Letters  from the Past

“To Henry Lloyd Esqre of Ludlow
from Baker Gabb,Abergavenny in 1798.”

This letter is dated 2nd April 1798. The paper has a watermark of an initial, but it is unreadable as it appears where the addressee opened the letter made a hole by breaking the the seal, then underneath that letter is the year 1795.

There are only two postal markings, a black horshoe shaped undated town stamp of ABERGAVENNY, and the charge mark of 7, which at that time.would cover a distance of between 100 and 150 miles for a single sheet letter weighing up to 1/4 of an ounce. I could not reconcile this 7d rate with the current location of Abergavenny and Ludlow, as this is only about 45 miles apart, so I contacted Clive Jones of Birmingham in England who is membership secretary of ‘The Postal History Society’ and he has kindly given me the explanation. It is all to do with the Cross Post.

You are right with your rate for 1798. 7d. buys a single sheet carriage for 100-150 miles. The correct route is to Gloucester, then up the A38 to Worcester. Worcester to Ludlow is either 34 or 37 miles, via Tenbury or Leominister (both routes used). This A38 route is part of the Cross Post route opened in 1715 from Exeter to Bristol to Chester, a major post route to avoid sending mail via the postal spokes of the wheel in (or towards) London and out again. Gloucester north to Worcester is 26 miles. Then 43 + 26 + 34/37 miles = 103/106 miles, hence 7d. rate.

There is a filing note on the outside by the receiver, noting the sender and subject.

2nd April 1798 Mr Baker Gabb Tithes Letter etc

So now to the letter itself, which is very easy to decipher, despite it being well over 200 years old.

Dear Sir
I did not receive the parcels inclosing the drafts Abstract &c till Thursday the 22nd ultimo and have not since seen either Mr Gilbert or Mr Price, but they will be here tomorrow and the drafts with Mr Jennings Abstract shall be returned to you on Thursday by the Hereford Horseman (or perhaps Newsman?).

I find this reference interesting, as I do not know if it is Horseman, then whether this was run by the Postmaster from either Abergavenny or from Hereford, or was a private service run by a local businessman. I have so far found no other information about it. Nor could I find any information about a Hereford Newsman, which looks more likely from the handwriting.

So now to the continuation of the letter, where the financial side of the affair is of some concern to Mr Baker Gabb.

I will thank you for an account of your charge on Prichard as soon as possible as he is now very ill and, should he die before the business is settled I shall meet with some difficulty to get paid, and I will also trouble you to give me the earliest intimation of the time you purpose coming over to settle with the respective purchasers that they may be prepared for you.
Mrs Gabb desires her Compliments

I remain
Yr most obdt
Baker Gabb
Abergavenny2nd April 1798

Note: Considering how old this letter is, I was very surprised to find so much information on the internet about the Baker and Gabb families in Abergavenny. The family papers are held in the National Library of Wales, and this is an extract of details of the Baker-Gabb family from that website.

Both Baker and Gabb were old Catholic families from Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. The Baker family claimed descent from Sir Roger Vaughan of Bredwardine, Herefordshire, and had held large estates in Monmouthshire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. The earliest deed relating to a member of the Baker family of Abergavenny is dated 1590. The Gabb family also owned property in the Abergavenny area.

The earliest Gabb deed (of Grosmont, Monmouthshire) appears to be that dated 1660. The families were joined by the marriage of John Gabb (d. 1690) of Goytre, Grosmont, to Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry Baker of Bailey Baker, Abergavenny.Thomas Gabb founded a solicitor’s practice in Abergavenny in 1760. The firm of Gabb & Co. still practices out of the same offices in Abergavenny. Thomas Gabb practised on his own until 1781, when he was joined by Baker Gabb the elder (d. 1821), and in 1808 by his son, Baker Gabb the younger (d. 1858).There was a member of the Gabb family in the firm from 1760 until 1921.

From the 1850s, most family members seem to have either used Baker as a last christian name, or used a hyphenated Baker-Gabb surname.

The only information I was able to find about the addressee, Mr Henry Lloyd of Ludlow, Shropshire was that his will is held in the Shropshire Archives, listing him as a Gentleman who lived in Ludlow, died in 1833 and his will was probated in 1835.


References :

‘Great Britain Post Roads Post Towns and Postal Rates 1635-1839’  Alan W. Robertson;
Baker-Gabb Family Papers,Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales Tudalen.

Copyright By E & R Shanahan/P>

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