Letters from the past
"Viscount Sydney, Bowhill, Selkirk
from George Golding,1837"
This third and last Viscount, elevated to an Earldom in 1874, died in 1890,was a liberal politician and amongst his posts were two stints as Lord Chamberlain. This was a position concerning the moral standards at the time, and he took it very seriously. The Lord Chamberlain decided which plays could be presented, and which books were acceptable to be published. He was the effective censor at the time.|
When he died, the official line was that he was an assiduous and much respected Lord Chamberlain. This caricature was one of a series of Victorian Statesmen, and would have been greatly appreciated at the time by the readers of Vanity Fair, however.their description which accompanied the cartoon was somewhat less flattering:
“it is fortunate for the Liberals that they are able to provide for so eminent a partisan as Lord Sydney the highly appropriate post of Chamberlain...the rights of women, as they are, lie in his absolute control – and the power that control gives is appalling... Lord Sydney has been at least equally successful in defining moral and material limits from the one extremity in vogue on the stage to the other which is affected in the palace.... Probably Lord Sydney's politics are liberal; possibly there are some ladies who think that his opinions are not liberal; but these are trifles. When his career is recorded, impartial history will write of him: "He received the Royal commands and lengthened the skirts of the ballet.”
John Robert Townshend B 9/8/1805 d 14/2/1890
So the next letter in this collection of 7 letters relating to the Viscount Sydney of Frognal is this one dated 1837
It is addressed to the Right Honble Viscount Sydney
Bow Hill Selkirk,NB and there is no receiving stamp on the letter.
There are six postal markings
So now to the letter which is written BY George Golding from Frognal, the estate belonging to Lord Sydney (see introduction for information about the estates on the page with the four earlier letters).
Frognal August 16th 1837
The next letter is a general post letter from Brighton addressed to Mr George Golding, Frognal, Footscray, (which was in the twopenny post system), and it has a very poorly applied Brighton datestamp which has been overstamped by one of the four clear postal markings showing where it was handled once it arrived in London.
1) Morning duty stamp 30 Mar 1839 in red. This has a double rim and an identifying letter A above the date
2) Transfer stamp to the Twopenny Post indented in red 10 F’nn Mr 30 1839
3) TP Rate 2d charge in black ink. This was one of two stamps in use concurrently after 1836 which was applied to all franked letters received from the General Post. This particular stamp had only one full stop between the letters T and P, and after the figure 2 a capital letter D with a solid line and a two-dot line underneath the D.
4) the charge rate of 8 Brighton to London this covered a distance of between 50 and 80 miles and Brighton mileage stamps showed 58 miles as the distance to London. In Alan Robertson's book, it lists the town under the original name of Brighthelmstone as 60 miles from London.
As a matter of interest the letter is written on paper with a black edge, indicating mourning paper, but seems to have no relevance to the letter, perhaps it is leftover from a previous death in the family.
The writing appears to have been written b someone either in a hurry or upset, and it is hard to decipher. Some of the words are questionable, so I have put them in brackets.
Brighton 28 March 1839 Sir I think the Land Owners of Chiselhurst have done right respecting their tithes and am obliged for your communication.
The last letter we have in this collection was addressed to Mr George Golding, Scadbury Park Farm, Chislehurst in 1840.
This letter was dated 30 January 1840, not long after the introduction of the Penny Post, and the sender had lodged the letter in the Twopenny Post Cornhill Receiving office, and pre-paid the postage. Prepayment of postage was not obligatory until some years later, and the actual postage stamps (the Penny Blacks) were not in use until May 1840. Aso, although the Twopenny post local post was merged with the General post after the introduction of the Penny Post on 10th January 1840, the name was retained until 1844, when it was named the London District Post.
It is interesting that of the two postmarks, the octagonal date stamp of the type in use from 1838, is clearly dated January 29, 1840, so the writer, Mr. Woollett, had not checked his calendar when he wrote from Clements Lane in London.
Research from the internet shows that Scadbury Park was also owned by the Sydney family.
Earl Sydney had no children; thus on the death of his wife in 1893 his nephew, Robert Marsham, inherited Frognal on condition that he adopted the name and arms of the Townshends. He died without issue, and the title died with him.
Sources: The Local Posts of London 1680-1840 George Brumell, and Alan Robertson’s Great Britain Post Roads Post Towns and Postal Rates 1635-1839
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