"Social Life in the Early Republic,"
by Anne Hollingworth
Murray Mason," the text reads, "wrote in 1827 to invite her sister,
Miss Ann Chew of Philadelphia, to several wedding."
A Note identifies
the weddings as those of Sarah Maria Mason, her sister-in-law, to
Lieutenant Samuel Cooper, and of John Mason, her husband's oldest
brother, to Miss Macomb, daughter of General Alexander Macomb, soon
to become the general-in-chief of the United States Army.
absolutely fixed my heart upon your coming. We have resolved to
be gay, and our party will be so well selected that we must enjoy
ourselves. Ann Mason and Virginia are to be Maria's bridesmaids,
and Ann's sister Eliza (who is a very clever girl) and Nanny Lloyd
are to be our guests during the merry-making, also the two Masons
from Montpelier. 1
move to the Island on Saturday, and there we shall have ample
room to accommodate you and many others. All the men, married
and single, (except Mr. Cooper) are to be put into the wing. Maria
is to be married on the 4th, and John on the 5th. The 6th and
7th are to be devoted to frolicking. On Sunday we shall go to
church, and on Monday, I shall go home with my husband. I wish
you would come three or four days beforehand, and here I must
give you a hint. Do not bring with you and display or parade of
finery. You would be so singular here as to attract observations,
perhaps ill-natured ones, and maybe a portion of envy were you
to appear elegantly attired - economy is completely the order
of the day amongst us.
all wear the same dresses to Maria's wedding and to John's, and
on Friday a nice muslin, and the same on Saturday. Let your dress
for the weddings be as simple as you please - the same dress you
wore to E. Tucker's wedding will be much handsomer than any you
will find here. Virginia will wear a white crepe trimmed with
large white satin ruleaus, over a white satin - the same dress
which she has worn to all the parties which she has attended this
winter. Teaco will wear a plain bobinet trimmed with a lace flounce
she has worked for herself. I shall wear my white satin, which
is still decent. Nobody here ever makes dress a matter of moment,
and your wardrobe will pass unnoticed and unobserved unless you
bring anything very extravagant. The prettiest dress you can wear
on the grand occasion will be a white book muslin trimmed with
a wreath of white flowers, or with three or four rows of plain
bobinet quilled double thro' the middle
accepted her sister's invitation. The three days' journey from
Philadelphia to Washington was made in Mr. Benjamin Chew's family
coach, which still stands in the coach house at Cliveden, Germantown.
to Miss Chew concerning a wedding is quoted in the same book. This
letter was written in 1820 by Miss Ann Albertina Van Ness to her
friend, Miss Ann Chew in Philadelphia, and it concerns the approaching
wedding of Maria Monroe, daughter of the President, to Samuel L.
Governor of New York.
was to take place in the East Room of the White House. Miss Van
Ness and Miss Mason, a sister of James Murray Mason, were to be
bridesmaids, and they had consulted together regarding the event,
which was "the absorbing topic of conversation in the Capital."
Miss Van Ness thought it amusing that "little Rias," her old schoolmate,
should so soon become Mrs. Governor; but Miss Van Ness was herself
soon to marry Arthur Middleton, son of Governor Middleton of South
More about the
Masons in "Social Life in the Early Republic":
"The court end
of Georgetown was Cherry Alley, with narrow, winding streets below
Bridge Street." The Keys, Peters, Whannas, Masons, Smiths, Foxalls,
Bronaughs, Bealls, Balches, and Forrests all lived in Cherry Alley.
Benjamin Stoddard lived in a house on the bluff near Georgetown
University. Among his near neighbors were General and Mrs. John
Mason. Mrs. Stoddard wrote of Mrs. Mason in 1796:
"She is a charming
woman - not so much in the face, as in her whole deportment. Her
face, tho' quite pretty enough with charming eyes and fine teeth
- plays delightfully and sings really sweetly - her face, as I before
began to say, is not as pretty as I expected, but she has sufficient
reason to be satisfied with it. I know I should be if I had such
a one. Her sister, I imagine, is more of a beauty to please the
Ladies than Mrs. Mason is, for Miss Murray looks all amiability
and is very pretty too."
apparently, was Sally Scott Murray who married Governor Edward Lloyd
of Wye House, whose sister, Mary Tayloe Lloyd, was the wife of Francis
Scott Key. Another of the Murray sisters, Catherine, married the
Hon. Richard Rush of Philadelphia, Secretary of the Treasury in
the cabinet of John Quincy Adams.
||Mrs. John Mason
dined at the White House with Thomas Jefferson, President, Dolly Maddison,
Mrs. Madison, Miss Payne, and Mrs. Gallatine.
Virginia Mason was a sister of the bride elect. Ann Mason, Eliza Mason,
Nanny Lloyd, and the Masons of Notgelier were cousins.