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London 16 March 1711
I have your letter by Coll° Nicholson full of kindness & respect which I am unworthy of, but will make it my care by all the ways I can, to deserve. Your Arms in colours I bespoke. But the Drawer made a mistake in the coat so that I must pray your patience till the next oppertunity, when you shant fail of having 'em with a glass & frame At the same time I will give you what account I can learn of your Family, which I must take some pains and use a little art in discovering, that I may give no jealousies. And if there be the least appearance of making you a title to any part of the Pierrepoints estate in Darby or else where, Ile take the opinion of council upon it & transmit you the State of the case In the meantime it would not be amiss for you to write a letter to the Marquis of Dorchester, congratulating him upon the honour & dignity of his Family & the marriage of his Daughter, which you have the acco of in the inclosed newspaper.* Ive told him that you are the head of a College & that nobody in the whole Colony has a fairer reputation or is better esteemed than yourself, & that his favor to you will be very well bestowed As to M' Yale I doubt I can do nothing with him at present, he being very much out of humour on the account of his losing twenty thousand pounds by Sir Stephen Evans, who lately failed, & thereupon retiring to S Caesar Childs in the Country hanged himself with a Bedcord. I am doing what I can to gain D' Salmons Library, which is a fine one indeed, and worth six of that at Harvard College The only objection he makes is, that all Universities follow too much the Study of Heathen learning and corrupt ye doctrine of
*What daughter is here meant is uncertain. The Marquis of Dorchester had two daughters, Mary Pierrepont and Frances Pierrepont. The first married Edw. Wortley Montagu, August 12, 1712; the second married the Earl of Marr in 1714. As Mary's marriage was against her father's wishes and was a runaway match, it hardly seems as if Mr. Dummer would suggest that James Pierrepont write and congratulate the Duke on the event; besides this letter is dated March, 1711. James Pierrepont, 2nd, in his letter to Rev. Eleazar Wheelock says the marriage was to the Earl of Sandwich, but while Edw. Wortley Montagu was the son of the Earl of Sandwich, neither of the girls married the Earl.
the Gospel I told him that your College is a young child that he may bring up to his hand, & form it to his own model, upon which he has sent you a long story of directions for the students, inclosed in this pacquet, & directed to you I have not had time to read 'em, tho' he gave me the letter open. I believe it will be well for you to answer it"
How natural all this sounds!
The pursuit of the possessor of tainted money by our college! The frantic plea of poverty made by the pursued, who naturally takes Sir Stephen Evans' unfeeling performance with the bed cord as a personal affront. The rivalry between Yale and Harvard. The objection by some captious critic to required courses in the ancient languages in the college, who offers this as a flimsy excuse why he does not give any more valuable donation that his gratuitous advice. I wonder if the present undergraduate interest in "ye Gospel" is due to "the long story of directions for the Students" which the wily Mr. Dummer passes on to poor Mr. Pierrepont, to peruse and answer!
The next epistle that we find is from the same Mr. Dummer to Mr. Pierrepont, and is dated two months later. Here, after describing some of the books recently purchased by him for the new college library, he writes as follows: "As to the other part of your commission to Mr Dixwell to enquire about your Family, I went directly to the Marquis of Dorchester who is the Eldest branch of the house & lives in great splendour, having a very large Estate He told me that he was a bad Herald and could go no higher in his family than K. Charles ye first But that he shortly expected to Town, My Lord Peerpoint his Uncle, who is an old man & can probably give me a full & particular account. I have been several times since to the Marquis, but his Uncle is not yet come to Town but when he does, Ill meet him & get the best account of him which I can, & send it to you, & together with that, your Arms in Colours, as you desire, & shall be very glad to have many such occasions to oblige you Here is Mr. Yale formerly Governour of Fort St George in the Indies, who has got a prodigious estate, & now by Mr Dixwell sends for a relation of his from Connecticut to make him his
heir, having no son. He told me lately that he intended to bestow a charity upon some Colledge in Oxford, under certain restrictions which he mentioned. But I think he should much rather direct to your Colledge, seeing he is a New Englander, & I think a Connecticut man. If therefore when his kinsman comes over, youl write him a proper letter on that subject, I'll take care to press it home."
What good results flowed from "pressing" old Governor Yale, we all know, but I regret to say that Mr. Pierrepont's endeavors to learn about his family connections with the Marquis of Dorchester were not so successful, for after delaying eight months from this date the indefatigable Dummer can only write from Whitehall as follows:
"The parliament not having met these six months the Marquis of Dorchester has been at his Country seat with only his Domesticks, so that I have not been able to inform myself in those points relating to your alliance with his Lordships family & other things, which you gave me in charge. But you may depend upon it that I'll not only serve you in that, but in other things in which you have not asked my service, as soon as I have a little leisure. I thank you heartily for your excellent Sermon, sent me by Mr Dixwell, which I have read often & with the greater satisfaction because I meet with but little of that primitive practical preaching here in England.
In lieu of it I have sent you some English discourses in a deal Box directed to Mr Dixwell, by the hands of Capt Green, & in the same Box you'l find your Coat painted in Colours by the best hand in London, in a Glass frame, which I pray your acceptance of
Tis with regret I must now acquaint you that all my labour and pains with Dr Salmon are at an end For when I had brought him to consent to give his Library to you' Colledge, an apoplexy took him off before he had time to make a New Will And so an Old one took place, made several years since, by which he gave that great valuable Library to an Absolute stranger, that he had seen once or twice and took a fancy to I have endeavored to retrieve this great loss, by begging a
Library for you among my friends, & tho' my acquaintance with men of Learning & Estate is very generall, yet I did not expect to succeed so well in this Charitable enterprise, as I now find I am like to doe. For I have got together a pretty parcell of books already, for you to begin with, & I hope in a Years time to send you a very valuable collection with the names of the Benefactors."
To tell the truth I think the agent for Massachusetts Colony was rather more interested in seeking assistance for the College among his London friends, than he was in looking up Mr. Pierrepont's genealogy, for again, in May, 1713, he writes:
"The Library I am collecting for your Colledge comes on well, S Richard Blackmoore (to whom I delivered the Commitees letter) brought me in his own Chariot all his works, in four Volumes in folio, & Mr Yale has done something, tho' very little considering his Estate and particular relation to your Collony. I have almost as many Benefactors as books, which makes the collection troublesome as well as expensive. St John Davy will give me nothing, notwithstanding his promises but it may be he intends to send what books he gives himself. If he does, it is the same thing to me. I hope you have received what I sent you by Capt Holland."
All of which, as you see, contains never a word about the Pierreponts. But the Puritan minister (if he still longed to renew his family connection in England), was soon to leave such earthly vanities behind him, for we know that on November 22d, 1714, he died in his little house on Elm Street, and was buried in the burying ground on the Green behind his church and near where the college that he loved so well was soon to stand.
"An eloquent man and mighty in ye scriptures" says his epitaph, which may still be seen, "who fervent in spirit ceased not for ye space of 30 years to warn everyone day and night with tears."
By his wife, Mary Hooker, the granddaughter of Thomas Hooker, the first minister of Hartford, he had several children, but the heir apparent to the title was his eldest son, James, who
graduated from Yale in 1718 and perhaps because of his Latin Salutatory at that time, in which the bounty of Governor Yale was extolled,* he had acted as a tutor there for two years. He was instrumental in forming the White Haven Church, which was one of the units that afterward combined to form the United or North Church, and it was his son John who built the house now occupied by Rev. Anson Phelps Stokes.
To James the Elder, it seems to me, from reading these letters, the possibility of obtaining estates and titles in England was a secondary interest; to James the Younger, certainly during his later years, it appears to have been of primary importance.
He first opened communication with the Colonial agent on the subject December 7, 1721, when he wrote about his father's death. He tells what members of his family survived him, assures his correspondent that "the two eldest have had a liberal education" and requests him "to transmit to me any information of ye perfect state of the family" in England, "together with yt account (if obtained) which by your letters, I perceive yt you were labouring after." To which the evercourteous Mr. Dummer promptly replies as follows:
"I received your obliging letter of Decem' last under Governour Saltonstals cover and am very glad to find that there is still a James Pierpoint living & one who not only has the name, but seems to inherit the vertues of my worthy Deceas'd friend The enquiries I was making for your father having bin so long intermitted by his death, are now a little out of my memory, but in general I remember I was desir'd to send an account of the Perpoint family here, & to recommend your father to the Duke of Kingston, as a distant relation & branch of his Graces family. This latter point I did perform, & the Duke received me with very great civility That noble family is now in the country & will be there all this Summer. But upon their return to Town I'le renew the application I made formerly, & take some further steps in it.”
* See Yale Biographies and Annals, Class of 1718.