This series will focus on material I found while researching my book, America’s Forgotten Founding Father: A Novel Based on the Life of Filippo Mazzei.
These next few items come from the Bibliography I submitted when proposing the original book. — Rosanne.
Notes on the background of Justin Peter Plumard de Rieux and Maria Margherita Martini de Rieux
Philip Mazzei [A physician, born in 1730 near Florence practiced surgery briefly, then moved to Leghorn in 1752] “rented a large house in London [in 1764]. It was his plan to use the ground floor as a shop, to live on the second floor, to rent out the third floor furnished, and the fourth unfurnished . . . . He opened his shop selling champagne, burgundy, oil from Lucca, cheese, shoots of lemon trees, candied fruits, and silks from Florence . . . . He determined never to be seen in his shop, and adopted the name “Martini and Company,” under which he did business.
“Before he could rent out the upper floors of his four-story house, Mazzei had to have the rooms re-papered. A young man named Joseph Martin [or Martini; he was from Savoy] was sent by the wall paper manufacturer to take charge of the job. After he had finished, he asked if he might rent the top floor. It was agreed, and he, his wife [Maria Hautefeuille “Petronille” Martin(i) was born into an established family in Calais. Being very willful in her youth, she ran away from home and went to London where she adopted the name “Petronille” and married Joseph Martin] and small daughter [Maria Margherita Martin(i) was born in 1761] moved in.
“Soon after the Martin family moved in Mrs. Martin gave birth to a son . . . . At the age of about ten months this baby died, and poor Martin, overcome with grief, died shortly after, towards the end of the year 1764. During the year of their acquaintance Mazzei had become intensely fond of the Martin family, and Martin had begun to look upon Mazzei as his dearest friend. On his deathbed he besought Mazzei to look after and care for his widow and his little daughter. This, . . . Mazzei promised to do.” (Richard C. Garlick, Jr., Philip Mazzei, Friend of Jefferson: His Life and Letters, 1933, pp.23-24)
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