Letters from the Past
Mrs George Bailey,Bath
to James Baillie, Edinburgh 1776
We have three letters addressed to James Baillie, all are different and all of interest.|
James Baillie was the Distributor of Stamps for Edinburgh and Leith, a responsible position, which he held until his death in 1818. This first is from his mother in 1776, and is a personal, family letter, giving him information, and asking questions.
It is dated Bath 24th June 1776,addressed to James Baillie Esq Stamp Office, Edinburgh, and the postal markings are first a BATH straight-line town name stamp, then a partially struck London Bishop Mark 2? over IV (for June), charge mark 9 crossed out and altered to what looks like 10. The letter would have had to go via London, so this would be correct, for the journey of over 80 miles Bath to London = 4d London to Edinburgh 6d, making a total of 10d
From the contents of the letter is seems she is in Bath to drink the waters for her health. Bath Spa was known for the healing properties of the Baths which were built by the Romans when it was known as Aqua Sulis. There is a note written on the outside by the addressee probably Mrs George Baillie to James Baillie 27 June 1776, Bath. As the letter was written on the 24th, this would be the date it was received in Edinburgh.
The writing is really clear, although somewhat faded in the nearly 250 years since it was written. Some of the words in the letter seem to be written in the Scottish dialect, and so I have put an interpretation in brackets, but she used abbreviations regularly, like wch for which, wt for with, and many of the words are contracted by use of an apostrophe instead of the letters, like shou’d and wou’d. Spelling has changed over the years, so I have transcribed it as it was written, because these words are perfectly understandable.
Bath 23rd ( and amended to 4th) June 1776Note: Roup is a Scottish term for an auction.
I wish Mr Webstr be not troublesom, I really Pitty both Betty and Mr Young, it will make a great change to them, and Betty will be at a lose where to take up her abode as she does not agree wt
Lady Ann Dusign is often inquiring for her and very sorry she’s not well. She’s a very good obliging well behav’d lady, and lives very desently but retir’d but is very well spoke of, she’s much wt
I wou’d have left Bath before this had it not been your Uncle’s indisposition. He’s not at all well. About 8 days Agoe there came out lumps and swelling through his whole body, not all at once, but just his back and body and then his face and head and legs and as one went away another came out. The Doc says it’s a great disorder in his blood, and he’ll not be advis’d or take any medicines. He’s the most unreasonable man ever I saw and it’s realy hard upon me and hurts me, and if he be any way tolerably well, I intend going to Londn end of this week or soon the next. I must take care of myself for I can’t do any good to him, as he thinks his own way but I wonder, you did not writ me how your Aunt Nelly is and all the rest of our friends but I fancy the hearing of our good old friend’s death wou’d confuse and hurry you.
Many people imagine that 200 years ago women were not educated, but this is not entirely true. Children were given a basic education with the rudiments of letters and numbers, and only the very poor would have had no education at all. As can be seen from this letter, Mrs Baillie was able to write a good informative letter to her son.
The second one is from Mauldslie Castle, dated 1798, and concerns financial matters. The third consists of two replies in the same letter from the Gordon brothers in London dated 1810. These letters are together on a second page on our website click here
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