This letter was addressed to William Dickson Esq Alnwick Northumberland dated 11 Sept 1828 Greens Hotel London. We bought it as it was advertised as a Coffee House letter, and we thought it would be of interest, but when we received it, there did not seem to be any reference to a coffee house, so we queried it with the seller, and he advised that it was listed in a book The London Coffee Houses by Bryant Lillywhite, published 1963.
This shows that J., Jas., or James Green is listed as a proprietor of Coffee houses, from 1809 and from 1822 as owner of Greens Hotel, which was also a coffee house. The address is usually Serle Street, Lincolns Inn, London, but inside this letter, no street address has been added, so probably Greens Hotel would have been sufficient address.
When we opened the letter it had an enclosure of another double page letter written in a different handwriting, so the cost of the letter should have been doubled. It has a charge mark 1/1. Alnwick was 311 miles from London and in 1828 the rate for between 300 and 400 miles was 1 shilling and one penny, so the charge was correct. The only other post mark is a London evening duty SE 11 1828 with T at left of the date. On the outside wing of the letter, written in red ink presumably by the recipient
From Donigate Wharf “Mary” sailed 12 Sep 2 Boxes R. T. 3 Hampers wine R.T.
The inside of the letter is a single page rather scrawled message, but presumably the addressee knew the hand writing and would have been able to read it.
Now to the letter,
11 Sept 1828 Greens Hotel London
My dear Wm,
We shall be here till after Monday so you may direct here if you have occasion to write -
The Revd. I Foster is a very respectable man but we can’t take his son unless he waits till Ministrys > time is out I thank you for the account Re Naters tithes & the Duke's bills &c – I have not time to enter into particulars, your aunt was very ill & desponding yesterday forenoon, since then she has been much better than she has been for a long time & seems inclined to remain a little longer to see how the meds> agree before she leaves Dr. J.
I will speak about Mr Leadbetter when we meet but there is a difference between his doing necessary business in Newcastle & our doing that which he might have done as well at Newcastle however, it requires to be considered – Kind love & remembrances to the Smiths & all friends
I am very affect
Had rain yesterday & this day.
3 Hampers sent today per Mary. Heatley> to be put onter> Cellar
1 Hamper was sent 23 Augt mentd before & hope it is recd
Box Lamps - large box sent by Tom.
That is the end of the first page. The included sheet has been written on both sides, in quite small writing, and has apparently been written by the aunt mentioned in the first sheet but it is signed ‘your affte mother’.
“ Greens Hotel 10 Sept 1828 ”
The letter then continues on the next day.
My dear Willliam
By the neglect of Tom, who had told you to address to Mr Beatty's, and who never enquired for letters, we have been deprived of the comfort of hearing from you 4 days beyond the time we might have received our letters. Tom was sent by his Father this morning & found your letter, Robert's – Mr Naters &c – to our great surprize & satisfaction. I know you would be much engaged about the district & therefore thought you had no time. We hope soon now to set out – nothing detains me but Dr. Johnson and he urges me away but I am unwilling to leave him – he is a most reasonable man – attempts no deceit – says I must suffer, will not be soon well, but in time certainly given little medicine, but prefers much the necessity of ain exercise & strict diet – he orders game. The Greens get me a Partridge every day – we have spacious Rooms, three on the first floor in the Square all opening out into each other – so that Rowen is close at hand a Porter who’s up all night – there is always a fire and I get what I want at any hour – their milk is sent from their own cows in the Country – where they have an excellent house, & where I may lodge if I like & come in every morning – but their I hope will not be needful. I am for the first time today a little better – this letter is the first, in general my strength is so prostrate I cannot sit up.
We heard from Upton today – they are preparing for a residence of six weeks at Worcester – and they take all the Children – I dine out sometimes, have been at Hampton & Hammersmith – The park &c – but there is no ain that is not tainted within twenty miles of London – I have called upon Mrs Tylee & if I am able shall see her again – she looks very well.
Robert's letter very short – but satisfactory himself & Mr Jervaise quite well – had been three weeks at Vienna, and were much pleased with it – going into Hungary & from thence to Geneva – where a party of Oxford men are to meet there & travel home together by way of Paris.
Mr N's letter is a literal duplicate of the former you sent, & the whole on his own affairs – your Brother looks clean & well & has good health by means of temperance & exercise &c.
I am still more comfortable in my feelings this morning & going to Dr. J. as soon as your uncle is ready – this first symptom of relief makes me wish to remain a few days more and I will hear what he says today. You must tell all this to my dear Sarah –I cannot write two letters – I am thankful to hear that they, the Children & all at Berwick are well – give my tender love to them – If the day is fine Mrs T Dawson is coming in her Pony Carriage to drive me out to Newington this morning.
Can you send me by return the quantity of paper it will require to paper the drawing room – taking care that there is rather too much than too little in your measurement. An upholsterer will be needful to tell the number of pieces – we employed Wilson to paper our room – remember me most affectionately to the Smiths – and ask Ann to offer my thanks to the Duchess for her enquiring after me – is there no news of Lord Protheroe's arrival yet? How is the good Duke? Mr Paugh is well & came to see me last night – remember me to poor Mrs Robertson – always my dear William
your affte (affectionate) Mother
How are the Servants going on? Is there anything they can do – Tell them to have all the furniture in the best order – the tables chairs &c If the vinegar is quite fit & sour, it had better be bottled, the bottles should be made very clean – all the Bottles we have had better be washed.
I do not know how you will make this out – I can write no better.”
In 1828 this would have been a long journey for the Thorp family to return to Alnwick from London. It was about a 3 day journey, with a lot of stops on the way. In September it would not have been a hazardous trip, not like it would have been in the winter.