Letters from the Past
Alexander Craig in Bonny Glen, Ireland
to his wife Ann in Gatehouse of Fleet, Scotland, in 1812
We were contacted by a visitor to our site who had done a websearch for Ann Craig of Syllodioch, and found our letter written BY this lady TO her husband. Click this link to read that letter.The visitor told us that he had a letter written TO Ann Craig FROM her husband, and he was going to sell it on e-bay.We checked it out and bid for it and luckily were successful. So here is an interesting link. It was written two years before our other letter, and this time Alex is in Ireland, and writing to Ann to keep her informed about what is going on.
The letter is dated 15 Aug 1812 but has no dated postmark, only the straight-line name stamp of DONEGAL in red. Charge marks are 10 in black and that has been added to by the 1/6 in red ink indicating it has been paid. It is written on heavy paper with an undated, unnamed watermark of a Crown and Post horn including a stylised design like a logo at the bottom.
It is addressed to
This refers to the mail service at the time this letter was written, between Northern Ireland and Scotland (Donaghadee to Port Patrick). This was the shortest crossing, being only 20 miles between the two countries, but it was the least used of the services because of the remoteness of the two ports and the poor road conditions to reach them. Until 1825 the Post Office hired small sailing barks to provide a weekly Mail Packet Service.
No handstamps were ever used on this service,(unlike mail using the Milford Service), so letters sent using this service can only be identified if (as in this case), it has a manuscript reference.
So now for the transcript of the letter which is mostly very legible, just the odd word usually the name of a place is hard to decipher. He puts the date and place at the end of the letter, rather than the beginning.
Note: When I checked these places on the atlas they seemed to be too far apart to be reached in the times/days he mentions. Portrush and the Giant's Causeway are in the north and Derry and Roughpoint are in the west, and then Donaghadee is on the north east coast. The roads at that time were not the best but as Alex mentions in the letter, at least in August the weather was favourable.
The final paragraph is an affectionate comment and shows what a good relationship they had, and this is reflected in the second letter written by Ann to Alexander. I still wonder why he was over in Ireland in this letter, and down in London in the second letter. Perhaps he was the Factor, or Estate Manager and it involved travelling for his employer.
I could not find Bonnyglen in my atlas,but a websearch found it on the internet.
From the website http://www.tripmondo.com/ireland/ulster/bonnyglen/
Bonnyglen in Ulster (region) is a town located in Ireland - about 123 mi (or 198 km) North-West of Dublin, the country's capital town.
NEWSFLASH ! Since the letter was loaded to our website on 25th October, we have been contacted by two different people who are researching either the family or the estate, or both. The first was from David Steel the chairman of the Gatehouse Development Initiative. David gave the following information
Alexander Craig was factor or agent to Alexander Murray the owner of Cally Estate at Gatehouse of Fleet. I think Murray had come of age about 1811 so probably Craig was taking him to view his estates in Donegal and perhaps making a sightseeing visit to the Giant's Causeway on his return.David kindly gave me access to a paper written by the late J.E.Russell, titled
Syllodioch and the Craig Family.
03 January 2007
Published on the website
follow this link to access the Gatehouse-of-Fleet website.
This included information about Alexander Craig and his wife and children, and gave permission to use bits of it free of copyright.
So the relevant information from this paper for our letters is that
Alexander Craig was born in 1773 and spent his childhood in Ruthwell where his father was a minister. Alexander married in 1808 Ann Ravenscroft the youngest daughter of the Ravenscrofts who had come from America and bought the Cairnsmore in Kirkmabreck parish. Her stated age at death suggests that she was born in 1778 and was five years younger than Alex. Ann was evidently well travelled, as her letters to her husband whilst he was in London show that she had a good knowledge of the shops in that that city. They had two sons who died in infancy, and three daughters, one (Sophia) who died in adolescence and two daughters who survived them and lived to a good age. Alexander Craig died 5th October 1856 aged 81. His wife Ann Ravenscroft died 19th October 1844 aged 66
The second contact was an update from e-mails exchanged in 2008, from Peter Didsbury who is working more closely with the letters rather than the place, as he is researching the Craigs of Syllodioch. He very kindly gave me a transcription of one of his letters written by Ann Craig to her daughters about 6 years after ours was written, which was so interesting and well-written.
We also have an earlier letter addressed to Alexr. Craig Esqre, Academy, Gatehouse of Fleet on 25th December 1803 by Henry Duncan of Ruthwell Manse. It is in another section of our website for postal markings, and this is a Scottish mileage mark of English 'boxed' type Dumfries 341.
Ruthwell Manse, 25th Decr, 1803
Sources: Alan W. Robertson Great Britain, Post Roads, Post Towns and Postal Rates 1635-1839"|
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