"Letters from the Past
Lost mail : Charles Bodenham, MP to
William Witham,Solicitor, Grays Inn, London, 1836"

by

Eunice Shanahan

Postmarks Hereford CDS smudged date NO 15 1836, FREE with a crown dated what looks like 17 NO 17 1836 in London. Witten at the top of the address panel is Hereford Novr fifteen 1836 (date and place required for the franking system) and a signature at bottom left E B Clive.

This signature was of Edward Bolton Clive of Whitfield House, Treville, Herefordshire who was born in 1765, and was entitled to use the Free Frank system at the time the letter was written in 1836, as he was a Member of Parliament for Hereford 1826 until his death in July 1845. However, as he did not write the letter, he was in effect defrauding the system, by allowing Charles Bodenham to use his privilege and not have to pay the postage of his personal letter to London.

The letter is addressed to Wm Witham Esqre Solicitors Grays Inn London. It is written on heavy cream paper with no watermark and has been sealed with a blob of red sealing wax, but no identity on the seal.

The letter is beautifully written and easy to read and concerns the transfer of funds and the resultant paperwork.Considering how old it is the writing is still very distinct and obviously written with a quill pen. I find the underlining of the different words and phrases very interesting,as it really does make them stand out in these old hand written letters.

My dear Witham,
When I had recently the Pleasure to meet you at Lulworth, where the Humphry Wilds were staying, you will recollect that we spoke of the Debt due from the Executors of the late Robert Clifford to the Nuns in Limerick , and you expressed a wish that I should procure a detailed Statement of the Particulars of this Debt and transmit it to you, in order that it might be immediately liquidated.

By a letter just received from Carantrily Mrs Handcock’s residence near Tuam, I find that she herself has now paid these Demands and that all the Bills and Receipts had been transmitted to you in London, no acknowledgment or explanation having been received in return.

There is reason to fear that an Accident may have occur’d in the Transmission of the Parcel from Ireland, & I therefore take the Liberty to inform you of this Circumstance, for which my having heard so much said about these Debts, when I was in Ireland, will, I trust, prove a sufficient apology.

Believe me, My dear Witham,
Very faithfully yours
Chas. Bodenham

Rotherwas near Hereford Novr 15 1836


Notes: Charles Bodenham was recorded as a Gentleman of Hereford, and there are records held in the archives for Herefordshire concerning him, particularly one
Reference number CG33/1 “Assignment to attend the inheritance, 25 May 1836”,
where he is listed as the fifth one of 5 persons involved in the Conveyance of ‘The Farm’, from (1) and (2) to (3). (4) was the trustee for Walter Morgan, who legally held the 1000 year lease for the property, the remainder of which term he transferred to (5) to hold in trust for (3).

Consideration: 10 shillings.

A person of standing, such as he was at the time, would have been able to pay the postage for a letter, but it was not thought to be a particularly bad thing to do at the time, but the Post Office was losing great sums of money by the mis-use of the Franking privilege, and instituted many changes to the usage to try to prevent this. One of them being the instructions that the person claiming the free frank should write on the letter the place of posting, the date and sign at the bottom of the address panel. This was done, on this letter, but it is obvious that he has not written the letter, nor was it written on his behalf.

Rotherwas was the family chapel of the Roman Catholic Bodenham family. The originally simple medieval building has a fine Elizabethan timber roof, a rebuilt 18th century tower, and striking Victorian interior decoration and furnishings by the Pugins.

Tuam is a town in Ireland and the second-largest settlement in County Galway. It is west of the midlands of Ireland, about 35 km north of Galway city. Humans have lived in the area since the Bronze Age while the historic period dates from the sixth century. (Wikipedia)

Carantrily also previously known as Carrowantryla, or Carrantrila.

I could not find any reference to Robert Clifford or the Nuns at Limerick.

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