In Glasgow, February 1796, Henrietta Marchant married influential Scottish diplomat Robert Liston, newly appointed British Minister to the United States.
From that time on, Henrietta's life was characterised by travel. She embraced what was then the primarily male pursuit of travel and, even as she notes the hardships and dangers of travel, she reveals a desire to see new places.
Over the course of her four-and-a-half-year stay in the U.S., Henrietta wrote letters and kept journals recording her observations on America's society, politics, landscapes and people.
In the United States the Listons were surrounded by the principal figures of early national America.
They became friends with the Washingtons, Benjamin Rush, John Jay, Phineas Bond, and the Binghams. They stayed at George Washington's Mount Vernon, visited Jefferson at Monticello, and dined with Madison at Montpelier.
A special feature of the Listons' life in the United States was travel. From their Philadelphia home the Listons journeyed hundreds of miles north to Quebec in Lower Canada and south to Charleston, South Carolina.
Governor John Jay's official pass into New York State for the Listons, 1799. Read more on our page about the 'Lebanon Springs' journal.
The Ottoman Empire
In 1812 Robert Liston was posted to the Sublime Porte as British Ambassador. He and Henrietta sailed through the Mediterranean and Aegean to the Dardanelles. They took up residence at the British Embassy in Constantinople, and, just as she did in the United States, Henrietta wrote letters and kept journals about her experiences. These documents give us a unique view of Turkey in the early years of the 19th century.
Between 1812 and 1820, the Listons explored Constantinople and its environs. They visited Bursa, Smyrna, Belgrade Forest, Büyükdere, and Mudanya. They also travelled to Cádiz, Gibraltar, Sicily, and Malta visiting British and European diplomats, naval officers, governors and friends stationed around the Mediterranean.