Tour south to Virginia and North and South Carolina, 1797-1798

'Charleston is most remarkable for the polished Society it affords, & it is the only part of the United States, where a distinction of rank is observed'

Quill and handwritten journal page

This particularly fascinating travel narrative describes the Listons' four-month journey from Philadelphia to Charleston, South Carolina. Travelling in the winter through pine-barren, swamp and woodland, over rain-swollen creeks, and sleeping in private homes alongside strangers, this was an eventful expedition.

The Listons' journey was reported in newspapers in the South, though their presence was met with reactions as various as gladness, pride, indifference and dismay from the residents of the states they visited.

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Henrietta's broad comparisons of the differences between southern and north eastern states, and her detailed descriptions of chance encounters on the road, express her views on gender, class, race and ethnicity.

Taking the opportunity to 'observe the manner of living in a new country', travel through the southern states engaged, inspired and worried Henrietta. She was struck by the 'most majestic trees', the 'wretched accommodations', and by the 'first out-set of Man's Industry'.

Between 1 November and 7 February the Listons visited over 45 settlements — villages, hamlets, towns, cities. They travelled over 1,500 miles. From Washington's estate to North Carolinian log-houses, from the wigwams of the Catawba Nation to the rice plantations of South Carolina, the Listons saw the lives of the élite and the lives of the subjugated. They dined at vast plantations and ate pork and corn bread with families in isolated dwellings in places Henrietta does not name.

The Listons travelled with visitors from Antigua. Henrietta's brother and sister-in-law, Nathaniel and Mary Brown Marchant, and Mary's son, Francis Frye Brown, as well as James Athill, Speaker of the House of Assembly of Antigua. Robert's secretaries Edward Thornton and Lord Henry Stuart remained in Philadelphia to look after matters there.

In November the Listons and their party stayed with the Washingtons at Mount Vernon.

At their estate the Washingtons were frequented by numerous visitors, and the Listons' stay coincided with the visit of statesman Thomas Pinckney and his wife, Frances. When the Listons continued on their southern route, Martha Washington provided them with provisions for their boat trip down the Potomac to Norfolk, Virginia.

Highlights of this journal include a vivid though short description of Washington, DC, where Henrietta sees 'horses and cows feeding Sumptuously in the Principal Streets', and accounts of people they meet, some of them fellow Scots, such as Robert Donaldson, a merchant from Fayetteville, with whom the Listons spent Christmas Day.

Manuscript page with quill pen and ink pot

States visited in this journal

Pennsylvania; Delaware; Maryland; Washington DC; Virginia; North Carolina; South Carolina.

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Selected people named in this journal

Names in brackets are how Henrietta Liston refers to that person or spells their name in her journal.

Isaac V Alexander, 1750-1812 ('Dr Alexander')

Margaret Brisbane Smith Alexander, 1760-1801 ('wife')

James Athill, 1759-1822 ('Mr Athill')

Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, Antigua, served on the Council Board of Antigua, from 1803, and for eight years as Speaker of the House of Assembly. James's parents were James Athill of Antigua, a physician and his wife Anne Redhead. James Athill the younger was born at St Peter's, Antigua on 23 August 1759. He never married, but left legacies to three named 'natural' sons, John, Sam and George. He owned an estate, Byams, on Antigua, which was sold on his death and the proceeds divided among his brother John’s children. He died on 30 November 1822 aged 64 and was buried in the parish of St John's Churchyard, Antigua.

Stephen George Church, died 1801 ('Captain Church')

Charles Cornwallis, 1738-1805 ('Lord Cornwallis')

Robert Crawford, died 1801 ('Major Crawford')

Robert Donaldson, 1764-1808

Robert Donaldson was a merchant from Fayetteville who in 1795 married Sarah Henderson the daughter of John Henderson, a Pittsboro business associate and one of the county's largest landowners. Robert's first son and namesake rose to prominence as a New York banker and patron of the arts.

Adam Duncan, 1731-1804

George III, 1738-1820 ('the King')

John Hamilton, died 1816 ('Colonel Hamilton')

Merchant, Loyalist, diplomat. Born in Scotland, John emigrated to North Carolina, setting up a successful trading company there with his brothers. The company folded in the Revolution and John became Lieutenant-Colonel of the Royal North Carolina regiment. After a short period in England, he returned to the U.S. and in 1790 became British Consul in Norfolk, Virginia. After the outbreak of the war of 1812, John returned to England, where he died.

William Hogarth, 1697-1764

Harriot Pinckney Horry, 1748-1830 ('Mrs Horry')

Geertuida Jacoba Van Berckel, 1761-1835 ('Wife of Colonel Sinf')

Willie Jones, 1740/41-1801

Henry Laurens Jr, 1763-1821 ('Mr Laurence')

Sir Robert Liston, 1742-1836 ('Mr Liston')

Diplomat. Born in Kirkliston, Scotland, Robert Liston became an influential diplomat and was the second person to serve as British Minister to the United States, 1796-1801. Robert's service coincided with a highly significant period in British-American relations. In 1796 he married Henrietta Marchant Liston.

Mary Weston Brown Marchant, baptised 1745 ('my Sister/ Mrs Marchant')

Mary's first husband, Joseph Brown, was a merchant from Antigua. They had two sons, Francis Frye Brown (1775-1842) and Samuel Martin Brown, baptised 1776. Mary married her second husband, Dr Nathaniel Marchant, on the 18 September 1785 at St John's, Antigua. In 1797 Mary who visited the United States, was described by Eleanor Parke Custis, Martha Washington's granddaughter, as 'a sweet beautiful engaging woman, her husband very pleasing and entertaining' (Letter to Elizabeth Boardley, 23 November 1797).

Dr Nathaniel Marchant, 1754-1806 ('my Brother')

Baptised on 3 March 1754 at St John's, Antigua, Nathaniel was one Henrietta Marchant Liston's four brothers. After the death of his parents, Nathaniel went to Glasgow with his siblings in the early 1760s, enrolling in the University of Glasgow in 1766. He became a doctor and returned to Antigua, where he married Mary Brown, a widow, on 18 September 1785. He was a member of the Council and justice of the peace in Antigua. On 13 November 1791 Nathaniel purchased Dimsdales & Staughton's plantations, previously the property of Tom Warner, for £22,000. Nathaniel and his wife visited Robert and Henrietta Liston in the United States in 1797, and at The Hague in 1803. In Henrietta's correspondence there are references to her brother's bad health and particularly to problems with his eyes which caused serious pain and vision impairment. 'The Gentleman's Magazine' reported that, after a very severe illness, Dr Marchant died at Sidmouth, Devon. He was an Assistant Justice of the Court of Common Pleas in Antigua and one of his Majesty's Council. His tombstone reads: 'Near this place lie the remains of Nathaniel Marchant Esq. A native of the Island of Antigua where his abilities as a Physician a Magistrate and a Legislator and the many amiable qualities of his mind will be lost in admiration while memory shall last. He died the 23rd of February 1804 in the 49th year of his age and his disconsolate widow after receiving uninterrupted proof of his affection for 18 years caused this stone to be erected to his memory.'

John Majoribanks, died 1781 ('Major Marjoribanks')

Thomas Pinckney, 1750-1828 ('Mr Pinkney')


Frances Motte Middleton Pinckney, 1763-1843 ('Mrs Pinkney')

Archibald Taylor, died 1801

George Vandeput, died 1800 ('Admiral Vandeput')

George Washington, 1732-1799 [sometimes: ('General Washington') ; ('the President')]

Virginia soldier, politician, surveyor, planter. From 1754-1758 he served as a Virginian officer alongside British forces during the French and Indian War. Commander-in-Chief of American Continental Army during War of Independence, 1775-83. Presided over debates resulting in US Constitution, 1787 and became first President of the United States, 1789-1797. In 1789 he was unanimously elected President by the Electoral College. He was elected for a second term in 1793. After two terms in office, President Washington gave his farewell address 'to the people of the United States' and retired to his beloved Virginia estate, Mount Vernon. He died suddenly in December 1799.

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, 1731-1802 ('Mrs Washington')

Born at Chestnut Grove plantation in New Kent County, Virginia, Martha married Daniel Parke Custis in 1750. She had four children with him, all of whom she outlived. Custis was 20 years older than Martha and died in 1757. Martha married George Washington in 1759.

[Library reference for this journal: MS.5697]

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