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Boston Gazette, 15 July 1771, "Elizabeth (Murray) Smith returns to America." Courtesy, American Antiquarian Society

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Elizabeth (Murray) Smith Returns to Boston, 1771

Colonial newspapers carried reports of foreign affairs, advertisements, and local and colonial news, such as the arrivals and departures of ships. This issue's news from Boston contains an example of local happenings and items the printer assumed would be of interest to Boston readers.

In late April 1771, Elizabeth (Murray) Smith made preparations to sail back to Boston, booking passage for herself and her party on the Osterly-Lizard, a large ship used in trade in the West Indies. She took that ship to Casco Bay in Maine, where she then boarded a trading schooner for the coastal journey south to Boston. After word of the Osterly-Lizard's May 1st arrival reached Boston, the Gazette carried this notice. Elizabeth's group comprised most of the passengers on the trading vessel.

Included were her good friend, Jannette (Day) Barclay, referred to here as Mrs. Berkley, whom she had once assisted in setting up her own business, and Jannette's daughter Jackie Day. Very ill during the crossing, Jannette (Day) Barclay died on August 11, 1771, of what may have been breast cancer. After her death, her daughter Jackie went into business with two of Elizabeth's nieces, Polly Murray, who came to Boston in the spring of 1770, and her younger sister Anne Murray, who was the niece of James Murray listed in the newspaper notice. Another family friend, Henry Barnes, the husband of Elizabeth's good friend Christian Barnes, traveled on the same ship as well.

For more details, see James Murray to Dolly [Murray] Forbes, J.M. Robbins Papers, 21 June 1771, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston; and Patricia Cleary, Elizabeth Murray: A Woman's Pursuit of Independence in Eighteenth-Century America (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2000), 150-152.


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