Tilson London

Letters from the Past
London to Shaftesbury, Dorset, 1834
Queen Adelaide’s birthday


Eunice Shanahan

These old letters are all different from one another, even though they may concern legal matters, or family matters, or commerce, they all lead to different areas of research, and this one is no exception.

It was written by a legal firm Tilson Squames and Tilson of London to Messrs Wills & Burrage, solicitors of Shaftesbury Dorset. It has a London circular date stamp postmark applied in black 3 lines EX showing it was one of the extra tables required for the morning duty mail, 24 FE 24 the date and then the year at the bottom in a straight line, 1834. The charge mark for the cost of postage is ‘9’ indicating nine pence, which covered the cost of sending a single page letter over a distance of between 80 and 120 miles and Shaftesbury was 101 miles from London.

There is a filing note in a different handwriting on the outside of the letter, usually written by the secretary or clerk in the solicitor’s office for easy reference.

24 Feb 34 Sherrin & Galpin Henstridge Par, Drews Ejection, Colbourne and King, Wills & Hopkins from Tilsons

So now to the letter which is beautifully written, showing the downstrokes made from using the quill pen, and really easy to read except for the names of the people mentioned in the legal actions.. I think that the Prs in the first line is an abbreviation for the word Petitioners.

Colman Street
24 Feb 1834
Dear Sirs,

Sherry & Gray Prs

We have received your instructions herein but cannot issue the Writ today as the offices are all closed her Majesty’s Birthday being kept.
We should suggest the propriety of proceeding against one or two only of the parties by separate actions to prevent the delay which may otherwise take place in case either of the defendants should keep out of the way in which case you could not proceed against any of the others. The rule (as you are aware) is that a Per may sue all the parties jointly or each separately. Perhaps you will favour me with a line by return of post.

Docdem (?) Will vs Drew

The Dorsetshire Assizes commence on the 14th March and we must therefore receive your instructions as to notice of trial by next Monday morning’s post.

Colbourne & King

We will sign judgement tomorrow.
The next paragraph is the only one where a couple of words are difficult to decipher, but they appear to be the same word, as illustrated here.

Wills & Hopkins

We think it adviseable to (rule?) the Sheriff at once to return the writs & as the (rules?) may be served in Town very little expenses will be thereby incurred. We will see Mr Cockerill’s agent and act in conjunction with him to procure a speedy settlement I remain
Yours truly,
Tilsons Squames & Tilson.

The interesting point initially was which Queen was involved in her birthday celebrations. A web search brought up no results for me, so I contacted a friend in England who provided me with the information.

The Queen referred to was Adelaide, consort of King William IV. He had married an actress, Mrs Jordan and they had 10 children, (all given the surname of Fitzclarence). As this was a morganatic marriage, the children were considered to be illegitimate, so when George IV’s daughter died, William had to get ‘acceptably’ married to try to produce a legitimate heir since he was the next in line to the throne.

This is the entry in Chamber’s Biographical dictionary for his new bride.


ADELAIDE, Queen (1792-1849) consort of King William IV of Great Britain. She was the worthy but dull eldest daughter of George, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Meiningen; in 1818 she married William, Duke of Clarence, who succeeded his brother, George IV, to the throne as William IV 1830-1837). Their two children, both daughters, died in infancy, and William was succeeded by his niece, Queen Victoria.


So although it did not give him the required heir, his consort was honoured by the Court and others of the ‘great and good’ to celebrate her birthday, which in fact was not on that day at all.

A newspaper report for the event in 1834 mentioned in this letter, was in The Morning Post (London, England), Thursday, February 20,1834; Issue 19720.


Her Majesty’s birthday — Earl Grey will, in honour of her Majesty’s birthday, give a grand dinner on Monday next to the Great Officers of the Household. Lord Althorp will entertain, at his residence in Downing street, the Governor and Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, the Chairman and deputy Chairman of the India House, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Excise, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Customs, &c. Lord Palmerston will entertain the Foreign Ambassadors at his house in Stanhope street. Lord Melbourne will entertain the Judges and King’s Sergeants, &c. Mr Stanley will give a grand dinner on Monday next to General Lord Hill; Sir John Macdonald, the Adjutant-General; Mr. Ellice, the Secretary at War; Sir Willoughby Gordon, the Quarter-Master-General &c. The Lord Chamberlain will give a grand entertainment also in honour of the Queen’s birthday


That report was kindly shared by Dr. M Bloy. Also a longer and different report in The Morning Post (London, England), Tuesday, February 25, 1834; Issue 19724. The section is headed “FASHIONABLE WORLD.” and an identical piece appeared in The Times (London, England), Tuesday, Feb 25, 1834; pg. 2; Issue 15410 the Court Circular.

A full copy of this can be seen on Dr. Bloy’s website http://www.historyhome.co.uk/people/queenbir.htm. This is just the first paragraph. The ensuing paragraphs contain complete details of all the guests and what clothes they were wearing!

If I had not bought this letter,(for the London morning duty post mark) I would have had no knowledge of, and no reason to check on Queen Adelaide and the celebrations for her birthday. I find it very interesting that this letter shows that although it would not have been a public holiday as such, not only the fashionable world, but also the legal profession, in London at least, closed their offices as a mark of respect.

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