Letters  from the Past

“Henry Wardrop of Glasgow to
Daniel Clarke, Merchant, of Campbelltown, 1800 .”

The letter is addressed

Mr Daniel Clarke

The letter is sealed with what looks to be a paper circular wafer, which the addressee tore open.

There are only two postmarks, a manuscript charge mark of 6d and the GLASGOW 2-line unframed date stamp JUL 18 1800.

This type is listed in the SG Collect British Postmarks catalogue, but the month and date are reversed in that illustration. We do not have another example of this actual postmark amongst our many Scottish letters, and there is no information about the dates of use.

So now to a transcript, and the writer used the 'long S' when there was a double s in the word, like 'lofs' for loss.

Another interesting thing is shown in the first line of the letter with the use of the two words ulto and Currt, which was the normal way of expressing the months, so that the 11 and 17 ulto (ultimo) means that it was the last month, i.e. June, and the Currt was for current month, i.e. July.

Glasgow 17 July 1800 Mr Daniel Clark

Dear Sir
I was in due course favoured with yours of the 11 & 17 ulto & 1 Currt. I have settled with Messrs Clark & Lamont agreeable to your instructions & have taken their acceptance payd to you @1% for £200 which I have enclosed a state of the transaction you have annexed. The sum of £81.15 which I have advanced you may send me an order in your acct by return of post.

I have looked over the young man’s letter with attention and if you are convinced he is steady I think it may be a good opening for both you & him. With regard to the Export & Import business I would by no means advise you or him to embark in at present, you may afterwards take it into consideration when the business is fairly set agoing.

I have thought seriously about the other business you & I has so frequently talked over & find that those I have spoke to seem to be all of the same opinion that such a thing is much wanted here but they consider the present time against the undertaking they say the risque would be considerable & that the whole of the other houses would set their faces against it, of course it would emberace (?embarrass) them & their connections & indeed from the late lofs I have met with has made me almost indifferent about any businefs, time may however alter my present determination at any rate till a more favourable turn in businefs, there are little prospect of it succeeding.

Your friends letter will be sent for paquet.

I am Dear Sir
Your most obedt Servt
Henry Wardrop

On the inside is a state of transaction, the first line of which is :-

Thistle Bank Promy Note with 6/8 interest £100.06.08
ending up with the comment
Promy Note inclosed for £200.

Notes: Promy is the abbreviation for Promissory.

As the letter stated it inclosed a Promissory note, the letter should have been charged as a double. A check on the distance from Glasgow to Campbeltown, working on the approximate distances from London, show that. Glasgow to London is 405 miles, Campbelltown to London via Glasgow is 539 , so that should be about 66 miles from Campbelltown to Glasgow, and the 6d rate is for between 30 and 60 miles, so there may have been short cuts for the foot post and horse post?

The rates within Scotland in from 1796 to 1801 were :-

  • less than 15 miles 4d,
  • between 15 and 30 5d
  • between 30 and 60 6d
  • so this was not charged as a double letter.

    There is a note on the outside, usually written by the addressee or the office clerk.

    Mr Henry Wardrop Glasgow 17th July 1800 Ansd 22, initialled but illegible.

    As with many of our letters, because this one is more than 200 years old, the contents are a mystery. What was the business they were discussing, and why was it not a good time to be thinking about Import and Export business? Perhaps further research into the growth of commerce in Campbeltown in the 1800s could provide a clue. There are three thriving single malt whisky businesses in three different distilleries now, but I do not know whether that would have been the case in 1800.


    References :
    (Sources : ‘Three centuries of Scottish Posts’ A.R.B. Haldane; ‘Great Britain Post Roads, Post Towns and Postal Rates 1635-1839’  Alan W. Robertson), Stanley Gibbons, Collect British Postmarks.

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