This Volume is cordially Dedicated,
One of Their
John Jay Smith
The descendants of Richard Wells and Rachel Hill possess some highly interesting manuscript documents respecting their English ancestry, which it is hoped may be also placed in the more permanent form of type; when this is done, they will appropriately form an appendix to these letters. There is in the Wells family, besides the portrait of Rachel Hill copied for this volume, a painting by West, representing Richard Wells’s mother, and her second husband, Robert Crafton. It was a present from the painter to his intimate friends the recipients. A letter will be found on page 176, from Richard Wells, dated Cottness, England, relating to the sale of that beautiful property after the death of his father. Cottness had been an heirloom for many generations, being part of the manor of Alford, about fifteen miles from Hull. It was the seat of William Lord Welles in 1283, and fell to Richard Wells’s grandfather, Nathaniel Wells, in 1700, and then contained, “by estimation, four hundred and three acres.” Richard, as the oldest son, inherited the property, but nobly divided the proceeds with his younger brother. He disposed of it in order to comply with the urgent wishes of his wife and her family, who opposed her residing in England. The reluctance of the Hills to part with a beloved sister, seems to have been the cause of the long correspondence which preceded their marriage. Several letters from Dr. Hill will be found in the subsequent pages regarding the engagement of Rachel, which will interest her descendants from their great beauty; they are creditable to all parties. The letters of one of the lovers had a rather singular fate. Rachel Wells requested that those addressed to her might be buried with her; and they were placed in the pillow of her coffin.
Richard Wells was nearly related to the Colonial Governor Belcher, of Massachusetts, and afterwards of New Jersey. His mother was Mary Partridge, daughter of Richard Partridge, Esq. of London, agent for the Provinces of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Connecticut--a consistent member of the society of Friends. As he was advancing in years, and was desirous of having a grandson to succeed him in his agency, Richard was sent, when a youth, to Philadelphia, to form a personal acquaintance with the Colonies, and was placed in 1750 as an apprentice, in the family of my grandfather, John Smith, then engaged in the business of a merchant, and proprietor of the packets which sailed, with the irregularity of the period, to London.
note: This is just a sample of what is contained in the Hill family book. Look for more to be added. rmw
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