Lord Hamilton, 164.

Letters from the Past

Lord Archibald Hamilton
Ashton Hall, 1764

We have three letters addressed to Lord Archibald Hamilton, but as they are written thirty years apart, I have put them separately on the website. This letter is in a very scruffy condition, but as it is more than 250 years old, it is surprising that it is still in existemce and even more surprisingly perhaps, easy to read. It is addressed to
The Right Honorable Lord Archibald Hamilton, at Ashton Hall, Near Lancaster, and written by G. Grey.

The postal markings are not very easy to see, 1) a charge mark ‘3’ scribbled out but not replaced, and then 2) a very poorly struck two-line name stamp possibly KNUTS FORD which is in Cheshire. There is another name stamp 3) above the wax seal, but even less distinct than the one on the front of the letter. I have found it indecipherable.

The wax seal consists of the design of a female carrying some kind of orb and holding a shield with a cross on it. The wording is not completely legible but looks like AMOR ET SE RERIT, but the last word could possibly be SPERIT.

Unfortunately there is no address on the letter from the writer, so no clue there as to the origin. As the letter concerns finance it is likely that this was written by the family solicitor, or the estate manager.

2nd May 1764
My Lord
According to your Lordship’s directions I wrote to Mr Newton in relation to the payment of Mrs Crowthers money and proposed to pay him for her use 6 or 700£ about the beginning of July to which yesterday I recd the following answer.

‘Sr. If Lord Archibald would accommodate Mrs Crowther with 750£ about the 24 of June or the First day of July it would answer every purpose and be of particular service. I hope this will be convenient to his Lordship and shall be obliged to you for an answer as soon as possible and the method you would propose for payment of this money and discharging his Lordship from so much of his Bond.
I am Sr your very hble svt Robt Newton ’

Then further down the page of the letter it continues in a different handwriting.

“ My Lord I have wrote to Mr Newton that I am now upon a journey to London and that he should have my answer from thence. If your Lordship will please to honour me with your directions about this affair you will please to direct for me at the Earl of Harringtons in London. As stocks are now at a pretty good price I would recommend to your Lordship to give Mr Hoare’s directions to sell with orders to pay me what your lordship thinks proper which I will apply in discharge of this Bond and I wish your Lordship would let it be the whole 1300£ and £29..5..d interest for I dare say they will be writing for the remainder soon after they have got this.

I am my Lord, your Lordships Most obedient Serv.
G. Grey ”

Note 1) The reference to Mr Hoare is the banker.

Hoare’s bank was founded in 1672 by Richard Hoare at the sign of the Golden Bottle in Cheapside, London. It has a fascinating history as a privately owned bank, and some famous customers of the 17th century were Samuel Pepys, Sir Godfrey Kneller (painter) John Dryden (Poet) and “Beau” Nash. In the 19th century: Lord Byron (poet); Jane Austen (author); Lord Palmerston and the Earl of Liverpool (Prime Ministers) were all customers. After the Great War, most of the remaining private banks were absorbed by the larger banks. Hoares took a decision not to merge and today is the sole survivor as an independent bank, employing 220 staff in two branches in London, and having appointed its first female partner.Their website in June 2018 has this information


C. Hoare & Co. is the United Kingdom’s oldest privately owned bank.
At the core of our business are the values of honesty and care, which have been passed on through the continued direct ownership of the Hoare family since the bank was founded by Richard Hoare in 1672 at the sign of the Golden Bottle on London’s Cheapside, before moving to Fleet Street.


Note 2) The letter is addressed to Ashton Hall which has a very long history, and this information from Wikipedia covers the time until the Dukes of Hamilton no longer owned the property.

Ashton Hall is constructed of red and grey sandstone, with roofs of slate. Its plan is unusual, with towers set diagonally. The 19th-century building was built in the Gothic style of grey sandstone. The rectangular 14th-century tower is of red sandstone; it has angle-towers and a crenellated parapet.

In the 13th century, the lordship of the Manor was held by the De Coucy family and from them passed to John de Coupland. The original hall dates from the late 14th century. It was probably completed in 1381, built by Edmund Lawrence.

It then passed by marriage to the Butlers of Radcliffe and from them to the Gerards of Bromley. In 1698 the estate was acquired by James Hamilton, 4th Duke of Hamilton, on his second marriage to the Gerard heiress Elizabeth Gerard. He fought a famous duel in 1712 with Lord Mohun over the right of ownership of Gawthorpe Hall and was fatally stabbed by General Macartney, Mohun’s second. His widow lived for another 32 years, spending most of her time at the Hall.

As an update to this historic pile, the land around Ashton Hall has been turned into a golf course, and the hall is now owned by Lancaster Golf Club.

Although this is not a wildly exciting letter, full of gossip and scandal, it shows the normal life of one man more than 250 years ago, and can be put into the time frame of what was happening in England at that time, which is part of the appeal to me of these old letters.

NOTE The second and third letters written to Lord Archibald Hamilton are also also on the website and can be found on the Letters page under the title Lord Archibald Hamilton, 1798 Lord Archibald .

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