This wonderful letter, written on Sept. 11, 1844 by Edward Fletcher, Esquire to his friend Mr. Lagarenne in France, gives us some insight into holiday planning in the mid-18th century, at least for those that could afford such luxuries.
The letter was folded and sealed with wax and so no envelope was required. I know very little about postal history but would be interested to know more about the marks on this letter should you have any information to share. I’ve read about a Uniform Fourpenny Post that was in place for a handful of weeks in 1839/40 which used a large written 4 to indicate payment. Could the large 10 written on this letter be a similar designation, used on a letter posted to the continent?
The contents of the letter are quite interesting. Edward Fletcher penned the note, beautifully I might add, from his brother-in-law’s country residence in Croydon and described in detail how he would make his way to the continent. The Brighton Railway, which was in service for less than 10 years, was only a mile and half from this residence and Fletcher estimated 3 to 3.5 hours should suffice for the journey to Shoreham (the same journey today would take just over an hour and involve several changes, but of course the mile and half carriage ride to the station might take a bit longer). He goes on to say that from Shoreham there was a good steamboat service every Friday to Harve.
Fletcher devoted much of the letter to describing his requirements for an apartment, should his friend be willing to enquire on his behalf. “A bedroom for Madame et moi — one for Mademoiselle Emilie, and one for her Bonne, will suffice for sleeping apartments. One salon will be sufficient, but if there were a small second room, to use as a study, when requiste, it would be preferable“. One french female servant was also required (frankly I never travel without one).
Edward Fletcher was a man of means and explained to his friend that he had given his carriage to his cousin, the young Captain Elliott, and so he would hire or purchase a carriage on arrival — “If you hear of a good strong horse, fit to ride or drive, please keep your eye upon him“.
Intrigued by Edward Fletcher, Esq. I did some digging on Ancestry where I found his baptismal record, showing that he was born in Ealing on April 25, 1798 to Joseph Fletcher, Esq. and Frances. In 1851, six years after this letter was written, the census shows he was living with his wife Mary Ann at 19 Park Street in Bath and was described as a “Proprietor of Houses”. Interestingly enough, they had visitors the night of the census, a George and Ellen Elliott, presumably the young cousin to whom he gifted his carriage.
By 1861 Edward was living in Kensington with his wife, his daughter Emily (now Emily Luther) and his grandson Martin F. Luther. He died only months later, on Dec. 12 1861, and left an estate worth nearly £4000 (over £2 million today).