Hodgsons Suit

“Letters from the Past

19th century legal letters, England 1838 ”
Richard Addison, London to Messrs Atkinson & Harrison, Penrith, 1838


Eunice Shanahan

The letter itself is not of outstanding historical importance, but it is an example of the kind of business conducted by local solicitors. It is addressed to Messrs Atkinson & Harrison Solcrs Penrith Cumberland . A websearch revealed that there are still commercial interests with this name in that town.

There are only two postal markings The London evening duty date stamp in black for JY 30 1838 with the identifying letter of E, which was stamped across the sealed part of the letter, and the postal charge of 1/- which covers the distance between 230 and 300 and Penrith was listed as 283 miles, so that is correct. It is written on a heavy paper, with a watermark of J GREEN & SON 1838, and is in very good condition, and very legible. As it has been folded away in different storage places during the almost 200 years of existence, these folds are very visible in the scanned images.

Penrith is a market town and civil parish in the county of Cumbria, England, about 17 miles (27 km) south of Carlisle. It is less than 3 miles (5 km) outside the Lake District National Park, in between the Rivers Petteril and Eamont and just north of the River Lowther.

On opening the letter, the first page, surprisingly, is a copy of a previous letter, and this is referred to in the next page. The letter includes many abbreviations of words like ‘recd’ for received and ‘Deft’ for Defendant. Where I think it might not be obvious I have included the full word in brackets.

Mecklenburgh Sqre 30 July 1838

Thompson v Hodgson

On the other side you have copy of a letter I have this morning recd from Deft (defendant) I thought you had all the Deeds, shd [should] the purchaser require copies of the deeds not delivered there will be a difficulty. Hodgson has not called as promised & most likely will not. I presume you have the Deed of 1819.

The next part of the letter refers to another subject entirely, and for me it typifies the type of thinking, and therefore the language, by which lawyers in general are defined. It all seems so unnecessarily involved and complex, but they have to cover all possibilities.

Re Anderson Decd
I have seen Mr Lay & he says though there has been no John Nicholson from Cornwall claiming the Legacy of £19.19 and though he has not much doubt but that your client is the person intended still he cannot advise the Exor
[Executor] to pay the Legacy & as it will be no part of the Bequest in the Suit, the remedy will not be worth the seeking.

As to the Residue given to the first Cousins being at the death of Testrix [Testatrix] I shd fear your Client’s chance is bad, he not being a first Cousin, but a first cousin once removed & there were first cousins living at the time of death, that is Mrs Gordon who is stated to be a first Cousin on the Mother’s side. If there had been no first cousins living he might have been entitled as one of the next of Kin. If you think there is any doubt as his being a first cousin though once removed, it might afford a Case for the Opn [opinion] of Counsel. If the claim is to be carried into the Masters office, it must be by proving his relationship, by certificate of Bapt,[Baptism] Burial etc & affs [affidavits] of Identity in the usual way & the point will have to be determined by the Master.

There is then another case to be covered

Re Thos Child
I have searched both prerogative Cts
[Courts] of Canterbury & Consistory Crts of London in 1837 but cannot find this Will.

I do not know Mr Francis Child.

Major McDowall has pd [paid] me £13.13.7
Yours truly
Richd Addison.

The copy on the first page is a letter TO Richrd Addison by John Thompson, in which he explains why the papers and deeds have not been sent as promised. He certainly sounds as if he is going through an unlucky patch.

Dear Sir
Thompson’s Suit

I am sorry to say that nearly ever since I met you at the Judge’s Chambers I have been laid up by severe Illness as also has been my Clerk who has been confined to his Room for nearly 6 weeks.

All Business therefore has been at a standstill as sevrl [several] of your neighbours about Bedford Row &c can testify. The Warrants to settle the partlars [particulars] of debts having been sent directed to St Mildreds Court, thence to Seething Lane did not reach me in time to attend or communicate with you.

There is no doubt but the two Closes in question are Freehold & included in Mr Thomspon’s Mtge [mortgage] but to be candid with you the origl [original] Title Deeds relating to these & also to other Freeholds having been left with me my necessities compelled me to raise money upon them and altho I have reduced the amount borrowed I have not been able to take them up. It is of no use for me to longer to conceal the fact. The original Abstract & Plan which I named to you I have by me and these are at your Service but I have been struggling in vain to collect a Sufficient Sum to redeem the Deeds. I am now sufficiently recovered to stir out a little and I will call on you with these Papers in the course of the Morning. Most probably about 1 or 2 oclock
I am &c
John Hodgson 242 Wapping July 28/38
To Rd Addison Esqr
Mecklenburgh Square

As a matter of interest, Mecklenburgh Square is still in existence and is a Grade II listed square in Bloomsbury, London. The Square and its garden were part of the Foundling Estate, a residential development of 1792–1825 on fields surrounding and owned by the Foundling Hospital. The Square was named in honour of King George III’s Queen, Charlotte of Mecklenburg–Strelitz. It was begun in 1804, but was not completed until 1825.

It is notable for the number of historic terraced houses that face directly onto the square and the Mecklenburgh Square Garden. Access to the garden is only permitted to resident keyholders, except when it is open to all visitors for Open Garden Squares Weekend.

The garden was laid out between 1809 and 1810 as the centrepiece of the newly developed Mecklenburgh Square; buildings on the eastern side were designed by architect Joseph Kay. The 2 acres (8,100 m2) garden is made up of formal lawns, gravel paths, mature plane trees and other ornamental trees. It contains a children’s playground, and a tennis court. The east side of the garden is planted with plants native to New Zealand.

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