This letter, dated July 8, 1892, was written by Dora B. Peter from her home in Cordova Bay to her older sister Eliza (Isa) Grant in Bella Coola. In it she relates the sad news that their mother Marianne had passed away. She also reports on the Smallpox outbreak that had broken out in Victoria. She writes:
“There are nearly 100 cases of small-pox in town, the Empress of Japan brought it over and 150 Chinese were landed before it was found out. Bill and his family and Jim and John have all been vaccinated and Etta and her squad and the rest are all going to be as soon as possible, it is spreading like wild-fire as night before last there were only 69. I only hope it will not get up your length as you will be in a poor way as you cannot be vaccinated. I have been in town every day this week and have got to go tomorrow yet but after that will not go in more than we possibly can.”
The epidemic, which arrived on board the CPR steamship Empress of Japan, forced the closure of the port of Victoria and was a serious blow to the local economy. The complete letter is provided here: page 2, page 3, page 4.
This letter is one of several items I have that relate to the Peter family who emigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1880 and then moved to Victoria in 1890. Eliza (Isa) A Peter married Saumarez L. Grant and lived in Bella Coola for 40 years before moving to Seattle where she lived to the ripe old age of 104. In a previous post I featured an 1899 photo of members of the Peter family taking tea in Kirkland, Fife.
The first of the two photos shown below is of Dora Peter (holding the parasol) with her sister Bertha and would likely have been taken within a year or two of this letter being written. The second photo is of Eliza (Isa) Grant (nee Peter) with her second son Eddie, likely taken around 1900. Two of Isa’s three sons died in the First World War.
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).