We have four different letters written to different people, but as they were all in Appleby we decided to put them together on the same webpage.
This letter was addressed to Mr. Thos. Hubis, Appleby Castle, Westmorland.
There were two postal markings on the letter, the MAIDSTONE mileage mark of the new standard boxed type in use from 1801-1830. There is no manuscript charge mark on this letter as the Free Frank privilege was claimed by Lord Thanet, a member of the House of Lords.
The use of the franking system at this time required that the writer sign the front of the letter, Thanet the bottom left corner in this example), and that the date and the post town be written in full at the top in the sender’s own handwriting. In this case it is Maidstone July fourteenth 1805. The second postmark was the FREE datestamp, in red ink, which was applied in London and was in use from 1801 to 1807. It was the word FREE within a crown, the date JUL 15 1805 underneath the crown and the whole thing enclosed in a circle.
On the reverse of the letter, it was sealed with red sealing wax and Lord Thanet’s seal which is a crown over an animal, possibly a lion, but where the letter was opened the seal, obviously, was split.
So now to the contents of the letter.
(NOTE: Appleby Castle belonged to the Cliffords until 1676 when Lady Anne died and it was inherited by her son–in–law, Lord Thanet.) Lady Anne Clifford owned Appleby Castle, along with many others in the area. She was the widow of the Earl of Pembroke, and was a formidable lady who had a tremendous impact on the area of Westmorland, both in the way she restored castles, churches etc, and in her charitable work.
I do not think I shall be able to see my Craven Estate before next summer, and my intention is at present to employ no surveyor unless I can be there at the same time to look it over and form some judgement of it myself. I have no doubt I shall find some of the rents capable of being raised, as well as some alterations necessary and obvious in the distribution of the land particularly that which lies contiguous to the town.
As the leases will expire, probably before I shall have an opportunity of seeing the estate, I would wish the tenants to be informed that in case of their taking a fresh lease at an increased rent, I shall expect such increases from Lady Day when the old leases shall have expired, or if they disapprove of the terms offered, then they will have liberty to remain till the Michaelmas following at the old rent.
I do not mean at the same time to promise to every one without distinction the continuance of their Farms for I shall be very much disposed to look out for others when the land has been much mismanaged and run out, which however, in that County I do not much expect to find.
I am sir, your truly etc
The second letter is a commercial rather than a personal one, addressed to Messrs Thos Thompson & Son Bankers, Appleby
There are five postal markings on this rather scruffy letter, some better than others. It began with a very faint BROMPTON circular date stamp applied in the Twopenny Post Receiving office, and the handstamp ’2’ would have been applied there, then it was transferred to the General post, so the red indented transfer date stamp was applied across the fold of the letter but it shows it was the Nt (night) post. In the General Post office it received the double ring evening duty date stamp OC 21 1817, and then the charge mark of 1/2 being the cost of a letter from London to Appleby, a distance of 270 miles for one shilling, plus the 2d for the Twopenny post.
dated 21st October 1817
Hereunder you receive an Order on Mr Jno Margetson on Account of Gorman Bankhouse Esqre for 17. 8. 7 which with 4s 5d poundage at 5pr£ makes 17. 13. 0d being half a years Dividends on 353.1 .1 due on the 5th Instant and which I have no doubt he will pay having cash of mine in hand.
I am Gentm
Your very hble Servt
Note: Rd. = Abbreviation for Richard. For a letter which is almost 200 years old the ink is still unfaded and the writing still legible.
The third letter was written Sept 5th, 1826, by N. Harrison of Nayland.
NOTE we have a reference to Nayland which is a small village on the Essex/WestSuffolk border. The post mark is only partially struck and ends as ......ESTER Penny Post so this may possibly be Colchester penny post.
The postage charge was originally 9d (which covered a distance of between 80 and 120 miles) but that was crossed out and substituted with 1s 2d. This covered the distance of between 400 and 500 miles. Appleby at this time was 270 miles from London, so neither of the charges appear to be correct. Even if the letter had to go into London for onward posting to Appleby,it would have to be a place that was at least 131 miles and not more than 229 from London on a different post road to come within that charge rate, which is puzzling, as Colchester is only 51 miles from London.
The letter is addressed to G. Hall Esqr, Solicitor, Appleby Westmorland
My dear Sir,
He then adds another note
With respect to my late Uncle’s property you are aware that in case of my death without legal issue it would go to the family of the Browns. It would therefore be folly for me to advance money upon an estate on the mere probability of its becoming mine. The estate in some way or other ought to be on its own responsibility. I will write to a friend in Town and get an opinion upon the statements of your letters
I intended to have seen Mr Crosby on the subject of the mine but was obliged to leave rather hastily. The bill sent in by Mr Crosby was I believe nearly double the amount of what the share was sold at. It was therefore not likely that I would give any authority for the payment of the money without some explanation of the circumstances that led to it. When this is satisfactorily explained there will be no difficulty in arranging the business. You will probably have an opportunity of seeing Mr Crosby and requesting him to furnish me with the particulars of the case of which I am quite ignorant.
As soon as I have heard from Town, I will write to you again.
With respect to the payment of the debts you mention I must leave it to the discretion of the Trustees who have better means of being informed of the justice of the claim than I can have.
I am Dear Sr
Yours truly N? Harrison
I have no notion what an application to the Chancellor might cost but I think from 50 to a hundred pounds ought not to stand in the way of a decisive arrangement.
The 4th letter has three postal markings. Starting from Oldham, it has a partially struck boxed name stamp for Oldham P.P in red, from there it went to Manchester, where it received the circular date stamp for FE 22 1837 with the identifying code letter of D at the base. The Manchester office would have written on the manuscript ‘10’ for 10d, to cover the cost of between 120 and 170 miles.
This letter is addressed to Messrs Briggs, Hall & Heelis, Solicrs Appleby Westmoreland
dated Oldham Feby 22nd 1837.
Yours of the 1st Inst. Respecting the Debt due to me from the Exrs of the late N. Wilson of Morland reached me in regular course. I am not aware that you have been informed from Joseph Wilson of the nature of my security, wch is a Bond, and of course I have a prior claim to those Creditors, who are such only in course of trade.
It is not however my wish to proceed to extremities unless I am compelled to resort to such measures by the Obstinacy of the Exrs. Joseph Wilson has already paid Interest upon my Bond twice, and I can’t conceive why he shd refuse to continue such payments unless it be to set order at defiance.
I know that he has satisfied the claims of many of his Father’s Creditors, & I know not why I shd be left out. I do assure you, that I am glad that the Matter is in your respectable hands, being fully persuaded that you will not countenance any thing that is fraudulent.
It will oblige me to be informed as early as your convenience will permit, when I may expect the Matter to be settled. I shall not take any step to enforce Payment till I hear from you further on the subject.
I beg you to believe me
with every respect
Your faithful & obt Servt.
Note :- There is still a firm of solicitors in Appleby called Heelis, I don't know if they are connected to the firm to which this letter is addressed, but it's not a very common name.
Also, just as a matter of interest, the children's author, Beatrix Potter (she wrote Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck,
etc) who lived at Sawrey near Windermere, was married to a Lake District solicitor called William Heelis in 1913, and until she died 22/12/1943, aged 77 they lived in the Lake District.