IMAGINE: a letter saved for a good 170 years, in which the chief topic of conversation is a “commission” to buy the letter writer “six or eight pounds” — at the reasonable cost (evidently) of 6 pence per pound — of EPSOM SALTS!
The letter is undated – and there are several contenders for the “Miss Smith” of the letter’s direction and salutation, depending on the date of the letter.
A bit of a catch-22 that.
Without a definitive person OR date I cannot fix on a tentative date OR person!
But within the letter is the mention of a place: LYMINGTON. That being the one place that has the BEST Epsom Salts for this incredible price.
Give the date of the letter must be within the first half of the 19th century, I did wonder if perhaps this was a phonetic spelling; “Lymington,” however, MUST be correct – for the exchange of goods is directed to take place at Aunt Emma’s home in Southampton; and indeed there is such a place – on the coast – as Lymington, within 50 miles of Southampton.
Finding their tourist website, I also found – and this is why I’m posting – their page on Lymington History.
And look at the GOODIES found there:
- Tour to the Isle of Wight (1790) [title page above]
- History of Lymington (1825) [by David William Garrow]
- Picturesque Companion to Southampton (1830)
- Notes from a Pedestrian Excursion (1832)
- … and MORE!
They also provide links for historical maps of Lymington and some interesting and useful descriptions of the environs (for instance, on the Lymington Marshes, c1840).
The main page has a walking tour (“A Walk around Lymington”) as well as a nice page (with maps) on “Along the Solent Way”.
Now that it’s turned to October, I’m doing a little housekeeping – and, having an influx of letters means that I can ADD to my file of SIGNATURES.
I cannot stress enough: should anyone ever come across letters with these names, diaries with these inscribed, or my “Cast of Characters” sounds at all familiar — please do get in touch!
Earlier this week I was confronted with a VERY familiar hand — and yet I could not for the life of me say who I thought it might be. Only a few lines; I could date the letter – but who was the WRITER?!?
It haunted me for hours.
Then I looked up a photo of a letter that was written by one of the two Misses Ashley – two sisters, both of whom were governesses. Eureka!
And the snippet of information finally made sense too…
But that made me determined to make myself a file, with samples of their handwriting, for all the siblings, their spouses, the parents, aunts, uncles. Anyone and everyone. One stop shopping, the next time I’m guessing “who IS this masked writer?”