[taken from Chapter 5 Manx Worthies, A.W.Moore, 1901]

HESTER (NESSY) HEYWOOD (b. 1768, d. 1793),

was a daughter of Deemster Peter Heywood and Elizabeth Spedding, and sister of Captain Peter Heywood. Her literary compositions both in prose and verse are all connected with the terrible period of her brother's trial for his alleged share in the mutiny of the " Bounty" (see Chapter VII.). The news of the result of this trial did not reach the island till a week after the sentence of the court, when Nessy at once hastened to England to endeavour to secure a reprieve. The following charming letter, which was written just before her brother's arrival in England, will serve as a specimen of her style :-—

Fervent Assurance of Love and Confidence..

Isle of Man, June 2nd, 1792.

In a situation of mind only rendered supportable by the long anti painful state of misery and suspense we have suffered on his account, how shall I address my dear fondly beloved brother ? How describe the anguish we have felt at the idea of this long and painful separation, rendered still more distressing by the terrible circumstances attending it ? Oh ! my ever dearest boy, when I look back to that dreadful moment which brought us the fatal intelligence that you hart remained in the Bounty after Mr Bligh had quitted her, and were looked upon by him as a mutineer! When I contrast that day of horror with my present hopes of again beholding you, such as my most sanguine wishes could expect, I know not which is the most predominant sensation, pity. compassion, awl terror for your sufferings, or joy aurl satisfact on at the prospect of their being so near a termination, and of once more embracing the clearest object of our affections. I will not ask you, my beloved brother, whether you are innocent of the dreadful crime of mutiny; if the transactions of that day were as Mr Bligh as represented them, such is my conviction of your worth and honour, that I will, without hesitation, stake my life on your innocence. If, on the contrary, you were concerned in such a conspiracy against your commander, I shall be as firmly persuaded that his conduct as the occasion of it; but alas! could any occasion justify so atrocious an attempt to destroy a number of our fellow creatures ? No, any ever dearest brother, nothing but conviction from your own mouth call possibly persuade me that you would commit an action in the smallest degree inconsistent with honour and duty; and the circumstance of your having swam off to the Pandora, on her arrival at Otaheite (which filled us with joy to which no words can do justice) is sufficient to convince all who know you, that you certainly stayed behind either by force, or from views of preservation

How strange does it seem to me that I am now engaged in the delightful task of writing to you ! Alas! my beloved brother, two years ago I never expected again to enjoy such a felicity; and even yet I am in the most painful uncertainty whether you are alive. Gracious God! grant that we may be at length blessed by your return but alas! the Pandora's people have been long expected, and are not even yet arrived. Should any accident have happened, after all the miseries you have already suffered, the poor gleam of hope with which we have been lately indulged, will render our situation ten times more insupportable than if time inured us to your loss. I send this to the care of Mr Hayward of Hackney, father to the young gentleman you so often mention in your letters while you were on board the Bounty, and who went out as third lieutenant of the Pandora, a circumstance which gave us infinite satisfaction, as you would, on entering the Pandora, meet your old friend. On discovering Mr. Hayward's residence, I wrote to him, as I hoped he could give me some information respecting the time of your arrival, and, in return, he sent me a most friendly letter, and has promised this shall be riven to you when you reach England, as I well know how great must be your anxiety to hear of us, and how much satisfaction it will give you to have a letter immediately on your return Let me conjure you, my dearest Peter, to write to us the very first moment. Do not lose a post, 'tis of no consequence how short your letter may be, if it only informs us you are well I need not tell you that you are the first and dearest object of our affections, think, then, my adored boy, of the anxiety we must feel on your account, for my own part, I can know no real happiness or joy independent of you, and if any misfortune should now deprive us of you, my hopes of felicity are fled for ever.

We are at, present making all possible interest with every friend and connection we have, to insure you a sufficient support and protection at your approaching trial; for a trial you must unavoidably undergo, in order to convince the world of that innocence which those who knov you will not for a moment doubt; but alas! while circumstances are against you, the generality of mankind will judge severely. Bligh's representations to the Admiralty are, I am told, very unfavourable, and hitherto the tide of public opinion has been in his favour. My mamma is at present well, considering the distress she has suffered since you left us; for, my dearest brother, we have experienced a complicated scene of misery from a variety of causes; which, however, when compared with the sorrow we felt on your account, was trifling and insignificant; that misfortune made all others light, and to see you once more returned and safely restored to us will be the sum of all earthly happiness.

Farewell, my most beloved brother! God grant this may soon be put into your hands. Perhaps at this moment you are arrived in England, and I may soon have the dear delight of again beholding you, My mamma, brothers, and sisters join with me in every sentiment of dove and tenderness. Write to us immediately my ever-loved Peter, and may the Almighty preserve you until you bless with your presence your fondly affectionate family, and particularly your unalterable faithful friend and sister,


Her constitution sank under the violent emotions it had undergone at the time of her brother's trial, and she died at Hastings within a year of his liberation. A contemporary writer remarks that " if the tenderest love, the most generous self-devotion, and the liveliest sense of honour and virtue, be some of the noblest endowments of human nature, we shall not hesitate to class Nessy Heywood among eminent persons. She appeals for distinction neither to the understanding nor the fancy, but to the heart.""

* This letter is extracted from " The British Letter Writers from the 18th Century to the Present Time " (lent by Mr J. J. Creer).

[see also Nessy Heywood]


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