Letters  from the Past

“Elizabeth Stewart, Coltness,Scotland from Anne Dasham ”

This letter is another of those which poses questions to which I can find no answers. It is more than 225 years old, but undated.

Part of a letter (front page missing) only date is an Edinburgh Bishop mark MR 10, with the month above the Day with a complete dividing line was in use from 1725 to 1806, so not much help in dating the letter. The paper has no watermark.

It is addressed ‘ To Mrs Eliz. Stewart At Coltness by Hamilton’

I can find no reason for the words TOR TOR and the figure 84 written on the outside.

The second postal marking is the manuscript charge mark of 2 and this was the rate in force within Scotland from 1711 until 1796, so the letter must have been posted within those years. Unfortunately, as the front page of the letter is missing there is no address and date to show when and where it was written. However, it is sometimes possible to narrow down the possible date by the contents, and initially this looked to be quite possible, because of the mention of people who were in the circle of acquaintances further on in the letter.

The letter starts with page 2. It is a very chatty letter, full of local information and gossip. Overall, it is legible, but there are a few words which are indecipherable, so these have been put between brackets, with a question mark. Many of the words have a capital first letter, and this was quite common in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, so the transcription is shown as the letter was written.

The page begins with a continuation of the sentence which began on the first (missing) page...

as much as the Rectitude of his Manners does to his understanding he was persuading Lord Henry Murray not to give up the Sea and One Argument he used was in what other Line of Life could a young man of 30 have it in his power to make 500 men happy.

(See note below re Lord Henry Murray.)

The letter continues
There has been a vast many people here of an assemblage of all Nations I often think it is Like Reading a Dictionary & (hire?) for a more Conected Story. Amongst others a Nephew of the Abby Colbert a French Officer & as Highland a Looking Lad as you can well Imagine. He is making a Bargain to give the Estate & take a Sum of Money from the protestant Heir, He being Heir of Line the Abby having neglected to Make a Settlement of it.
We had an Italian Prince, a Spanish high Grandee & the Chamberlain of the King of Denmark, a Russian prince Call’d Shocksie & all Boarded at a Mrs Connors on the parade.

To us who (gom?) India off Princes with Soveriegnity what could we think of Boarding at 16 shill. Per week. I play’d at Cards with them one night & that I might have the honor of three Princes, but the Chamberlain Monsr Da Wind was just a Man of Fashion & would have Marry’d Lady Wallace had it not been for her own Imprudence in talking in such an Abusive Manner that the men as well as the women are all affraid of Being Brought into Scrapes & She Chose the Prince for the author of a Story Intended to praise a Miss Brook.

The next two pages are closely written information about what is going on with the people they obviously both know. It would be really interesting to know the relationship between the writer of the letter, Anne Dasham, and Mrs Elizabeth Stewart.

Poor (Balneavin?) came here soon after us & being Easyly Led into Drink having Boarded in a wine Merchts House was overheated & Broke a Blood Vessel he was for Eight Days so ill that we had Little hopes of his Recovery. He is now gone to London & is better. He has been ordered a Vegetable Dyet for three years, were that the only consequences It would be Lucky for he is easyly (led to?) Drink & always in Scrapes when he is so. The Doctor sayd his Blood was very Bad, so that we just thought he was following his sisters, I much Doubt it will still be the Case.

We have had a Maid Servt with us By the week who is from Hamilton, her father is one Young a Barber & she is a widow, one of the name of Gordon, Lady Anne Recommended her to us & she is the Best hair Dresser & the Best Servant Ever I saw & the neatest. We Leave her here where she has a Son & a Sister Mrs Skinner.

Mr Knightly is here. His wife & he are parted & he lives in a Mrs Bales our next Neighbour he is very (magnade?) in his spirits but very agreeable & Entertaining & he says he cannot live in a Household, Nay he Must have his own House & his own way. She stays with Mrs Johnston.

There is a Sister of Mr Hamiltons Mrs Johns who visits me & She complains Sadly of Lady Bell having Refused a Rich West Indian whose name is Mr (Barron?) I am much affraid Lady Bell Should have taken her advice as By what I hear her finances are not in the best Order. She has got a fine House & Lord & Lady( Bell?)...hole in paper live with her, I shall tell you more of them when I get to London which I suppose will be next week.

There is more that she has to tell Mrs Stewart, so she continues on the outside pages of the letter, the comments about the lady who is presumably her brother’s wife are the kind of things you say to a close friend or other relative.
Jamie & his wife are gone to Yorkshire where he has taken a House & a farm, pays £20 a year. He always Loved that Country & had many friends in it. We did not wish they should come to Scotland. Mrs Dasham is not fond of Strangers & Quarels whenever She grows Acquainted that in a Short time She would Break with half his friends. His Father Agreed to his going on half Pay & gives him £200 a year on Condition he does not Sell Out which Makes his Income better than 800. In spite of all they have spent his Rank goes on the ...
The letteris continued on the outside of the paper now, above the address panel
same as Before. He has bought a Coall(?) in Fife & is to work It in Summer, I hope Lady Frances is now getting better with the Seasson(?) & amused with her. I assume you will Hear all the publick news in the paper. Lord Wasbury(?) has Laid Genrl Stewart in Arrest & he is to be try’d for his Life.
Then it continues at the other end of the paper below the address panel. Neither of these pieces would have been visible from the outside of the letter, once it was folded ready to be posted.
This is Fact. Mr Dasham & Mary & Philip joins in offering you & Lady Frances their third Best Respects &
Believe me
Yours with Sincere Regard
Anne Dasham

Notes :

1) I was directed to information about Lord Henry Murray the fourth son of John Murray, 3rd Duke of Atholl. 1767-1805,. He is mentioned on http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/iomnhas/lm4p162.htm as colonelof the Royal Manx Fencibles in 1795; he continued in that post until at least 1802. However this is the Army, not the Navy, so that is not any help in dating the letter.

2) General Stewart. regarding the mention in the last part of the letter, Lord Wasbury(?) has Laid Genrl Stewart in Arrest & he is to be try’d for his Life. This is Fact. That has given a great clue, as in the Wikipedia entry about him has this amazing information

Archibald Stewart of Mitcham MP (1697-1780) was an 18th-century Scottish merchant and politician who served as Lord Provost of Edinburgh during the critical Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London for over a year owing to his alleged negligence.
His most infamous reputation during his period as Lord Provost was the "surrender" (or welcoming depending on one's politics) of the city of Edinburgh to the Jacobite Army of Bonnie Prince Charlie on 17 September 1745. Stewart had received a royal warrant requiring him to raise a resistance force on 26 June and had raised a militia of around 300 men. However, this force was not put into operation, and the Jacobite force received little resistance On 10 December he was ordered to be detained by the House of Commons and was accordingly detained in the Tower of London from 13 December. He was released from the Tower on 23 January 1747 following payment of 15,000 bail (a truly huge sum in the 18th century)

Returning to Edinburgh he was re-trialed under Andrew Fletcher, Lord Milton and found not guilty on 2 November 1747. This seemed to centre on the warrant requiring him to raise a militia but did not require him to use it in any stipulated manner. He afterwards returned to London to continue business on the Strand, living in the Mitcham district.


So this dates the letter to around December 1746, and, as Anne Dasham wrote at the time, it was public news printed in the newspapers.

I found this information From Wikipedia on the history of Coltness Estate and Coltness House.

The area was originally part of the extensive estates of the Somervilles of Cambusnethan. Their lands, which stretched to the River Clyde, were sold off to pay debts. Coltness was purchased by Sir James Stewart, later Lord Provost of Edinburgh, in 1653; the 18th century economist James Steuart (Denham) lived here. The estate remained in the hands of his son, General Sir James Steuart Denham; the trustees of the general's estate sold it in 1840 to the Houldsworths, a family of newly wealthy industrialists, who lived in the imposing Coltness House until the 1950s.

Unanswered questions - can any reader of this point me in a direction to find information, as I have been unable to find anything on the internet at this stage, perhaps it is just too early being 1745?

Mrs Elizabeth Stewart of Coltness. Not found but the Stewart family had owned Coltness, so was she his wife or mother, or another relative?

Monsieur Da Wind, Chamberlain of the King of Denmark not found
Lady Wallace not found
Lord & Lady Bell not found
Lord Henry Murray found one but not the right years or occupation
Anne Dasham I can find nothing

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