Letters  from the Past

“To George Barlow of Ribston, Wetherby
from Eliza Harvey, London 1819.”

This letter is the kind which makes postal history into social history and has such an appeal because of the contents of the letter, in addition to the postal markings. It is a chatty letter written on heavy cream paper with a clear watermark of BASHTED MILL 1817. It is sealed with black sealing wax but it was opened by breaking the seal, so the partial impression is not identifiable.

Because it is a FREE letter there is only the circular date stamp in red ink. This is the type of evening duty stamp applied in London with the three lines within a double circle in use from 1812 to 1839. The date is London March thirtyone 1819 and signed free and what looks to be the name Keene. It is addressed to Geo J Barlow Esq, Ribston, Wetherby, which is in Yorkshire. The letter begins referring to an enclosed letter, but there was nothing enclosed now, and as it was a FREE letter it would not have been charged anyway.

I have put an asterisk in the transcription where there will be a note of further information.

49 Charing Cross *
March 31st 1819
My Dear Mr Barlow,
The Inclosed letter I received from Mr Wright, my Agent today I took it to Mr Drummond (*) who advised me to write him word that Mr Barlow had undertaken the Management of my Lancashire affairs & therefore desired Mr Wright to communicate with you on the subject. I also told him I had sent all his letters to you. I am Sure you will be glad to hear they have found Coal and Kennel(*).

Mr Hodson (*)the Member for Wigan has kindly undertaken the superintendence of the Coal Mines, Mr Drummond and myself call’d on him the other day. So I may make my fortune in a coal mine after all.
Miss Bamford drank tea with us yesterday. It is so very pleasant for me having her so near us, as I only go out to my particular friends.

I have no news worthy of sending into the country excepting perhaps a little Scandal,* which is best kept to Myself, and for fear I should let it out I will conclude with my love to Mrs Barlow, Lady Goodwin(?), Miss Fortesque & Fanny & believe me
Yours most truly
Eliza Harvey

As a PS at the bottom of the letter, she had added this sentence.

I hear Mr Cartman is coming to London if I see him I shall refer him to you.

(Notes:) Charing Cross The Wikipedia historical information about this is also interesting.
Charing Cross is a junction in London, England, where six routes meet. Clockwise from north these are: the east side of Trafalgar Square leading to St Martin’s Place and then Charing Cross Road; the Strand leading to the City; Northumberland Avenue leading to the Thames Embankment; Whitehall leading to Parliament Square; The Mall leading to Admiralty Arch and Buckingham Palace; and two short roads leading to Pall Mall.

The original Charing Cross was one of the medieval Eleanor crosses that stood here in the heart of the hamlet of Charing, Westminster, from the 1290s until its destruction on the orders of Parliament in 1647. The cross gave its name to the immediate locality, and to landmarks including Charing Cross railway station, on the forecourt of which stands the ornate Queen Eleanor Memorial Cross built to commemorate the original Eleanor cross in 18641865.

Until 1931, “Charing Cross” also referred to the part of Whitehall between Great Scotland Yard and Trafalgar Square.

Drummonds Bank, on the corner with The Mall, retains the address 49 Charing Cross (not to be confused with Charing Cross Road). Since the early 19th century, Charing Cross has been the notional "centre of London" and it was the point from which distances from London are measured.

I had never heard of Kennel, and was surprised to know that it is known and the entry on Wikipedia is
Kennel (Cannel) coal or candle coal is a type of bituminous coal, also classified as terrestrial type oil shale. Due to its physical morphology and low mineral content cannel coal is considered to be coal but by its texture and composition of the organic matter it is considered to be oil shale.

It is a corruption of the word Candle, and it is a coal that can be ignited with a match to burn with a bright flame.

Eliza Harvey mentions her member of parliament for Wigan, John Hodson.He held that constituency from 1802 to 1820, when he resigned and his nephew took his place as the member for Wigan. He became a very wealthy man and later retired from business. He died in 1828, so he would have been the manager of her coal mining business for about 10 years. There is a lot of information available about him on the internet.

The Scandal to which the writer refers is another tantalising detail, as there is no further mention of it, and I wonder if Mr Barlow when he received the letter, was just as intrigued as I am about that bit of gossip.

I could find no information about George Barlow of Ribston Wetherby, nor of anyone with the name Keene in relation to this letter. If anyone reading this letter knows anything more, I would be most pleased to hear from you.


Reference :"Herewith my Frank by J.L. Lovegrove"

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