General L.S. Orde,1814

Letters from the Past

General L.S. Orde in Fermoy County Cork, 1813/14,

to Robert Thorp, Attorney at Law, Alnwick, Northumberland.


Eunice Shanahan

We bought these five letters, and they have proved to be an interesting challenge. All five have the post mark showing the Irish mileage mark of an unboxed two-line



They all have charge marks, (which have been amended in every case) ‐ none of them have post marks to show when they were received in Alnwick.

The letters were written over a 4 month period from 29 Dec 1813, 11 Jany 1814, 25 Jany 1814, 25 March, 1814, to 18 Ap 1814, and they all refer to the division of a property, Titlington Hall, which is about 6 miles northwest of Alnwick.

The first letter was charged initially at 10 pence, but this was crossed out and amended to 2/1d. The ten pence is the rate charged to carry the letter from Fermoy to Dublin. the extra amount to be collected (the two shillings and one penny), would have been the two pence for the crossing by ship to Holyhead, and then the onward transmission by mail coach to Alnwick. This looks very complicated, but could have taken the route through Bangor, Chester, Liverpool, Leeds, York, Newcastle and Alnwick. The cost of 1 shilling and 1 penny at that time covered a distance of 400 miles. The letter also has the date stamp in orange/brown, which is faint and quite hard to read, but looks like DEC 30 1813 and is the type which would have been applied in Dublin, in use from 1811 to 1821. This is apparently the correct correct charge.

There is a filing note on the outside 29 Dec 1813 Gnl Orde ‐ Titlington divn ‐ Recd 4 Jany ‐5 Jany note thansy(?) to Genl Orde.

The letter inside is just one page and is a right scribble, some of the words are very difficult to decipher.The signature is the same on all the five letters, and after the name it appears to be the letters NY which is a mystery to me, but perhaps it is something to do with his rank and position, perhaps a Yeomanry company?

Fermoy Ireland
29 Dcr.13
I have the honor to request that you will act as my solicitor in the proposed division of the Titlington Estate, and notify your appointment to Messrs Kern and Co attorney’s to Mr Hargrave.
I have the honor to be, sir,
Yr obedient
Humble Servt
L.S. Orde NY
Comg S.W. District.

R. Thorpe Esqr.

The second letter is the same, with the 10d being amended this time to 2/- and has no Dublin postmark. It is signed and underlined at the bottom left of the address panel as though it would be a FREE mailing but the signature is clearly L.S. Orde and then a squiggle which is illegible and has been repeated on the back of the letter by the clerk who received it. The paper has a watermark BUTTANSHAW 1808.

Fermoy 11 Jany 1814
Dear Sir,
The Division of Titlington Estate is purported to be accomplished amicably ‐ you will therefore make known to me the necessary arrangements.
You will at the same time hold in view the large influence Mr Hargrave professes ‐ I at the request of that gentleman offered my fourth part of the Property for 10,000 £ which he rejected, not a circumstance by any mean’s unpleasant to me & I take this opportunity to inform you that my mind is made up on the subject ‐ and no further offer of his will be attended to I have the honor to be
Dear Sir
Yr most obed etc
L.S . Orde NY
Comg S. W. District”
(I wonder if this word Comg is in fact abbreviation for Commanding)

He then continues on the second page

it may probably be necessary for you to know that I have mentioned Mr Jobson and Mr Nicholson as my friends in the proposed division by your communicating with my good Father and ( hole in paper there where the letter was torn open) you will receive their address & approbation on demand (?).
Note: The last word is under the seal and could be division, rather than demand.)
The third letter is dated 25 Jany 1814 and like the previous letter has the FERMOY mileage mark, the 10d charge crossed out and replaced with 2/-, but it has the Dublin mark 28 JA 28 1814. This is the only clear date stamp on any of the five letters. I have not been able to find out why the postage from Dublin to Alnwick should be different on these letters. However, as the addressee would have had to pay the final result I don’t suppose it matters! This is the only one of the five where the Dublin stamp is actually applied so that it is legible, and is the type in use from 1811 to 1821.
The watermark on the paper is BUTTANSHAW 1808.

NEWSFLASH! I have been lucky enough to have contacted Clive Jones of Birmingham in England who is membership secretary of ‘The Postal History Society’' and another person who is interested in postal history. He has given me some explanations of these different charges, which are now inserted for the relevant letters.

Note: Clive's suggested explanation.

So, what about the 2/- and 1/11 charges? An example of both of these had a Dublin postmark, so we know that all five letters went, at least initially, to Dublin. We know the sea crossing charge was 2d. regardless of route. For the two (2nd & 3rd) items at 2/- there are 3 possibilities.

1. Clerical error in adding up &emdash; very unlikely twice.

2. The Post Office in Britain had a lot of trouble with the Irish currency being weaker (13d. Irish = 12d. British). To be strictly correct they should have converted the Irish 10d. to the British equivalent which would be 9d. Then this would give 2/-. Common practice appears to ignore the currency discrepancy. Things were still settling down, there are major rate adjustments in 1812 & 1813, so perhaps a fastidious clerk gave this strictly correct 1d credit?

3. There were many Mail Coaches leaving Holyhead at various times. The official mileage from Holyhead to Alnwick was 312 (in 1828). It is not specified by which route. Mail could go up the West of England to Carlisle, then across the Pennines to Newcastle, then up to Alnwick. Alternatively, it could go East across to Leeds/York, then straight up the Great North Road to Alnwick. The route selected probably was chosen dependent on the time of day the random winds brought the ship into port. As the official distance of 312 is so close to 300, the alternative route may have been just in the lower band of 230-300 miles, hence a penny less. (Even the official mileage may have been nearer 300 at this time). The clerk would know the routeing, so may have adjusted down by one penny. I think this scenario is probably more likely than possibility no. 2.

This third letter is easier to read with only a couple of words being difficult to decipher.

Fermoy 25 Jany 1814
Dear Sir
I feel fortunate in having recd your letter of the 15th (this day) as at the time twenty one mails were due ‐I do not think that I can return Mr Hargrave my warm thanks for his conduct, his proceedings throughout have shown very little attention to my situation constantly employed in my profession I’ve little time to attend to my private affairs but as he has chosen the Chancery path let him pursue it. I shall not now thank you to attempt any change in their very unhandsome mode of proceeding. I may be fortunate in my lot.

I have the honor to be
Dear Sir,
Yr Most obedient,
Humble Servant
L.S. Orde
Comg S.W. District

He then adds this sentence.

The only alteration I wish to propose is, that the process may be served on you instead of me, as my advocate in the division.

(Note: the reference to the twentyone mails is relevant because of the weather. At this time the mail went from Ireland to England by sailing ship, and in theory there were mail ships at both sides, but in contrary weather conditions the ships could all be at one side or the other. Obviously in January of this year, 1814, the weather must have been so bad as to stop the ships sailing at all.)

The fourth letter has no watermark on the paper and no Dublin postmark, just the Fermoy mileage mark and the 10d amended again this time to 1/11.

There is a filing note on the outside which is very hard to decipher, but written by someone with the initials N.L. It looks like
25Mar 1814
Genl Orde divn to be Westwood in June ‐ military finance buss then ‐ 3 mon note.

Fermoy 25th March 1814
Dear Sir,
I have just received your letter and beg to assure you it is and ever has been my anxious wish to have the arrangements in regard to the division of the Titlington Property settled in an amicable manner which wish I should have expressed long ago had not Mr Hargrave pressed me so very hard on the subject which was very unpleasant to my feelings. Having no Military much(?) of other business to think of I propose being at Westwood in June when I shall be very happy to settle with you my share of the Law expences in the writ with Mrs Pearson and in the mean time have to request that immediate steps may be taken for an amicable adjustment of the division of the Titlington Estate according to the method you propose. I desired Mrs Orde to write to you a few days ago respecting Charlton and shall be obliged to you to reply to it as soon as you conveniently can
I am dear sir
Yours very faithfully
L.S. Orde Ny”

note: suggested explanation from Clive.

The 1/11 charge is the most interesting. A route adjustment in England could never get it under 230 miles to give 11d. for the English leg. So, two possibilities: 1. The clerk at Holyhead forgot to add the 2d. sea charge (very unlikely, as he is doing this all day), or his maths failed him (it rarely did!). 2. As the item was for Northumberland, it was put in with the mails sent from Dublin to Scotland, leaving Ireland in the North at Donaghadee for the short sea crossing to Port Patrick in Scotland. This may have been done for weather/timing reasons, and we know that it was not exclusively Scottish mail sent by this route. Port Patrick to Alnwick in the 1828 guide is 216 miles, so a good route for Alnwick, via Carlisle & Newcastle, once the journey to the north of Ireland was arranged by Dublin. 216 miles has a cost of 11d. in Britain + 2d. sea crossing + 10d. Irish, giving a correct cost of 1/11. This is almost certainly the reason for this charge. [ I also have a letter of 1829 from Fermoy Barracks to Bannockburn that went by this sea route. It attracted no markings, only the charges give the route away. In comparison mail via Waterford would be marked specifically, and have different charge markings - (this can be ruled out for your letters).

I hope this gives you some insight into what may have happened to produce the variation in rates, but we can never say for certain; that is why this subject nourishes our brain so much!

The fifth and last letter is dated April 18th 1814 the watermark on the paper is J BUDGEN 1813.

The 10 pence has been crossed out and replaced with 2/1 and it has the FERMOY mileage mark but no Dublin post mark. So this is the correct charge.

The writing is as hard to read as the first letter, and this may be because he is excited about the result, and so is not writing very carefully!

Fermoy 18th April 1814
Dear Sir,
I recd your letter this morng and I rejoice to think that Mr Hargrave is at length satisfied. He has chosen an able advocate and the only gentleman I know equal to meet Mr Denning is Mr Jobson of Furzelands(?) near Woster. But as I wish my Father to be acquainted with every thing I request you will inform him of the gentleman I have named to you, and for him to discover whether Mr Jobson will take the trouble to & attend the division of Titlington ‐ If otherwise to name one himself
I remain dear Sir,
Yrs sincerely L.S. Orde NY

I have put the second page of the letter here as the illustration to show the signature of the writer General L.S. Orde.

General Orde had a long Army career and from the Royal Military Calendar I found this information towards the end of his service.

Entry no.330 Lieutenant General L.S. Orde. Late 132nd Foot

Appointed Lieut. Colonel 16th Sept 1795; Colonel in Army 23rd September 1803: Major General 25/7/1810 and Lieutenant General 4/6/1814.

(So at the time of writing these letters he was actually Major General and stationed at the Barracks in Fermoy Co. Cork.)

His death was recorded in Blackwoods Edinburgh magazine Volume 7
L.S. Orde died 3/8/1820 at Swinburne Castle Hexham.

The charge marks are intriguing, the route taken seems to be. Fermoy to Dublin, that is the 10 pence, then ferry across to the mainland, then inland trip to Alnwick Northumberland. As all of the letters were addressed alike there seems no reason for the corrected amounts to differ from 1/11 to 2/- to 2/1.

There is a lot of information available online about the establishment of Fermoy as an Army Barracks, and also about Titlington Hall,(past and present) and this kind of information was just not available when we started collecting in the 1960s.

Clive also suggested that the ‘squiggle’ (which I had thought might be for Yeomanry) is simply his scribbly way of writing ‘Mg’ or ‘MG’ or ‘mg’ meaning his rank of Major General. His initials, by the way, stand for ‘Leonard-Shafto’.

I was really pleased to have this information, as it has been puzzling me for years.

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