“To William Drake MP, London
from John Bourne, Dalby, 1776”


Eunice Shanahan

This is a beautifully written letter by John Bourne who was the receiver of the Croft and Holbeach estates in Lincolnshire. It was addressed to the Member of Parliament William Drake, Grosvr Square London and it received three postal markings. One was the town name stamp, which was poorly applied across the fold of the back of the letter and is incomplete, but what is visible appears to be …STON. This is possibly BOSTON, The other two postmarks were applied in London, the Bishop mark circular bisected date stamp of 30 OC in black ink (also on the back of the letter), of the type in use from 1713-1787. Then on the front the FREE in a single circle in red ink. This was free as it was addressed to the Member of Parliament, who was entitled to the free postage for letters concerning his constituency. This particular stamp was in use in London from 1765 to 1788.

The letter which is written on heavy cream paper with a watermark of a crown over the letters GR. The red wax seal has the imprint of a coat of arms, which is not really identifiable, as it does not show enough detail.

The handwriting is quite clear and legible, after more than 250 years, and considering it would have been written with a quill pen, and probably home-made ink, it is surprising that it has not faded. This is the transcription, as it was written with many capital letters for words, which would not be common nowadays.


I am honoured with yours of the 23inst inclosing Mr Amcott’s Solicitation for Mr Meads to succeed Mr Edwd Howitt in the Occupation of the Farm he holds of you at Croft. As Mr Amcott appears so urgent in his Desire should wish you would not regard the Application I made to you some years ago in behalf of my Brother, as we are under too many Obligations to Mr Amcott to wish in any Measure to obviate his request. And you Sir, may have an Opportunity in some future Vacancies to remember my Brothers Petition

I am Sr
Yrs Dutiful & obedt Servt,

Jo Bourne .

After this amazing signature and flourish, he has dated the letter and then added a postscript

Dalby Oct 28 1776
Am much obliged to you Sir for your kind thoughts respecting my Health, am now as well as I have been for many years.

From Wikipedia Dalby is a village and civil parish in the East Lindsey district of Lincolnshire, England. It is situated approximately 3 miles (5 km) north from the town of Spilsby.

The Lincolnshire archives hold a collection of letters from as early as 1746, written by John Bourne who was the receiver of the Croft and Holbeach estates, and there is this reference towards the end of the listing about this man.

[John Bourne senior died on 20 September, 1788 and was succeeded as agent by his 21 years old son John who was to be assisted at first by his uncle Henry Bourne].

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