Letters from the Past
Elias Bland, London to Samuel & Wm Vernon,
I can see what is represented by the flourish above the names Samuel & Wm Vernon, in the middle of the flourish, is the word To . There are no postal markings, so no evidence of the actual despatch or receipt of the letter, perhaps it would have been carried by the Captain on a previous voyage. The watermark is a posthorn with the initials WR.
There are 3 other things to note on the outside of this letter: the writer has inscribed 3 very fancy letters E E B which are his initials, then a set of figures and finally the receiver of the letter has noted the date and writer in the bottom right hand corner.
Elias Bland was a London ship owner and merchant but I can find very little information available on the internet up to this time.
The appearance of the letter has to be seen to be believed. Because the letter is almost 270 years old, language and writing has changed, and at that time many words were given a capital letter, and the ‘long S ’ is used so that it looks like a letter f , e.g. Afsured for Assured. There are a few words which are hard to decipher, so they are put inside brackets (Hussey)
London, 28th July 1750
Then along the side of the letter he has continued
Yours of 4th May came duly to Hand. The Contents shall observe & inform more fully my next. Copy
Then the letter is continued on the inside, giving details of the cargo to be shipped on the vessel from Newport and the value of each item I have transcribed this list with OED definitions where the item was recognisable. The weights of course are all in Imperial measurements.
The next items are priced by the Cwt which is the hundredweight.
The next items are priced per lb (pound)
Cotton/Pimento/Indigo/fine/Tortoiseshell/Tobacco/QuicksilverThe last items are a puzzle
Sum(?) Per Barrel uncertain
So that is the letter, and one of our pleasures with our old letters is finding out the background. We know nothing about America in the 18th century, and the information available on the internet now is astonishing. The Vernons were merchants in Newport Rhode Island and a very influential family. This is a picture of their home Vernon House, which is now a National Historic Landmark.
There is a long entry on Wikipedia about the brothers.
William and his older brother Samuel (September 6, 1711 - 1792) entered into business together, eventually establishing themselves as prominent merchants in Newport. Another brother, Thomas, did not enter into trade with his other siblings.This letter is evidence of the trade going on between England and America in 1750.
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