Lord Clifford

“William Weld to his Godfather,
Lord Clifford, Palazzo Odescalchi Rome 1839,”


Eunice Shanahan

This letter is interesting for the postal markings, and also for the background of the writer William Weld, and his family connections. The Palazzo Odescalchi has a website with amazing pictures, and kindly gave me permission to reproduce a couple of the photos. The postal information is really interesting and the postmarks shown on the image above show the route taken to deliver the letter.

It is addressed to The Right Honourable Lord Clifford Palazzo Odescalchi in Rome and received the red paid circular date stamp of London,where it was handed in, and a black LONDON circular datestamp, which would have been applied at the Foreign branch of the General Post. The next stamp is the border post at Port de Beauvoisin in France (VIA DI/Pt BEAUOISIN). The two other postmarks are one from Genoa, this is the faint and poorly applied black circle to the left of the word Palazzo,it is atransit stamp and looks like the stamp which identified foreign correspondence arriving by road from Genoa. If so, the full wording around the circumference should read CORRESPZA ESTERA DA GENOVA, with a Florentine fleur-de-lys in the centre of the stamp, but it is too poorly applied to be identified. Finally the ROMA arrival datestamp looks like 2 August 1839 which is about 55 days, so maybe that is right, because of the sentence in the letter advising the journey time being 55 days.

The 1/7 was the correct rate to go to Italy from London via France from 20 July 1836 and all letters to Italy at this time had to be prepaid.

This is a transcript of the letter, which is written over two pages and is perfectly legible and as clear as the day it was written.

Seminary May 7th 1839

My Dr. GodFather,
I have so long delayed thanking you for your kind letter and handsome contribution that I can do so no longer. I hoped to have been able by this time to have stated the precise day of our departure and to have given you some account of our arrangements, but as yet nothing has been definitely settled. It was at first decided we should go by the new steam-ship the “India” 1200 ton burden which is expected to perform the voyage in 55 days, but we have been unable to ascertain the time of her departure as she is now at Glasgow waiting for favourable weather for taking in her engines. It is expected she will be in the river by the end of June, but I doubt whether she will sail before the end of July. In the mean time there is a magnificent ship of a 1000 ton to sail on the 20th of this month and I think we shall finish by going by her.

I suppose you know I have been “raising the wind” since my appointment. I have been pretty succesful, but left London without having done much except among the tradesfolk and a few of the old ladies in the west end: it is intended I should return there before we sail. Fr. Lythgoe was dangerously ill almost the whole of the time I was there and therefore could not assist me much, he is better now. Fr. Smith / Mark?? also I find has had a severe inflamatory attack on his chest, he is recovering thank God. I saw Conny at Newhall she is quite well and happy. Since I left she writes to Countess Clifford, she feels a strong inclination to be a Sister of charity in Calcutta, rather a sudden vocation, poor child, she is a good little creature and much commended by all for her piety and good temper. My Mother is with Lady Arundell where she will remain till after her confinement. I suppose you know another of Lord Stourtons daughters (Charlotte) is going to be a nun, your Dr Sister Mrs Stourton takes her to NB where the Carrington nuns went this week - the St. Ledgers are in London and do not talk of moving as yet, but I suppose they will be in Rome before long. I wonder whether I shall see the Revd. Edward at the Mauritius, if we go by the steamer it is not unlikely

Adieu Dr Uncle and aasuring you of our prayers and gratitude for yr charity

I remain Yrs Most gratefully

W Weld S.J

S Sn PS I hope you received my last letter or you would have reason to complain of my want of respect to my God Father in not informing him of my destiny?

NOTE: “raising the wind” was a phrase which meant fund raising, collecting money for a specific purpose.

So that was the letter, and now the information about the people involved. I have received a lot of information from people internationally, through my internet contacts who do not wish to be acknowledged, but different people gave me different details, about the family, and shipping records.

This information was from the 1865 version of Debrett’s. The Arundells, Cliffords, and Stourtons were all related Roman Catholic families who also held baronies by the same name. The Welds were also a related Roman Catholic family; Lord Clifford’s wife was a Weld and also Lord Stourton’s; and they both were Counts of the Holy Roman Empire (hence “Countess Clifford,” at least amongst her Roman Catholic friends).Charlotte, is listed merely as a daughter “b. 1814,” indicating that she had not married and was still alive at the time.

The writer of the letter, William Weld was born at Bridport, (near Chideock, Chideock being the family home), on July 9th 1814 and entered the Society on June 20th 1833. He did part of his studies at the Seminary and then petitioned to be sent to the Calcutta College. He taught Maths at the College and he died of small pox (through visiting the sick in the hospital) on Wednesday March 27th 1844 at 10.00pm at the age of 30.

I was advised that

the address at the top of the letter, Seminary, is a separate building from Stonyhurst, Lancs, still in use as a school, but in those days was the training house for Jesuits. Heythrop, by name, did not start till 1926 in Oxfordshire.
There is a letter from Fr. Lythgoe in the archives at Newhall about William Weld. His sister was a member of that Community, Mother Mary Aloysia Weld.
There is no mention of a Fr. Smith. Christina was the name of his Mother.


Regarding the ships, there were no records in the Lloyds Register for a ship named “India”that year or of any ship of 1200 tons, so perhaps there was a delay in the building of that vessel. This particular contact took a lot of trouble for me to find the information about all the ships registered in 1839 of 1000 tons or more and there were only 4 and none of them was of 1200 tons burden.

However, another contact, this time through a third party was a member of the Society of Jesus, who advised the following details.

William Weld went to London on April 21st 1839 and sailed from Portsmouth on June 21st 1839.

So that explains which month he sailed, but not the name of the vessel. It also confirms that he was in London in May that year when he wrote and posted this letter.

I found information from this website visit Palazzo Odescalchi

Palazzo Odescalchi was originally a possession of the Colonna family, sold to Pope Alexander VII Chigi in 1661. The Chigi sold the palace in 1745 to the Odescalchi. It is also called Palazzo Bracciano, because the Odescalchi have a large castle in the town of Bracciano.

The palace was redesigned by Gian Lorenzo Bernini who set a pattern which influenced many other palaces in Italy and Europe: in particular the high pilasters starting above the ground/first floor. Unfortunately the proportions of the building were altered by Nicola Salvi and Luigi Vanvitelli when the Odescalchi, new owners of the palace, decided to make it wider. The coat of arms of the Odescalchi is among the most complex ones. It is made of an eagle, a lion and six lamps: because both the eagle and the lion are represented in many other coats of arms, the lamp ended up by being the distinctive mark of the Odescalchi.

The palace is still a property of the Odescalchi family. On special occasions the public is allowed to have a look at the fine courtyard.

Views of the courtyard

The palace still belongs to the Odescalchi who have split some parts of it into apartments. Usually one can only see a small section of the courtyard through the northern door as the Odescalchi do not open their palace to the public on a regular basis.

Sources : The Port & Carriage of letters 1570-1840 by David Robinson
The Palazzo Odescalachi website, see details above.
Dr. Marjie Bloy visit The Peel Web

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