Mary Sylvester Autograph Letter Smallpox Earthquake and Slaves December 8 1737



Mary Sylvester, ALS, December 8, 1737, wife of Brinley Sylvester, later treated by Dr. John Smith in Rye for mental illness, written from Shelter Island to her daughter Margaret in Boston. She fears the smallpox and believes it is God’s punishment on people who provoke Him daily. Describing an earthquake, she describes thus: “we waked with a great noise which I thought was wind but was soon made sensible that it was an Earth quake by the Shaking of the Cobard of dinnin against the wall we soon got a light to see the time of night it was 4 minutes after a leaven our Negrows were not in bed they say both the kitchen doors flew open & put them in a great fright & that it might be a means to awaken and Shake secure Sinners to fly to the Lord …”. Mary Sylvester tells her daughter to write often and tells her where to “post” the letter.