“ An Irish letter to William Maunsell Reeves Esq.
from Frances Mann, Sixmilebridge, 1835”


Eunice Shanahan

William Maunsell Reeves (1788-1857) was a barrister-at-law and Justice of the Peace for County Clare as well as the legal adviser and agent to the Smyth Barry estates. His mother, Rose, was the eldest daughter of Reverend Robert Conway Dobbs and his wife Wilhelmina Josepha. This letter is written on good quality cream paper with a Posthorn watermark. It is the kind of letter, which at first glance looks as if it will be completely easy to decipher, but proves to be more difficult than it looks. First, the address on the letter, William Maunsell Reeves, Esq, then the town which could possibly be CORK, or CASTLE. The charge on the letter is 8 pence and at this time, it was the cost of posting a letter over a distance of between 50 and 80 miles, so Cork could be a possibility as this would be about 60 miles away from Limerick.

The postmarks show the town stamp of SIX-MILE-BRIDGE and that postmark was applied first, stamped across the fold of the reverse of the letter. This poorly applied impression, although all in capital letters, has a larger first letter ‘S’ and this type was in use at this receiving office from 1706 to 1855. Then the date stamp for JU 21 1835 of the County Sorting Office LIMERICK was applied. This type was in use from 1832-1857.

Sixmilebridge, known colloquially as The Bridge, is a small town in County Clare, Ireland. Located midway between Ennis and Limerick city, the town is a short distance away from the main N18 road, being located on the old "back road" between the two. The village of Kilmurry is also part of the Sixmilebridge parish. The town takes its name in both Irish and English from the bridge over the O’Garney River which flows through the village.

The map attached shows the towns mentioned marked with a blue line, LIMERICK, Six-Mile-Bridge and Kilmurry.

The transcription of the letter begins with descriptions of the events and conditions of life at that time. The writing generally is easy to read, but the names of the places are less certain. One of them, looks like Beaumaris, and that occurs a few times in the letter, however the only one I can find is in Anglesey, which seems unlikely as this is an Irish letter. But it could be the name of the farm belonging to Simon Reeves. Where the words are not clear, they are put in brackets with a query after them.

Springfield June 20 1835
My dear William
I only received your letter of the 15 yesterday which must have been delayed in the post office. I never heard anything of the Resolutions at Kilmurry [?abt Mchon?] until you mentioned them. This is where the Church and School House is on the Road going to Clondulane
(this is a small place on the way to Cork, near Fermoy).

The people in the West are in very great distress for provisions, and many on [Beaumaris?] in great Want, so much so that I felt so acutely for their situation I gave them an order for £50 of meal, but which I fear will not be sufficient for them. I do not approve of giving money to Committees for the relief of the Poor as I always found there was partiality and Bobbery in the distribution of it. I would therefore think it better to give the Tenants whatever you wish yourself. I am perfectly satisfied a Tenant on [Beaumaris?] is able to pay his rent this year nothwithstanding the representations made to you. However, unfortunate Tenants paying £1.10.0. or more for land pay their Rent [when your sick??] & independent Tenants cannot do it and I meant to tell you that I would not have had it in my power to send your Rents of Beaumaris, and [Tirnanson?] had I not taken Bills from Mr Stoddart, Mr George Hodges and Mr Cooper.

The next sentence is only partly decipherable, but I have included it, in case anyone reading this can make sense of it.

Your Tenants have no mode of making next [harvest?] by Tillages and if it fails they are [reasods? ] then have [tinf??].

The letter then continues with personal information about his marriage settlement. I find it interesting that he is happy for a letter to be sent to Limerick to be held until he called for it.

When I was going to be married I took the Liberty of naming you Trustee in my Settlement, but I never got you to sign it as I really forgot it, but I will send it to you for that purpose if you have no objections. Sir Edward O’Brien paid me £1100 and he wishes to have the Judgements Satisfied which was the Cause of sending the [Accounts?] to you to be Signed and which I request you will do. I will send you the marriage Settlement next week, which you can return me by the Coach to Limerick to hold until called for.

I am sorry Mr Groom would not accept your offer but there is no help for those things, perhaps it may be better he has not. I am sincerely happy at hearing my old and affectionate friend, your father has called again. I sometimes hear of him. I was glad to find a letter from Mr Edward Reeves about his aunt Mrs Welsh that she was very much better.

Mrs Mann unites with me in kindest regards to you and Mrs Reeves & am My dear William

Yours most Sincerely
Francis Mann.

He finishes with a paragraph which is continued over to the outside part of the letter where it is almost unintelligible, and although the last six words look legible, they do not make any sense.

It is always customary to send [Horses?] to the neighbouring Gentlemen both in this part of the country and in the west whenever they are married and when I was getting Flaggs for my House sometime Since and directed [Hassell?] to hire horses to bring these to Show the Tenants on Beaumaris would not [tother?/ talk? ]any [ bin?] from infamous days.

20 June 1835 F Mann

Notes: Springfield in the address may be the name of the house, perhaps near Sixmile Bridge as I can find no town or village with that name.

Bobbery is a word hardly ever used nowadays, but it was used in the 19th century to indicate untrustworthy dealings.

Reference to William Maunsell Reeves was found on this website https://eehe.org.uk/?p=25672

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