Small Pox, Sugar and Chocolate

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An interesting letter to Lady Pitcalnie from Elizabeth Mackenzie, dated 1757, with a very early reference to inoculation in the Highlands. This was likely for smallpox, which according to the Statistical Accounts for Tarbat, "carried off 75 children" in 1756.

Letter from Lady Mackenzie to

Lady Pitcalnie at Arboll. 1757.


Dear Madam,

                        As I am anxious about Munro I run you this boy, by whom I beg to hear how the child does.   I trust in God he will come easily through as he is a wholesome child; and has the Happiness of a Good Physician to wait for him.  The day after I came here I waited of your cousin Lady Ardoch, she expressed great joy at my telling her that Pitcalnie was quite free of the Dropsie, and earnestly prayed for his getting the better of everything that could molest him; she did not at all disapprove of your inoculating Munro, and was very Glad to hear, that he was in such good hands as Doctor Mckenzie’s.

The Lady desired me to write you that she expects you’ll acquaint her how the child does and that when he is fully recovered that you'll carry him to see her. You'll please receive two pounds of chocolate & a half Dozen lemons, which Mr Reid sends you from Inverness.  He writes to me, this is all he could get from Capt. Cowan of his sea stores.  Tho he is come last from Lisbon & I asks your forgiveness for taking the rind of two of the lemons for a Little Cake for Munro which you'll like ways receive from the Bearer & the snuff you wanted, but there is no such thing to be had here as Gold lace or Black Silk Galowns for shoes.  I wrote to Mr Reid to enquire, your name, at Capt. Cowan about Mr George Symons, as Mr Cowan was in April last, at Charlestown in South Carolina and is I believe an acquaintance of your cousin Symons, and as I was told that Mr Cowan had so French Powdered sugar, I desired Mr Reid to endeavour to get Fifty weight of this sugar for you; Tho this ship was consigned to Mr Reid he could not get a drop of wine, for himself but Mr  Cowan has no kind of wine, but Lisbon white wine. I wrote you a line Friday last by which you will see that it was for want of a creel, that you only got 2 Bottles Claret & 2 Bottles Lisbane from Mrs Forsyth and my reason for sending the 2 Packs flour … Pray make an offer of my best respects to Pitcalnie & Good Doctor Mackenzie …. And wishing for good accounts of my dr. engaging mansie I ever am

                                                                       My dear Madam,

                                                                                    With sincere Regards & Esteem

                                                                                                Yours Elizth. Mackenzie.


Cro. 25 August 1757

            nine in ye morning.