1814: David Offley to Mary Offley

This letter was written by David Offley (1779-1838) from Lisbon, Portugal, in March 1814. Offley was born in Philadelphia. He served as 1st Lieutenant in the 10th U.S. Infantry, at Carlisle Barracks, Pa., 1798-1800; established the first American commercial firm in Turkey, at Smyrna in 1811, and was the chief U.S. merchant in Turkey; U.S. Commercial Agent to Turkey; Negotiated the first U.S.–Turkey commercial treaty in 1830, and in 1832, was appointed by President Andrew Jackson, 1st U.S. Consul at Smyrna.

David Offley wrote the letter to his sister, Mary Offley (1793-1865) who would later become the wife of Blakey Sharpless (1787-1854). Offley writes of his three sons – Richard Jones Offley (1800-1842), John Holmes Offley (1802-1845), & David Washington Offley (1805-1846) who later came to live with him in Turkey.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Miss Mary Offley, 178 South Front Street, Philadelphia

Lisbon [Spain]
7 March 1814

My Dear Sister,

Image 2I promised you on my departure not to let any occasion pass without writing and as this is the third letter I have wrote within ten days can flatter myself with having kept with my promise and therefore have the greater right to expect the fulfillment of that made by my dear sister. We know of the arrival in England of a vessel from New York with no less than 8000 letters. I have not yet received one but perhaps they may have gone to Smyrna. I am extremely anxious to hear of you and my dear children and I do hope Mary, you will not fail to write me as often as you can. I expected to have left this place by now but appearances vary so much day by day that I hardly know what to do, There is some reports appear with England but I fear that desired event will not take place very soon. In a few days, I must leave here as I am extremely anxious to see my partner. I have no letters from him but understand many have been sent to America. If you receive them, take care of them until my return. I have the satisfaction to hear everything has gone well during my absence. You must not be uneasy should you not receive letters from me for some time after the present as I apprehend this is the last opportunity I shall have for a considerable time to come.

In my other two letters, I enclosed one for my dear [son] Richard. I hope they may get to hand and that he may attend to my recommendations. Kiss him & his brother Holmes & David for me. Tell the latter I hope he is obedient to his Grandmother & Aunts and above all that he keeps out of the streets, and my darling daughter — talk to her often of me. Teach her to love me. The love and affection of my dear children is the blessing I envy the most in this world. Give my best love to Mother, to John & Mary, & to Rachel who I suppose ere this has left you as by the bye, I had a long dispute with mother the other night about arranging the wedding table. Tell her how sincerely I wish her every happiness & that she may get me as high a place with esteem of her husband as he already has in mine. Tell her to make my best respects to her neighbor, Miss Perry. Give my love to our cousin P____ and believe me my dear sister with most sincere love and affection, your brother, — David


2 responses to “1814: David Offley to Mary Offley

  • bob eskind

    Perhaps you or your readers have an interest in David Offley. I found him on board the “Thomas Penrose” leaving London (Gravesend) September 24, 1809 and arriving in Philadelphia November, 16, 1809. James S Glennie was also a passenger on this voyage, and although he doesn’t have much to say about his fellow passengers, there is a striking ink wash portrait of Offley in Glennie’s diary, “The Particulars of & Sketches Taken During a Voyage to and Journey Over the United States of America and Back: Commencing 24th September 1810.” to be found at Princeton University library.

  • Mary Ball

    Dear Mr. Eskind,
    David Offley is my 4th great-grandfather- and I’m delighted to read your note here. I will pass this on to the family. Thanks so much. And to the writer of this blog- kudos for creating such a rich genealogical resource!!

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