Letter

Scope and Content

From Forest House, Leytonstone, Essex to Cross Hall near Leeds, Yorkshire. Samuel returned from [Reading] Berkshire on Saturday evening. [His mother-in-law] Mrs Hunter is much better after her recent illness and indeed is as well as she has been for some years past. She has a house in Reading which she has made into a very comfortable residence and has left the house at Beachill to her son and his family.

Upon his return, Samuel found Mary's letter of October 10 and [their brother] Billy has also showed him one dated October 6. Samuel will try to answer her questions clearly and explicitly so that Mary and [John] Fletcher will understand. First even if Mary is correct to say that withholding her [trust] money is unjust and the rest that she had to say concerning their father's intentions [under the terms of his will], Samuel is sorry to opinion that he sees no possibility of their uncle [Jacob Bosanquet] rethinking his refusal to meddle with the terms of their father's will. Samuel described in a previous letter the conversation that he had with their uncle and the arguments which [Jacob] used. Samuel now discovers that when [Billy] went to [Jacob], after Samuel had left for Berkshire, with [John] Fletcher's letter, their uncle was adamant in his views and was indeed rather angry at being pressured to give up the money and settle it properly on Mary [upon the occasion of her forthcoming marriage to John Fletcher]. In the light of this and Samuel's knowledge of their uncle's disposition and the fact that his opinion is a result of much thought on the matter, he is certain that nothing will cause him to change his mind - 'more particularly as the chief argument you can urge to induce him to give up the money, is what operates with him to make him approve of the restrictive part of the will, & presses on his mind the necessity of preventing you from lessening the capital. This being the case with my uncle: it does not remain to be discussed…'

Samuel will now outline the proposals which he drew up under his uncle's direction. 'You will bear me witness, that altho you have several times hinted as if my father had said, & you thought, you had been treated with injustice; that I have never said a syllable upon the subject. There is a period beyond which silence would be criminal, & I feel myself now, called upon to set this matter in a clear light…' Their father intended to make his [two] daughters a 'fortune' [inheritance] of £10,000 each as follows:

1. [To their sister Anna-Maria Gaussen]

Leyton estate: £4,000

From their grandmother: £2,000

'given on her marriage': £2,000

'on the marriage & left by her father's will': £2,000

Their father's legacy: £500

Total: £10,500

2. Mary has received the following:

Leytonstone Estate valued at: £3,000

From their grandmother: £2,500

Income from the Leyton estate until Mary came of age: £500

By their father's will: £4,500

Total: £10,500

Mary has therefore received the same money as her sister, but she has not had access to the capital of the last sum to give to her husband unlike their sister and her husband [Peter Gaussen]. Samuel supposes that their father did not see any probability Mary would marry a man who could provide her with a settlement similar to that given by [Peter] Gaussen. Financial matters are further discussed.

Another reason for their father's arrangement was 'lest by placing too great confidence in those [Methodists] you were connected with, & endeavouring to do more good than your circumstances would afford, you might be left destitute; & therefore he tyed up this sum to be paid you by way of annuity…and now let me fairly put the question to you & expect a candid answer. Was he not justified in his apprehensions…when you write me in the letter now before me that you must cheat your creditors, ask charity or lie in York Castle [for debt] till your income has paid your debts, in case these should not be enough, when your estates are sold, to pay them that way: and at the same time the whole drift of your letter is to shew the estates will not suffice?'

It appears from Mary's letter that the £6000 which was fully at her disposal has been spent. Would that not have been the case with the remaining £4500 if it had not been tied up in a trust fund? It is fair to assume that she would have continued with her lifestyle until she felt financial distress coming on, which has indeed been the case of late, but by that time there would have been no funds left in reserve. Mary should be careful as to how she replies to this question for if she were to claim that prudence would have made her stop in time, why did that not apply before her £6000 was all gone?

With regard to Samuel's proposals, Mary has a copy of them. They were drawn up in a hurry and may therefore require correction, but he is prepared to abide by the judgement of an impartial person as to their justice.

Samuel would like [John] Fletcher to have access to the clause in their father's will setting out the financial arrangements 'that he will consider the situation of our family with the peculiar light you stood in with regard to it, which led you at a very early period of life to quit your father's house to follow a sect [Methodist] which (however right or wrong) followed opinions very different from his: then let him read my observations or proposals & if on an impartial consideration, he should say they are unjust, I shall be ready to condemn them myself'.

One thing that he infers from Mary's letter to Billy is that her immediate intention at this time is to acquire £1250 to liquidate the mortgage on the Leyton estate. Samuel must answer that if the decision were his, he could never give up that money as it would be totally contrary to the spirit of their father's will for he clearly intended that if she spent the rest, she should not at least be able to touch that money.

What Samuel thinks of this matter or Mary is irrelevant for what she wants is full access to the trust fund and this is out of the question as far as their uncle is concerned. She must decide if it is worthwhile writing Jacob another letter. If she does so, Samuel will ensure that he receives it.

Samuel wrote this letter intending that [John] Fletcher should see it. He is of the opinion that this proposed marriage is the most prudent step she can take, although remembering that Fletcher is a stranger to him.

One other thing he should mention, is that Mary hinted that Fletcher could himself make a settlement. If such is the case, he should put his intentions in writing and send it to their uncle, however Samuel should make it clear that Jacob will not consider a foreign estate to be a proper object of settlement. Fletcher would therefore be well-advised not to raise the matter as it will only cause displeasure '& afford him something to find fault with'.

Finally, although Mary is burdened with debt she must at least be an equal match for Fletcher. As her annual income exceeds £200 it is at least equivalent to Fletcher's declared income. In any case it should be remembered that when he dies his income dies with him, whereas Mary's capital does not.

In a postscript he mentions his pleasure at the news concerning Mary's estate at Morley.

Her bank dividend is due but he has not had time to send it today