Dering family papers  1755-1896
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Dering Family papers contain 133 correspondence received by Thomas Dering and other members of the Dering family, as well as 1 book, 1 newspaper clipping, and 1 photograph. 20 letters are from Nathaniel Ray Thomas (d. 1791), a Loyalist from Marshfield, Massachusetts, to Thomas Dering at Boston. 16 of these are dated 1755, and discuss business dealings and family affairs. Thomas's wife, Sarah Dering Thomas, wrote approximately 10 letters to Thomas and 15 to her nephew Sylvester between 1755 and 1800. These concern family life, hardships suffered from maintaining loyalist sentiments during the American Revolution, her ongoing health issues, and difficulties encountered in Nova Scotia after the war. In a letter dated April 16, 1800, to Sylvester, she commented on British and French interference of U.S. shipping and trade.

The collection contains 50 letters from Ebenezer Sage to his friend Henry Dering in the period 1806-1815, from Sage’s time in Washington, DC. Sage described his experiences in Congress: committee meetings, legislative updates, foreign affairs, and the social scene in Washington, DC. In particular, he discussed the debate on the national bank, the war hawks in Congress, efforts to have gun boats defend Sag Harbor, reports of enemy fleets off the Potomac, and news of the American victory at New Orleans in 1815. One letter by Ebenezer Sage gives an account of a reception for First Lady Dolley Madison (February 21, 1810). Additional letters are from Sage's daughter, Frances Mary Sage, to her friend Frances Dering. The letters convey a strong friendship between the women and their desire to spend time together. A letter from November 28, 1813, contains a drawing of a bouquet by Frances Sage.

The Thomas and Dering families were friends with the influential Nova Scotia residents, John and Frances Wentworth. Several letters reference their visits in Nova Scotia, and a letter from Sarah Dering Thomas to Elizabeth Gardiner mentions Sir John Wentworth being appointed governor of Nova Scotia (1792). In one letter to Thomas Dering, dated January 6, 1784, Lady Frances Wentworth (in New York City), enclosed a newspaper announcement for her wedding in 1769. In this letter, she wrote about the difficulty of finding a ship to take her away from New York City during the British occupation. The Dering Family Papers also include a postcard of John Singleton Copley's portrait of Frances Wentworth from the Lenox Collection of the New York Public Library (enclosed in Wentworth’s 1784 letter).

This collection contains A Sketch of Dr. John Smith Sage of Sag Harbor, N.Y., a book by Anna Mulford, published in 1897 in Sag-Harbor by J.H. Hunt. The book includes a biographical account of John Sage, and mentions members of the Dering family. It also contains “some interesting letters of his father, Dr. Ebenezer Sage, written in the early part of the century, and other matters relating to Sag-Harbor.”

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