Brutal capture of Ipsara [Psara ] by the Turks, women and children made slaves



Date Written

Oct. 14, 1824

David Offley was 45 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Mary Offley, was 31 when it was received.

David Offley died 13 years, 11 months, 20 days after writing this.
It was written 199 years, 1 month, 24 days ago.
It was a Thursday.

Smyrna [Turkey]
14 Oct 1824

My Dear Sister,

It is some time since I wrote you and a much greater since I have had the pleasure to hear from you. John is in daily expectations of having a vessel from New York which I hope to receive a letter from you. Richard, I also hope to see this winter when it is probable John may go to the U. States. I have but one solitary letter from Richard for a long time past and even from that I cannot learn what are his prospects. I have placed means in his hands to have obtained about as much business as I should wish to see them engaged in for some time to come. I know not what probability there is of his success—my little sons have had the measles so that my home has been something like a hospital for some time past they have however perfectly recovered. David does not yet say much about going to the U. S. I wished him to go to Constantinople when it would have been easy for me to have established him in business. It is a plan however he does not appear to like and would therefore be worse than useless to undertake. I sincerely wish his success in life may he do good so as to make him repent of it. I am glad to tell you that I am much better content with him than formerly & that I now have hopes that when he gets a few more years, a little experience, and mixes with strangers that his general character will be more agreeable.

You will have learnt that some time ago, the Turks took and destroyed the island of Ipsara. Fortunately many of the inhabitants escaped. Many, however, were killed, and numbers of women and children were made slaves, and brought to this place. It is not easy for me, my dear sister to tell you how much I have suffered on these peoples’ account. I have seen Mothers torn from their children, and one of them from each other, to be sent to different quarters of this vast empire. Some few have been liberated. The inhabitants of this city have done much, but so great is the evil, that it is like the drop in the ocean. I can tell my sister that I have done my share fully, and often my heart leads me far beyond where my reason will follow.

The example of a poor woman in my neighborhood has had much effect on me. She has sold all little superflueties and many necessaries, which with her time, she has devoted to the most Christian of all Christian acts—rescuing children and women from the hands of the Turks. I have now sitting by my side a dear little Ipsariater girl of about 12 years. This child was in the hands of a particularly ferocious and bad Turk. He had tied up and beaten to force her to renounce her religion, for which she only replied she was ready to die. Her beauty notwithstanding, her tender age had exposed her to every insult from this barbarian. When I saw her, she gave me a look I shall never forget. It was full of hope and despair. Her owner demanded a large sum for her. With some management I got her for 320 dollars. I am not certain whether her father lives, but she shall never know the want of him so long as I do. Her mother is a slave, but I know not where.

The usual manner of liberating slaves is by subscription, at which I have done my part with great regret that prudence, the worst and best of virtues, would not permit me to do more. How often I have wished that I could bring to the mind’s eye of the best of people, the friends of my father, [his father was a Quaker minister] and who I am ready to acknowledge I am hardly worthy to call mine, the misery I am so often obliged to witness. I am certain while their fellow citizens would giving their money to [?] and carrying on were the Friends of Philadelphia would readily afford their help to restore children to their parents, and rescue Christians from Mohammedens. A warm hearted countrymen of mine, whose warm and youthful feelings I am sometimes obliged to retain after we had such expended in this work of charity now more than prudence would justify, proposed we should advance 2000 Sp. Dollars, and purchase the amount of slaves for account of the Friends of Philadelphia, and his heart, he said, told him our agency would not be denied, but that double the money would be sent to me, and if we were disappointed, to divide the loss between us. At his age, I should have agreed to this proposal. I do, however, believe with some influential friends to undertake the business, a sum might be collected that would be the means of relieving misery, and making glad the hearts of many. In my lifetime, I have spent much money in pleasure, but did mankind know & feel how much pleasure there was in doing good, how much of it there would be done. When I get to be a Quaker preacher, this should be my task.

I am much in hopes that this winter some arrangement will be made between the Turks and Greeks. The latter in this place are now well treated, and it is many months that no instance of assassination has occurred. We flatter ourselves with hopes that all danger of witnessing past scenes again in this place will not occur. It is really astonishing to see the confidence that exists. All Europeans at this Country knowing the roads & streets full of Greeks, and that which the Turkish and Greek fleets these days past have been fighting almost within sight of us.

My dear little daughter one day she comes a day she wishes to come and see her father. When the time comes for one of her brothers to take a wife, and which I hope may be a country woman, I thinks she will wish to come here with them. Richard sometimes mentions the subject now but so long as he is as easy about it as he appears to be, I recommend him to the advice of St. Paul. As to master John, I expect should he return to the U.S. that he will, in all probability, find himself. I pray sincerely his claim may be a guard on his happiness—welfare & respectability, his life depends on it. Kiss my dear child for me say to Mother what my heart feels towards her—My love to brother & sister. You will of course read this letter to your husband. May he be tempted to try if anything is to be done for the poor Christian slaves.
My love to Cousin Patty and Ann Dawson. Remember me to all engaging friends and believe me my dear sister with sincere affection your brother,


Helen has just put in my cabinet and asked to whom I was writing when I confessed I had forgot to join her love to mine for and friends in America. She gave me such a scolding as you sometimes give your husband.

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