Letters  from the Past

“A man concerned for his brother's welfare
in 1817.”

This letter, posted in Nottingham addressed to Mr H.L. Pinkerton, Mr Lakin, Hall End Tamworth Staffordshire, has only the two postal markings. First, the boxed Nottingham mileage mark showing that it was 124 miles from London, and the charge mark of 7d, which was the cost of sending a single sheet letter a distance of between 30 and 50 miles. At first glance this does not seem likely as the mileage mark for Tamworth is 117 miles from London, so the difference between the two is only seven miles, but in this case the mail route would have been directly between the two towns, and they are about 30 miles apart, so the London link would not have been involved.

The content of the letter is interesting as it shows that there was private care even 200 years ago for someone suffering from a mental illness.

The only information I can find about the writer, Charles Pennington is that he was a medical doctor and was a member of the Book club in Nottingham at the time this letter was written.


9th August, 1817

Sir,
Your letter of the 3rd August addressed to Mr Morris was duly received but his very severe and continued indisposition has prevented him answering your inquiries therein regarding the health and general state of your Brother Mr Alfred Pinkerton, and understanding from Mrs Morris your anxiety and solicitude on this interesting subject I hasten to communicate my opinion thereon, and I am concerned to say that I do not think your Brother is by any means as yet in a fit state of mind to be freed from strict restraint, and moral and medical management which has been for some time past, and is still in a degree necessarily imposed, and that he is not in a fit state of mind to be engaged in any pursuit even for his occupation, and, my fear and my belief is, that if he did not resume his former bad habits which have been viewed as the occasional cause of his mental malady, that he would probably relapse into the same morbid state of mind, from which he is but just emanating, and I conclusively say that whether you permit him to remain here or elsewhere, it is most adviseable that the plan of management both medical and moral should be continued.

I have great satisfaction in saying that Mr Pinkertonís bodily health is now very good and the state of his mind much improved, the halucinations are more transient and the delusions less frequent, a perverse and untoward state of mind and temper is materially altered, yet I still think it will be some time before his mental energies are restored and established

Any information you may further solicit, will at all times be carefully communicated. I hope you will see your brother soon
I am Sir
Yours truly
Charles Pennington

This image shows how roughly the letter was opened, perhaps because Mr Pinkerton was so anxious to hear about his brother's condition. The doctor’s opinion appears to be very hopeful of the outcome.


There is a separate section on our website about the mileage marks – why they were introduced, and the various types in use. There is also a letter addressed to Mrs Pinkerton – the first letter on page two of this link

click here for more information.

Reference :
‘Great Britain Post Roads Post Towns and Postal Rates 1635-1839’ 

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