“Letters from the Past”
John Seton Karr in Melrose,
to John Spottiswoode, Lauder, 1801
This letter is dated 31st August, 1801 addressed John Spottiswoode Esqre of Spottiswoode Lauder. It was written by John Seton Karr of Kippilaw.
The writer has an obvious sense of humour, which is great to read after more than 200 years. His handwriting is really easy to read, even the signature, which is unusual in our experience.
It has 3 postal markings
2) Edinburgh bishopmark SE 2 in bisected circle,
3) manuscript charge mark 8 which I could not understand as the distance from Melrose to Lauder is only about 11 miles and at this time the rate for that distance was 3d. I note that on the map, Lauder was a Footpost so did not know if that makes any difference. Further information was provided by Brinsley Barnes, who made this suggestion.
Monday 31st August 1801
Notes: (*) Myrmidon –: A hired ruffian, or unscrupulous subordinate. Myrmidon of the law is a policeman, bailiff etc derived from a warlike Thessalonian race who followed Achilles to Troy.
Napoleon Bonaparte was First Consul at this time and was leading the French to take over Portugal, to ensure that nation broke all ties with the ally, Great Britain. This letter was written just after the War of the Oranges. (For a previous letter on this subject, click on this link James Trail to William Adam Portugal and Napoleon.Lauder village . The former Royal Burgh of Lauder is a town in the Scottish Borders in the historic county of Berwickshire. On the Southern Upland Way, the burgh lies 27 miles southeast of Edinburgh, on the western edge of the Lammermuir Hills.
(This explains the last sentence of the letter, it is obviously a popular beauty spot for locals and visitors.)
Surprisingly, I could find no information on the internet about either the addressee or the writer at this particular time, so perhaps the beginning of the letter referring to Colonel - and the reference to being at Headquarters is just a personal joke between friends. On the outside of the letter is a written note by the receiver
Reference: "Great Britain Post Roads Post Towns and Postal Rates" 1635 to 1839 Alan W Robertson
The map from Three Centuries of Scottish Posts A.R.B. Haldane
internet webpage for Lauder village
Copyright By E & R Shanahan
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