James Madison Papers

Catharine Coles to Dolley Payne Todd, 1 June 1794

Catharine Coles to Dolley Payne Todd

Philidelphia 1 June 1794

I told you my Dear Cosen that I should not stay very Long here after you was gone we propose Leaveing this next Wednesday for New york.

Now for some News all the good Folks in this House are well only Cosen Sally1 is sikish, Capn Preston2 is gone, Sukey & Mrs Grenup3 are all so. Mr Grove4 is in the Pouts about you, tell Anny5 I have not seen Mr Porter6 so I cant tell how he Looks, the General is pretty so so, J—— B—— Round the Corner is melancholy, Lawrance7 has made me his Confidant Poor Fellow I fear he will not meet with Suckcess, now for Mad——8 he told me I might say what I pleas’d to you about him to begin, he thinks so much of you in the day that he has Lost his Tongue, at Night he Dreames of you & Starts in his Sleep a Calling on you to relieve his Flame for he Burns to such an excess that he will be shortly consumed & he hopes that your Heart will be calous to every other swain but himself he has Consented to every thing that I have wrote about him with Sparkling Eyes, Monroe goes to France as Minister Plenipo. M—— has taken his House do you like it. Poor Coln Bur has Lost his Wife he is gone to New York. Dont you think that I have wrote enough for this time adieu. Mr Coles Joins m⟨e⟩ in affectionate Love to you your Mother9 & Sisters & remember us to all frien⟨ds.⟩ Your Sincere friend

Catharine Coles10

RC (ViU: Dolley Madison Papers). Addressed by Catharine Coles to Dolley Payne Todd in Virginia. Docketed by Dolley Payne Todd. On the cover is written, in unknown hands, “Wm. W. Wilkins Esqr.” and “Mrs. Coles Letters must be directed to the care of Mr. James Thompson of New York.”

1Sarah (Sallie) Coles (1789–1848) was the daughter of John Coles II of Enniscorthy in Albemarle County, Virginia, and a cousin of Dolley Payne Todd’s. During JM’s presidency she was often a guest at the executive mansion. In 1816 she married Andrew Stevenson, who later served as Speaker of the House of Representatives and U.S. minister to Great Britain (Edward Boykin, ed., Victoria, Albert, and Mrs. Stevenson [New York, 1957], pp. 3–12).

2William Preston, a captain in the Fourth Sublegion, was Congressman Francis Preston’s brother (Heitman, Historical Register U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, from Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903 (2 vols.; Washington, 1903). description ends , 1:806; Abram Trigg to JM, 1 Oct. 1793, and n. 1).

3Mary Catherine Pope Greenup, daughter of Nathaniel Pope of Virginia, was the wife of Kentucky congressman Christopher Greenup.

4Probably William Groves, a schoolmaster who lived at 14 North Sixth Street (Hardie, Philadelphia Directory [1794 ed.], p. 61).

5Anna Payne (1780–1832), Dolley Payne Todd’s sister, married Massachusetts congressman Richard Cutts in 1804 (Moore, The Madisons, p. 10; Hunt-Jones, Dolley and the “Great Little Madison,” p. 21).

6Probably John Porter, a physician who lived at 191 South Front Street (Hardie, Philadelphia Directory [1794 ed.], p. 122).

7Probably John Lawrence, a gentleman who lived at 197 Chestnut Street (ibid., p. 88).

8Twice in this paragraph someone (probably Dolley Payne Todd) later filled in the remaining letters of “Madison.”

9Mary Coles Payne (1745–1807) was Dolley Payne Todd’s Quaker mother. In 1761 she married John Payne (1741–1792), who soon converted to Quakerism, manumitted his slaves, and in 1783 moved the family from Hanover County, Virginia, to Philadelphia. When her husband went bankrupt in the starchmaking business, she took boarders (including Aaron Burr) into her house at 231 New Street. After John Payne’s death, she lived at Harewood, the Jefferson County estate of her son-in-law George Steptoe Washington (Ketcham, James Madison, pp. 377–78; Moore, The Madisons, pp. 3–6, 210–11).

10Catharine Thompson Coles (1769–1848) married Dolley Payne Todd’s cousin, Congressman Isaac Coles of Halifax County, in 1790 (VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. description ends , 21 [1913]: 203).

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