Papers of Edward Petter

Scope and Content

The collection contains 506 items of correspondence (letters and telegrams) sent by Edward Petter while working as a travelling salesman for Peek Frean & Co. The majority are addressed to his wife Angee but there are also some letters sent to other family members, including his sons and his brother Henry. Edward paints a vivid picture of his life on the road and describes in detail the numerous train and boat journeys he had to undertake, sometimes in very difficult conditions as well as the many people he encountered in the countries he visited. The letters to his family are affectionate, often mentioning concerns he has about them and telling them of his sadness at being away from home for so long. They provide a fascinating insight in to his life both as a travelling salesman as well as his being a member of the Plymouth [exclusive] Brethren.

Administrative / Biographical History

The collection consists of "some 500 handwritten letters from Edward Petter between 1885-1900. They were written while he was travelling the world as a sales representative for Peek Freans, the biscuit makers. They are for the most part addressed to his wife, ‘My beloved Angee’ (née Oatey from Wadebridge, Cornwall) who lived with their two sons in Barnstaple, North Devon. A few letters to his brother, Henry, are also included".

"The letters were written either aboard ship or from some hotel or even from the homes of some of the Brethren who entertained him; for Edward was a member of the Plymouth [exclusive] Brethren who by that time had contacts and meeting rooms across the world. His encounters, however, were not confined to any particular group as he made acquaintance with many as well as acting professionally for his employers. The wide range of his itinerary, visiting so many remote places and the many trips he was sent on, bears testimony to how well he sold his biscuits".

"During his travels he describes life on board, the sailing conditions, the places he visits and the amazing things he witnessed first hand, which made news. his kindly charm and easy manner endeared him to his fellow passengers. In many of these conversations he sought to share the gospel and introduce people to the Lord Jesus. He would organize Sunday services on board ship with other believers whenever he could. He recounts some conversions as well as opposition but generally respect even among the clergymen he met".

"Wherever he was in the world, his family was never far from his thoughts. He followed events at home and his concern was always for Angie and their two sons, Arundel and Harry. He was not slow in offering advice on family matters".

"The Petter Letters are a unique record of the travels of a Victorian salesman in the late 19th century and, as such, they throw light on a slower pace of life where patience was required in undertaking long journeys away from home and family; so different from our own hectic lives. Apart from being a travelogue of geographic and historic interest, the letters are not written with that in mind and may be of limited value to the general public, due to the numerous accounts of his spiritual encounters. But, of course, they are of great interest to Christians who would be encouraged in their own evangelism. They are also of interest to Brethren historians as Edward touches on many Brethren issues, from time to time, notably the schism of 1890 sparked by the teaching of F.E.Raven of Greenwich (1837-1903)".


The majority of the letters are arranged in chronological order. The original order has been maintained.

  • CEP/1/1 - Correspondence 1885-1889
  • CEP/1/2 - Correspondence 1889-[1897]
  • CEP/1/3 - Correspondence 1898-[1903]

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Clive Petter Frampton donated the letters to the Christian Brethren Archive. They were among papers left by his late father Kenneth [Petter Frampton].

Archivist's Note

Some of Edward's letters contain an offensive term, ‘Nigger’, which has been reproduced in the transcriptions. It has been included on the basis that it is the language used by Petter, and does not reflect the guidelines on language for catalogue descriptions at the University of Manchester Library.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The collection remained in the Petter family until it was donated to the Christian Brethren Archive.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

Website cotaining transcriptions of the letters in this collection: The Letters of Edward Petter, 1832 - 1910

The University of Manchester Library also holds the papers of Echoes of Service, the Christian Brethren missionary service organisation (GB 133 EOS).


Clive Petter Frampton, 'Introduction', The Letters of Edward Petter, 1832-1910