Stott family 1897-1919

The Stott family letters, England, 1897-1919


Eunice Shanahan

We are collectors of British Postal history, mainly prior to 1840 and the introduction of the Penny Post. We bought these 48 letters,just for interest as it is well outside out area of philatelic collections, and as they are more than 100 years old.

Unfortunately there were no envelopes with them at all, but they are dated from August 23rd 1897 to the final one dated January 10th 1919 with gaps of a few years in between - one is a 10 year gap. So although there is no postal history associated with them, we felt that the social content of life more than 100 years ago, warranted our taking the trouble to transcribe them, and write them up with appropriate information. These letters were written by Sapper J. B. Stott, in his various postings, and his older brother, Alfred Gainsford Stott, from Manchester, London, and finally India, plus one from the youngest brother, Leslie who emigrated to America.

The period covers 22 years 1897-1919 and surprisingly during this period there were three reigning monarchs. Queen Victoria, until 1901, King Edward VII from 1901-1911 and finally King George V, from 1911 to the end of this correspondence.

The first one is written from Elphinstone Barracks in Plymouth and we have found information on the internet, showing imagesof the barracks and the situation in Plymouth.

761 Sapper B Stott
30 Coy R Engineers
Elphinstone Barracks
August 23rd 1897
Dear Mater, Alf, Tom etc.,
I hope you are all right as I have waited over a week for an answer. I am getting on all right up to present, rowing all day today, quite a pleasant trip all round Plymouth. Tell Tom that one of Watkinses Tugs was laying in the Sound today. I tell you there are worse women in this town than in London. I am out 3 times a week in town taking young ladies out in the country. I am having photos taken next week some time 6 cabinets for 5/6 just the same as my Photos at home only just a different suit. I should like to hear from Tom, for the last time I heard from home there was no news of Tom. There is plenty of fishing, sports etc down here, also plenty of rain. I shall not be able to have a month at Christmas on account of not finishing my course of sub-marine so I shall have to be satisfied with 14 days. There is plenty of amusements to be found in Plymouth. The Life-saving society been down here giving their annual Beano. It is a lot better than fieldworks at Chatham. Of course there is swimming that will be against me, but none the more for me, I have had a go in the sea, but having done nought @ present for it will not tell on me till next year this time, so I have plenty of time to pick up the course that is 100 yards in rough water, 50 yds each way and float 3 minutes in water with a pair of trousers on and a jersey. So will conclude with fondest love and best wishes to all at home, hoping to hear from you all, your loving son and brother
This second illustration shows the rest of the letter.

We also found information about the other two places where he was stationed : Fort Albert and Fort Victoria on the Isle of Wight.

We have scanned all the letters, and transcribed them,and have tried to find any information about places, incidents and events which are mentioned. We have also managed to find some family history information of the family, and an image of the Buildings in which they lived at one time. We have information and images concerning the reference to the London Watkins Tugs in the first letter, and Brennan’s Torpedo in a later one.

We could not trace the information of J B Stott being promoted from Sapper to Lance Corporal and then 2nd Corporal, but the dates on the letters give details of when they came into effect. They are all written on a good quality, heavy paper and each is folded and the writer has either turned the page sideways to continue the letter, or written on the back. This first example shows only up to the words …”the same as my Photos….”

We noted the use of @ for ‘at’ more than 100 yrs ago. It also seems odd that he would call his mother ‘Mater’ - we would have expected ‘Mum’

Although it has proved to be a very interesting addition to our background knowledge of England at that time, these letters do not have any relevance to our postal history collections. However, if by putting this introduction onto our website of old letters it leads to someone who is related to or descended from this Stott family, we would be delighted to hear from you.

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