Eliza Custis-Lafayette Correspondence 1778-1828, MS. 2408

Maryland Historical Society
Library of Maryland History

Eliza Custis-Lafayette Correspondence, 1778-1828 
Maryland Historical Society 

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Eliza Custis-Lafayette Correspondence, 1778-1828 
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information: 
Manuscripts Department 
Maryland Historical Society Library 
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Baltimore MD 21201-4674 
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Descriptive Summary


MS. 2408

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674

Harriot Weiskittel

April 1979



1811 Dec. 15

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, Paris. To Mrs. [Eliza] CUSTIS.

A.L.S. 1 p.

Thanks for her “kind remembrances” and for the “much valued gift of relicks worn by my dearest paternal friend” which were conveyed by Mr. Warden. Wishes that he could express his sentiments in person. Hopes that his American friends know that he finds an “inexhaustible source of enjoyment” in “the recollection of the blessed time I have spent with them, in the scale of their persevering goodness to me and my everlasting affection to them.” Sends kind wishes to various members “in whose family I have so long been adopted.”

1816 Aug. 8

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, La Grange [France]. To Mrs. [Eliza] CUSTIS, Washington.

Apologizes for delay in replying to her letter and begs her to continue her correspondence. “I have not been for many years fortunate in my epistolary communications...” Glad to have news of the “encreasing prosperity” and “lately acquired” glory of the United States. Wishes to re-visit America but “How and when I can be blessed with such a compensation for my European vicissitudes I am not yet allowed to know.” Gives thanks for the approval which she expressed regarding his recent political activities, and ascribes the “dire events of last year” to mismanagement of France's affairs, not to a lack of “national energy and patriotism.” Is certain that she gave “kind attentions” to those Frenchmen who had fled to the United States. Sends affectionate regards to various members of her family. Is expecting papers from Bushrod Washington, which have not yet arrived.

A.L.S. 2 pp. Endorsed by Lafayette “favour'd by Mr. Vail”

1816 Sept. 16

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, La Grange [France]. To Mrs. [Eliza] CUSTIS, Washington.

Letter of introduction for General Bernard, his wife and family. “French merit and patriotism have a right to your kindness.”

A.L.S. 1 p. Endorsed by Lafayette “favour'd by Gnl. Bernard”

1818 May 13

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, La Grange, [France]. To Mrs. Eliza P. Custis, Baltimore.

Thanks for her letter conveyed by Mr. Somerville with the news of the marriage of her daughter [Eliza Law, married Lloyd Nicholas Rogers, 5 April 1817]. Introduction of Mde. Mewara who is joining her husband who has been living in the United States for two years. Expresses his “satisfaction to hear of the generous grant made by Congress” to France in its “efforts against foreign invasion and foreign influence.” “To see our noble temple of American liberty stand an inviolable refuge against the persecutions from every part of the world is to me a source of inexpressible delight.” Wishes to re-visit the United States.

A.L.S. 1 p. Endorsed by Eliza Custis “from Genl. LaFayette”

1824 Oct. 20

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, Yorktown, [Virginia]. To Mrs. Eliza CUSTIS, Georgetown [Washington, D.C.]

Was not able to make better arrangements in Alexandria [Virginia] as her letter did not arrive in time. “Your apparition, pleasing, but unexpected, could not be improved by me as it should have been had I been able to make previous arrangements with the kind procession. If my signs have spoken my heart they will have told you every thing that is grateful, paternal, and affectionate.” He and George [Washington Lafayette] have paid their first visit to “the venerated tomb” [of George Washington] and her brother [George Washington Parke Custis] “gave me a ring containing some of the hair of both.” Responds to her enquiry regarding Fanny [Frances] and Camilla Wright. “there was formed between them and my family a very particular friendship and from me to them a paternal affection warmly reciprocated” following the publication of Frances Wright's journey to the United States [Views of Society and Manners in America] “the only book favourable to America that ever came from an English pen.” “Miss Wright is enthusiastically beloved by some, admired by many, envied by others, as is generally the case with distinguished talents and generous unreserved souls.”

A.L.S. 2 pp. Endorsed “Letter from Genl. Lafayette to my grandmother (?) Eliza P. Custis Oct 1824”

Monday [1825 Feb. 12?]

[Marquis de] L[A]F[AYETTE]. To Mrs. [Eliza] CUSTIS, Georgetown, [Washington, D.C.]

A.L.S. 1 p.

Thanks for her letter of sympathy at death of Mde. de Tracy.

1825 May 12

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, Louisville [Kentucky]. To Mrs. E[liza] P. CUSTIS, Georgetown, District Of Columbia.

A.L.S. 1 p.

Gives news of their shipwreck [aboard the Natchez] on the Ohio River. Just time to leave the cabin before it was flooded. No loss of life. Captain not at fault. Conveyed to Louisville by owner of steamship Paragon. Loss of letter trunk containing “precious papers, unanswered, and answered letters, and my own answers in the writing of which I had been for the last twelve days constantly employed on board.” Was able to save “the General's portrait, Custis's and your dear rings.”

1825 May 31

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, Pittsburgh [Pa.]. To Mrs. Eliza CUSTIS, Georgetown Heights, near Washington City, District of Columbia.

A.L.S. 1 p.

Letter of sympathy at hearing news “of the late loss we have to deplore with you.” Will leave Pittsburgh tomorrow for Erie, Albany and Boston. “We shall about the middle of July personally mingle our sorrows with yours.”

Postcript. G[eorge] W[ashington] LAFAYETTE. To Mrs. CUSTIS.

Sympathy at the “new misfortune, which has afflicted you since we parted.”

Monday [1825 Aug. 1?]

[Marquis de] L[A]F[AYETTE]. To Mrs. Eliza CUSTIS, Georgetown.

A.L.S. 1 p.

“Here we are in perfect health.” Will visit as soon as possible to offer sympathies. “I am surrounded by Baltimoreans and Washingtonians, and called to supper.”

1826 Jan. 10

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, La Grange [France]. To Mrs. [Eliza] CUSTIS, Georgetown, District of Washington.

Sadly disappointed at not having visit from her son, “to whom I had so much to say, with whom I had so much to feel.” Has received news of her sister's [Eleanor Lewis] illness and recovery. Sends kind wishes to family members. Expreses his anxiety at the illness of George's [Washington Lafayette] daughter Clementina. Regrets that there has been uneasiness regarding his return passage, “but the matter must have been long ago explained in a satisfactory manner.” Postscript that Sommerville died at Auxerre and had expressed a wish to be buried at La Grange.

A.L.S. 2 pp. Endorsed “Seal cut off for a friend of mine & Genl Lafayettes. E.P. Custis” and (in another hand) “Ed. Bonnaffe”

1826 June 27

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, La Grange [France]. To Mrs. Eliza CUSTIS, Georgetown, District of Columbia.

Expresses his sympathy at “your sepation from your beloved boy, and the fears you express regarding the lovely girls.”[Edmund, Eliza and Eleanor Rogers]. Hopes that they will be allowed to remain with her. Regrets that he “had not the gratification to welcome Mr. Rogers [Lloyd Nicholas Rogers] at La Grange” so that he could speak to him on “those topics even more than can be urged by yourself.” Refers to wedding at Woodlawn and asks for news regarding other family weddings. Sends best wishes to family at Woodlawn, Georgetown and Arlington. He will attend the July Fourth anniversary dinner in Paris. Gives news of various visitors to La Grange.

A.L.S. 2 pp. Endorsed “Cadmus” and (in other hand) “forwarded by yr. vy. huml. svt. Francis Allyn”

1826 October 29

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, La Grange [France]. To Mrs. Eliza CUSTIS, Georgetown, District of Columbia.

Writes brief note before the departure of the Cadmus. Sends news of illness of son-in-law Louis Lasteyrie. Is alarmed at account of the illness of Fanny [Frances] Wright and asks for news. Sends best wishes to family members and says that LeVasseur [secretary] has returned from Germany with a German bride.

A.L.S. 1 p. Endorsed by Lafayette “care of Captain Allyn” and (in another hand) “forwarded by yr. vy. huml. st. Francis Allyn.”

1826 Oct. 30

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, La Grange [France]. To Mrs. Eliza CUSTIS, Georgetown, District of Columbia.

Death of son-in-law Louis Lasteryie. Will travel to Paris where will remain “until the fine days of a spring sun.” Would prefer to stay at La Grange but feels that he must take the young people “to town where they can see and be seen. Our matrimonial doctrine is wholly American. My grand-daughters will never make marriage a mere arrangement. They choose for themselves, and every application to us, when they come in the European way, is immediately laid before them.” Gives news of marriages in Lafayette family and comments on suitability of recent marriages in Custis family. Asks for news of mutual friends. Has been free of gout since last spring. Sends affectionate regards from his family.

A.L.S. 2 pp. Endorsed “Recd. & forwarded by your obt. servt. Wm. Whittock, Jr. N.York 8th March 1827”

1828 Jan. 3

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, La Grange [France]. To Mrs. Eliza CUSTIS, Washington City, District of Columbia.

Thanks for news of her “peregrination.” Expresses concern for her health. Would welcome her to La Grange. Sends best wishes to her family. Gives news of birth of great-grandchild. Will soon be moving to Paris for the opening of the season. “A more numerous American society than has ever been, I believe, in Paris.”

A.L.S. 1 p. Endorsed “forwarded by your obt. svt. Wm. Whittock, Jr. N.Y. 10 March” and “1828 Genl Lafayette to Mrs. E.P. Custis”

1828 Aug. 28

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, La Grange. [France]. To Mrs. Eliza CUSTIS, Washington, District of Columbia. (re-addressed to “Alexandria, Va.”

Commiserates with her regarding her health and her anxieties over her grandchildren. Reassures her that she will not lose their affections. Expresses wish that she will visit La Grange next spring. Journey and stay will effect a cure. Replies to her query regarding any resemblance of grandchildren to himself. Comments that he is “just finishing my seventy first year, which in five years will make me once more what I already am since my youth a seventy-six.” Sends kind regards to various members of the family. Regrets at not having seen Mr. Rogers while he [Rogers] was in Europe. Death of grand-daughter Louisa La Tour Maubourg.

A.L.S. 3 pp. Endorsed “Recd & forwarded by your obt. sert. Wm. Whittock, Jr. N.Y. 6 Oct 1828”

1778 July 23

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, White Plains [N.J.]. To Mr. Gerard, Ambassador of the King [of France], to the United States.

Congratulates him on his safe arrival in the country. Offers his help if ever necessary. Had intended to return to France as soon as the war began but it would be unfortunate to leave the army when he could serve the King by helping his [the King's] allies. Had received news of the war only through the “boats which brought you to Philadelphia.” Had thought the war would be confined to the seas for the first year. Is leaving on an enterprise that day and would welcome advice. Asks for permission to send letters by various boats which the Ambassador is sending to France.

A.L.S. 2 pp. Endorsed “Letter of General Lafayette written during the Revolutionary War.” Letter is in French

1813 July 3

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, La Grange [France]. To Madame Barlow, Paris.

Regrets that she has not come to La Grange with the rest of the party, where friends would share her grief. Warns that her return voyage to American will perhaps coincide with the time of the equinoxial gale. Comments on the visit of Mrs. Baldwin to La Grange.

A.L.S. 2 pp. Endorsed “Gen. de la Fayette. July 1813”

1825 Jan. 26

[Marquis de] LAFAYETTE, Richmond [Va.]. To Mr. George Hay, Washington City.

A.L.S. 1 p.

Apologises for losing address on package entrusted to him by Hay. Mr. Roane has care of it until Hay can send the address.

1825 April 7

G[eorge] W[ashington] LAFAYETTE, Mobile, To [Eliza] CUSTIS.

A.L.S. 1 p.

Gives news of his father's safe arrival in Mobile. Thanks her for the use of her carriage which “took care never to break seriously, nor whilst my father was in it.” Next stages of journey will be easier as they will be by water and good roads. Sends best wishes and thanks for her kindnesses.

1825 July 22

G[eorge] W[ashington] LAFAYETTE, Philadelphia. To [Eliza] CUSTIS, Georgetown Heights, near Washington City, Washington City, District of Columbia.

A.L.S. 2pp.

He and his father will not be able to stay at her house on their return to Washington as the President [John Quincy Adams] has invited Lafayette to stay at his own house. Lafayette has accepted offer of passage on national frigate [Brandywine] for his return to France.

[1825] July 24

G[eorge] W[ashington] LAFAYETTE, Philadelphia. To [Eliza] CUSTIS, Georgetown.

A.L.S. 1 p.

The bearer of the note will leave several objects with her and will collect trunk. Sends best wishes and apologizes for brief note.

Friday [1825 Aug 12]

G[eorge] W[ashington] LAFAYETTE, Washington City. To [Eliza] CUSTIS, Peter Grove, Georgetown Heights.

Last day for sending letters to New York “by the packet of the fifteenth of this month, and we have not yet begun to write one letter.” Begs that he and his father be allowed to arrive for dinner a little later than her usual hour.

A.L.S. 1 p. Endorsed “from George W Lafayette son of Genl Lafayette.”

[1825] Sept. 7

G[eorge Washington LAFAYETTE, Washington City. To [Eliza] CUSTIS, Georgetown.

A.L.S. 1 p.

Thanks for “kind and precious gift.”

[1825] Oct. 28

Virginie Lafayette LASTEYRIE, La Grange [France]. To Mrs. [Eliza] CUSTIS.

Thanks for copy of oration delivered by Mr. [George Washington Parke] Custis at the tomb of General Washington on the occasion of Lafayette's visit.

A.L.S. 2 pp. In French with English translation [by Mary A.R. Custis]

1825 Oct. 27

[Anastasia] Lafayette MAUBOURG. To Mrs. [Eliza] CUSTIS.

Thanks for ring and letter written by Mrs. Lewis [Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis] on her [Eliza Custis's] behalf.

A.L.S. 2 pp. In French with English translation [by Mary A.R. Custis]


Mary A.R. CUSTIS. To Mrs. Eliza P. CUSTIS, Peter Grove.

Sends translations of letters of thanks from Lafayette's family. Refuses her request to act as godmother to Rosebud “I should consider it a profanation to promise before the altar for another what I have never performed myself - to make a solemn vow to renounce for the child those pomps and vanities of the world in which I so much delight.”

A.L.S. 3 pp. With enclosure of English translation of three letters.