[From Nessy Heywood, 1913]


Our information about Nessy Heywood is derived from three sources :—(1) a MS., dated Douglas, Jan. 31, 1798, seemingly copied in that year, which contains Poems and Letters, mainly by Nessy and Peter Heywood. This MS. is in the possession of Mr. A. R. Allinson, MA., a connexion of the Heywoods; (2) the Memoir of Peter Heywood, by Edward Taggart, published in 1832 ; (3) "Pitcairn," being an account of the Mutineers of the Bounty, and their descendants, published by the S.P.C.K. Both the "Memoir" and "Pitcairn" give letters and poems, which are not in the 1798 MS. These letters were copied from a MS. formerly in the possession of Peter Heywood’s wife, which has now disappeared. The MS. first referred to opens in 1786 with a little poem which shows the pleasant relations that existed between Nessy and her uncle, Thomas Pasley:—


With a present to her of some pairs of gloves, on her having stolen a kiss from him when he was asleep in his chair. She was then staying with her aunt and him at their seat at Hexton, in Bedfordshire.

Accept, my dear Nessy, the tribute that’s due
Poor the kiss that so sweetly was given by you.
But be cautious, my fair one ; for had I been single
A kiss such as that would have made my heart gingle.
Then take my advice, and search well around;
And a man to your taste when you've certainlv found
Then, then my dear girl , such a treasure impart,
And instead ot the gloves, he will offer his heart.

Hexton, 1786. Thos. PASLEY.

This is succeeded by an


H ow sweet is every feature in thy face—
E ach look is fraught with dignity and grace.
S uprising gentleness plays in thine eyes,
T o catch time unwary heart in sweet surprize
E ‘en as the voice of Heav’n thine accents flow,
R aising a sweet delight where’er they go.
H eav’n sure in thee has center’d ev’ry art
E ach lovely charm to captivate the heart.
Y outh, Beauty, Grace, in thee are all combin’d
W ith every charming elegance of mind,
O peni and generous, sincere and kind.
O h! may the pow’r above continual show’r
D own on thy virtues blessings ev’ry hour.

London, 1786. GEO. PASLEY.

The poems, which follow, are not dated, but they were probably written between 1786 and 1790. The first is "On receiving a Ticket for a Ball from a Gentleman, with a Poetical Card extremely witty, but not quite so delicate" :—

Southcote has wit at will I own,
But yet he might be modest ;
Of all the men I e’er have known
His thoughts are sure the oddest.

I thank you for the Ticket too,
And with much pleasure take it,
Th’ idea that it came from you
More welcome still will make it..

Excuse improprieties—’tis my first essay, and ever believe me, sincerely yours, Nessy.

Nessy was now just eighteen, and so would be " coming out." This ball took place in January or February, 1786, and was, perhaps, one of those advertised as follows :—

"T. Munday begs to inform his Friends and the Public that his first Public Ball will be on Wednesday, the 4th of December, at the Assembly Room , when his Pupils will dance an entirely new ballet, such as he flatters himself has not been seen on the Island before ; in the course of which will be introduced a great variety of the Newest Dances : Parisot’s favourite Pas Seul, Minuet Dauphin, Vestris’s New Gavot, and Peregourdin, besides many others too numerous to insert.
The Ballet to commence at half-past seven, and as ten Ladies will draw for Places, when Mr. Munday, by using his utmost exertions, hopes to make it as agreeable as a regular assembly to those Ladies and Gentlemen who may honour him with their Presence.—Tickets, 3s. each, to be had at Mr. Munday’s, corner of John Street."

The next in order is "To a young Lady who requested the authoress would make an Enigma upon

Since you did me the honour to beg I would make
An Enigma, accept it with Hopes
That tho’ poor the attempt, since ‘twas done for your sake,
You will not expect verses like Pope’s.
Unused to such rhyming I took up my pen,
With willingness, if not with ease,
Rejoiced I shall be, when I see you again,
To find I’m so happy to please.


I’m fairer than Beauty, I’m sweeter than Love,
More happy than ever were Angels above,
More gentle than Mercy, than True *
The scorn of the Meek, of Despair *
Than Lovers more sorrowful * * * *
More tender when meeting the * * *
More noble than Honour, than * * *
In short, I’m more charming * * *

* Torn away in MS.

This poetical effort was evidently popular, as it was presented to "A Gentleman who, upon going away, requested a copy," together with the following:-

The verses which you ask’d to-night,
I’ve written out for you,
And tho’ they’re nothing very bright,
Yet take them, and Adieu.
V May gentle breezes fill your sails,
And waft you safe to shore,
And may you ever happy be,
Tho’ I ne’er see you more.


Farewell, dear Girl I My heart’s with you, T
ho’ I should distant be,
And swelling billows foam around,
Yet still I’ll think on thee.
And the’ on Earth no more we meet,
Our souls above shall soar,
And recollect the happy days
We spent on Mona’s shore.


"Lines extempore, on the departure of some lamented friends for Gibraltar," evidently refers to some young officers, of whom Robert Stewart was one : —

May Heav’n on you its choicest favour pour,
And gentle breezes waft you safe to shore.
Remember Us, we oft shall think on You,
A thousand blessings o’i you all. Adieu!

It is possible that this Robert Stewart was the Colonel of the same name who was afterwards Receiver-General, and lived at Villa Marina. The road along the shore, which passes that house, is still called "The Colonel’s Road," after him.

In 1786, Nessy’s cousins, the twins Robert and Richard, boys of 17, were drowned off Jamaica; about the same time a great easterly gale destroyed eighty-four yards of the old pier, which was within a few yards of the Heywood’s house. The light-house, at the end of the pier, was swept away, and its place was taken, temporarily, by a lantern slung on a pole. Thus, when the terrible disaster of the destruction of a large part of the herring fleet, with the loss of many lives, took place on the 21st of September, in the following year, the confusion and terror was greatly augmented by this feeble light being knocked over by the sea. The dashing to pieces of the vessels, and the drowning of so many of their crews on the rocks, just in front of the Parade, must have been witnessed by Nessy.

In the summer of 1787 her brother, Peter, was at home for a brief time, before his fatal voyage in the "Bounty." How little must his family have thought that more than five years would elapse before they saw him again!

In 1788 her uncle, Robert Heywood, married Elizabeth Bacon, the sister of Nessy’s particular friend, Margaret. In the same year a theatre was opened in Douglas for the first time. It had been built by a Captain Tennison, "With the benevolent desire of contributing to the relief of the poor."1 As regards the nature of the entertainments there, an English visitor tells us that he went to see "some gentlemen of the place upon the stage, where there was a very extraordinary bill of fare given out, viz., Three Pieces ; Love-a-la-Mode ; Lettie and the Citizen ; besides occasional prologues, spoutings, dissertations, readings, rantings, singing, etc." On this "Bill of Fare" he remarks that "If it had not been for considerable merit in the pleasings of Mrs. Blanchard, Captain Tennison, and Mrs. Bibby, the patience of many would have been exhausted long before the conclusion of the first piece; for, to speak of the whole truly, and in general terms, it was acting without stage abilities, and singing without voices." Let us hope that, if Nessy witnessed any performances, they were superior to this.

In 1789, her grandmother, Hester Heywood, died, and was followed on the 6th of February, 1790, by her father. In March came the bad news of the mutiny of the "Bounty," and of the alleged participation of Peter in it. There ensued, no doubt, a period of great sorrow and apprehension, especially for the poor mother ; but, as regards the children, it could scarcely be expected that during the period which must elapse before their brother could arrive in England, a period which must be nearly two years, and was actually more, they would seek no relaxation or pleasure. Moreover, as we see by Nessy’s letter of the 3rd of June, 1792, she, and, doubtless, her brothers and sisters, were so convinced of Peter’s integrity and innocence that they could, so long at least as the time of his arrival and trial was remote, view the future with reasonable tranquility. Nessy’s letters of March and April, 1790, and her strenuous efforts to enlist every possible influence in Peter’s favour, will re referred to in the next chapter.

Later on in this year (1790) there was published a satirical poem by Nessy’s friend, John Stowell, entitled "Salad for the young Ladies and Gentlemen of Douglas, in the Isle of Mann, raised by Tom, the Gardener (price sixpence a bunch)." In it he makes bitter fun of the foibles and faults of the rising generation in that town, chiefly of the fair sex, though he admits that

.... escaped from folly’s flood
There still are virgins lovely, fair, and good;
Some worthy youths.

Typical of these is his friend, Nessy Heywood, to whom, under the guise of "Amanda," it is not, perhaps, too fanciful to conjecture, that he addressed the following stanzas : —

To paint the bloom on young Amanda’s cheeks;
To seize the tuneful accents as she speaks
With all the graces emulous to please.
Her youthful blushes, her expressive eyes,
Her modest mien, which ‘bove description rise,
Her lips, like rose buds blushing on the thorn,
Just moistened with the early dew of morn;
Let no bold youth their sweetness dare to prove;
For all around there lurks the power .of Love.
But how can I set forth her mind to view ?
Vain the attempt ! For what can language do?
Can words describe the pure harmonious soul,
Where no mean passions Reason’s will control?
That artlose innocence so sure to charm,
Pale envy of her rancour might disarm.
Though faultless, she would others’ failings hide;
The’ great, above the littleness of pride;
Tho’ reared in affluence, devoid of spleen,
Nor thinks herself a goddess or a queen.
How much unlike those apes who would he great,
In spite of fortune, breeding, or of fate;
Her lively wit, her smiles devoid of art,
Too easy wind a passage to the heart.
But wit and beauty trifles I would deem,
It is Amanda’s goodness I esteem.

Nessy’s next poem evidently celebrated an event that took place early in August, 1791. Lord Henry Murray , the Duke of Atholl’s brother, was, at a later date, in command of the Manx Fencibles. His son, Mungo, afterwards married Nessy’s sister, Elizabeth.


Extenipore, at a party given by Lord Henry Murray, in his pleasure boat : -

Come sing, Miss Ness, Belinda cries,
And sing whate’er you please,
But let us hear that warbling voice,
While we invoke the breeze. Since thus she bids attempt the strain,
I surely must obey;
Then let me not attempt in vain
To please this party, gay.


While here we sit, with hearts elate,
Retir’d from pomp and noise,
Who envies now the pride of State?
How vain are all its joys.
Here harmony and love shall reign,
And friendship ever true,
While peace, with all her smiling train,
Shall bless this chosen few.


With joy and health may you be crown’d,
And blest your friends among,
Be all your cares in p1ea~ure drown’d,
And now I’ll end my song.


Presumption vain tho’ ‘tis in me
My thoughts in rhyme to dress,
Indulgent hear my verses three,
And smile on little Ness.

Fifth verse—Carried on board the "Langrishe," commanded by Sir James Bristow—

Success the "Langrishe" still attend,
May prizes never fail,
May joy and health, to bless our friend,
Still float in ev’ry gale.
Presumption vain, &c.

Then follows an amusing poetical correspondence between the aforesaid Sir James Bristow, a Liverpool friend, who had visited Douglas in his yacht, and Nessy :—

Miss HEYWOOD, Miss Ness,
Miss BELL, and Miss Bess.

My Dearest Miss Heywood, and sweetest Miss Bess,
My charming Miss Bell and delightful Miss Ness,
With these lines I send you the things which were wanted;
As favours demanded shall always be granted
By me with great pleasure, so drop all your fears
Of giving me trouble, my charming sweet dears.
The chain is for Bell, a key for Miss Ness,
The bracelets for Mary, a key for Miss Bess,
Which is all that was mention’d when last that we met.
If more, be assured I should never forget.
I humbly beg pardon for making so free
In taking this method of writing to ye.
I hope that your goodness will it overlook,
And pardon the liberty which I have took.
I know that’s bad English, but what can I say,
As I’m quite a stranger to writing this way ;
For this is the first time and extempore.
You’ll laugh at my folly, indeed and I know it,
Because that I wrote in the stile of a poet.
As I’m but a bad one, I hope you’ll excuse me,
I know your good nature will never abuse me
For what I can’t help, as in this appears.
But now I must end, so adieu, my sweet dears—
May God bless you all, and make each a good wife;
May each of you live all the days of your life;
May those days be happy and pleasant to ye,
And ever be crown’d with sweet felicity.
And I’ll ever remain with the greatest regard
Your sincere humble servant without a reward.
The first time we meet y’ must each spare a kiss ‘
To your affectionate, faithful JAMES BRISTOW.

Temple Court, Liverpool,
Number three, near a school,
Friday come, Thursday gone,
August twelfth, Ninety one.



A million of thanks to our excellent friend
For the articles he had the goodness th send;
All which we received very safe by the ‘Surry"
Last night, and to answer I’m set in a hurry
By sisters, who all three cry out at a time
I must absolutely attempt it in rhyme.
"Lord, what an attempt," you will certainly say
But, pardon me, since tliir commands I obey,
And tho neither Genius, Wit, nor Poetess,
Your example to prompt me, what could I do less.
Since you are poetical, why should iiot I,
Above vulgar prose my ideas shall fly P
I scorn to do things in a manner so common,
Ah, variety (now you’ll say) thy name is Woman.
Well, well, be it so—in our sex ‘tis allowed,
Tho’ I humbly confess I've no right to be proud.
Pray, when shall we see you ? I hope a short while
Will bring Lady Langrishe to visit our Isle;
And when you arrive let me bog you to stay
Rather longer than usual, and not run away
The moment you’re landed—’tis very provoking
We see you so seldom—without any joking.
This goes by the "Mary"2_I wish it may find you
In Liverpool, where I beg leave to remind you
of some music you promised, my stock is grown old.
‘Tis like a good story too frequently told—
So pray don’t forget it the next time you come.
But enough of the subject to you, therefore mum.
Only, as my good friend I should wish to amuse,
Let the music be good that your worship may ohuso.
The trinkets are oharming, are gaz’d on all day,
And to thank you sufficiently what can we say?
A few words are best, and I’ll now bid adieu.
The kisses you ask shall be certainly granted
By us, your fair friends, who ne’er gratitude warted.
‘Tis the least we can do, you are always so good,
And I am your much obliged Nessy Heywood.

P.S—Twenty second of August, on Douglas parade,
At twelve by the time-piece the doggrel I made.
‘Tis not worth the reading I honestly own,
But for pardon I trust your good nature alone.
Apropos—could I but such liberty take—
I would beg by the ‘Surry"3 next time a plum cake.
We all long to taste one, and can’t get a bit
In the Island that’s good, or our palates to hit.
In this I’m most heartily joined by Bell
Who you perfectly know loves good things very well.
You’ll send it by Quayle, as we’re in such a hurry,
Provided he's quicker next time than the "Surry"
His vessel the "Nelly and Betsey" is named—
She’s perfectly safe, tho’ the ‘ Surry" ‘s more fam’d.
In poetical strain,
I’m set down again,
To thank you a thousand times o’er,
For the music by Brew,4
Which I got but just now,
Or I’d certainly told you before
I wrote t’other day,
And sent it away,
Captiain of the "Earl of Surrey."
In a Whitehaven brig that was going,
And the cutter is bound
(From Peel Bay coming round)
For Liverpool—every sail flowing
Captain Gunter takes this,
And I’m sure will not miss
To deliver it into your hani~:
May Heaven befriend you,
And blessings attend you,
Till in little Mona you land.
Adieu once again,
My poetical vein
Will fail if I scribble too long.
In the post my last letter
(Than this not much better)
You’ll find your epistles among.
And now how to date
I must rack my poor pate
To finish it as I began.
At length I conclude
Little Nessy Heywood,
August twenty and fourth, ninety one.


This was the year in which the Royal Commission, which had been appointed to consider certain questions at issue between the Duke of Atholl and the Manx people, held its sittings in Douglas. Its members were Mr. John Spranger, Mr. Grant, M.P., attorney ; Mr. Osgoode, attorney ; Mr. Roe, Commissioner of the Customs at London ; and Mr. Reid, Commissioner of the Customs at Edinburgh.

It is probable that some of them, at least, made the acquaintance of the Heywoods, as we find Lieutenant Spranger, a son of the President, visiting Peter when lie was a prisoner on board the "Hector," in 1792.

Later on, in 1791, we find


Love, thou sweet tormening pow r,
Fertile source of grief and joy,
Pleasures springing every hour,
Joys which in possession die
Fled are now thy gay delights,
Fled with Damon far away
Now in sighs I waste my nights,
And in tears each joyless day
Happy moments, all adieu
Joys I ne’er must prove,
Scenes of bliss no more I view,
Damon’s gone—Adieu to Love!

And a stanza "On having lost a wager of a pair of gloves with a gentleman, who contended that it would not rain between ten at night and eight in the morning"

Alas, poor me, no drop of rain
Last night came down my bet to gain;
Then take the gloves (excuse the pun)
I own they’re very fairly won.

Early in 1792, we have these stanzas, which were "Sung extempore in a large party given by a gentleman in consequence of his having lost a wager to the authoress, who, at his desire, presided"


Tho’ here at the head of your table I sit,
And to welcome those guests I must own I’m unfit,
Yet since you requested it, what cou’d I say,
Contradiction was vain, I was forced to obey.
Indulgent, I hope, you’ll a novice excuse,
Such a post I’ll fill better by practice and use,
And now be so kind in my chorus to join
My tune is an old one, and ‘tis hut one line.


Since you beg, I’ll a sentiment give or a song,
Accept an impromptu—nor think it too long;
Tho’ doggrel my verses, I moan not to tease,
No merit I boast, but a wish still to please
May you ne’er lose a wager will give you more pala
Than where by that loss such a party you gain,
And may peace, unanimity, friendship most true,
And love be our lot in the year ninety two.

But sorrow was not far off. In February, one of Nessy’s dearest friends died.

Accept this mournful tribute of my tears,
Thou dear companion of my early years,
Those tears which flow at friendship’ s sacred 8hrL*e,
Those sighs which heave for worth so great as thiae.
Thy youth, thy innocence, thy native ease,
Thy sweet simplicity so form’d to please,
Thy lovely form, where every grace combined
To make that form as charming as thy mind;
Thy gentleness which ever won each heart,
Insinuation soft, unmixt with art.
For ever lost, from love and friendship torn,
Bereft of life o’er life was past its morn.
Ah ! Tyrant Death ! How could’st thou seize
A forn~ so fair, with virtues such as these P
Sure ‘twas too soon with life and youth to part.
Too soea to fall beneath thy fatal dart.
But thou art deaf to pity’s gentle prayer,
Nor youth nor beauty wilt thou ever spare!
Weep, my loved Fanny, nor thy tears restrain,
Those tears, alas ! which now must flow in vain.
In rain must thou the pangs of sorrow feel,
Which Time alone with lenient hand can heal.
f-br worth demands and merits all thy grief,
And tears may give a kind tIm’ short relief.
A sister lost is ample cause for woe,
But ~hou, alas ~ more ~)Oigflant grief must know
The ties of blood ‘tis ~rieiidship must refine,
And oh. my Fanny, such a loss is thine!
Yet let not sorrow fortitude destroy,
While she in Heaven doth happiness enjoy.
Thy parent sinks beneath the load of grief-
Calm thy own sorrow and give him relief.
Assist him this great trial to sustain,
Watch o’er his anguish_mitigate his pain;
And thou, dear spirit, from thy kindred sky,
Where with ~he angels now thou sit’st on high,
On those who lov’d thee look with pity down
Till happiness like thine their days shall crown!
rThefl may we meet again in that abode
Where now thou art—the bosom of thy God

The long a absence of her brother, Peter, and the dread, notwithstanding her belief in him, of his fate, was hanging over her all the time. At the end of the same month we find her writing "on the tedious and mournful absence of a most beloved BROTHER, who was in the BOUNTY with Captain BLIGH at the time of the FATAL MUTINY, which happened April 28th,1789, in the South Seas, and who, instead of returning with the boat when she left the ship, stayed behind : —

Tell me, thou busy, flutt’ring Telltale, why—
Why flow these tears—why heaves this deep-felt sigh?
Why is all joy from my sad bosom flown,
Why lost that cheerfulness I thought my own?
Why seek I now in solitude for ease,
Which once was centered in a wish to please,
When ev’ry hour in joy and gladness passed,
And each new day shone brighter than the last;
When in society I loved to join;
When to enjoy, and give delight was mine!
Now—sad reverse ! in sorrow wakes each dat,
And grief’s sad tones inspire each plaintive lay.
Alas I too plain these mournful tears can tell
The pangs of woe my lab’ring bosom swell !
The best of brothers—friend, companion, guide,
Joy of my youth, my honour, and my pride!
Lost is all peace—all happiness to me,
And fled all comfort, since deprived of thee!
In vain, my Lycidas, thy loss I mourn,
In vain indulge a hope of thy return;
Still years roll on and still I vainly sigh,
Till tears of anguish drown each gushing eye.
Ah I cruel Time ! how slow thy ling’ring pace,
Which keeps me from his tender, lov’d embrace!
* * *
Though guiltless thou of mutiny or blame,
And free from aught which could disgrace thy name;
Though thy pure soul, in honour’s footsteps train’d,
Was never yet by disobedience stain’d;
Yet is thy fame exposed to slander’s wound,
And fell suspicion whispering around.
In vain—to those who knew thy worth and truth,
W~io watch’d each op’ning virtue of thy youth;
When noblest principles inforrn’d thy mind,
Where sense and sensibility were join’d;
Love to inspire, to charm, to win each heart,
And ev’ry tender sentiment impart;
Thy outward form adorn’d with ev’ry grace;
%V~t/li beauty’s softest charms thy heav’nly face,
Where sweet expression beaming ever proved
The index of that soul, by all beloved;
Thy wit so keen, thy genius form’d to soar,
By fancy wing’d new science to explore;
Thy temper, ever gentle, good and kind,
Where all but guilt an advocate could find:
To those who know this character was thine,
(And in this truth assenting numbers join,)
How vain th’ attempt to fix a crime on thee,
Which thou disdain’st—from which each thought is free!
No, my loved brother, ne’er will I believe
Thy seeming worth was meant but to deceive;
Still will I think (each circumstance tho’ strange)
That thy firm principles could never change;
That hopes of preservation urg’d thy stay,
Or force, which thou resistless must obey.
If this is error, let me still remain
In error wrapp’d—nor wake to truth again!
Come then, sweet Hope, with all thy train of joy,
Nor let Despair each rapt’rous thought destroy;
Indulgent Heaven, in pity to our tears,
At length will bless a parent’s sinking fears;
Again shall I behold thy lovely face,
By manhood form’d, and ripen’d ev’ry grace;
Again I’ll press thee to my anxious breast,
And ev’ry sorrow shall be hush’d to rest!

With the next entry in the MS., that in June, 1792, begins the period at which Peter’s arrival in England was imminent, and during which Nessy was absorbed in him to the exclusion of any other interest. We deal with this phase in our next two chapters.


1 " Townley’s Journal," Vol.1., p 149.
2 A vessel plying between Douglas and Liverpool.
3 The Earl of Surrey," a regular trader between Douglas. and Liverpool.
4 Captain of the "Earl of Surrey"


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