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Transcriptions of Thomas Williams 1803 letters

In the last series of letters Thomas was writing to his wife in Gosport while establishing house at Nottinghmam. In this series he is on an extended business trip in the West of England, but writing to Mary in Notttingham.


Tewksbury Feby 1803


Wednesday 9th

   My dearest friend

    I sent You off a letter on Monday morning & yesterday I left a parcel enclosing Bills Valuations & a very short letter which I trust You receiv'd this evening in regular course  -  I came on from Worcester this afternoon as fast as I could & hope to morrow to breakfast at Gloster. I was greatly surprized today to meet with John Silver at Worcester  -  he was on an Election journey & returning to London; he is at present in the office of Mr Lowton who is Solicitor to Mr D & Coke(?)  -  it so happened he was at my Inn & we dined together. I was greatly concerned to hear of the ill fortune of one of my old flames, Miss Sally Pearson  -  I don't know whether You recollect she married her Cousin Jym Pearson who was in a very respectable connection with our eminent Attorney in London  -  he has turn'd out to be a great scoundrel & has reduced her to absolute beggary & not only so but he has ruined her money fortune also. I am very much griev'd to hear this sad news, more particularly so as John Silver speaks in the highest terms of her.

'My dearest friend' is Mary, Thomas's wife.
The envelope is addressed to Mrs Williams.

    Thursday Morning  -  I am very much obliged by Your punctuality & sending me such charming, nice, delightful letters; they are exactly to my taste & feeling & I love You very much for these & all & every thing else. I am gointg to send home a parcel which hope will arrive safe  -  I trust the one I sent with Bills reach'd You on Tuesday evening & yet You say nothing about it. Don't fail to answer this to the Grey Hound Shakespeare Bath where I expect to be Saturday Evening, Sunday & Monday  -  on Tuesday I propose going over to Bristol & so return to Bath, where I shall remain till Monday Sennight when I propose going by Wells to Bridgchurch & Exeter  -  It is now half past 10 & I am in haste to get off to Cirencester that I may do my business there this evening & reach Marlbro tomorrow time enough to finish there that evening  -  I will write again soon.

Sennight: Se(ve)nnight; seven nights; or in this instance 'Monday week'.

    I see by the paper the death of Mr Curry of Gosport; he can be no loss to anyone. I saw also the Death of Lord Duncan's eldest son  -  he was in the Guards  -  he went to the Mediterranean in a consumption but died on his passage.

Consumption: Tuberculosis (TB). Flesh is slowly wasting away, being 'consumed'.

    I just now met setting off in a Post Chaise, Mr & Mrs Hardwicke of Nottingham with a female servant. Mrs H look'd very ill & is going to Bath for her health  -  they were very civil.

    My best Love to You all & be assured I am quite as eager to return as any of You can be to wish me there.

I am my Dearest one

Your ever Affec friend
Th. Williams          

Sent Bills from
Birmingham by
Coach 223  -  12/
& non   201  - 12/


Gary is proud of this line he made


Cirencester Thursday

10 Feby 1803

My dearest Friend


    I sent You a letter from Gloucester enclosing Bills by Coach together with patterns of Stockings for Mr Turner. I sent home two Books  -  Dodridges Memoirs cost me only 2 shillings & the Vol. of Sermons I mention'd which cost me one shilling. I have opened one new account here & shall have an order & remittance from the other customer I have here. I have by this evenings Mail written to our dear Lydia that she may expect me on Saturday to dinner.

    The roads cannot be finer, the frost has continued so long that the ground is beaten quite smooth & I now wish it to continue till I get out of this dreary country  -  our Neighbour Mr William Hayne is so indignant at the treatment he met with in Nottingham that he is determined to ruin the Town & has removed twelve of his frames to Worcester & if Nottingham does not repent I should not wonder if he removes twelve more - & then what shall we do !!!!!!

Marlbro: Friday Evg
11th Feby

William Hayne & Co: Operated 'frames' for manufacturing, stockings, tops, lace &c from cotton. Obviously manufacturers for Thomas's firm.

    I began to write at Swindon but my pen was so bad I could not get on & had not time to repair it  -  after I had taken my breakfast I sally'd forth & open'd two accounts with two good people who I never call'd on before  -  these make four fresh Customers I have made this journey  -  I have done it more for the sake of convincing Mr Whiter I can do such things if I have a mind than from a full conviction of our wanting additional channels to take off our(?) commodities  -   -  I have lost none of my connections hitherto but some of them were from home & some others could not order much at present  -  I however have the satisfaction of saying I found them all very friendly & not one complaint hitherto excepting our Boys fancy sold to   (?)   Green dropping in holes  -  which by the by I will beg You to speak about, as I forgot to mention it to our worthy Divine Doctor Bond.

Mr Whiter was Thomas Williams's trading partner, presumably after the death of Mr Green.
It would seem that Mr Whiter has at some stage offended Thomas by alluding that his performance is not up to scratch.

    Your last nice letter I have read with great delight  -  I felt for our dear little Kate's mortifications but hope they will prove good Medicines. I greatly admire & approve of Your firmness in sending her to bed  -  sweet little Willie is a delicious fellow & in short, so they are all.

    I was in my Gig this morning before the clock struck 7, it was most biting cold but the morning was beautiful beyond description - not a cloud to be seen nor a breath of air sufficient to stir the smallest twig - but the frost was so severe as to freeze the breath of my mouth as it lodged to my Great Coat. Had the Boys been with me & their Skaites too, I think I should have been tempted to have staid at Cricklade, as near that place there was the finest piece of Ice I have seen this Winter, & so prodigiously thick I have no doubt it would have borne a Waggon on it but the ignorant Boobies of this county seem quite insensible of its extreme value - for not one person was on it, nor appeared to have been - how astonishing !!!

Kate: Catherine 5 1/2 years

sweet little Willie: William 2 1/2 years. Later pioneer missionary & 1st NZ Anglican Bishop in N.Z.
Boobies: Referring to the locals that the may be ignorant, foolish or idiots.

    I tell You what I took into my head to guess might be part of Mr I. Heath's secret - his taking to his Sister Mrs Killingley's Wine & Spirit Trade in connection with his Son  -  it is generally understood She has made a good fortune & may probably like to retire  -  this is entirely conjecture & may have no sort of foundation, but as You seem to think me a stupid sort of fellow on not guessing before, I just give this opinion by way of showing I have some ingenuity notwithstanding(?).


    I fear from Your account our friend Mr(?) Alliott will be long before he leaves Nottingham unless he can borrow(?) another head for this journey & leave his own behind him to be put(?) into(?) proper repair against he comes(?) back  -  this, if it can be accomplished would be no bad plan & in the meantime Miss Strachan might take it home & kiss it & talk to it without her reputation being slandered by any of the prudes of Nottingham.

Richard Alliott was the minister of Castle Gate Chapel.

    Poor Mr Brewer is terribly pull'd to pieces by his enemies  -  his friends however make him ample amends  -  the New   (?)   Meeting is in possession of his opponents, who have a Young Man preaching to them. On Sunday Morning there were not, I was inform'd by Mr Tutin Sen'r, not more than 200 (   (?)   in the afternoon I did not hear). Mr Brewer preaches at the Union (alias the Riding school) in the morning there could not be less than 700; in the afternoon not less than 900 & in the Evening Mr Sam Tutin told me they were more crowded than ever he saw it. I staid after the morning service to speak to him; I address'd him as usual just as I should have done if nothing had occurr'd. I thought it better than to walk away without speaking to him; he has certainly been very culpable but on the other side his Enemies have stuck at nothing to crush him  -  the charge which he pleads guilty to was not sufficient of itself to do his business; they therefore fabricated others which were clearly proved to be totally without foundation at the second Meeting of the Church & a vote of censure pass'd on the slanderous reporting & this produced the vast majority to go off to the other place. The Mrs Cocks who is his accuser is of very indifferent character, or at least was formerly very Levis & I am certain was her husband & believed her own story. I should repudiate her at once  -  but the Husband seems a malignant Idiot  -  a fool to put up with his Wives Wanton Lew'd conduct & malicious in gratifying his revenge at the expense of his own & his Wives characters  -  but I must now have done as it is near 8 o'Clock & the post shuts up at that hour  -  I will write again soon; do send to Mr Stavely & enquire if he has yet heard of the Cheese being sent off. I fear I shall get into many scrapes about them.  
My best love to You all & be assur'd I am my dearest Wife
        Your very Affec Husband
            Th Williams


Levis: A Latin word meaning 'light in weight', from which the word 'levitation is derived'. Likely inferring Mrs Cocks is light-headed or loopy.

Gary is proud of this line he made


Bath Monday Noon

14 Feby 1803

    I hope, my dearest Love, You were pleased yesterday Afternoon at the receipt of mine from Marlbro: which I put into the Post myself. It appears I think that my friend Sammy Tutin did not send my parcel as he promised, although by way of a spur to his diligence I allowed him to enclose one for himself. The morning of Saturday the frost broke up but it gave a rough sort of salute at parting  -  it began to rain as I was leaving the Inn door but it was so extremely cold as to cause every drop to freeze as it fell; the consequence was I was literally enveloped in Ice. Sydney & his Brothers might have skated on the Turnpike Road all the way to Bath  -  my Horse, not being prepared for the Ice, "Straddled" at an alarming rate, & he however kept on her feet till we arrived at Calne, where we both took a good breakfast. I then had her rough shod & set out in comfort for this City. The rain had in a short time so completely overpowered the frost that my precaution was render'd totally unnecessary & long before I reach Bath there was no appearance of any frost. About 7 miles before I came to my journey's end, Capt Townsend overtook me. He had slept the preceeding night at Marlbro in his way from Oxford, unfortunately at a different Inn, or we might have kept company all the way. He saw Edward Marsh a little before he came away, who was well & told him he had just got a letter (from) Sydney.

part of Thomas's 1803 letter - click here for more(454kb).
Page 1 of this letter. Click for full page (450kb!). This was not the most difficult page - see if You can find any errors in our transcription, and let me know

    I am not at all surprized at the contents of Mrs Brown's letter  -  I hope diligent search will be made, the "one witness" she alludes to must be the Harpey who laid her out & who receiv'd the unfortunate Creatures Clothes, & it is to me astonishing the friends and others have not been already most(?) minute in their enquiries - amongst other circumstances I should think. The Wretches Clothes would betray him for they must have been so covered with dirt as to render them unfit to put on so early as he was sent for the next morning  -  his servant must also have notic'd the state of them, & their being clean'd either by her or himself. There must also be many other circumstances at which people on the spot would have had an opportunity of observing which, if not too long neglected to be enquir'd into may I hope lead to a discovery. I shall be anxious to hear more of this dreadful business, as I cannot help being fully convinced of the suspected person's guilt.

Harpey: (harpy, harpie) An imaginery hybrid girl / eagle. Renowned for devastation and revenge. A 'hag from hell', malicious woman.


    I presented the fossils on Saturday to Mr Townsend  -  he is quite in raptures with Sydney & John for the Critch & Shivering Mountain fossils. The first he says contains Shells he has never seen & as to the last it is the greatest curiosity he has in his Cabinet. " Sweet(?) fellow!  -  Dear John"  -  I will write a letter to him on purpose to thank him" !  -  if he should write  -  John must of course send an answer  -  and so I think he had better begin to practice in an evening instead of writing to Mrs Rogers!!     Sir Archibald & Lady Dixon & his daughter Miss Dixon are at Bath. Lady Clerke & Miss Townsend speak of him & his Wife exactly as Your Brother William does. Lady Clerke pitys Miss Dixon exceedingly  -  You know she [Lady Clerke] married her Cousin  -  he died in the West Indies & left her totally unprovided for (fortunately, there is no Child) & her Father is as surly & unkind to her as possible. Lady Clerke says she never saw more wretchedness marked in any countenance than there(?) is in his.

    Lady Dixon is taking lessons of all the finest Masters in Bath  -  her husband growls & snarls at her but she sits perfectly unmoved & indifferent to all his froward humanisms.

Mr Townsend: Joseph (1739-1816), famed Geologist, author and minister at Pewsey. 2nd husband of Lady Clerke.

Critch & Shivering Mountain: 'Crich Cliff' and 'Mam Tor'. Both in the Peak District of Derbyshire and of particular geological interest.

Lady Clerke: Townsends 2nd wife, still referred to as Lady Clerke by Thomas. She was born Lydia Hammond 25 Dec. 1740 & is Thomas's 2nd cousin.

Miss Townsend: Townsend's daughter from 1st marriage.

    I spend my time from 4 in the Afternoon in Pultney Street. Miss T & Lydia met me at Mr Jays yesterday morning & I met again in the evening but it was too cold to take our dear Lydia with me.


    As I was entering Bath Saturday I met Capt Statham leaving it in one of the London coaches. I suppose he is gone up partly to the Silk Sale & partly to the Election which comes on tomorrow.

    I shall go over to Bristol on Wednesday Morning or possibly tomorrow evening as they have a large Party at Mr Townsend with whom I have no inclination to mix. I shall return on Friday, so if You write by Wednesday Nights Mail to the White Lion Bristol I shall get it there on Friday Morning. Your next afterwards must be to me   (?)  the Greyhound & Shakespear. I shall go Westward Monday Morning next but You should have more of my   (?)   in good time. Kiss all our dear Children for Your ever Affectionate husband

    Th Williams

    I think You will be one or two letters in my debt when You get this  -  Your domestic intelligence is by far the most interesting You can send me  -  talk about Your dear sweet self & Your dear sweet Children & I'll not complain of Your leaving no room for any other subject. I have the satisfaction of saying our dear sweet Lydia seems in quite as high favour here as ever she was.


Gary is proud of this line he made


Bath Tuesday Evening      15 Feby 1803

My dearest Wife

    I am just returned from 24 Pultney Street where I dined & am now sitting in a warm box in the Coffee Room. I have got a small matter of a sore throat which has impeded my swallowing powers considerably. Lady Clerke has a large party  -  of Musicals  -  Mr & Mrs Piozzi, Mr Broadhunt & many others; they press'd me very much but I chose rather to come here and nurse my cold  -  I caught my cold two ways  -  on Saturday night I slept with my window open to prevent suffocation as my bedroom is over the Cook Room & it stank so dreadfully when I went up to sleep that I had nothing else for it. Yesterday morning I had my hair cut after the best Bath fashion which has caused such a soreness on the outside of my head I can scarcely touch it. I was to have brought away from Mr Townsend's some volatile linament - & black ribbon but I came away & forgot it & now it is too late to send as they are by this time deeply engaged in their Concert & I would not spoil the harmony of the meeting by sending for Salve for a sore throat. Lady Clerke & Miss Townsend have been wishing very much for You as You would enjoy this meeting completely.

This letter is addressed to, 'Mrs Thomas Williams, Nottingham'. (T21a1)

    There seems this moment to have come into the Coffee Room much such another creature as my old friend Billy Fassett  -  about as drunk, about as old & about as foolish as him, & his friend has rather more grace than I once had for he deposited him & departed at once.

    Miss Lydia has been practising, as Mrs Townsend expects She will be call'd on this evening to play a duet with her.


    Mrs Biddulph (Mr Townsend's only surviving Sister) dined at Pultney Street today. She is a rank Methodist; all the Cant, with not one Atom of the reality of Religion. She is no favourite then as You may suppose.

    This morning the two Cheeses I order'd for Mr Townsend arrived & gave great satisfaction. I hope they are all gone off agreeable to the different directions I gave. I sent You a parcel & letter from Gloster  -  a letter & remaining halves of Bills from Marlbro Friday & another letter with an order last night from this place all of which are unanswered but hope to meet one at Bristol tomorrow  -  Bath is very full but I am too late for orders as the height of the season is over.

    Mr & Mrs John Evans have called to return the same compliment at Pultney Street  -  they(?) are(?) to be invited to a large party in a short time.


    Miss Townsend has this day receiv'd a letter from her friend Miss De Luc  -  the daughter of the Great Philosopher  -  she is visiting at Mr Galton's (Your friend) at Birmingham  -  the Townsends know Mr Galton by reputation & speak in the highest terms of him. Miss De Luc is one of the best informed Women in Europe. I sent my Sister a very long letter on Sunday & hope dear Sydney sent his the day after I left home. Lydia has not yet finished her letter to her Uncle Henry but promises to do so tomorrow.

    You cannot think how bitterly Mr Townsend envighs against Sydney's wearing of Spectacles  -  he says so much & with so much point I am certain Sydney would never put them on again, but I know he will not listen to it & therefore I shall not repeat what he said.

Lydias 'Uncle Henry' would be Henry Marsh, brother of Thomas's wife Mary.

    Wednesday Morning  -  as I was finishing the last sentence two Gentlemen Travellers, Messrs Goodacre & Mattison rapped at the Window  -  they were that moment risen from Dinner & were going to the half Play but in consequence of seeing me they turn'd back & we sat chatting till eleven, when we each return'd to our Rooms; all I drank was a little cold brandy & water, & as my throat is much better this morning & I have drunk two cups of Coffee, two dishes of Tea & eaten three rounds of Bread & Butter half an inch thick each, I trust I am in a fair way of coming about again. I have now one customer to see & then I go to Bristol from whence I cannot return before Saturday  -  I shall call at Pultney Street just to say 'good day'  -  - 1/2 past 11, I have been to Pultney Street. They had a very pleasant evening; Miss Lydia play'd two Duets with Miss Townsend  -  Mr Piozzi said Your daughter play'd very prettily & I don't know whether that commendation is highly season'd enough for You. He asked Miss Townsend if She was her pupil, to which She reply'd, She was since She had been at Bath. I told her I thought that was paying her a great compliment; it was at least a proof She was ashamed(?) to own her as a Scholar. She rejoin'd She was very proud of claiming the merit of having her for a Pupil.


    I found them very busy this morning correcting a french letter of Mr Townsend's & I was a little "Bug" on observing Lydia spy'd an error which Miss Townsend(s) quick sight had overlooked.

    1/2 past 1. I am now waiting for my Gig coming out. I am sorry to say I can do but little here; there are several people selling Hosiery lower than we can make them & besides the ground is covered with Hosiers & moreover the season is more than half over. All my Customers are at least civil so that I have ground to go on another time, with which I must be content for the present.

    I have a letter today from our friends the Woolls's, as friendly as possible. I was fearful I had got into a bit of a scrape with them on account of an omission of an order Mr Woolls gave me when I was in the Island but it is all perfectly set to rights  -  that is pleasant.


    Bristol Thursday 1/2 (?) 2    -  I met Your nice letter with great delight. I am very much oblig'd to You for Your great & regular attention to me this journey  -  I met last evening Mr Stone, from whom I learn that Mr Radford's little Girl has the Water in her head; her recovery therefore is next to impossible & he also tells me the Infant has been near death. I call'd on the Miss Sheppards who have the Retail Trade of their old house of Willis & Sheppard to themselves  -  they are great favorites of mine & I flatter myself I have obtain'd a preference over Mr Stone, as they gave me their whole order this morning & promise to write when they want more  -  in Cotton articles they are full, having been supplied from their old house. I have been with all my Customers whom I find in very good humour.

    I was nearly as much amused with dear         Mr Williams went in a Gig to Yarmouth as they all were with the story as I sent it to them. I am glad it was not thrown away.


    Poor Marianne I am sorry to hear is so terribly visited with Chilblance. I hope however as the weather is mild she will soon find the use of her feet.

    I hope You have been gratified with Mrs John Robinson's singing & will be so again tomorrow night at Mrs Burnside's. I don't envy You Your evening's amusement, as I think from all I have heard, the Lady is conceited, proud & affected.

    I purpose making a Coach parcel & sending it off tomorrow evening in which I shall put a pound of French Plumbs & half a pound of Imperial plumbs for Your disposal in my name as You in Your wisdom shall think most prudent. Tell Sydney that he will find some storys in two of the old Books I sent him from Birmingham which will amuse him very much  -  one of them is without a title page but they are both on the fulfilling of the Scriptures  -  the stories are towards the latter end of each.


    Friday noon. I was out very early this morning & on returning to the Inn had the great satisfaction of finding Your welcome letter. I am sorry I have not said enough about our dear Lydia  -  she is looking extremely well but not so filled as she was the former time, for then she was prodigious. She is in high spirits & her joy at seeing me was almost more than she could bear. She ran to the door & let me in & we went together into the Parlour for a few moments to overcome her excessive joy. Mr Townsend has employ'd her a good deal which has certainly been a great improvement to her. I will send this tonight by Post that You may not be disappointed for a letter(?) write to me.

    1/2 past 6 Friday Evening  -  I should send tomorrow night a parcel by Coach, with orders of Bills. I hope our dear Henry & Kate have not been Sulky lately. I send the French Plumbs for my good Children & hope You will be able to include them in the number.
    With best love, I am, my dearest friend
        Your ever Affect. Husband
            Th. Williams
Edward had better apply at the Coach Office, each night for the Parcels.

    I shall sleep at Wells Monday Night & Bridge Water Tuesday & Wednesday Nights; I hope at the Globe, Exeter, where You will reply to the Parcel(?) I shall send tomorrow night & which, according to the dilitory mode of delivery You will have  - - Monday Noon, but You had better send for it  -  but it is possible it may not go from Birmingham the same morning it arrives there  -  it will only get to Nottingham Monday Night..


Gary is proud of this line he made


Wells Tuesday Evg     22 Feby 1803

My dearest Mary

    I cannot help thinking of You & yours & I must continue to write to You notwithstanding I left a long letter with dear Lydia this morning at Bath for her to cross write You & which I hope is now on its road towards Nottingham. I had most delightful ride today to this place  -  I wish'd for Your company most heartily  -  the weather was so mild & the views so beautiful  -  I do not like these solitary enjoyments  -  it is not good to be alone  -  at least I am sure it is not pleasant. I have been walking about before dinner, which I took by candlelight  -  since then have been reading a Sermon of a Mr Sabine against the Baptists by a Mr Sabine most strongly recommended by Mr Davis(?) who preached for Mr Alliott - & who drank Tea at our house the Sunday afternoon  -  but I have been disappointed in my expectations of it. Since then I have been reading the life of Mr Ray who wrote on the Wisdom of God in Creation. I have exercised my legs also by walking up & down the room more than 600 yds & am now shortly going to Bed, when I hope to sleep better than I did last night. I am at a very comfortable retir'd guest house where I shall have none of the Bath annoyances. I hope You soon have it in Your power to send me some account of the progress of the Nottingham petition & to that end I will thank You to send to my friend Tom Smith who will give You all he then knows, as I am anxious to hear how they go on.

Cross write: A practice often adopted to save paper, when a letter was extended by writing across the original text, at right angles to it.

    Wells 1/2 past 9

    I have had a comfortable Bed & a good night, although I lay awake several hours & I amused myself by thinking of You & our dear Babes & of the   (?)     (?)   I hope to enjoy in the midst of You all when I return with our sweet Lydia. I suppose my Sister mentions in her letter she has written to Sydney the sudden death of one of Mr Nialls sons  -  his Father having himself found him dead in his Bed! She also I suppose mentions a dreadful accident of a Vessel sinking between Spithead & the Harbour, with several people in it who were all chain'd, excepting the Man(?) & Boy(?) & I say a day or two since an account in the papers of the sudden death of one [of] Mr Eb .... l's(?) Sons at Leighfield who was alive and in health when I was there.


Bridgwater Wednesday Evening.
      I came here before dinner time & as soon as I was put in order by the aid of the Hair(?) Dresser, a clean shirt &c &c, I went to business but am sorry to say have been able to do very little  -  my Customers were all very civil but could obtain a small order from only one of them. One is in London  -  I must return this way when I may be more fortunate. I am to have the company of one to Sup with me in the morning I hope to be off very early so as to breakfast at Taunton, 12 miles on, & purpose sleeping at Cullumpton which is within 12 miles of Exeter & so to breakfast there Friday morning.


    I was in full expectation of a letter here from You but am disappointed, but I must not complain as You have been very good hitherto. Tell Sydney the Landlord of this house of the name of Rossiter is dead since we were here in the Summer. The Black Man of the name of Dorset, who knew the Miss Browns is also dead  -  he is very much lamented as he was an uncommonly good character; he was going to be married to the Cook at this House & came over from Cross where he lived, to see her, but was taken ill & died here. He left the Girl all his fortune, which was between 30 & 40 Pounds, & she now wears a Black Ribbon round her head in memory of her faithful African


Cullumpton Tuesday Morning 25th 10 o'Clock
    I slept last night at Millington & came in here 13 miles by 9 o'Clock. The morning was very cold & part of it foggy but it is now beautiful & looks very like the Month of April. Yesterday was most dismal; at Bridgwater I did very little  -  the place is like a deserted Village - more than one hundred of its inhabitants are gone to Town about their Election & twleve more were Subpoena'd the evening I was there. I staid at Taunton a few hours & made trial of my abilities on some of the Shopkeepers there. I took only one order & that a small one but have no doubt of being successful another time. I was amused with one Man & his Wife, who do a great deal but are snug(?) close sort of people. I bestow'd a good number of words on them & the Wife was much disposed to yield to my importunities but her Husband was inflexible. He has a grave solemn sort of countenance which I practiced on a long time before I could move one muscel in his face. At length I said, with great gravity, I did not approve of the practice of some people who thought much speaking would procure an order; that for my own part I wish'd to convince people in few words of my zeal for their service, & although I might probably lose an order now & then from a deference of volubility of tongue, yet I trusted that when I did take an order it would be more the act of a customer's own free will & consequently more to the satisfaction of both parties than when he was Bother'd out of his senses & out of an order as some impertinent, imprudent Travellers were too apt to do. This harangue was more than my Auditors were prepared for & the good Man gave way to a very good humour'd hearty laugh & quaintly reply'd, "I don't think You lose many orders on that account." The Wife says, "Why, Sir, You & my husband seem to be getting very pleasant together & when You come this way next, we don't promise You an order but we shall be glad to see You if it is only to ask You how You do".


    I call'd on one of our former Customers   (?)   at Mr Westron but who did not seem formerly so well disposed as I would wish. He had unfortunately given a large order only two days before, but promises if he has any room he will do business with me next time.

    I am now setting off for Exon, where I hope to meet one or two letters from You. It is now exactly one whole week since I heard last & that is to me a very long time indeed. I fear it may have been my fault in not being exact in my instructions where & when to be written to which I could not well avoid, as my departure from Bath & Bristol as a little uncertain.


    I was a little diverted at Wells on Shrove Tuesday  -  as I enter'd the Town I met a number of Boys with Sticks & at the end of each a Rams horn. They were in the act of assaulting the door of a house which was suddenly opened as I pass'd & the assailants were saluted with a pail of water over their precious little heads. I found, on enquiry, it is a custom of time immemorial for the Boys thus arm'd to perambulate the Town on the Eve of Shrove Tuesday & knock with their Ram's horns at every door in the Town, at the same time crying out

        'This is to give You warning
        That we shall revisit You in the morning'

In the morning they return with violent rapping & noise, saying

        'Flittery, Flattery, Flower
        If You don't give us Pancakes we'll beat down Your door'!


Exeter 5 o'Clock   Friday Evg

    I broke off at the above elegant couplet at Cullumpton as my Gig made its appearance at the door. I had a worse road to go over than I think I ever met with. I was nearly 4 hours coming & it is only Eleven miles. My Gig broke down before I had proceeded half way but I was fortunate in meeting with a Man at a public house hard by who soon set me so far to rights as to enable me to finish my journey in safety. The Road has been indicted several times but it appears to have as yet had no good effect. They talk of turning the road to avoid the regular succession of hills which we go up & down all the way  -  in the mean time his Majesty's liege subjects travelling this road are in perpetual danger of having their Necks broken by Carriages oversetting which I think it is scarcely possible to avoid unless they proceed at the rate I have done today  -  I shall certainly return another way when I go back for Bath.


    My heart was set abundantly at rest by the receipt of Sydney's & Your two letters; if they had been a little longer they would have been so much the better, but as they are, I thank You both heartily for them. I am rejoic'd to hear our friends in the House of Commons seem to gain ground. I long to hear more of it. I shall earnestly hope for "a full, live & particular account" from our friend Tom Smith & hope to have before I finally leave Exeter as it will be a great treat to some of my friends here.

    The Treatise on Perspective I sent home is the one Miss Blackburne first pointed out by her Father's advice  -  I have never met with Highmore  -  if I do I will lay hold of it.

    I desire You will offer Mr & Mrs Green my most cordial congratulations. I am sorry they could not have contrived to have been married when I was at home, as I should have felt myself very happy in standing in the honorable relation of Father to the Fair Lady.


Saturday morning  -  I could write no more last night as my dinner came & presently two Gentlemen Travellers who I knew very well, & they held me in talk all the evening excepting for about an hour when I went to pay my respects to a few of my Clients. I have a letter from Mr Dale about our Trim Shops(?) - that is to be, & to tell me also he has covented with "Citizen" Denison for Bricks for our Warehouse. He purposes my accommodating Charles Porter with 2 Stalls & the Coach house until he can build him new ones. This I should be very glad to do but Colonel Brereton apply'd to me for them a little before I left home & therefore he must be first consulted. I shall be obliged to You to call there & mention the circumstance & say I can do nothing in it without knowing first how it will suit him. I conceive I shall want the 3 Stall Stable ultimately, & the 4 Stall one I had an idea of offering to Col Brereton  -  but I should not like to determine absolutely until I know what will suit him  -  on second thoughts, I think I might venture to let Chs Porter have 2 Stalls of the Stable I propose to keep for myself, & standing for one Gig as soon as the cash obtained on(?) Mr Statham's consent [as soon as he has obtained Mr Statham's comments(?)  -  my time commences on 6th April. I shall as I said write to Mr Dale this evening & refer him to You. I shall be happy to do all I can to meet his wishes  -  I must now take my walks abroad, so no more at present from Your loving Husband Thomas Williams.

    I was pleased to remark our dear Lydia's Teeth looked in good order, as white & nice as could be. She uses the Assiatee(?)  -  that supernumerary S_ in the Aseator(?) You will please to take notice was purely accidental & not by the guidance of my understanding.


    Saturday Evg 8 o'Clock

    This packet must go away tonight that You may have it on Tuesday. I am fearful You will think I have prosed away a long time to very little purpose; if I have so done You will give me a hint by sending me a short epistle in return, which I shall take as a Genteel hint  -   -  I was very much disappointed at not receiving a letter at Bridge Water as I before told You & a singular circumstance occurred which made it still more so. I was waiting in Mr Inman's Shop the delivery of the letters soon after the Mail arrived when presently a Man came in with a letter in his hand which he put close to the Candle to read the direction, when I saw it was directed for Mr Thomas Williams. I immediately exclaimed, Oh, that's the letter, & put my hand out to lay hold of it when the Man pulled it back & looked very queer at my apparent impertinence, for I found he happened to be a namesake & had only come into the Shop to look at the contents of his letter instead of mine. You will see by this little occurrence the great propriety of You always directing for me of Nottingham.


    The roads, I understand, are so extremely bad below this place that I have determined to leave my Gig here & take the Coach down to Plymouth, where I hope to be on Tuesday Night. Things are so extremely flat there that I shall stay no longer than I can possibly help  -  indeed I think I can manage so as to go to Truro by the Coach from Tor Point on Saturday Morning, or after that on Monday following but I hope not later than Saturday. I shall stop at Truro that Even'g & go to Falmouth in the morning, as I shall be more comfortable there on Sunday than at Truro - -  Monday I shall finish there  -  Tuesday go to the Westward & return to Truro on Wednesday night, the 9th March, & on Friday the 11th return to Plym- where I shall stay till Monday morning the 14th when I purpose reaching Exeter by the Coach & on Thursday Morning the 17th set out for Bristol where I hope to arrive some time on Saturday the 19th - -  You will calculate the time & write accordingly but pray my dearest love don't let me be more than 3 days without a letter, for it is the greatest comfort You can send me.


    Lady Clerke desired I would not think of taking dear Lydia away before the 21st March as on that evening they were to have a large party of Musicals & Mr & Mrs Jno Evans were to be invited  -  agreeable to this plan of mine I stand some chance of coming in for a share of the harmony which I wish You could partake of instead of me  -  but I must now bid You all a good night trusting there is a letter very near Exeter from You which I shall have tomorrow morning. I love You all dearly & am my dearest Wife

Your ever affectionate husband

Th Williams


Gary is proud of this line he made

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