William Welby to Godfrey Tallents, 1834

‘ Sir William Welby to Godfrey Tallents,
Newark on Trent, 1834 ’

“Chichester June eight 1834,

G. Tallents Esq
Newark on Trent
Scribbled signature W E Welby”

Reverse of letter showing the black edging to the paper and the black wax seal.

This letter from the past is an example of a Franking privilege Free letter – written on mourning paper with watermark J WHATMAN 1833.
The black edge was applied by the paper maker and this type of mourning paper was sold in stationers shops. The custom of using black-edged paper for letters written during the period of mourning has died out completely - but at that time there would be a lot of use for it. Just as an example the writer of this letter and his wife had 12 children, of whom many died in infancy, which would have necessitated letters to all the families and friends. The letter was written by Sir W.E. Welby. Because it was a Free Franked letter (i.e. no cost to either the sender or the recipient), he had to write in full where it was lodged and the date in full, plus his signature, which is pretty much illegible. The postmaster was expected to recognise this and authorise the free postage. So on the front address panel all the information required is hand written.

The money he saved was 11d the charge for sending a letter between 170 and 230 miles. This would have been made up of the 68 miles from Chichester to London, then 120 miles from London to Newark making a total of 188, so the free franking privilege cost the Post Office a lot of money during the year, even though they tried to regulate it, to make sure it was not abused. They did not catch all those using the franks illegally.

The letter is sealed with black wax and the image is of a man’s head with what looks like a laurel crown. We find it impossible to scan it so that the image on the seal is visible, possibly because it is black.

The two postmarks are: first, on the back of the letter, a circular black cancellation of the post office where it was lodged CHICHESTER JU 8 1834, then on the front the circular FREE cancellation in red 9 JU 9 1834 on the front of the letter. There is no post mark to show the receipt of the letter in Newark on Trent.

Now to a transcription of the letter, which has no street address.

“Chichester Jun 8th
My dear sir,
As it has pleased the almighty to take from us our dear daughter Mrs Chaton(?) after a long and painful illness & you having so kindly interested yourself in her affairs & being one of the Guardians I shall feel myself much obliged to you by your informing me whether such Papers & Deeds as are of consequence to be left and now how you will allow of being placed in your hands if so I will take an early opportunity of sending them to you, I have this plan on Wednesday next & shall be in London
The letter continues onto the inside page of the folded paper

on the 16th or 17th Inst, when I hope to have the pleasure of hearing from you by writing your letter under care to G.E. Welby Esqr M.P. 73 Portland Place
I am my dear sir
Most sincerely yrs
W.E. Welby”

I could not read that signature, but checking on Burke’s Peerage on the internet it show this information

Sir William Earle Welby, 2nd Bt. was born on 14 November 1768 at Epperstone, Nottinghamshire, England. He was the son of Sir William Earle Welby, 1st Bt. and Penelope Glynne. He married Wilhelmina Spry, daughter of William Spry and Katharine Cholmeley, on 30 August 1792 at St. Marylebone, London, England. He died on 3 November 1852 at age 83 at Denton, Lincolnshire, England.

He was Member of Parliament (M.P.) Grantham. He succeeded to the title of 2nd Baronet Welby [U.K., 1801].

Knowing that information and re-checking the signature, it seems to be WlamEWelby all run together.

It is good to be able to identify him, and to know whether he had the free post privilege because of being a Member of Parliament. He died on 3rd November 1852 aged 83 at Denton, Lincolnshire.
He served as member for Grantham until 1830 when he was succeeded by his son Sir Glynne Earle Welby the 3rd Baronet, who is the person mentioned in the letter.

I find the regulations regarding the Free Franking privilege confusing, because this letter was written in 1834, and signed by William Earle Welby who was a member of Parliament until 1830, but as his son succeeded him in that position, this should not have been a free letter as a parliamentary privilege. It was not actually written to his son G.E. Welby, who was the MP, so that could not be claimed either, so unless G Tallents was also an MP, I cannot see a justification for this being a free letter.

I checked on the internet for G Tallents of Newark and found an amazing website for a firm of solicitors in Newark who are still in the same line of business! They have been there since 1774 and an exchange of e-mails with one of the partners advised me that this would have been Godfrey Tallents, and he kept a diary of his daily life as a solicitor and a book has been written. Extracts of the book have been put onto a page of their website and it makes fascinating reading. He does not appear to have been an MP, but a solicitor.

This was the book referred to.

“Politics, Law and Society in Nottinghamshire. The Diaries of Godfrey Tallents, 1829–39 ”, edited by Dr. Richard A. Gaunt (Nottinghamshire County Council 2010) is available to buy from Nottingshamshire Archives, Newark Library, Newark Millgate Museum and Nottinghamshire libraries for £7.50.

If you would like to buy the book by post, please send a cheque for £10.50 (which includes £3 for postage and packaging) made payable to Nottinghamshire County Council, to Libraries, Archives and Information, Communities Department, 4th Floor, County Hall, West Bridgford, NG2 7QP.

From the excerpts included in this page, Mr Godfrey Tallents was a very busy solicitor and very community minded as he served on many different Parish Boards and committees, and worked very long hours.
This is the entry for just one day.

8 January 1832. Though today was Sunday we were too busy to go to church and had to do various things connected with the Trials. At 11½ Mr Lancelot Rolleston called and he and my father went over in a chaise to Lord Middleton's, from whence he returned by 2 o'clock. We then went to a consultation attended by all the Counsel, which lasted about half or 3 quarters of an hour; I then went with my father to the County Jail to examine Aaron Booth and Charles Slater; we dined at 5½ and Freeth with us; after dinner I again went to Slater and Booth at the County Jail and also to a man named Dobbs. In the evening we went to the “3 Crowns” to re-examine 2 or 3 witnesses and at 10 o'clock went to Mr Gurney's where we remained about one thing or another till 11 o'clock. We then came home and went to bed by 12. I had a note from Craddock and also from Henry Jessop. Day fine till late.

It really is astonishing what information is available on the internet so easily nowadays. I could not find an image of W.E. Welby, but there is a portrait of his parents from Burke’s Peerage website

Sir William Earle Welby, 1st Bt. and his wife Penelope by Francis Cotes
Just as a matter of interest, this is the entry in Burke’s Peerage for her
F, #220493, d. February 1771
Penelope Glynne was born at Hawarden Castle, Flintshire, Wales. She was the daughter of Sir John Glynne, 6th Bt. and Honora Conwy. She married Sir William Earle Welby, 1st Bt., son of William Welby and Catherine Cholmeley. She died in February 1771.

I have been advised by a partner of Tallents law firm that the addressee Godfrey Tallents was the political agent for William Gladstone, and from another friend in England that he was the agent of the Duke of Newcastle and had been employed as the chief legal agent of Government in one of the Special Commissions. She wondered if he had a free frank at the expense of the Duke of Newcastle, who certainly would have had one, as a member of the House of Lords.

As to the son mentioned in the letter as G E Welby there is an entry in Wikipedia for him.
Sir Glynne Earle Welby-Gregory, 3rd Baronet (26 June 1806 – 23 August 1875), born Glynne Earle Welby, was a British Tory (and then Conservative Party) politician. He was elected at the 1830 general election as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Grantham, and held the seat until he stood down from the House of Commons at the 1857 general election.
So, all in all, this was a very interesting letter to research.

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