Letters from the Past
“To Henry Lloyd Esqre of Ludlow
from Baker Gabb,Abergavenny in 1798.”
This letter is dated 2nd April 1798. The paper has a watermark of an initial, but it is unreadable as it appears where the addressee opened the letter made a hole by breaking the the seal, then underneath that letter is the year 1795.
There are only two postal markings, a black horshoe shaped undated town stamp of ABERGAVENNY, and the charge mark of 7, which at that time.would cover a distance of between 100 and 150 miles for a single sheet letter weighing up to 1/4 of an ounce. I could not reconcile this 7d rate with the current location of Abergavenny and Ludlow, as this is only about 45 miles apart, so I contacted Clive Jones of Birmingham in England who is membership secretary of ‘The Postal History Society’ and he has kindly given me the explanation. It is all to do with the Cross Post.
You are right with your rate for 1798. 7d. buys a single sheet carriage for 100-150 miles. The correct route is to Gloucester, then up the A38 to Worcester. Worcester to Ludlow is either 34 or 37 miles, via Tenbury or Leominister (both routes used). This A38 route is part of the Cross Post route opened in 1715 from Exeter to Bristol to Chester, a major post route to avoid sending mail via the postal spokes of the wheel in (or towards) London and out again. Gloucester north to Worcester is 26 miles. Then 43 + 26 + 34/37 miles = 103/106 miles, hence 7d. rate.There is a filing note on the outside by the receiver, noting the sender and subject.
2nd April 1798 Mr Baker Gabb Tithes Letter etc
So now to the letter itself, which is very easy to decipher, despite it being well over 200 years old.
Dear SirI find this reference interesting, as I do not know if it is Horseman, then whether this was run by the Postmaster from either Abergavenny or from Hereford, or was a private service run by a local businessman. I have so far found no other information about it. Nor could I find any information about a Hereford Newsman, which looks more likely from the handwriting.
So now to the continuation of the letter, where the financial side of the affair is of some concern to Mr Baker Gabb.
I will thank you for an account of your charge on Prichard as soon as possible as he is now very ill and, should he die before the business is settled I shall meet with some difficulty to get paid, and I will also trouble you to give me the earliest intimation of the time you purpose coming over to settle with the respective purchasers that they may be prepared for you.
Note: Considering how old this letter is, I was very surprised to find so much information on the internet about the Baker and Gabb families in Abergavenny. The family papers are held in the National Library of Wales, and this is an extract of details of the Baker-Gabb family from that website.
Both Baker and Gabb were old Catholic families from Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. The Baker family claimed descent from Sir Roger Vaughan of Bredwardine, Herefordshire, and had held large estates in Monmouthshire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. The earliest deed relating to a member of the Baker family of Abergavenny is dated 1590. The Gabb family also owned property in the Abergavenny area.
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