal of marriage. He is a surgeon of Tunbridge and is the brother of the lady whose children she is educating. His father is the dissenting minister of Maidstone. He [the surgeon] is a widower with one little girl, which was sent to her aunt's house to have the benefit of Hannah's instruction with her cousin. His daughter's progress caused the father to visit and this attachment was the result. His family are delighted with such a pious and well-informed young woman and as she enjoys a personal income of nearly £400 per annum, Hannah is a 'great prize'. He is in 'genteel practice, a most dutiful son and has been a most affectionate father, and very kind to his late wife who lived only 2 years…' All arrangements should soon be concluded and they only await Dornford's favour.

Dornford has just heard that a ship has arrived from Calcutta carrying a friend, who has spent several months with her beloved son [Thomas Thomason].