Selected correspondence of Robert, Ann and Margaret Spence, to Robert Foster

Selected correspondence of Robert, Ann and Margaret Spence, to Robert Foster (1812–1898)

[This transcript is of a small collection purchased by myself on eBay]

From Robert Spence, 1842-05-11

4 Day Morning


Dear Bob

We heard yesterday by a note from RH of thy landing at Yarmouth—too late we suppose for the Coach that day—About the time this reaches London I fancy thou wilt arrive there also & as I have a few moments before breakfast I shall give thee a history of all our doings since thou sent—first giving thee clearly to understand that I expect a similar favor from thee when I am pleasuring—Business first. Where shall Scarry P & L Co for I find the page will be about filled in a day or two—Still I take it to the end of the current accounts & leave 4 leaves—8 pages for it or how many. I should like to carry it to my own account but I am afraid that would scarcely do. There are about half a dozen new Interest accounts already—Jo Watson Guilfords friend for one—none very large—Creighton paid 1900 in Bank yesterday for the exors but it will part of it travel in a day or two.—I suppose I need not leave more than two pages for any current account that I have to carry forward I get on bravely—I have been finished before 8 every night yet & before ½ past 7 until last night—Then it was a long day & there were one or two extras so that I took ½ an hour longer. We have balanced all right within five minutes each day. Father went to Newcastle yesterday to see Wm Chapman about Guildford & Walmsley yesterday He thinks they will remain in Ridley's office for good.—& is much pleased with the place. We are not to prove against Gulfords Estate this sitting but must first realize the property & then prove Walmsleys have made a written offer of 7/6 which will probably be taken. There was somewhat of a blow up between the Govr & John Fenwick yesterday—for E Walmsley reported that the Govr had called them "Swindlers"—this was rather more than our worthy J.P. could stomach for he says "Caesars wife (old wife?) should be above suspicion" where has Solon been reading I wonder—They shook hands in the end & parted on the best of terms.—"Brother, brother, we are both in the wrong"—The house is nicely forward.—The furniture goes in this next fifth day—to morrow—& the painters will finish all but the staircase to day. The servant arrived yesterday. This is Sunderland Mo Meetg—Father—Mother & [hours?] are all going.—All are quite well—but one of James's servants has the measles—This makes Mary anxious for the bairns—With dear love—to all Believe my thy affectionate Cousin

Robert Spce

From Robert Spence, addressed to Robert Foster of North Shields, Post Office, Edinburgh; envelope only, postmarked North Shields 1844-08-16

From Robert Spence, 1845-05-17, addressed to Robert Foster, [c/o] Myles B Foster, Stranraer Place, Edgware Road, London; envelope sealed <UNION>

7th Day Evg


Dear Robert

We get on very well indeed—to day has been a stiff day—two pages on the debit side of the journal & not very much consolidation either but I balanced Cash & Journal without any bother & have got on nicely—I started early with the Avgs & though I sat for full ¾ of an hour with dear Mrs Fleming finished the whole by ¼ to 12 but H kept my legs moving in the interval. I could not resist smiling to her her maundering on & I all the time in such a fuss but it was no use until in the end she remembered O I forgot Mr Spence your time is of more value than my talkingBut I wanted to see you—She finished up "Mr Foster you see is something like me rather short tempered" there's for thee take that—Croudace & Pheeson [?] of the Coal Exchange are said (be careful) to have bailed & the man in whose face Providence flies is "cast again"—He has one of their bills, Popplewell one, Thos Allen two, Robt Ellcote one some one else another & Connicks Ship is at them now—

Farewell Sarah is nicely & all the rest—with dear love & in haste

Thine RS


From Robert Spence, no date [but must be before August 1845], no address

5th Day Night

Dear Robert

It seemed very likely yesterday that poor old Margaret would have got away.—She was taken much worse in the night & lay in a stupor for some hours through the morning—Thomas Ingham gave her up & said she never would rouse out of it, but she did so yesterday afternoon & has continued quite sensible since—They sent over to Stockton yesterday for Dr Keenleyside & he & Ingham have been visiting her jointly since he arrived. He is on a visit at Greenhows—having intended coming over here before he was sent for—Charles went over for Rachel Harris yesterday afternoon. She & Thomas arrived about 10 & Anty Harris about 2 this evening—They expect Anty Atkinson back from Liverpool to night.—The old woman is really better so far as they can see at present but a very little may undo all the progress she has made. Ingham says not 1 in 1000 ever recover from the state that she was in—but that if nothing arises wh they do not expect see there is ground for hope. But still they are very cautious in what they say—Anty Harris retd home this evening the others remain. Edward [pencil note in a different hand adds "Corder"] got off yesterday afternoon Father and I saw hom on board the merchant—He has had a famous NNE wind—Rather heavy at times—If you have not had better weather than we have here it will have been a rayther moist jaunt. The weather has been dolorous here I get on very well. The only trouble I have is from the accts which are not ruled off & these I do in pencil leaving thee the pleasure of putting them in in ink when thou returns & my boy I have an error in posting to shew thee when thou comes home. There's [pd?]—We have not had anything wonderful. 3rd Day was a heavy day 4 & to day moderate. Father keeps nicely—looks rather fashed to day but I fancy it is partly with so many persons coming back & forward I am very tired & am thinking strongly of bed—It is pretty stiff work without thee & I am quite ready for my rest at nights. I will put add in the morning how old Margt is—I keep all quite right & up ixcept carrying over the additions where I take an acct over leaf which I think fairly belongs to thy privileges when thou returns—Besides I have a quarterly balance in my eye & have no notion of a blender being found in my carrying over Excuse the spelling for my pen is bad & I am half asleep

Thine RS

NB. I did not know before that pens could spell were they ever so good—with good wishes to all—RS—

M Atkinson continues very much better 6th Day Morning




From Robert Spence, 1846-01-08, addressed to Robert Foster, with no address; envelope sealed <RS>

8 Woodlane Terrace

Falmouth   1st Mo 8th


Dear Robert

Thank thee for thy long letter of the 3rd with all its news. I think the sole cause for WCs not visiting you is that he is fully satisfied all is going on as it should do—If it were otherwise thou may depend upon it you would have frequent visits from him. I am right glad about Hartlepool Branch Rowell is an incorrigible ass & his vanity & wish to be influential might do a deal of mischief. I hope we shall not be next to be severed.—It is bringing matters into a wholesome small compass. i see by the Gateshead Observer that Geo Coxon has lost his ship Does not this make two in the Year. Is he selling to Father Neptune. The Genl Premm advertises a proposal to alter the constitution of the Club & to put it on the same footing as other Tyne Clubs That is—to draw for actual losses—instead of for a certain premm & then if any surplus or deficiency is discovered at the end of the year to return to or draw upon the members—Of course if the Constitution of the Club is altered all our balance & all present deficiencies must be drawn for now & pd off by the present members. They advertise for new members—Keep thy eyes upon them & get to know what is doing—Saml Hoare died on the 26th of last month did thou receive any intimation of his death I saw it in the papers. I think he stood second in Barnets firm—He married Lucy Gurney a sister of Saml & poor for for John. I dont know whether she is living. You would hear of his death ^Joseph Holmes—Wm Dunmore says that he had a fall from his horse a few days ago which brought on inflammation. I should think it very likely accelerated the disease from which he has suffered so long. I saw Levi Ames death also noticed. He was a partner of Prescotts—Has John's £5 come from Cox's for old Scarr—if not he had better not pay anything more until he has seen me & I will write about it—for I noticed the death of Capn Moorsom mentioned & this is the name of the person who paid his Anny through Cox's. I think I have his address here—Would thou ask John if they remitted the Atlas Premm at the time it was due. Has Henry's will been proved does thou think & has anything been done about the payment of his insurance. There is a Premm due from me this month wilt thou remit it at the right time. I got value for the Dft at Tweedys—a very slow coach. Two elderly men—one like Thomas Todd & the head man something like Geo Coxon—though slow in their movements they are quick at charges 15d Comn It would be all well for us to introduce a similar charge on all such Dfs brought by those who are not customers. I should like to see all the instants of their labours & serve a small apprenticeship to them. It would give one a wrinkle or two in the charging way—It looked like a very quiet shop—& so much that thou would not have had much trouble in stowing sweating room, office & all into one small office. Thou has not enclosed the small Bill which Jos paid. Whose is it—? Inghams I have sent to him with a cheque. I hope by this time you have got to the end of the balance—It is not right that all we do with that scoundrel young Joe should be of no use. Dont relax but keep as strict with him as ever. It should not be our fault if we are done for we have fought with them so long that it is too late to turn sails—John Taulors & Mrs Elliots are two good jobs. Mary Andson is selling her ships Is she going to give up active employment when she comes to live in the town—I dont like Harry W. beginning to talk about enfeebled faculties. It looks like a little ground for future litigation. However when the poor old man is gone. If thou finds trouble like to arise. Thou does not need to accept or prove the will & thou can soon for what it would be best for thee to do

With dear love Thine sincerely R Spence


From Robert Spence, 1846-04-17, addressed to Robert Foster at Union Bank, North Shields

Falmouth 4/17 1846

7th Day Evg

Dear Robert

I have very little to write about but owe thee a letter to thank thee for thine & so will try what I can do—

Thanks for thy information as to the missing items. The Bill of Tyrannus [?] never got here. Thou mentioned it I remember now in one of thy letters but it was not enclosed as thou said & so I had lost sight of it. It was for repairs of the hotbed for I wrote to tell thee it had not come & this explanation was sent—I think in my Bank a/c there is a mistake in the Cr side Briggs is credited £10:10:5 is that right for it differs from last ½ year some £5 too much—As to the Penty [?] we will not bother about it—But please dont pay another for me next year for I will either pay as I think fit or not at all—That is if I am not with thee to refuse myself which I trust I may be.

Javison [?] was £490 at the time of the advance of £1000 or I'm mistaken but no matter keep an eye on him & keep him down Robert—would any one with an honest intention to act in an upright straightforward way be a "witch" at winding up a business carried forward on such principles as the one was to which we have reffered. In do believe it is not from any want of ability but that things were before his time conducted in a way which would entail a loss & serious deficiency at the end. I am glad to hear that the Gen Prem [?] is beginning to pay in—All should be squared now I am confiding Are Unions still coming down I am sorry if I had £1000 or £2000 to spare I would buy now but as to the funds I dont agree with thee in thy wish that I had bought in I had rather have more Unions at present prices—As to Shotton Dryden & Co I could dismiss them all with a few hard Saxon terms but will spare them for folks better worthy of powder & shot—They are a greedy covetous crew. Still I think now openness & less shirking of answers to questions which persons holding shares have a right to put at Bank Meetings would be a wiser course—I am now in Dr Fox's hands again he called on 4th Day when I was really very bad & has physicked me to his hearts content. I think I am better but not for the doctor for I felt better before he came. 2nd 3rd & 4th Day, or nights I was very far from what I should be but I have been better 7 slept better since & my cough which was bad & very painful has lessened & does not hurt me now. I have also been out twice a day both 5 & 6 Days & for some time & good walks & this did me much more good than doctors stuff To day has been pouring wet but it faired up for a while & we got out this afternoon. The weather is mild & improving With dear love

to all & to thyself from both of us I am thine


[PS on outside of envelope:] The Times does not come regularly none to day—or to day—1st

None to night



From Robert Spence, 1846-11-11, to Robert Foster; no envelope

8 Woodlane Terrace

Falmouth   11 Mo 11 1846

My dear Cousin

We have had daylight on our house & are well pleased with it—It has a little garden in front sloping down towards the road beyond the road there are a few fields & then the English channel of which we have a fine view—Pendennis Castle & Falmouth are to the left. i.e we are to the So West of them—We face nearly due South & have a fine bay before us with Pendennis Castle at one end & a point of land stretching out towards the Lizard at the other—Behind the house there is a small yard paved with little stones Madeira fashion behind that a garden & I think another behind it all small & on a gentle incline. The rooms are all small but respectably furnished The front parlour is a good room in the garden there are still several flowers—Chrisanthemums, & Lauristimia [?] & other Evergreens seem to flourish Alfred Hy Spence & his wife have lodgs close by. He is not very well at present. We have been to meeting this morning. Sundry friends spoke. There was a stranger there called Brown. Since meeting we have been down in the town The large Box has case up but I have had 20/- to pay for it as freight which I think is not fair I have written to the London office about it. We have been buying a few pans & dishes The shops are very good—better than ours—excepting the Drapers. There are several good booksellers & the place looks much more like a county town than Shields though I dont think it has half the inhabitants—I fancy provisions are rather dear—Butchers, Bakers & all call at the house daily—The servt is fat & good tempered looking—though Mrs Squire says she is perhaps if anything inclined to be mistress. We shall endeavour not to indulge her peculiar vanity. When the unpacking is done we shall find everything very comfortable I have been with Lovell to their library &c & he is to come in half an hour to take me to see some of their places about—Please say next time you write what time this reaches you & the time you post yours—This is posted at ½ past 7 on 4th Day Evg—Will thou send the papers regularly & if thou has not sent the Courant & the Observer for last week send them—I have subscribed to their library here so that I shall have plenty of reading. We had a very fine voyage on 2nd Day we caught one sea which soused my berth carpet Bag &c but I had the choice of 5 others in the same cabin I had it to myself all the way & S the ladies cabin. The captain was Irish & a very nice fellow—"Captain Higgison thou's not to take our little Bobby" "Bless you my darling I have six of them meeself"—They got very friendly Sally, Bob & him.

With dear love                RS—


From Robert Spence, 1846-11-26, to Robert Foster; no envelope

Falmouth          11 Mo 26

5th Day Evg 1846

Dear Robert

Thank thee for thy letter written last first day If you knew how eagerly we look for your letters thou often we hve to confess that we expect too many & too often you would feel some encouragement in writing—I know that it is a difficult task to many folks & thee amongst the number but please continue your favors—Thank thee for the cards they are very neat but would they not have been less lady like on unglazed cards—I shall find them very useful—I have been at a School this afternoon & can congratulate thee on thy escape from "teaching the young idea" & deary me little boys are nasty little things 100 or 200 together—I carpenter a little & read a little & walk a great deal. It is a delightful climate—very moist but so warm & the air has such a pleasant taste it does not choke you with coal dust & smoke to take a good long breath—It is no fancy to prefer these southern lands—We all keep well. Little Bob & Sal go to bed soon after five & we at nine & we are not very early risers—I am glad thou rubbed in his reverence about Nat School—is he satisfied that he paid or was it some blunder between Tynemouth new church & the school. I remember Simpson at one time was constantly thunderg between them—£2.9.– per Qur from Welsh's property is better than nothing a year & a balance against you as we had under the mangt of our dear friend T—Should i write to WCh now that I am settled down here I fear he will think I have not behaved very respectfully in marching off without visiting him I had a letter from Dodshon on 1st Day & wrote to ask him to come & visit us in the Spring we have a spare bed & I think he would find some eggs here or towards the Lands end which I have a great motive of seeing before we leave this countryside. That is if I keep pretty nicely It is very pleasant here all along by the shore & in general so mild that my great coat is a burden though I always take care to be provided for a change. There are not such set in wet days here as with us at least so I should think from what we have seen but a vast deal of showery weather & a great deal of damp—I saw many books sadly spoiled with the damp at Lovells where we dines yesterday & he says it is very much the case though in the room where they were they have a fire constantly in the winter. I have not yet seen the Fox's libraries I believe they all have a good lot of books but if they are liable to be ruined by the wet it is a serious disdvantage—Ask young William if he will pay us a visit. There are several Fox men who would be to his heart—very clever—& very kind & sociable & what is better there are two she Foxes who can talk on any subject under the sun from dressing bairns to gun cotton & the electric telegraph—They would be a match even for him—Seriously I wish he would come he would enjoy himself I am sure—they are kind folks & I know we can make him very comfortable though I say it.

My dear love to all

                                    Thine RSp—

Thanks for the Polytechnic Hand bill—send me all the news & everything whether worth selling or not.


From Robert Spence, 1846-12-10, addressed to Robert Foster at Union Bank, North Shields, envelope sealed <Sarah>


12 Mo 10th 1846.

Dear Robert

Art thou sure the black list received was the missing one it was posted at Newcastle Decr 1st Had Master Wm been keeping it in his pocket—How does thou get on with Joseph A.—Is William as pleasant as he used to be—I suppose Jos will have commenced the Interests. Thou will have to keep a very sharp eye on him to see that he does all he should do & has them done soon enough—I think thou should see Hy Dale about Morris I would not write again but I think thou should see him. Is there any thing doing in Ratcliffes concerns. Any order for the sale of the property—i hope when this does take place we shall receive the money & have the same fat commission on it. I have no doubt we are legally entitled to it—Robt Peart is not keeping his promises if thou does anything be very careful for he is a testy fellow & I dont think it is desirable to vex him. All we want can be managed without making him vexed. As to Henry's concerns I am not surprised at the deficiency thou mentions & I think it is quite possible young Wm may not have blundered. I never thought it likely that such an overdraw as Harrys could really be without something seriously wrong & I fear we shall find it is so—Please continue to tell me all thou hears. I am glad they are coming to the conclusion to give up the business. It would be a heavy responsibility for any one—let alone poor Bess on whom of course it should fall—Martin said that after his Mothers sale of Stock on the Cullercoats farm payments would be made on deposit in the Exors names which would make his a/c more comfortable of course if we had deposits from them these with the note we hold would be not so bad a security. I think the sale has taken place. I think the report of Arthurs bills is good but he is such a nonunderstable fellow I would be very chary with him The plan of writing to Overends is good if they answer quite willingly. Has thou got notice given to all the offices respecting Jash Barkers policies. Keep him to paying the Discts if thou can—Refuse or write him every time he omits to do so—Will thou write to Jas Patterson about that dirty little balance of his—or perhaps it would be better to send William to see him. It is too little a matter to bother about thyself. Wilt thou tell me Overends report of "Classen" was that his name—Did Turnbulls pay the Interest it was to be done quarterly also—They are very decent folks. What compo does Dickenson propose—I think it is rather too rich. Does he consider his ⅓ as 20/- in the £⅓ Still I think £50 in hand on £60 say would be well in our Pockets.—No authority is needed from Finley & as to his means a petty huckster like him might be stumped & up any minute & if he should die—His payts would do well—I believe that Snowden would have made some difficulty about conveying—for old Wardle deposited the deeds with us—Snowden hanged himself about a year ago—Does thou remember the circumstances.—Thou was right with that filthy old foreship Fleming. The North of England may employ themselves in cottoning for sick cattle but I never would—Will thou send me a report of the book meeting & how it went off. The books were a shabby lot—I have asked Robert S Hagen to get some plants &c for us & to get the money from thee—thou had better do as thou did last year for my small house expenses Mind I paid my Mechanics subscn & wont pay any more. We generally have a walk in the morning or else we go to visit some one of our friends & in the afternoon I have another turn out by myself. We have frequent & pressing invitations to dine out but we are [keeping?] quite clear of any visiting. They are generally greater folks here & have fine houses & gardens but very kind & sociable—We visited old Eliz Fox the mother of almost all the Foxes hereabout—She has a grand house—old fashioned but fine large rooms & loft staircases—just one of the kind one would like to hang ones hat up in—with a famous good garden &c behind—The old lady sends us a small present of butter at times—of her households manufacture—one arrived at breakfast time this morng—One of the steamers for this place & for Dublin was burnt in Plymouth harbour on 6th Day night. She had a quantity of goods for people living here. We have fine weather but cold. The wind has changed to day & I fear it will be wet.—Pleae continue thy favors for which I sent but a poor return. We look forward to 3rd Day night which generally brings your budget with great pleasure—Please keep my note to thyself & then I can write freely about business matters

Thine sincerely



From Robert Spence, last sheet of a letter, presumably to Robert Foster, probably 1846-12-12

[. . .] amount of deficiency bills they have to draw for & for what years & if they have any returns to make & for what years & thou can by this means so how matters stand. If not satisfactory John Dale is a member of the Come & a man who would tell you all about it & if anything was wrong see if put right. But be careful for I would not hurt poor Joe's feelings needlessly We have had a heavy fall of snow from morng to night yesterday (6th Day) Everything is covered but it is sunny & bright this morning & all will soon disappear. It is my birthday. We are all well. Wilt thou be kind enough to send me the particulars of the remittance to Ben Ecroyd last 1st Mo—I am entering up my accounts & I want this thou can get if from the FPI book just the Prems & names & the amt of the Comn & the amt of Dft & wilt thou also send me particulars of any payts or credits in my account on a bit of paper from 10/291846 & also any small payts thou may have made for me up to the present time. I think the date I have given was the time we left home. I have my bank book here & it is posted up to the time we left possibly there may only be one or two—I don't want to draw for anything before the end of the year but when that is over I shall want it immediately. Would thou have a Dft drawn ready to enter immediately after the balance on the 31st & post it that night. Not to be debited to me until the second of Jany—Tell me if this would be possible & I believe thou wilt spare thyself a vast of anxiety & annoyance Thou has the power in thy own hands now. Dont lose it.—As regards taking charge of his will I would have thee do it with pleasure in the bank safe—I should think that was quite desirable but have as little to do with the affair as thou can—What is the amount of Harrys note to him—Has old Wm given him his portion during his life because of this is has been done it alters the face of affairs It is an interesting subject. I am sorry thou has had this trouble with it but I cannot say I am surprised considering the terms the old man has always been on with us—Thou might give Purvis leave to check with propriety he is a very decent fellow—no overdraw—Mrs Carnaby has the look of a frequent marrier. She made a very jolly widow—I guessed Milburn. I think Wm Chapman had better be set on to the General Premm it is possible there may be swindling on the way—If you begin with them dont let them rest. The first application should be very respectful but very firm & decided—Get to know what shabby, if not I will send a cheque about the end of the month & tell thee how much to send. I have just enough to last up to the end of the year— With dear love

Thine sincerely


I could like to be at the bank for an hour this morning to tall thee my mind about matters but this is a pretty good substitute I am really very much obliged for thy frequent letters. Thou has remembered me kindly & quite redeemed thy character which once was only bad:—

Has John got the eggs from Capn Harrison for Dodshon.


From Robert Spence, 1846-12-20, addressed to Robert Foster at Union Bank, North Shields, envelope sealed <Sarah>

Union Bank [crossed through in pencil, in an unidentified hand, and replaced with "Falmouth")

No Shields 12/20 1846

Dear Robert

Various letters from you & papers bearing date & post marks from 3rd Day to 5th reached us on 7th Day Evening. We are much obliged to all for the various accounts we have of your wonderful storm. I should have liked to see it. Here all traces have been gone since fifth day & we have beautifully fine weather & mild 6th Day Morning was about as fine as I would with so see. We were on the shore for 3 hours & it was as mild as midsummer—Thank thee for thy accounts of my expenditure & for they proposal to send me money which I will send thee a cheque for on 6th day next when I shall be writing to thee. I am very desirous to keep down my expenses this year. They are heavy enough already—Would thou cask Robert to see after Jessy lighting fires in our house & also if needful to get some one to clear the kitchen windows of snow & to make arrangements for the payment of Jessy if they have not been made already. He will have to get the money from thee—please supply him—It is of importance to see that all is kept as dry as possible. Will there be a very serious deficiency in Henry's concerns so as to leave Eliz short.—Has thou heard this or will matters be much as they had contemplated. I fear poor Henry in his anxiety to believe things were right must have deceived himself—Has he valued his Stock too high or has he been robbed by his employed? It would not do to charge P & F. Dont do it.—I think thou had better continue to advice American Bills &c for a week before through the winter—We should be quite solf if any delay took place—We should be obliged to pay all the Exs—I dont suppose Dickenson will offer more than £50 either that or £70 might be taken with safety. Wilt thou be kind enough to tell me how Woodalls painting has come & also if thou can, get me his address from Thos Ingham—If it is packed in a box where it will be safe from finger marks & from dust perhaps that would be the best for it. But if it has no case about it & is exposed to the danger of injury from fly blows, damp or dust I should like thee to take charge of it & lock it safely by out of harms way until thou hears from me. Is it a good painting—Is it nice—What size is it & does thou think it worth frame & glass which would only cost 8/- or 10/- & would be the safest cover for it.—Please send me word—There will be a [illegible word, double-underlined] Bill against me from Thomas Ingham. Will thou send me it when it comes in before thou pays it.—& if he does not send it with the others perhaps thou had better ask him for it & tell him it will be better that it should be paid.—Now with respect to the Irish Subscription I shall state all my circumstances to thee & if thou then thinks I should pull out tell me so in thy next. Thou knows that before I was married I had saved between 800 & £1000 that when I married my income & expenditure, the last by no means extravagant ran side by side & that each year saw me in much the same position as the first. This year I have certainly had a large income between 400£ & 500£ but instead of having laid anything by as a provision for old age, or for my family if I die young, the little I had saved was decreased fully £300 by the heavy expenses of our journey & by my illness. Thou also knows that fully 300£ or £330 of what remained of my property is unproductive (that Gas affair)—Well thou well say but thou got £1300 only a little while ago but Bob if I should not live long this & all I have will be little enough to leave to those who have a far stronger claim upon it than any other object—I do think that seeing I have had to spend £300 at least from the savings of my early years to meet this years wants I must not subscribe—Our expenses for the coming year must of necessity be heavy. We have hesitated for some time whether it was right for us to have Mother over here during Sarah's confinet & this we have at last decided upon. Of course we shall pay the expense of it. There are many reasons to cause us to expect to live very nearly up to our income next year. I dont think we are extravagant & cannot in looking back tax myself with having spent much in luxuries or in such like things for ourselves—It may be a question whether we ought not to be able to spare more from our abundance for the wants of others but I think thou will acquit me of endeavouring to shirk the payt of £5 or £10 to save my pocket.—I am convinced that it is more than I should give. Art thou? Write me fully all thou thinks about it only, dont write me down stingy & never class me amongst the number of buttoned up pocked gentry who are never to be asked to give anything to anything. With regard to the objects of your subscriptions I hope you will take good care that your money is properly distributed & does not go to such worthies as purchase arms or swell the repeal rent with the money they get. Does thou read the Times Irish articles so carefully & always

all well — Thine RS—

Though this is a question with me—it is not the question the question is—Is it my duty or is it not. Have I the means or have I not without forgetting other stronger claims.


From Robert Spence to Robert Foster; envelope only, postmarked Falmouth 1846-12-23, sealed <RS>

From Robert Spence, 1847-01-18, letter sealed <RS>, no envelope

Second Day

Dear Robert

Wilt thou send me Twenty Pounds Dft @ ct as soon as convenient. I hope all things will soon be comfortably over but thou may be sure I feel anxious. It is a great comfort having you with me—


½ past 12

All is comfortably over & S & her son are doing well

Thine RS

[A pencil note on the letter, in an unidentified hand, says "Edward H.", so confirming this note as referring to the birth of Edward Hagen Spence, born at Falmouth on 1847-01-18.]


[From Robert Spence, empty envelope, addressed to Robert Foster at Union Bank, North Shields, Northumberland, 1847-01-21]

From Robert Spence, 1847-01-28, addressed to Robert Foster at Union Bank, North Shields

Falmouth 1/28th 1847—

My dear Cousin

I am waiting for the end of a shower for my mornings walk—It was soon ended & I have had it. Thank thee for thy list of residences I shall soon trouble thee for some more—One way or other I have made many valuable additions to my list of autographs Since I came here—Sarah is very nicely & sits up for some time daily, has excellent nights & in all respects she & the boy are well. She has had [illegible word, looks like 'casective'] nights since I wrote to sisters If thou hast not heard of any ferry shares please read the enclosed note to Anthy Atkinson & if thou agreest therewith send it to him—If it is too late to buy with the Divd the price should not exceed 7:18:—for i see the last quoted price is 8:3:—including Divd As to Consols in the present state of affairs they cannot rise more than 3 or 4 per Cent but most likely they will fall still more now they would have to rise fully 3 or 4 per Cent to make it worth my while to buy to hold even for one year only & it is most likely that they would do more than this—Possibly our Newcastle friends might object to my doing so & I should not like for so small a possible advantage to run the risk of being deemed a speculator Though I consider this would be a perfectly legitimate spec—Whis is Ormston. Thou has mentioned his name in connection with Carr several times—As regards the sale of Jones's property it is well for C & Co but take great care we get our 900£. I expect there will be an attempt at some ruse to do us. Is he going to carry on both the Pottery & the Brewery—if so I am sure he is very dangerous. If thou should hear of any Ferry Shares please secure them at once for me & I will sell Bank Shares to meet the payt. Carr has had that £600 worth of Glass &c longer on hand than is desirable—It is has [sic] been held out as something in prospect ever since his fire. I do not suppose John Patton would have left him if it had not been for the risk he is in with respect to that Low Lights By concern. Has he paid Rochester & his own PN yet—How are the overdue bills looking now—It is very well we have been away from weather so severe as you have had. It is much more than ordinarily so. For we hear very cold accts from the North constantly. We have a good deal of wind & lightning at night & some thunder also. The weather is squally but fine. Thou will see that the Genl Premm is now the Genl Insurance—Of course as the Premm system is discontinued all old scores on the old system will now be drawn for. Thou should have an explanation at once from Bulmer—How is Henrys a/c going on. Has thou remitted B Ecroyd—I see the Newcastle Lible Prem is also altered to the Liberal Insurance—They dont find the old systems work well. Thou will excuse my dearth of news I have none—With dear love to all   Thine sincerely

R Spence

From Robert Spence, 1847-01-30, addressed to Robert Foster at Union Bank, North Shields; envelope sealed <RS>

Seventh Day

1/30 1847

Dear Robert

Please pay £5 to the Irish Subsn for me not the advertising One but the Friends i suppose thou considers it the best I can assure thee We have not felt easy since my refusal & having been guilty of a small piece of luxury for ourselves last night it seemed to clinch the matter Thou wilt say this is not being the "cheerful giver" neither is it, but still i feel it is a duty & it is never too late to acknowledge one's error—I hope it may be in time to do some good. Give it to the best subscription thou knowest their merits better than I do—Please remit Dodshon for me £3:2:2. [illegible letter or mark] in such manner as thou usual[ly] remits him—at sight.—& debit me with it. Tell him it is sent at my request— S__ is very nicely & I hope to have her down stairs to morrow I am off to market & to the Bakers who I am going to blow up for short measure, sourness &c—One feels the cost of bread when one pays the bills.—I bought myself a crust at a little hovel yesterday for which I paid handsome I was taking a long walk & hungry & thought it best to provide for natures wants The woman apologized for the absence of butter but said "if we is able to get sich bread as this we thinks we does well" I eat it heartily.—Thine with dear love              RS—

I hope my order is not too late. I have enclosed a cheque for the amt


From Robert Spence, 1847-02-21, addressed to Robert Foster at Union Bank, North Shields

Falmouth 2/21 1847

Dear Robert

Thine of the 16th & 18th for both of which I am very thankful are before me. I wish I could send thee as interesting a budget of news in return—The childre have been very far from well good part of the week but I hope now that it will prove no worse than a severe feverish cold. Sally began first on 3rd Day & was very poorly on 5th & 6th Days if it had turned out either scarlet ever or measles I should not have wondered for there were all the appearances that indicate such an attack coming on—Besides this our doctors family have just had the scarlet fever & it now seems he himself had the fever at the same time but did not go off work" This is cutting it rather too fat. But is has I hope not succeeded. I wonder how many families he expected to infect—I have not been able to get a sight of Southeys book Howitts I should call it. If thou should see it at Philipsons just look out one or two of the addresses—Moores & Southeys more particularly. I got Prince Albert's a day or two ago. I heard from Dodshon last evening. He has promised some lady friends of his some shells & I am about to try to get them for him but I fear he will be disappointed with the kinds. I wonder who his lady friend is—Have you decided to apply for a redirection of rent for the Library Room—If you have you should give timely notice. The proprietors are entitled to it. Dont fret & despair about the small support we receive. I think it is fully proportioned to that of most places for such institutions. I think our working expenses are too heavy for the amt of our income & that in one or two things you ought to reduce It is evident that we cannot expect to effect a reduction but by striking at some of these heavy expenses. Though as a shareholder in the Liby my pocket might suffer yet I think if you can get as good a room at a lower rent your duty is very clear—but if you do so change have a bond from the lawman that he wont raise the rent when you have the chance of getting back again to your old place. Have a written agreet with him or he'll cheat you—As Charles how much flour a Bushell of wheat yields—i.e. on an Avge. & ask him what price bests & seconds are now—I am curious on these points—We are getting a mighty small loaf for 3d now. It is excellent Bread but the quantity is small. This reminds me of Mr Rogers from whom I heard this morning & who desires me to give Georges & his kind love to all of you—He considers Lord John's measures likely to be very useful in alleviating the distress which exists—from this I should fancy like all sensible folk he counts the wild & [illegible word] proposal of Bentinck Hudson & Co—What a singular scheme it was. How extremely interesting the parliamentary debates & the foreign news are at the present time.—I devour the Times now—& the Local papers also are full of interest—I agree with thee that thy receipt for a paid of Irish inexpressibles as worn at the present time would not suit my bottom. I daresay it is very likely that if I had put off my investment in Unions for a few months I might have got them much cheaper for if the money market continues stiff they will be safe to feel the effects of it—still I am satisfied with the price & I think they will pay as well as anything i could have. Did Charles sign the Dd Wt for "in trust for RS" & was it placed to my Cr—what was the amt of it—Is Joseph's application to Daivson on a/c of our Balance or on acct of C & Co's—Do the overdrawn keep pretty much as they were. I wish thou would let Wm copy the last column of the Green Book which you have done up some time when he has five minutes to spare it would not take long & I should like to see it—I feel as though this lying fallow did not suit my business capacity. I fear I shall require a good deal of eldering before I am of much use to thee—Carrs payt is correct. I had fancied it would be a larger amt. Tawells Autograph I have. It is a curious one & I set store by it for you dont often get the fist of such a villain—I have only one other fit to pass with him that is R. Belaney. Thou wilt remember his poisoning Mrs B— Beamont think where father had got hold of him—I should think Bolams would be a capital one to make a respectable murdering trio.—It should be easily got for as clerk to the Savings Bank his name was in every bodys book—I wish we had the Glass house here for our Cornish maid has made a sessions of the tumblers & salt cellars & we shall have to be mulched in heavy damages—Dont do too much at the premises—any reasonable alterations are desirable. I hope that with care the debt may soon be so reduced as that we need not fear a sale of the propy. I am glad thou has concluded to speak to Joseph—Do it kindly & carefully & let him see that thy object is his good. He cannot take it other than kindly if thou manages nicely but it will require very careful management. Perhaps he will kick if he des be very cool. Thou must be as well aware as I am how great the want of confidence must be which we can place in him if he persists in it—I am convinced if after speaking to him he should still do so that we should let S.C. know. Why he could never trust him alone with the Cash. It would never do—There are a hundred serious views wh you cannot help taking of such a case—Saml Hedleys salary is either incorrectly state or he is going to give up the post he held. Have they appointed a new manager. If so Hedleys post maybe like Jno M Cs & to him we gave I believe 200£ per Annum. 12,000,000 per annum is a good amt of discount very good—I wonder how much John Fenwick thinks folk will swallow of course they cannot make less than ½ per Cent by it which should give by itself something like 60,000 £ a year—I think ½ per Cent is a very moderate profit on such discounts as they must have in a million per month—The Liar. I wonder how many hundred millions they turn over in the year. It is small wages for those who have to look after such heavy transactions—We have no right to a road to the gardens that I am aware of—except by Norfolk St & possibly by the loss of the field just a little below the Rail but of the latter road I am not fully sure whether we have full right to it—I always used it—Mary Chuter's Exors are Joseph Burrell, & Lionel Heppel—give the letter to Burrell. I have not written to Volkar for the chance is not tempting enough. It is an old dodge—With very dear love to all

Thine RS—

Sarah was beginning to write to Sisters but Baby is squalling & the Children are fretting, so that she will not manage I fear—Folks say that a mother is strongest with three & I think it is not unlikely to be true.


From Robert Spence, 1847-03-16, addressed to Robert Foster at Union Bank, North Shields; envelope sealed <RS>


3rd Day 3/16 1847

Dear Robert

John Chapman says that I am "on no account" to return at present & I feel convinced that on account of my health it will be wiser for me to remain a few weeks longer. I find that 6 mos of 4 weeks each will be up at the end on the 22nd of next month & I hope soon after then to return. If any pressing need arise, I am still ready to come at once but if this is not the case I believe the hope of benefit to my health is greater from the few weeks we have to remain than it has been hitherto—The only time I have suffered from cold has been during the last month & it has left me some little lost ground to regain which in the mild weather coming on now I have ground for hoping that I may do I dont wonder that thou ceels the weight & responsibility of such a time bt I think with an ordinary amount of care & by being careful to incur no responsibility without consultation at Newcastle thou will still get comfortably through—Do not care one fig for offending any body—we have enough "good customers" without fretting about any more & no one who has money & is worth caring a fig about will take offence at close examination. I think Philipson's account should not be taken. The advance is far too heavy—he squabbled with us years ago because he could not get so much & these are not times for bidding anything for such custom.—We can spare for Laing all he gets. Robt Davison is no loss I should have been very chary with him for thou wilt remember what trouble he had to pay his averages at times. Mark Robson I know—& Wm Miller by name, but I dont remember him personally. Does Shallet Bewson make any offer nobody should be asked by anyone to come to us for it will recoil sadly upon us if it is done. Joseph did not send me any list but James did from Newcastle. I see Wingraves' name in it—Quite a sufficient black mark Blackwoods—Jas L. Barker—how is he going on—Geo Hale—shoemaker & grocer both. Coppin of BlythJos GreyRob Hale the draperPeter Matthews!!!—Thos Metcalf the Grocer we quarrelled with him I think when thou was in London in 46 [possibly 45]. Have nothing to do with him or any of them except they bring cash to leave with us—Frances Robson—Dorothy Steel—should this be Stormont of North Shields. Philip Taylor. Sam J. Tibbs—(be very careful) I would have nothing to say to him. Mary Ford. I rejoiced in this windfall for John Sadler—if it were not for others I could wish it would swallow up all he has It would only be retributive justice Gilbert Ward—James Wilkie of Blyth we have refused him twiceRobt Wheldon Thos C. lLeetch, Thos Reed & Thomas Nichals—TM & Son I wonder if he holds many he has plenty of the needful. Margaret Bossweell—What does John Fenwick say & do— The four a/cs thou has mentioned as being opened seem to me safe. Marine Insurance Cos are dangerous a/cs and should not overdraw—Did Dick d__n us too for if the lift we incursed I think it was an honor—but what does John say & where is he. But thy last letter contains a piece of real good news—worth all the anxiety that off of you may have & have had from this event—I consider John M Chapmans return to his post as a very great thing for us increasing the Value of our shares & an earnest of future good—I am much pleased to hear of it—Yesterday was a lovely day & I had nearly my usual portion of exercise. If difficulties thicken or any circumstance arises to make it desirable for me to come I shall hold myself prepared to do so but it appears to me I trust in every thing you are getting on nicely & with very little sense for anxiety or cause. I consider you have astonishing proofs of the full confidence reposed in you by the public & it is alike creditable to both parties—I was pleased to hear from Joseph Watson that he had been advising the JS folks to meet their creditors & shareholders, at the request of JM Chapman & Jos Grote—This looks as though the Bk of Engd & our folks acted together & looks well

Thine RS

I would take up none of therir advance on the security of Promy Notes & Deposit of Deeds we have enough of it—

Williams directions to the papers break loose ask him to [bagg?] a bit of string round them


From Robert Spence, undated (envelope postmarked Falmouth, 1847-03-30), addressed to Robert Foster at Union Bank, North Shields


3rd Day Morng

Dear Robert

I dont feel able to write much for though I feel really much better yet I am very weak. My cough is very much better & I cough very seldom but when I do it shakes me sadly for I have not strength to keep it quiet—It is well I got well here for my chest was much relieved by the mildness of the air & my chief ailment is weakness which good nursing & kitchen physic will soon I hope remove—

Thou has not erred in respect to Thos Sritch [?] thou would have done if thou had taken Turnbulls bill & I would most certainly have acted as thou has done & refused it—Not a doubt about it—Write to me often & tell me all that goes on it is very interesting to me—in all matters when thou art bothered ask me for any help I can give. It is a pleasure to me & does me good to see that I can do anything of use to any body. Farewell. Give my dear love to all.




From Robert Spence, undated (probably 1846 or 1847)



4th Day

Dear Robert

I dont exactly understand how Old William can have left his propy in Trust for John, Maria &c. for they have no children who does it go to afterwards—These trust concerns are serious affairs often lasting for many, many years saddling you with labour without end & squabbles innumerable. However that is not the matter, according to the proposed distribution (which is not very seriously unfair) many years will probably elapse before the executor will be freed from his duties & mine is a very uncertain life. I think WW had much better appoint thee as he wished originally provided thou does not still feel the repugnance to the post which was the case at first. I think he has improved his distribution amazingly from what thou at first thought & if Harrys Promsy Note will bear any proportion to the other shares & that is given up to him I dont see much that is very objectionable in the matter except the personal character of those to whom the property will go & their well know[n] quarrelsome greedy dispositions which will certainly lead to trouble—I think thou gave him excellent advice & from this I am persuaded that if thou took the office however much trouble & annoyance thou might thy self experience—the parties their selves could not have a better trustee—As to giving a direct refusal to the old man to assist him in the matter I dont think it would be right for either of us to do so but I do think considering my state of health that if either of us must help him thou art the one—Tell him I think so—It is a serious matter at any time in this case especially so—The old man knows that I would gladly do any thing I could to serve him & that it is from the belief that I should not be able to attend as he would with to his affairs that I decline interfering in them.—The same excuse does not appertain to thee—Wilt thou send me in the way & at the time proposed a Dft at sight for £25. I enclose a cheque for the amount & if thou can oblige me by sending it as proposed it will come in very seasonable for to me it is some thing new to pinch a little in order not to exceed what one wishes—said "pinching" does not nip very hard. Who is to be W.W's other executor?—Much depends on that

Thine sincerely


If it was thee I would not mind being the other but not with anyone else.


From Robert Spence, 1847-04-10

7th Day 4/10 1847

Dear Robert

I feel much obliged for the various accounts of payts &c which thou has sent me & also for the black list which arrived this morning I shall be obliged if thou wilt continue to forward it from time to time—In the first place the last acct of small payts thou sent me came to £4:18:11 [interest ?] The last entry in it is 12 Nov Book Socy sub 10/- Low on Books 6d. The a/c thou sent me yesterday begins "as per a/c 5:16:8—17/9 paid between 12/7 and 1/12 Imprt Rate 9/10. I have not particulars of will thou be kind enough to send them. It is just the amt thou has paid for me betwene the end of one acct & the beging of the other Thou has supposed the acct thou sent me came up to 1/12 instead of 12/7. Will thou be kind enough to send the addl particulars next letter for they will come first thing in my accts for the year. I am vexed with one payment "4/1 Penitentiary Subsn 10/-" I dont subscribe & fear it is a swindle. Does thou know who it was paid to & can it be got back—Please never pay another for me to it. I will tell thee how it is. A year ago last 10th Month Aunt Sally was staying at our house & gave us many long reports of the good she had done with her Penitentiary. I was pleased with her report & [illegible word struck through] gave her 10/- which she promised to acknowledge as an Anonymous Donation as I told her though I could afford it then I did not know how it might be another year & for another reason I did not wish my name to appear as a Subscriber. I told her that if so inclined & if we could afford it I would perhaps give her it again another year but in the same way & as a Donation—well thou remembers last 10th Month being at our house on 7th Day when she was there to tea also It was 10 mo 24th Thou had hard dunning of me for a subscription to the improvts in the meetg & got 30 shillings from me. I then gave her 10/- & said "thou knows what that is for" "The same as last year" & of course I think I had done all that was needful—No subscription can in any way be due from me & if I gave a donation it certainly is not due till next 10th Mo—Now I think thou will agree I have been done & done shabbily Shall I get it back & have my name struck out which I never wished to appear or shall I pocket the affront & pay no more for this year all events.—But any way pay no more subscriptions for me to it. Does it say when for—I have given thee a long history but I want thee to see that I dont complain without cause. Wm Brown & Sons are heavy—but I think this is often the case when they have profitable times. I dont think it is an amt to be uneasy about. Has John Robson paid in yet—I think Davison sums a little up 1541—before the advance of £1000 was it not below £500 Does it arise from the Life Policy Prem & the Int for then he ought to pay. But can he theres the rub Metcalfe & Son are heavy £2620—Re they good. I should think so—Ann Barrass Ann & John Brown, Ann Beale, E E Oliver & Robt Turner are all in very nice order. How is it that Dyckins [?] are 274 above the £1000. I hope thou art not giving way. Is it the Newcastle people. I am sure we could manage them  & have done so better without their help. Really it is a serious increase. How is it.—Harrys a/c I see is down a little. Will the realization of the stock leave a balance after the payt of debts,—I doubt it—we ought at any rate to take sure they dont get the balance increased—Do be careful of this for it is not an unlikely thing to be tried when they are winding up Thou must at first sight of an advance tell Wm it cannot be allowed & thou may stop it then but if we allow it we may whistle for our money afterwards. What is the Genl Premm doing. We will make them do something when I get home but in the meantime does thou hear anything—Pearl still keeps about the old figure. Arthur is down a little but 1000 is still too heavy—I think this is all—

The offer for the House in Church St should be taken at once I will see what we can do about the Pews when I return I remember Mr Wardle persuaded father not to do anything with them I think chiefly because he wished to continue to sit in them as long as he lived & he would have to turn out if they were sold—One cannot wonder at his wish for I believe he was once one of the pillars of the church. Does he continue to pay some Rent for the—. I dont think it is a payt equivalent to their value—I am very sorry to see from a share list that Anty Atkinson has sent me that both Unions & Districts are down at 6:12:6 for it does as thou says show a very feverish state of the public mind. I dont fear their alternately regaining their old standard but timid folds will be shaken bu such a depreciation & suppose their are good reasons for it. Does thou hear whether it arises from a great forcing of shares on the market or from scarcity of buyers or is it merely a sharebroking dodge or what reason is there for such a "quoted" fall. As to reports one need not wonder—for my own part I have always thought the Directors were kept shamefully in the dark as to the real state of affairs—even poo rather never knew what their position was at Newcastles "re Scarth &c" He at all events used to say so & to express frequent anxiety about it & I think the way in which the shareholders who enquired about Scarth &c were snubbed at the Genl Meetg was shameful The Chapmans have always behaved towards the Shareholders as though they had no money at stake in the concern—I consider the carrying on of that iron business a shameful speculation—totally unjustifiable even by the way in which they say it is likely to turn out for our good. It might have been very different & whether it was so or not it is an improper sphere for Bankers. We should keep to Banking & not go into Trade I do not wonder that these & other matters cause much anxiety amongst such people as Dryden, Meane, Elder &c I believe it would be for the future advantage of the Bank for the Directors without any further delay to go through all the Balances with the assistance of the Managers of the Bank & in future do it frequently & also that they should turn the matter of our BillCases—I believe it would have a very excellent effect every way to have a report from them every half year that they had examined & found things satisfactory Thou will think I am coming out as a reformer in how far does thou agree with me. I think there is too much unlimited power & responsibility at Newcastle I fear poor Jos Laing is quite deranged Has Milburn regularly entered. The purchases into the Funds indicate the state of Public feeling—for it cannot be attributed to the townees [?] of the price only. The last Item in they a/c is "portage of American letter 1/-" This is one that came in 2nd Mo is it not. There has not been another yet has there for I am expecting one. I aint going to emigrate

My cough continues sadly troublesome at times but I sleep well it does not disturb me then at times I am painfully weak but generally very nicely & always in good spirits & when I look back for a week I see a great improvement & I hope as it is gradual it may be lasting—still I am sadly shaken for the present but we have already seen a wonderful improvement in me when very ill & I trust I may soon be myself again.—With dear love  to all

I am thine



[From Robert Spence, empty envelope, addressed to Robert Foster at Union Bank, North Shields, Northumberland, 1848-01-26]

From Robert Spence, no date [?1851], on letterhead of Union Bank, Newcastle upon Tyne

Dear Bob

I send thee this mornings Times—Mind to see John & try if we can make an arranget I am ready to take it the 3rd Day if I may have the absolute reversion to the property. — Published yesterday in London. You get it to day If you could arrange to take it one to day & one to morrow I would like it on 2nd. These are only specimen numbers—No fresh news but that the Duke of Wellington is being consulted & that the probabilities are in favor of a Russell & Graham ministry*—If so it will be decidly more liberal & I hope we shall be fee from that rascally [two illegible words, presumably a name] —

Thine truly


Papers last evening—no fresh news yet today

*This is in London


From Robert Spence, 1851-09-19, from Armagh (no envelope, but pencil note gives date and town)

4th Day

Dear Robert

We have but little time for writing for the hours we keep are so different to those we are accustomed to. I am writing before Breakfast @ 9 & 1 or 3 we have lunch, dine at six, & a cup of tea about nine.—This is a very delightful place & all of our friends here are most affectionately kind to us. We have a deal of music. Two wild Irish girls—the Miss Vesey's spent the day here yesterday. They were very beautiful singers & we had them hard at work with all manner of songs. We ride for some hours every day & there is a large garden attached to the house in which we spend much time. After dinner Sarah sips off her glass of whisky like a native ^Its a fib. & so do I. They are a very delightful people to be amongst most fully Irish in every way. But their customs & ways cannot easily be told in a letter so we will talk them out when I am with you—Their chief custom seems to be great kindness to their friends.—I have good reports from Newcastle which make me very easy about Business—To day we are going on excursion to a place about 7 miles from here & I believe they have planned another for two days 5th & 6. I suppose on 7th we shall turn our faces homeward. With dear love to all

Thine sincerely

      R Spence

Our very dear love to Emma & the girls at Hexham when thou art there


From Robert Spence, 1852-08-23 (date of postmark: letter just gives date as "2nd Day"); addressed to him at Union Bank, North Shields

Wakefield 2nd Day

Dear Robert

We are still here for we are in such good quarters & so kindly looked after that we cannot do better—We shall go on to morrow to Wales. This afternoon we are going to Ackworth & this morning we have been seeing Wakefield. Yesterday we left here at 9 & spent the day @ Leeds. We got to the meeting house in time to attend the funeral & went after meeting to Cousin Robert Walkers where we met with more Walker cousins than I ever knew I had. They were much pleased with our going—I am glad we went. It was a very large funeral & chiefly their own relations from round & near about. Only a few from a distance. Wm & Hh Hoyland were there from manchester but Cousin John & Hh Walker were not. Spence & Mary were about the only people I knew at first but almost every one of them was either connected with some one we knew or I had known them 20 years ago—Joseph & Henry Walker are both in America. There were, but two of the four @ home—Wm & Edwd both of them specially kind—Cousin Robert Walker was dreadfully low. Anna Maria has left 3 fine little girls. She had been ill for two years—We got very nicely here. Rather late.—The Leeds passengers were whisked away as thou said & never allowed to go near the station but kept in the carriage outside—

Our Dear love to all & if thou sees Charlie—youngster to morrow give him sundry kisses from both of us if thou can—Thine affy


We did right to go to Leeds for though surprised to see us it gave great pleasure to all of them—


[From Robert Spence, empty envelope, addressed to Robert Foster at Union Bank, North Shields, and postmarked Carnarvon, 1852-08-28]

From Robert Spence, 1852-08-29 (calculated date, from date of following letter, and address from which sent: letter just gives date as "7th Day")

Llanberis North Wales

7th Day—

Dear Robert

We are now comfortably at home here where we have been staying since 5th Day morning & when we think of remaining until 5th Day & then pushing fast homeward We are at the foot of Snowdon & alongside of the Llanberis Lakes & in the centre of a beautiful district—Very mountainous rocky & heathery. We had a story passage to Bangor from Liverpool & Sarah was very sick—Bangor was full & after spending a night there we came on here & well pleased we are with the change—It is a delightful place & we are taking care not to rush about too much but take it very quietly & just roam about the country side—The mail starts in a few minutes & we must go to the post—We hope to hear again soon but we have not heard from home since 3rd Day. We think the letters are perhaps delayed at Bangor.

Thine sincly


From Robert Spence, 1852-08-31; addressed to him at Union Bank, North Shields (this and the previous letter apparently sent in the same envelope)


8/31 1852

I am much obliged to thee for thy letter & for the trouble thou had taken with dear Charlie. His letter as thou well knew it would be was a great delight to us both. His commissions so far as may be consistent with a consumptive purse shall be attended to. Bless his small heart. If I have wished for him once it has been just fifty times to day

We have been roaming about amongst the Hills & are now sitting on a little staircase waiting for a room to get tea 1st & 2nd Day the house was very quiet but to day it has been as full as ever. Yesterday was showery but we had some nice walks & first day was a real wet day but even then we got out & were at Church with Sir Harry George Smith of Alswal in the afternoon. I think we shall most likely leave hear on 5th day & get Liverpool by 6th or 7th Day on 7th Day we hope to reach Carlisle & home on 1st Day night or if I dont manage that on second Day morning in time for work. I shall try this & hope to manage it. I trust we shall find you all well & that dear Emma's cold is better Will thou give this notice to John & if the Reform party defend my vote ask him to put it into the right hands—This has been a fine day for the mountains. Cloudy at times but generally very fine & clear—we climbed two great hills and came down the rocky front of one & through a thick oak wood on another. We just dashed through knowing there was a bottom to it & not without some troubles. I am looking very well & feel much better for my jaunt—very much better indeed & good need for me to do so for I have taken great care & it is a fine place for good air & exercise. One mournful looking Gent has just come down finding his Bed in No 5 engaged. I fear he has not looked sharp enough after No 1—There are two artists here but I cant find out who they are. They were taking two fine water color views of the lakes the casle & the distant mountains. Dear Love to all—Thine sincely


Write us a note to Carlisle on 6th Day to say how all goes on.


From Robert Spence, 1853-09-28 (date of postmark: letter just gives year and month); addressed to him at Union Bank, North Shields

9th Month 1853


Dear Robert

Will thou reply the morning thou receives this which I expect will be (fifth Day) & tell us what train thou will come by on 3 Day & Jos will send some one in with the Dog cart to meet the train. There is the train @ ¼ to 2 this stops @ Heaton & will probably get to Morpeth about 3 or there is the market Train but that does not leave Newcastle till 4 & thou would not be there until very late say 7 or ½ past 7. The Fare to Morepeth second class is not more than 2/- from Heaton perhaps 2/6 from Newcastle. Write at once for if thou does not we should not get thy letter until 7th Day & that would be too late to send the Dog Cart in. We will be able to get thee a comfortable Bed either at an Inn or in the Village.

Joseph has to go into Newcastle on second Day morning & will have the Dog Cart to go by. You would be there in time for the 10 train down to Shields. Yo would leave here about 6 oClock in the morning. There is not any conveyance here at night. So be sure to write that we may send for thee if thou comes. The horse wants work & Joseph would be glad to let it have a job.

The weather is rather boisterous but we all very well & enjoying ourselves much.

With dear love to all



Will thou be so kind as get Lucy to take the observations while thou are away & will thou bring them up to the end of the month with thee.—

If thou does not come will thou send me them on the first

If thou comes bring £5 of silver with thee & I will give thee gold for it.



From Robert Spence, 1859-10-01; addressed to him at Crescent, Cullercoats


10 Mo 1st 1859

Dear Robert

I am very much obliged by thy note & for the information contained in it. Nothing shews their weakness more than such a selection for it is evident that they had tried men of position & means & have failed. For Lambton I think it is the best thing that could have happened for I have repeatedly heard people say that it was an unwise measure for them. I also heard it stated within the last three months that they were not satisfied. This may be entirely unfounded. Fancy Jos Walker!! I consider it infitely worse than Cooks appointment. He will be completely the creature of W & they will all be at his mercy. What an upturning [?] he will make at the Union. Wonders never cease.—

We are all well—but we have weather suited to the district. Rain never ceases except to mizzle & then you get on your coats to prepare for a start only to get drenched to the skin. We were up Fairfield & had one delightful day on 4th Day but it is an uncertain climate—

We have seen nothing more of John I fear he has run away in disgust. I am glad to hear of Patton Strength [?]—

Thine affectly



From Robert Spence, no date, no address

Pleas send me by whoever comes Forty Five pounds that is to pay our passage home & our lodgings [& me?] there & I think it is better to save the Comn on it—Dont charge it until after the balance please. I think it is my only safe place to stay here to escape cold.

Thine RS

5£ Bank notes will be best.


From Robert Spence, no date, no address; fragment only

obliged & will send some more that I want—I write to them & have a civil reply always—some times quite sweet—I am become quite a polite letter writer

The addresses should be plain & be sure thou gives me the right names & please dont hoax me—

& finds the

Now dont be vexed at the trouble for if thou cant take it I shall be

Samuel Rogers (the poet) he is a partner with Rogers's the Bankers but dont live there—

Sir N. Harris Nicolas.

Capn Marryatt

Leigh Hunt.

Charles Swaine.

Geo Cattermole }

                      }            Painters.

Thos Creswick  }

W H Ainsworth

G.P.R. James

Gilbert Abbot A Beckett

Caroline E. Norton

David Roberts R A       }

Clarkson Stanfield R A  }

Leslie R A                  }       Painters

J M W Turner             }

Etty                         }

D Marlise R A             }


From Margaret Spence (1825–1851) and Ann Spence (1825–1859), 1848-07-17

Ipswich 7/17th 48

My very dear Robert

What does thou mean not letting us know when thou art within 4 hours ride of us?

We heard from Alick to day (who has been to see Fred. at Reeds) that "Robert & Jos Foster came" too"—He said it as cool as tho' thou was nobody and thou may imagine the state we were thrown into. Shall we see thee?

We leave I. on 2nd day & spend it at Colchester with Joe & C—Then we come on in the evening either to Reads or London. Aunt Corder has so much company that I think we had better not go at all but we have not fixed—If we don't go to London on 2nd, it will be on 3rd day so wilt thou ask thy Ma if they can take us in so soon—It will be provoking to miss thee so close—I wish we were only coming on 7th day to spend 1st day at Stranraer—The steamer comes on 4th day, do come & see us?

I can't write any more. I'm nearly wild missing all our friends; but it cant be helped we'll come soon home. I wish I was going with thee. Farewell, give my dear love to all & thyself & write or else come.

Thy affecte Cousin

Margaret Spence

My very dear Robert

Thou see's it's useless trying to do us, for thou cant—we have friends! But really Robt how I wish we were in London, do come & see us. D & B can tell thee how easy it is getting & we have a bed at thy service—Tommy is going tomorrow to stay with his maid till 5th day so we shall be select. I've been in a palpitation all today when ever anyone came up. We will write to my Aunt in a few days. Thank B. for his prudent note & say I'll answer it soon. Thy

attached Coz.



From Ann Spence, 1848-04-27, addressed to Howard Street, North Shields; envelope sealed <AS>

4 Stranraer Place

4/27, 1848.

Thurs day

My very dear Cousin

Thy kind note, (& all thy former ones) was most acceptable & entertaining. Meggy says I am to tell thee it was truly appreciated.—You seem to be quite gay with this polytechnic. I suppose Aunt Sally's bazaar has not yet opened. When Meggy wrote I was gone with Birket to see an exhibition of Water Colors; there were some very nice paintings, especially some by Absalon, & one by a Miss Setchell; we were there some hours. Henry, Caroline & Jane Carr took tea. Uncle & Aunt both had bad colds, Uncle has had so much face ache—On 4th day Meggy & I took a little walk alone as Aunt & Polly were making calls. It was a lovely day, but bitterly cold, indeed all this week it has been like winter almost—

Meggy had the face ache very bad, i think she had got a little cold. It was better before night & she has had none since.—Mary Howes took tea, & she, John, Birket, Polly & I went to Exeter Hall to hear Judas Maccabeua plaid It was the first night for the "New London Sacred harmonic society" & the profits were for the English workmen who have been turned out of France—The chorus's were very grand, one in particular, "see the conquering her" &c. We liked Miss Birch best amongst of the ladies who sang & Sims Reeves of the gentlemen. Old Lindley the famous violinest played a solo most beautifully—

Yesterday Polly & I went over some houses, that they think may do for John. They are so very nice, & not far from here, near to the Eyre Arms. After dinner, B. Meggy & I took an omnibus to the cellars & then D. & we 3 went to the Diorama, the scenes were Mount Etna by moonlight, day light & night with an erruption it is beautifully painted, there is also the inside of a cathedral by day & night.—We met the rest of the family (John excepted) & the Ruttys at G. Neighbours to tea—A young man called Jeremiah Barrett was there he had been taking Georges likeness in water color, it was excellent, also Henry's. He is going to do all the family. He played on the Concertina an instrument something of the nature of an accordeon. It reminded us of Lucy, for he played the Harrogate tunes. We had a pleasant evening. This morning it has been raining heavily, so we have kept in. Mary & Anne Howes are coming to tea. We intend leaving for Croydon at ¼ past 10 on 2nd day & going to Reeds on 3rd. We had a kind note from Aunt C—She hopes Tommy will be there while we are. I must bring this long history to a conclusion. We hope to hear from some of you tonight. This should have gone yesterday but we had to go before it was done. Meggy joins in dearest love to all with thy very affectionate Cousin

Anne Spence.

I hope Elizabeth is better again. Will thou tell Robt & Sarah, how much obliged we are for the note, and that a friend Tregellis wished me to giver her love to them.

Aunt Uncle & Polly send dear love.


From Ann Spence, c/o MB Foster, 4 Stranraer Place, Maida Vale, London, 1848-09-17

[envelope only; sealed <AS>]


From Ann (Spence) Foster, no date; no address

[Some indeterminate cash accounting in pencil on the back, and inside the flap, of the envelope.]


7th day eveg

My very dear Robt

It is truly pleasant to be able to write to you. I have not been allowed to do anything until today. Thy letter was most acceptable & the note very satisfactory & quite in time. You seem to have had quite a commotion on 5th day.—We look quite anxiously to 2nd day—the most formidable preparations are making they are fortifying all the public buildings &c. swearing in special constables by the dozen—It is really quite exciting.—I am afraid we shall not hear all about it, so well as if we were here—We have to go to Stamford hill that day—

I will write to thee another time as Meggy is writing now—

Believe me, thy very affecte Coz




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