Scope and Content

From John Vaughan at Verzons House, Ledbury, Herefordshire, to Mary Fletcher in Madeley. Fletcher's kind letter of 4 March is now in front of him. He regards her letter as 'sufficient return for my small present of cider. I rejoice too that God is so evidently owning your labour of love - even to casual visitors, and I thank you for the little narrative of great things for they do indeed help faith, and being what I seldom meet with - perhaps because I am so much taken up with the world and its secular concerns ...' Spiritual matters are discussed.

Vaughan has been hopeful that he could find a little release from secular matters and the demands of business, 'but God seems to hold me to these duties - and I believe with you' that God gives strength to perform these duties. By the evening, Vaughan's 'enervated frame' is so wore down that he can scarcely think what needs to be done for the following day, yet when the morning comes, he finds that the Lord provides him with the needful strength and ability for doing what needs to be done and that God rules the natural world as well as the world of spirit.

When Vaughan came here in the early part of February, he was faced with a considerable workload - both from family matters - 'my own little household' as well as Vaughan's son, and to these concerns was added the demands of Vaughan's business - buying and selling and moving more than a hundred wagon loads of cider - 'in an often scanty season too - my manager[?] then lately dead - and all this to be done within the space of 3 months ...'. He must confess that his 'feeble frame shuddered a little at the prospect before me ... but behold the course of nature hath been, as it were, prevented[?] or suspended - and I had, as it were, summer weather, tho in February, March and April, and God gave adaquete strength from day to day ...'. His affairs have gone so well that he expects to able to return to London about the end of this week - Fletcher should address letters to him there at Symon's Wharf, or under a cover to the right honourable Thomas Harley MP, London.

As proof of the workings of providence, Vaughan would like to relate the following story. Last March, Vaughan's son in London informed him that a respectable London merchant had applied on the Wednesday for such a lot of cider for shipment to North America, that they were unable to fulfill the order from existing stock, but that there were 18 [unreadable word] in an adjoining warehouse. The problem was that the building was locked up and the stock was the property of a Gloucestershire farmer unknown to Vaughan. The merchant required an answer to his demand by the Saturday (this being Wednesday). Vaughan received his son's letter here in Ledbury on the Thursday, and amazingly, before he had time to fully peruse the contents of the letter, into the yard walked a Gloucestershire farmer who had rode 20 miles that morning to invite Vaughan to buy the 18 [unreadable word] of cider that was stored in the London warehouse adjacent to Vaughan's own establishment. Vaughan was utterly astonished at this example of providence interfering in apparently small matters. He bought the cider and was thereby able to fill the order for North America within the demanded 3 days, which had been seemingly impossible. A more normal transaction time for such an order would have been 6 weeks to 2 months. [SEE ALSO MAM/Fl/7/7/4]

Vaughan apologises for the secular nature of much of this letter. He would very much value Fletcher's prayers 'that I may be saved from the spirit of the world'.



  • Thomas Harley (1730-1804) was born at Eywood in Herefordshire, one of the sons of the Earl of Oxford. He was educated at Westminster School and prospered in London as a wine merchant and supplier of clothing to the military. Harley also entered banking later in life. In 1761 Harley was backed by the merchants' committee as parliamentary candidate for London and was successfully elected in April 1761. In addition to his parliamentary duties, he served as an Alderman of the City of London and became Lord Mayor in 1767 at an unusually early age. He stood down from his constituency in 1774, but was elected again to Parliament for Herefordshire in 1776. Harley also held local office in his native county and was a generous supporter of various charities, including St Bartholomew's Hospital and St Paul's charity schools. Source: Dictionary of National Biography