Letter by the Reverend Thomas Picton
No doubt the letter below will be of interest to many readers from ‘Tivy-Side’. It was written on 1st May 1799 by Mr Thomas Picton from America to his uncle and aunt, Thomas and Anne Picton, Trebwlch (or Tirbwlch in the parish of Eglwyswen near Crymmych).
The Pictons lived in Trebwlch for many centuries and it was said that they were descended from General Thomas Picton. John Picton, Maesgwyn, was the son of Thomas & Anne Picton, Trebwlch, also known as Sieci Pictwn. His nephew, Elwy Picton, is now at Maesgwyn. There are a number of nephews and nephews once removed of Thomas Picton, Trebwlch, living in the parish of Eglwyswen today and I must look them up, as they are all giants like the sons of Anac.
Thomas Picton, author of this letter, was ordained on 12th June 1799 in Woodbury, Gloucester County, New Jersey. He has been a preacher and teacher in an American college for many years. His sister Elizabeth married Jeoffrey [Geoffrey] Marsden, Maesgwyn, brother of Thomas Marsden, Pontfaen, grandfather to Rowland Daniel, Pontfaen, and T.M. Daniel, Aberteifi. These are the relationships, now for the letter without changing any spelling.
D. Myddfai Thomas
Dear Uncle & Aunt
I received your kind letter written on August 9th 1798 on January 7th 1799, and I was pleased to hear that your family & other relatives are enjoying good health. In the winter it was difficult for me to get an opportunity to reply to your letter because the River Delaware had frozen so that ships were unable to travel. I had every intention to settle finally in one place by the spring and deemed it more polite to delay by some weeks before writing to you.
I shall start by giving you a little of my situation now. At the beginning of December I settled in a small town known as Woodbury and I still live there. The Methodist congregation have asked me to stay with them, and I have decided to do so. As you know, I have been a pilgrim and wanderer in this world until now- sometimes in fair weather and sometimes in foul. However, thank a wise God, Providence and my dear relatives in Wales for looking out for me. Now I have a place to rest my weary limbs and hopefully to spend some days in this part of the world. I have two congregations about five miles apart to preach to. The congregation in this town is small, larger in the country but numbers are growing. In the town as well as the congregation there is an Academy that has been established; the trustees have asked me to oversee it. Therefore between the school and congregation I have the means to enjoy a comfortable living and I am no longer worried.
Woodbury consists of about 70-80 houses. The situation of the town is healthy; it is about nine miles to the South of Philadelphia and about thirty to the North of Bridgetown. We can clearly see ships sailing on the Delaware because we are only three miles from the river. The land is not particularly fertile in this county but there are advantages for the fishermen because of a fish named the shad. The land provides excellent heather and Indian corn and plentiful cucumbers, peaches and melons. Quakers are the strongest religious sect; they have very large congregations here. The majority are excellent neighbours and are much more in tune with their religion than to God for me to criticize. By our own actions do we rise or fall.
I have very little news of our relatives in this country, which was evident in my letter to you last October. I did receive a letter from my Uncle David John. He and his family were healthy, except that one of his sons had been unwell throughout the winter. They all send their kind regards to all relatives in Wales and especially to my Uncle Jacob Picton. I have very little news of the Welsh people who went back to the wilderness. I did see Morgan Rees last week. He said that the Welsh people living around Beulah had excellent lives. Jenkin David and his family from Ebenezer intend to return to them in Beulah fairly soon. It is possible that you have heard already that Tomy Phillips (young) from Llandeilo, has been buried and also William Griffiths, from Benywenallt. Mr old neighbours from Wales apparently have buried me too for some time. I fail to understand what gave credit to this news. It is true that I have had some pain and a swollen face for a few days in March of the previous year. However, without that I have enjoyed excellent health since leaving Wales.
I am very sorry to hear that you had not received any of my letters for over a year and a half. I do not remember when or the number of letters which I wrote, but my conscience is clear that I endeavoured to give you a complete and frequent history of my life. Remember me kindly to my dear sisters and all my relatives, especially my uncles and aunts at Tygwyn, Ty’r Yet, and Valley; at my Uncle Jacob Picton, my Uncles and Aunts at Nantyrhelygen, Clawcam, Llangafren, Garreglwyd, Trefas, Maesgwyn, Coedcefnlas, Miriannog, Fronlas and at my Uncle Nentydd and Mr and Mrs Griffiths, Glandwr, and John Morris, Lleine and Rees Edwards and Betsy Edwards etc.
I hope you will write to me at an early opportunity. I would like to hear of my dear sisters; are any of them thinking of coming to America? What is the reason that they do not write to me? Do ask Mr. Griffiths, Glandwr, if he received any of my letters? If Rhys Edwards, Nantyreglwys, received my letter? Who has died in the locality, and who has got married? Where does my old friend Hoffi, Maesgwyn, live? What is the state of religion in the neighboroughood? Do tell my uncle James Picton that I have not received a letter from him. Give my regards to Mr and Mrs Lloyd, Llyslyn and Henry George, and Nathaniel Williams, a Lewis Evans, Glynmaen, and his family. I wrote recently to Sion Gwyn, etc.
Peace to you all.
I am, dear uncle and aunt your etc.
May 1st. 1799 THOMAS PICTON
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