Letter

Scope and Content

From Forest House, Leytonstone, Essex to John Fletcher at Madeley, Shropshire. Fletcher's letter arrived last night enclosed in one from Mary. 'Your application [to marry Mary] is open & candid. Your proposals in the letter to Mr Claude Bosanquet for securing my sister's fortune [ie allowing Mary to retain control over her own financial resources after marriage] is handsome & consistent with my ideas. The character I have heard of you from Miss Bosanquet…is such that it becomes me to approve the connection you are desirous of making with our family; & thank both you & my sister for the condescension you have expressed in asking my approbation'.

With regard to Samuel's uncle Claude Bosanquet the matter is rather different. If he were to consent to Mary's marriage, he would have to surrender to her the principal of a sum of money willed to Mary by her father, of which Claude is the trustee. Claude feels that 'the trust is reasonable' and he will not voluntarily give it up. Samuel is of a different opinion to his uncle as will appear by written proposals which he laid before his uncle aimed at achieving a settlement if he would agree to the marriage. Claude did not think fit to approve them and has ordered Samuel to write to Mary stating that he would not alter the trust by giving his consent, as his opinion is that their father's will is a very prudent one and the money could not be better administered. Samuel sent a copy of his proposals to Mary so that she could judge his sentiments regardless of the fact that their uncle has rejected the proposals. Fletcher is doubtless aware that the trust as it stands, allows the income from the invested money to be paid to Mary during her life and that the principal would be divided after her death among her children in equal amounts. If Mary dies childless the money would be divided among her brothers and sisters. Samuel was in favour of changing this last clause to allow Mary to dispose of the money under the terms of her will.

Samuel's brother [William] has also read Fletcher's letter and has promised to deliver the same to Claude Bosanquet in case he should decide to alter the sentiments he had previously expressed to Samuel about the marriage. Doubtless William will communicate with Fletcher. Samuel is however convinced that his uncle will not change his mind.

Samuel agrees with Fletcher that Mary's fortune burdened as it is by debt, is now more on a par with Fletcher's own income than was previously the case. 'I will go further, I say her fortune is so encumbered as to have seen her into difficulties, which nothing but the sale of all her landed estates can free her from: that had not that portion of her fortune which came to her by my father's will been tyed up by that will; probably she would have been ruined & therefore she should think well of that foresight that occasioned it being so secured. And that whoever marries her must expect much trouble before he can clear his way. At the same time that a man coming new into the business & unconnected with her adherents [Methodist women?] will be able to do much more than ever will be in her [power] alone to do'. If Fletcher is willing to shoulder such a responsibility then Samuel wishes him all the best .