Dr Chris Grant is a British scientist now living in California. He has a great interest in postal history and owns a rare letter dated Feb 2nd 1724/3. It is from Lady Anastasia Moore of Fawley, near Wantage, and was sent from that town to her sister Mrs Howard in London. The images below show the letter text and the letter cover – folded and unfolded.
In February 2006, Chris wrote: “On the cover reverse you will see a straight-line unframed WANTAGE receiving strike with the W on one edge of the folded paper and the ANTAGE on the other side (obviously the letter was folded and sealed for posting). One dealer I have shared this letter with says the WANTAGE strike is quite rare and use was only recorded for a 3 year period.”
“The red wax seal on back is not of high image quality but does show a rooster design – something I find mildly incongruous with the letter content. Also on reverse is an excellent 16mm Bishopmark 3/FE struck when the letter reached London. The charge for carriage of the letter is the handwritten 7 (pence) on the cover front – this amount was (of course) charged to the recipient (Mrs Howard). The charge is twice the usual rate for the time and implies the letter contained an enclosure. Obviously the letter would have travelled by horseback to Abingdon and from there via Maidenhead and Hounslow. Abingdon was recorded as a horse mail by-post in 1677.”
In my book Thames Valley Papists, the full text of which is on this website, you can read about Lady Anastasia and the stormy relationship she had with her husband, the Sir Richard to whom she refers. The bath which she mentions is the then highly fashionable spa city of Bath and ‘parris’ is, of course, Paris, where many English Catholics lived – and near which was the exiled Jacobite court. Fawley is near the old London to Bath coaching road, now the A4. Notice some archaic spellings, such as ‘att’ and ‘goe’.
My thanks to Chris for allowing us to share this rare example of recusant correspondence.