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Transcriptions of Thomas Williams 1794 letters
Letters 1, 2 and 3 of 6

1)       This letter is addressed to: Mrs Williams, c/o Mrs Williams's, Portland Place, Gosport

Nottingham Monday Morning

30th June 94

My Dear Mary

    We all got here safe & well on Saturday but I was excessively tir'd indeed; the neither of us however went to Bed till our usual time. In the Evening Mr Green, the two Boys & myself took a walk in the meadows which I thought would do us much good after so long being confin'd in a hot Coach & I think it answer'd the purpose, the Children were as well & in as high spirits as ever I saw them  -  they, that is we three, din'd at half past five on Friday Evening at Mr Davidsons; they were all well, Miss Black includ'd, where the Coach call'd for us at half past eight. Edw'd & John eat hearty with their Tea before we set out  -  they eat a few Gingerbread Nuts in the night & drank a little Milk & Water  -  at 5 o'clock we got to Northampton, where they can order a hearty breakfast; at 10 am we reach'd Leicester where     we all again refresh'd ourselves with cold roast beef, cold roast Lamb & small beer  -  at 3 we din'd at Nottingham, at 6 drank Tea & at half past the young Gentlemen concluded their labours of the day by eating a hearty & merry supper of Currant pye  -  They sleep in a nice Tent bed in a Room adjoining Mr & Mrs Greens & are as happy as it is possible. John told me however last night he should like to see Grandmama Marsh & Aunt Voke & Jenny & Kitty  -  I was at meeting yesterday 3 times but as the Children had had so little rest I thought it best to let them remain in Bed late  -  I took them with me in the afternoon & evening & put them to Bed myself a little before nine.

    Mrs Green is exceptionally kind & attentive to them & so are the Maids  -  Mr Green says she is very glad I brought them both as they will be an amusement to her during Mr Greens absence.

The 1st Mrs Williams in the address is Thomas's wife Mary.
The Mrs Williams of Portland Place is Thomas's mother.
The year 1794.   (T11a)

Thomas is now 41 years old, and has been occupied as mercer, draper & Naval agent in Portsea, a suburb of Gosport, where he was born. This letter is written at Nottingham where he has just arrived after being invited by a Mr Green, a Hosier (stocking) Manufacturer and intimate friend, with the intention of entering into a business partnership.  It would seem that, initially, Thomas is staying with the Greens.

Edw'd was Edward Thomas Marsh aged 9, illegitimate son of Thomas's bro-in-law Capt. Edward Marsh, adopted by Thomas at Marsh's death.

John, Thomas's 2nd son, aged 5.

    Give my affectionate duty to my dear Mother & my love to Brother & Sister Voke. My best regards to Mr & Mrs Bogue & to all friends as though particularly nam'd  -  I am in much haste as You must have perceiv'd by the haste I have    written this in, for I did not get out of bed till almost 7 this morning & I must write a good deal to Mr Edgecumbe.

    I requested You to look out L'Espiegles prize list which I left behind at my Mothers; I have now to beg You will deliver it to Mr Edgecumbe as he has had the goodness to offer his services towards distributing the money  -  I shall enclose a letter to Sir John Carter in the one I write to Mr E. desiring the money to be paid to him. I am very much obliged to Brother Voke for his kind offer & shall be obliged to him to assist Mr E. on the business.

    I will write again shortly          

Mr Bogue is a close friend of Thomas and the Minister of the Congregational Chapel in Gosport.

Mr Voke was Thomas Williams' brother-in-law, married to his sister Rebecca. John Voke is described in the family tree as a Purser in the Royal Navy.

Prize list: see below, this column.

        Your ever affectionate

        Th. Williams

          in the bottom draw of the desk               for Mr Douglas           let him have it as it contains his papers, Certificates, Journals &c I have mentioned this circumstance to Mr Edgecumbe.

    Mr Green desires his Love to all the agreeable "Creatures".

    You obtain now as many franks as You please of Capt Yorke dated Gosport or where You please.

    I do not enclose this to Capt Yorke as You may not get it so soon & would I fear be uneasy.

Thomas's grandson, Edmund Sydney Williams, wrote that Thomas, '..was on very intimate terms with Admiral Sir Joseph Sydney Yorke, brother of the Earl of Hardwick.' It seems probable that this was the Capt Yorke referred to in these letters, before he achieved advanced rank.

Gary is proud of this line he made

2)       The second letter of the sequence:

Nottingham. Friday 4 July 1794

My Dear Mary

    I thank You for Your various letters & am rejoic'd You have had so much pleasure  -  I thank my dear Sydney for his prety epistle  -  my love to You all  -  before I forget it do tell that impertinent Gentleman Mr Barber  -  that he knows I owe him nothing but that on the contrary he had some shillings more advanced to him on the prizes he has sign'd the prize lists for than belonged to him & that as to the Pelican which is the Ship he makes the fuss about, I have only to tell him that when I have anything to pay for him it will be regularly advertized in the Gazette & that if he applies an hundred times it will not signify for I know him too well to plague myself with him but that if he thinks himself injur'd he had employ some person to see into the business & further if he can defame my character in the manner he has done Capt Yorke, I will as sure as he has a head on his shoulders punish him as far as the Law will assist me in  -  this I wish You or Mr Voke to read to him because he is an impudent scoundrel & must be treated as such  -  so much for Mr Barber.

Sydney is Thomas Sydney Williams aged 7, Thomas's eldest son.

Mr Barber: see relevant prize list note below

It is from this Capt Joseph Sydney Yorke (mentioned also in previous letter) that the name Sydney became widely used amongst Thomas's descendants.

    I wish You could get the exact measure of Mr Knapp's dining Table I sold him  -  I mean when the additional flaps & two ends are on  -  I have order'd a new Bedsted of 6 feet wide with     plain Mahogany posts  -  it will be put up next week. I have also order'd a Tent Bedstead for two of the boys to sleep in with posts &c to slip off & on  -  You will like my plan I am sure. I have bought, also, a very excellent wardrobe very much like, only finer vein'd wood, the one I had before I was married; I am to give 6 Guineas for it  -  I told You I bought one before for 8 Guineas.  I have also bought a small chest of drawers on the same plan as those Kitty bought; they are second hand but perfectly as good as new. They are longer than Kitty's, with wainscott bottoms & ends  -  the price I am to pay is .3.8.0.

Mr Knapp was Thomas's former apprentice in Portsea, who carried on the business there after Thomas moved to Nottingham.

    I am going today to buy a Copper that we may have the rooms scour'd  -  the wainscot & paper is in an excellent state  -  we shall therefore be at very little expense coming in  -  there are Bells(?) &    (?)  & Grates in all the rooms except the Drawing Room & Kitchen  -  I shall provide nothing more than is necessary till You arrive which I wish may not be long first.  -  I do not know what to say about You coming alone & yet if it could be so contriv'd it would save a good deal of expense, for I cannot travel to Portsmouth & back again under 10 Guineas. Your best plan when You go to London will be to take the whole diligence & to have some Male friend, Mr Jn. Hall or Mr Nias to meet You at the Inn in London to take care of Your baggage &c & when You do set out You should take a card with You with an inventory of every individual article You have with You or otherwise without(?) such a memorandum to refer to You stand a very great chance of losing some.

    I wish to know what Your plan of operations is of course. You will not think of stirring from Gosport till Mr & Mrs Voke return from Pewsey; if then You are to go to Chichester & from thence to London I think it might be better as it is some way in Your road will save the expense of going backwards & forwards if You are inclined as much to come hence as I am to have You here  -  You will not tarry very long after quitting my dear Mother's Roof.

Bells, probably as in bell-pulls
Mr Nias was a Mercer in Cockspur Street, London, and a former Apprentice to Thomas.

    Edward & John are very good Boys & very much pleas'd with their situation, they join in duty & love to all; they have not yet been troubled with much learning but on Monday my intention is to put them to school  -  Mrs Green is highly pleas'd with their company & is much surprized to find John is so tractable under my management for she had taken up a very erroneous opinion that I indulged & spoilt him, but she is now perfectly convinc'd such a representation of my conduct was scandalous defamation!  -  they were out a visiting yesterday & tomorrow Mrs Green intends to invite two little Boys of Mr Huish's to play with them & after Tea they are to go to Plumtre House to play in the Garden at Trap.

    When You pass through London will You endeavour to recollect to send to the Guildhall Coffee House for 2 Clocks I left there belonging to Edw'd & John  -  Mrs Pownall, the Mistress of the Coffee House, has I doubt not taken care of them.

    Mr & Mrs John Hall are very pressing for You to bring Bag & Baggage to their house  -  I leave that for Your consideration.

    I wish You would pay, or cause to be paid, the Guinea for the hire of a (?) to go to Lymington taking Bonamy's receipt  -  he lives in Bashing Lane Square(?) next to Pint(?) &   (?) , a public house.

part of this letter - click here for whole page 199kb.

    I will beg Brother Voke, or if the Prize list is sent to Mr Knapp, I doubt not but he will see what is sign'd by Mr Russell for the Pilot who was on board at the taking of L'Espiegle & Mr Edgecumbe will let him know the money  -  his name is on the list.  -  Tell dear Sydney [that] Edward & John were highly pleas'd with Sadlers Wells & all that they saw & that they hope to tell him all about it soon at Nottingham & they are very much delighted he was able to see the King & the Queen & all the fine folks  -  they hope to(o) he had a good sight of the ship launch  -  they want to hear something about dear Lydia who they hope had an equal share of all the fine sights for they love her dearly to(o).

    I think You will my dear Mary give me great credit for my long letters. I have just concluded one to my dear Mother who I hope is not worse than when I left her. I could really wish it could be contriv'd for You to be here now as the house would then be furnish'd more to Your mind than perhaps I shall be able to do it  -  the latter end of September I find is a leisure time & then I could go into Hampshire by which time I apprehend my presence may be necessary to conclude some matters about Capt Yorke's prizes, but this surely will be too long for You to remain there. I could with the utmost convenience sleep in the house the latter end of next Week but I do not wish to begin housekeeping till You arrive to superintend it; shall I hire a Servant?

    Have You forwarded the China? Let all the things be written on Carriage & Porterage paid to London  -  as I find the Portsmouth Carrier has overcharg'd the Carriage of 10 Cases just arriv'd but this circumstance You had better not mention to him at present, as I mean to deduct it when I settle with him for what You will send.

    I have heard nothing of the Chairs; do ask when they were sent off from Portsmouth.

    I have determined to have the Book Case sent here. I therefore must beg Mr Barnett will attend at Mr Knapps to its being taken to pieces & park'd very carefully up, particularly the Glass part & to remember the back belongs to it  -  I think if the back is made into a package for the Glass it might be a good plan  -  it must (I mean the Glass part) be written on Glass & let me know when it certainly goes away  -  let it be dated & written on the direction Carriage & Porterage paid to London

Their Majesties, the King and Queen, had visited Portsmouth to view 6 captured French Prizes, and to launch the Prince of Wales, a new Man-of-War.

Prize, Prize List: A captured enemy vessel - a prize. A reward, 'prize money', was paid to the crews that captured vessels, the total prize value being apportioned according to rank. It appears from these letters that Thomas, most likely in his capacity as a 'Naval Agent', has the responsibility of allocating these monies. The L'Espiegle was a French ship captured 30th November 1793. (Would appreciate any further relevant details on this subject.)

    Do let me know in Your next how Capt Hutt is  -  I very much fear for him  -  I see by the papers Col Balfour & Capt John Harvey are both dead.

    Our 2 Boys here are as full of spirits & as pleas'd with the new Garden & home as You can imagine.

    I want You when You go to Chichester to get the exact measurement of Your Brother's B   ks(?)   e & I mean his Garden down to the Poultry Yard that I may compare it with ours.

    A Lady in this place was lamenting the other day that 2 Presbyterian families should occupy this nice house of the Plumtres as there is a very grand seat in the Church attach'd to the house & a large Door opens from the great Hall into a Court with large Iron Gates leading into the Church Yard directly opposite this same seat  -  the pew is sash'd up to the ceiling & has a fire place in it  -  don't You think it will be worth while to conform.

    Mr Plumtre was I find a Gentleman of some form & state; he had a wife & 7 children who us'd all to go every Sunday in due form & order to Church, two & two, the Father & Mother leading the way, preceeded however by a Footman  -  the odd Child I suppose was attended by the Nursery(?) Maid.

Capt. John Hutt died 4 days previously from wounds received whilst in command of H.M.S. Queen in Lord Howe's action of 'The Glorious First of June, 1794' against France. Capt. Hutt is commemorated by a monument in Westminster Abbey, together with friend and fellow officer, Capt. John Harvey, of H.M.S. Brunswick.
Capt. Hutt was the naval officer who brought Edward to England from Jamaica.

    Every night, I am inform'd, the old Gentleman had a new pair of white stiffhosed(?) Gloves brought into the parlour which he drew on & then took his Lady by the hand (she also having a pair of new white Gloves) & led her up to Bed  -  a Servant preceeded them with two fresh lit Candles & all his Children following in the same order as they went to Church  -  as soon as the Father & Mother had enter'd their Dormitory they fac'd about when their Sons & Daughters made much reverent Congees & all parties retir'd to Bed!!

    This was so constant & regular a practice that many people us'd to go into the Church Yard on purpose to view the procession of Squire Plumtre & his family going to Bed.  - 

Can someone knowledgeable in gloves please contact me; our transcription re the gloves needs checking.
Congee: (ceremonious) process of seeking and/or giving formal permission to depart.

    I left off to go to breakfast, since when I have taken a swim in the Cold Bath & find myself much refresh'd for it; the expense is not very ruinous, only 2d a time & a Towell found into the bargain. It is a fine Cold Spring  -  I found it wonderfully cold, so much so that I only took one dip & swam out again directly  -  I am invited to take a bathe in the new Mashing Tub at the new Brewery but I don't know whether I shall accept it or not; I may nevertheless take Edward & John with me & see them dip.

Mashing Tub: for processing malt. Obviously 'christened' by swimming in.

    The Town is not yet perfectly composed; there are I fear "a many Jacobins" as the phraze is in this County  -  & it is thought some of the Magistrates countenance those fellows a little too much  -  the Sheriff, who is a son of Carpenter Smith, the Hosier in the Borough is a very respectable intelligent young chap but he is, I understand suppos'd to be a little infected with this disorder & the people were very near making an experiment on him in the ducking way. The light horse are still in the Town keeping Guard, so that I hope nothing serious will arise  -  as to myself, I am so perfectly convinc'd of the propriety of not intermeddling in these affairs that, I say nothing on either side.

    I am this moment return'd from Dinner & have seen the Star by which I am very concerned to see Capt Hutt is dead.

    I hope, my dear Mary, You will write often & fix Your time of coming as early as You conveniently can & if You wish me to meet You I will  -  I am disappointed at receiving no letter today in reply to the one I sent on Monday last. I hope my letter to Mr Edgecumbe was satisfactory about the Prize Money.

    I am, my dear Mary
                  Your ever faithful
                  & affectionate
                  Th. Williams
Saturday Evg

Jacobin: political supporter of French revolution.

Gary is proud of this line he made

3)       This third letter to Mary is addressed to Mrs Williams, John Marsh Esq., Pallant, Chichester.

Nottingham 11 July 1794

Friday morn'g

My very dear Mary,


    I sent off on Sunday under cover to Capn Yorke two very long letters of two sheets each, one for You and the other for my dear Mother. I hope they reach'd You on Tuesday & yet I fear if they had You would have written in reply, as I am now uncertain where You are; if You have follow'd my advice You are still at Gosport winding up all Your concerns. If, however, You have judged it more suitable to go to Chichester first, I shall conclude yours is the best plan; You certainly can form a better judgement of its propriety than I can at this distance. Which ever way therefore You determined I shall be satisfied, only I hope my dear sweet creature You will come as soon as You conveniently can; the hot weather & awkward part of hours of meals don't agree perfectly with me, our usual time of breakfast was 9 & dinner exactly on 2, but since Mr Green's absence Mrs G has made what she calls a reformation, viz. Breakfast at 8 & dinner at 3, which is usually about half past 3, the consequence of which is I have eaten nothing all this week till dinner & then I become so famished that I have no enjoyment of that meal. My stomach is much out of order & today I mean to purchase a box of James's Pills  -  I went to bed last night between 8 & 9 & rose a little after six but I am nothing better than I was yesterday  -  I have drunk 3 cups of Tea, but eat I cannot. I am to dine at 1 o'clock today at Mr Killingleys, so that will be a little more rational & I hope then to eat something.  -  Mrs Green is very friendly & obliging as possible & has offer'd to return to her old hours but that I will not suffer on any account, but I know I shall have my way when You keep house.

"Dr James's Pills and Powders for the Complexion" - a well known remedy of the time.
Killingley, Green &Son was the firm that Thomas Williams had joined

    I have two Women very busily employ'd in cleaning the house  -  I have got in some of the wardrobes & a pair(?) of drawers into which I have put the contents of 4 Boxes. I do not care to open too many least I may commit some mischief - I have open'd the one containing Your Music case and find all in good order & condition, the key I have not got but I suppose You have.

    I have yet heard nothing of the Chairs nor of the Box in which You were to have the Box of plate packed, before I forget it I just think it necessary to remind You to take care to let Your franks in future to be put into the place(?) they are dated from  -  the one which came on Tuesday was dated from Gosport but was sent over to Portsmouth, consequently I paid for it.

    I wish You would pay or cause it to be paid the Guinea & half for my sweet picture the other charges I have nothing to do with & can say nothing to.

    You will not forget Nurse Robinson, give my love to her & say every thing that is kind & comforting to her & settle something with her about her money  -  I forget how much she has had but tell her not to want anything  -  do You think it best to let Mr Webb or Mrs Selan have the trouble of being her Cashier?

Plumtre House: with its "grand stucko'd front, built in the Italian Taste, and which joined to the external beauty of the Italian, the inside Conveniences of the English Taste - a 'mansion of the nobility'"! (www)
It was here that William Williams (early missionary to NZ) was born 6 years later in 1800.

    Your account of our friend Dr Silver pains me very much. I wonder whether change of air would be likely to do him any service, I should rejoice to see him here & I know You would, & our house has plenty of room and we shall be settled very soon after You arrive  -  the Dr & Mrs Silver & one of the Maids with little Mary Ann could come in a post Chaise if the journey would be likely to answer the purpose. You may learn the opinion of the Doctor without saying any thing about this idea of mine, or in case it not thought of his recovering out of Portsmouth, it is better to say nothing about this proposition, but if I could anyhow contribute to the restoration of his health or to his ease & comfort I should rejoice very very much indeed  -  I had some thoughts of writing to the Dr but from the account You give I shall defer it till I hear again.


    Poor Capt. Hutt! I hope and believe he is more purified from every imperfection & is contemplating with wonder & astonishment the folly & absurdity of mankind in suffering themselves to be the dupes of a vile system which has for its object the gratification of the lusts & passions of a few individuals at the expense of the blood of so many millions of the human race.

    The news for this week past has been very gloomy, our troops seem all leaving Flanders & yet the same determination to persevere with the war as at first  -  where will it all end!

    I mentioned to You this Thursday something about the Beds Your Cousin was to bespeak; when are we to expect them? Do let me know; do we want Blankets? Shall I order Mattresses? & how many of each that no time may be lost.

    I miss the company of my good friend Mr Bogue very much indeed  -  there are many very rational people in this place but at present I am not upon intimate terms with them  -  I now & then have a distant conversation with several at the News Room where there are about 50 members; the lesser class in this place is much under the governance of their wayward fancies as ever I saw any where in my life & although they are desperately loyal just now I should be afraid to rely on them for any time.

    You say nothing about my Brother & Sister Vokes return in Your last; are they come back & when?  -  My affectionate Love to all, I cannot write to my Dear Sydney just now as I am not in spirits but I hope to a letter soon. John & Edward continue good Boys & are well. You told me nothing about the recipe for John's Neck.

ever Affectionately
Th Williams

Wonderful words! And yet in 1806 Thomas's son Henry entered the Navy aged 14 and saw considerable action at Copenhagen and elsewhere during 9 years of service.
Flanders: England and Allies had been at War with France for a year - (Napoleonic wars 1793-1815)

Bespeak: To order (or hire) in advance.

Gary is proud of this line he made

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