Chapter 7

Chapter Seven

Back to the West Country

The next three letters in the correspondence show that J Alston once again set off for the West Country, only a couple of weeks after his trip into Kent. The first of the three was written at Reading and showed the orders and sales at Henley-on-Thames The postal markings are a black circular provincial datestamp of Reading Ju 6 1830, a red double-ring circular datestamp of London for 7 JU 1830, and the manuscript charge of 7 the correct rate for a single sheet over that distance. No queries this time on the postal markings.

The contents of the letter are chatty and informative, and although it is postmarked 6th, the writer has dated it 5th June.

Dear Thos.

Annexed you have what I have been able to do at Henley. You need not be afraid about Butler he is as good as the Bank he is only a bit of an old woman in his way.

(Note: this is a reference to the Bank of England, which at this time was a by-word for stability and reliability obviously, J Alston wanted to assure his head office that the large order he had obtained from Isaac Butler would be paid for !)

He then comments on some of the items ordered :

The dresses are for a Lady about to be married and he wants only 5 or 6 of these Jact (jaconet) sent down on appro when what are not kept will be returned carriage paid,

The blk gros dont let it be too blue, as near as the 70½ ydges you sent to Hurst.

(Note : this is a reference to the previous letter — so the London office must have been able to supply the colour and quantity required by Mr. Hurst of Ramsgate.)

The final paragraph explains which other customers he has visited :-

Called on Charteris — was full of goods — did not call on Goff. Called on Mrs Darville and Miss Allen, milliners but could do nothing with them this time. I don't expect to do much here shall try and see whats to be done called on Lawrance & Son and received a cold reception and nothing wanted. Shall leave this for Bath probably Monday afternoon — if anything, to the Greyhound Bath. These band books for Butler, try and yet the pattern we had, they must be all one pattern, they are for a lady's drawing room.

Yrs Truly J Alston.

I have included a complete transcription of the inside page of orders, as there is a wealth of detail, but is quite difficult to decipher.

Transcription of orders: letter Posted Reading, 6th June, 1830 4th June — Fletcher & Son, Henley on Thames

32 1 flx collar 5/9
58do 8/9
5 do 9/6

Fletcher & Son Henley-on-Thames
1 ps pink Gingham 221
1 ps green do 11
to be sent to Smiths 99 Newgate St to be enclosed first parcel, let the pink be as clear a one as you have.

5th — Isaac Butler Henley on Thames
3 ps 6/4 Borded Books 16d all to be one pattern
2 ps ea col'd striped books 11½ 898, 899
2 ps striped book 61, 905
1 doz Scot camb Hchfs with limestitch 22d
Idoz Sewn Aprons asstd patterns & prices
1 ps ea spotted Gingham l1d, 985, 999, 991
1 slate embroidered dress with black
1 ps ea Bengal stripe pink & lilac(?)11d
1 ps ea plain Ging brown, slate, blue 11d
1 ps 9/8 dyed twill 16d (slate) that is one away
2 ps 6/4 whte do 18d of a light make
½ ps blk Gros 3/- same color as 70½ ydges not the other color
I ps Soft Book 1/50, 1/60, 2/70, 2/80
1 ps 6/4 Swiss Mull 17d
2 ps 6/4 L. Cambric 10/-
1 ps Amber Band 25/-
1 ps Chocolate do 25/-
1 ps Crimson do 31/-
3 ea bk & wte figd blond Hchfs 8/-
3 5/4 wte do veils at 6/-
3 Imperial gauze hchfs 4/3
3 do whte, prl wt & salmon 4/3
3 Soutons 4/- salmon color
½ doz check gauze hchfs 11/- wt
3 salmon Zephir Hchfs 40/- pr doz
2 ps wt rolled jact. 7/-
2 ps wt rolled Jact 10/-
5 or 6 sew'd dresses on appro from 22/- to 30/-
per Coach

These all mount up to a considerable order — he must have been pleased, after so many fruitless calls on his other regular customers.

The next letter is dated Bath 8th June,1830, and as can be seen from the illustration it has received many manuscript markings, not all of them postal. The black double-ring Bath datestamp is the standard Provincial type for 8 JU 1830, showing the day either side of the month. The London receiving datestamp 9 JU 1830, is the 'morning duty' type.

The manuscript markings applied by the post office are typical of this Alston correspondence — puzzling! On the front is 9 indicating 9 pence, the correct rate. However on the back 2/3 has been written (which would be three times the 9d rate but for which there is no explanation), and then that has been crossed out and replaced with 2/-, which is not an appropriate rate. The other figures scribbled on the letter are 'sums' in shillings and pence.

Letter Bath 8th June, 1830

Dear Thos

I arrived here this morning and received your parcel sent to Stroud, and you see by other side what he has kept. These cuffs at 3/- sold to Mantell are in at the cost price. He shewd me some of the same things he got from Goldsmith and Webster and some other house at cost price and I just let him have them. I expect to leave for Bristol tomorrorw as I find there is little to be done here on account of this of the King.

Cornie Brown is here just now, have met him — that order from Tyhurst is all I could do at Reading. He is a cash man, he gave me a reference to Christy the hat maker in Gracechurch St. and said I might have more if I liked. He will probably remit the cash for that parcel but you must be particular that you do it well as he is a keen particular body — if you like you may enquire about him.

Yrs Truly J. Alston

Write me to the White Hart Bristol if I should go to Melksham

(Note : see previous reference to Melksham in Chapter 2).

On the inside of the letter he lists the sales/orders he has made starting with Wm. Tyhurst, Minster St Reading, which include P a P Pulls in various colours, Brittanias and Todds in different sites and prices, and he adds the following instruction

"P. Coach Blossoms Inn, be particular it be sent by this coach, and not by any of the Bath Coaches, as they charge abt 4/-. Be particular also that you send them as near to the patterns ordered as possible as he is a most particular man."

Other orders are for Stroud & Co, Shaw & Beale, and W Mantell all of Bath for Habit Shirts, Black Batiste dresses, collars and cuffs all to be sent per Cos. Coach.



a strong corded silk fabric in many colours,

Bengal Stripes

Striped Ginghams, formerly imported from Bengal.
Batiste a fine light fabric like cambric in texture


Possibly, ornamental braid for sewing onto material
Gingham a kind of linen or cotton cloth woven of dyed yarn often in stripes or checks
Twilla woven fabric characterised by parallel diagonal ridges or ribs produced by causing the weft threads to pass over and under 2 or more threads of the warp instead over and under in regular succession as in plain weaving.

The next letter is dated Bristol 10 June, 1830, and has a Bristol datest London morning duty stamp 11 JU 1830, and manuscript 10. Once again the 10 has been written on the letter twice.

Dear Thos.

Having such a small sheet I would not have written today but I think I may be the better of a few more low cuffs — as many of the single pointed one on book at 3/3.

I find I cannot do a single article here on acct of the rumours which were abroad yesterday of the King's death. In Bath, it was confidently asserted that he was dead and it created such a stagnation they would not buy an article of coloured goods and they are the same way here.
I would have sold a good lot of collars etc to Vaughan and Goff, but unfortunately for me Mr Goff is in town now and on that acct Mr Vaughan would not buy, or he would have bot a good many of me. I think I shall leave this for
Gloucester Saturday morning and you had better send the parcel to the Ram Inn, Gloster.

Trade is completely at a standstill now. I expected to have had a letter from you this morning when I heard that the King was dead, with instructions what to do, whether to stop or to go on. I could sell a good many black and white gingm. I saw some today, they were stripes, were bought in Bristol at 11d I think but I am not very sure. I wish you could get some as I could sell a good many. I have seen some beautiful plain ginghams made in Manchester. The Sco 4/4 width at 16pence far better than the Scottish ones.

I sold these two aprons to Mrs Stroud. She says they would be much better wanting the pocket all together and with a neat little scollop around it as it is, and two hems and tucks such as the one you sent. I was run out of money — and I got £10/1/- of Eyre's which I saw was due. I thought it was as well to get it which was lessening the acct. Miss Landy has paid her acct. I shall get a small sum from Hughes which is due — and Mrs Williams will make a little to remit with Miss White's bill. I see there is £11 to get from Grove of Thornbury — it is on the way to Gloster — I shall perhaps stop and call for it.

If Storey of Windsor does not remit, write him — I don't think much of the concern.

Yrs Truly
J. Alston

The sales and orders are noted on the inside of the letter with comments e.g.

Stroud & Co Bath

2 aprons 10/- add this to the inv of Habit shirts to make one entry.

Stroud & Co

2 ps dark slate Gingham 11d — Per Co's. Coach

W. Eyres Bath

Azure Blues, Brittanias, Todds, Monteiths, Brown shawls and 4 ps 6/4 Job Books 7½, if you can get these. Per Co's Coach

Withers & Co,

Handkerchiefs and Hair Cord

Address to Spence Bagally & Co to be enclosed — don't send more than ½doz.

From Bristol, Mr Alston presumably went back to London, as the next journey was to Birmingham and the Midlands.

Chapter Eight

Title page

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