Richard Bush of Brighton

“Morris Birkbeck,to his uncle
Richard Bush of Brighton, 1837,”
with a link to Poughkeepsie New York.


Eunice Shanahan

This is a family letter of 1837 written by Morris Birkbeck in Bradford, Yorkshire, to his uncle who lived in Brighton, but who was at the time in London.

It is addressed to

Richd Bush Esqre of Brighton
Care of John Bush Esqre,
St Mildreds Court,
Poultry, London.

There are three postal markings: a 2–line circular date stamp from Bradford in black ink JY 12 1837;

a London morning duty receiving 3– line circular date stamp in red ink which has a double circle, showing it was an extra stamp in use for the heavy amount of mail received in the mornings, the letter C identifying which stamp was actually used; C 14 JY 14 1837,

and the more difficult to see manuscript mark of the postal charge of 11 (eleven pence), to cover a distance of between 170 and 230 and Bradford was 196 miles from London.

It has been sealed with a blob of sealing wax across the fold. The paper is very thin with no watermark, and is in reasonable condition considering the age, and the writing is very easy to read, despite the ink showing through onto the other side of the paper.

Bradford Yorkshire 11 July 1837
My dear Uncle,
Your very kind letter of 18 March was forwarded to me a short time since by my Cousin John. Both my wife & myself are very grateful for the interest & good wishes you are kind enough to express for our happiness &prosperity. It is very doubtful when we shall visit the South of England but when we do I shall make it a point to pay you a visit at Brighton if possible in accordance with your kind invitation, & should you, or any of your family wander so far out of your way as to reach Bradford I need not say that we shall be delighted to see you.

We are as yet in lodgings as I have not yet finally determined whether I shall make Bradford my fixed residence or not, but we would do all in our power to make your stay here agreeable.

He then mentions a relative and her situation in New York, which poses a question as to what she was doing in America at that time.

I received a satisfactory letter not long since from Eliza, her address is
Mrs Gilbert Pell Poughkeepsie, New York

As she is already at so great a distance from her husband I have recommended her to come with the children to Europe where she may live at little more than half the expense she is now incurring.

My wife unites with me in kind regards to my Aunt, Cousins as well as to yourself, & hoping I may have the pleasure of introducing her to you before very long.

I remain my dear Uncle
Your truly affectionate nephew
Morris Birkbeck

(This signature is fancy and may not be correct, but there is a note on the outside in a different writing. perhaps by the addressee, of what also appears to be that name.)


The address of the letter was interesting, and I found two illustrations, the first on the internet, was of St Mildred, Poultry, which was a parish church in the Cheap ward of the City of London dedicated to Anglo-Saxon Saint Mildred. It was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in 1666, and demolished in 1872. Some description of the church and its monuments is given in John Stow’s Survey of London.

As can be seen from this image, there were residences and people and carriages along the street. St Mildreds Court is not shown on current maps, but it would have been near or next to the church. There were 110 churches in Mediaeval London

Image citation: By Robert William Billings and John Le Keux - The Churches of London by George Godwin (1839),
Public Domain,

The second was for the actual street name: Poultry which is an old part of mediaeval London which was the market place for Londoners. The name comes from Old French, ‘poultrie’, and other traders in the same area sold meat and fish. The road led up to Cornhill, which was where the grain and general food markets were situated. This was known then as West Cheap. (these are indicated in red capitals on the map.

The map extract is from the Times London History Atlas which is an invaluable source of reference, and shows that by the time of this letter the poultry area was known as Leadenhall market for poultry, game and fruit. I find this map fascinating with the details of this commercial district of old London.

Another point of interest to me is that of the date of the letter. Queen Victoria was crowned on 28th June 1837. This was a huge celebration, and only about two weeks prior to when this letter was written. She was the first Queen to rule since Elizabeth 1st in the 16th century, a really important event for the whole country, but there was no mention of that fact in the letter. Apparently, family news was of more interest than national news.

I tried to trace a record for Gilbert Pell of Poughkeepsie New York in 1837 but there were too many of that name to be able to identify one. Also the letter refers to Mrs Gilbert Pell (Eliza) and the census records did not have any such entries. Without more details, it would not be possible to trace any immigration or ships manifests.
Sources : wikipedia, and other internet links.

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