From John Parke Custis
Mount Airy June 10th 1776
Your Favor of the 4th inst. which came to Hand last Saturday, gave Me the sincerest pleasure: to hear; that my dearest Mother had gone through the Smalpox so favorably,1 I do with the most filial Affection congratulate you both on this Happy Event, as She can now attend you to any Part of the Continent with pleasure, unsullied by the Apprehensions of that Disorder; and whose Presence will alleviate the Care and Anxiety which public Transactions may occasion. this Consideration has added much to the pleasure I feel on this Occasion, as your Happiness when together will be much greater than when you are apart.
I am extremely desireous (but I am at Loss for Words sufficiently expressive) to return you Thanks for your parental Care which on all Occasions you have shewn for Me. It pleased the Almighty to deprive me at a very early Period of Life of my Father, but I can not sufficiently adore His Goodness in sending Me so good a Guardian as you Sir; Few have experience’d such Care and Attention from real Parents as I have done. He best deserves the Name of Father who acts the Part of one. I first was taught to call you by that Name, my tender years unsusceptible of the Loss I had sustaind knew not the contrary; your Goodness (if others had not told Me) would always have prevented Me from knowing, I had lost a Parent—I shall always look upon you in this Light, and must intreat you to continue your wholesome Advice and reprimands whenever you see Occasion. I promise you they shall not be thrown away upon Me, but on the contrary be thankfully receiv’d and strictly attended to; I often wish’d to thank you personally, but my resolution fail’d Me; I thought I cou’d more strongly express my Gratitude in this Manner, but my slender Capacity cannot afford Words expressive enough to convey the high Idea I entertain of the many Obligations I have receiv’d from you. This you may depend on; I shall with the greatest Eagerness seize every Opportunity of testifying that sincere regard & Love I bear you; in which Nelly begs Leave to join Me. I am Hond Sir, with wishing you Success in all yr Undertakings, your most Affecte & much Oblidged
John Parke Custis
The Family present their Compts.
Jack Custis congratulated his mother on her recovery from her inoculation and conveyed news of the family and events in Maryland in a letter of 9 June addressed “to Mrs Washington at Mr Randolph’s Philadelphia.” “The receipt of your kind Letter by Mr Ross, and the General’s by Post,” Jack wrote, “gave Me the sincerest pleasure to hear; You were in so fair a Way of getting favorably through the Smalpox: the smal Danger attending that Disorder by Innoculation, when the Patients follow the Directions of their Physician: has releived Me from much Anxiety, which I doubtless should have felt on the Innoculation of so dear a Mother: I do with the truest Affection congratulate You on and thank God for your recovery. . . . I propose Leaveing this Place for Williamsburg next Tuesday, I shall stay a Day at Mt Vernon and return as soon as I finish my Business, to be present at a certain Occasion which I beleive is not far distant. as soon as the Lady recovers I shall carry Her to Virginia, as the Family here is rather too large for the House, and I beleive the Province of Maryd will shortly be in a State of the greatest Confusion; the People being much discontented with their Convention; and Mr Calvert takes a Part which I fear will involve Him in many Troubles—Govr Eden sails for England in a few Days, or goes on board a man of War, there are many Tories who would go with Him most willingly, but I hear He has absolutely refused to carry them with Him” (ViMtvL).
Jack’s wife Eleanor Calvert Custis gave birth to their daughter Elizabeth Parke Custis at Mount Airy on 21 August. Nelly’s father Benedict Calvert, an illegitimate son of Charles Calvert, fifth Baron Baltimore, had been a member of the Maryland council since 1748 and a judge of the colony’s land office since 1775. Although Calvert hoped to retain his position in the land office, the general assembly replaced him with another judge in 1777. Calvert did not sign the state’s loyalty oath in 1778. His property was not confiscated, however, and he apparently remained peacefully in Maryland throughout the Revolutionary War.
1. This letter has not been found. The previous Saturday was 8 June.