Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten
Back to the Midlands


October 1830

The approximate distance travelled during this journey: London to Nottingham 124 miles, Nottingham to Birmingham 40 miles, onto Wolverhampton — 10 miles then to Shrewsbury, 35 miles — Dudley, Kidderminster another 40 , Worcester 10, then back to London 117, a total of about 376 miles. This is a long time travelling when the mailcaoches were expected to keep up between 10 and 15 miles an hour.

It seems as though John Alston may have returned to London, as the next letter is dated 8th October 1830 at Nottingham, where it was postmarked that day, and the London morning duty receiving stamp was the next morning 9th October. The manuscript charge mark of 10d is correct, but there is also a manuscript 1/5, which is not an appropriate rate for the distance or the letter.

Dear Thos,

I rec'd yours. Here annexed is what I have been able to do — Cullen paid, would have given me a good order but he had just given it to Henderson and McKinley the day before. People here are very full of goods being the Fair, they always supply themselves beforehand. Shall leave this tomorrow morning for Birmg from there shall go to Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury, shall try if I can do a little in Birmng when there — shall be in Wolverhampton Monday morning, you better send me 2 or 3 doz low sqr collars and a few round collars none above 7/-, also a few childs collars 11d and 15d none at 22d, also a few habit shirts low ones without collars and a few with collars to assort. Don't send any more of Rutherfords, have quite enough of them.

I could sell a good many plain sq collars I find, if you have any put in some — also low habit shirts about 22d or 2/-, common braided trimmings, put in some cards also if you have them. Send the parcel to "Basters hotel" Wolverhampton to meet me on Monday morning.

Yrs truly J. Alston

PS Shall be in Shrewsbury Tuesday — if anything to the "Fox' — Wednesday Dudley — The Hotel — Thursday Stourbridge and Kidderminster — "White Lion" Kidderminster — Friday Worcester, "The Bell" and shall probably be home on Saturday.

The letter finishes with details of orders he has sold to John Butcher of Sheffield and the cash received ; Townshend & Daft of Nottingham, and Richd Preston also of Nottingham, with the instruction that they be send Per Pickfords Van.

It would be interesting to know just how many of the Inns and Hotels mentioned in this collection are still in existence and in the same business. I know for instance, that Melksham, one of the towns mentioned in Chapter two, still has two 17th century Inns, (The Bear Inn and the King's Arms), so it is quite likely that the White Lion in Kidderminster and The Bell at Worcester are still thriving.

The last letter from John Alston in this series is dated 4 days later from Wolverhampton. The postmark is a blue circular datestamp of OC 12 1830, the manuscript charge mark is 10d — the correct rate — and the London receiving datestamp is a rather poor one in black showing 13th October, 1830. The letter itself seems to have had a messy accident with the ink bottle, as there are blobs of black ink on it, as though Mr Alston had shaken the quill pen to clear the writing point, and the ink splattered over his letter. From the instructions on his previous letter, he should have been at 'Baster's Hotel Wolverhampton.. He had asked for the samples to be sent there for him to collect on Monday morning.

Dear Thos

I got to this place last night and have your parcel. You have not put any cards in for me — have tried the people here but have not been able to do anything. Andrews of Smallwood & Andrews is in Town and Mr Andrews and his sister will be in Town in a fortnight or they would have bought something of me. I pressed him to call.

I shall go on to Shrewsbury tonight — the occasion of my writing is to request you to send about 20 ps scollops and insertions — good showy things to Dudley, as I may perhaps make a parcel with Williams — send it to The Hotel Dudley to meet me on Thursday. I have sold all my showy insertions about 8 ps at 1/- and 11d — put in a piece or two of the Irishman's showy insertions at 1/11 as I have scarcely any of that width. If you have got cards don't forget to put in some. I think you may put in a few more of the low habit shirts also as I think I will sell what I have got at Shrewsbury as they are cheap. Have Purnell and Bonham paid yet?

Give my respects to Mr Hunter and Mr Turner. Have got a nasty cold but hope it won't trouble me long.

Yrs truly

J. Alston

There are no orders or sales on this letter. He then adds a footnote.

Peace is giving up business

The next letter is from one of the customers mentioned in the previous letter. It is dated Shrewsbury 28th October, 1830 and is addressed to Mr. T.S. Alston, Watling St London. I has a black circular datestamp of Shrewsbury, a red circular London morning duty receiving stamp 29 OC 1830, and two manuscript charge marks — 10d, the correct rate, and 1/4, another inexplicable mark.


I will thank you to forward as under by return of Coach, carefully selected.

I am Sir,

Yours respectfully

Wm Andrews,

The items requested are :-

2 ps Tambour books large patts 1/-

2 ps in 6/4 books 7d, 9d, 10d or 1/- good quality

1 ps Scotch Camb. 1/4 ea

Chapter Eleven

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