This letter also appears on the Victorian Web
Queen Victoria's London
Most of the letters in our collection come from business houses, but of course many private letters were sent. Much of this type of correspondence has naturally been destroyed — - after all, how many people keep personal letters ?
We were fortunate to acquire this one, written by John Bing to his sister, Ellen. It is dated inside, August 20th, 1838, and addressed to Mr Joseph Allington, Yoxall, Litchfield, and marked 'Post Paid'.
When the letter was written, Queen Victoria was 19 years old, unmarried and had reigned for just over a year. The long chatty, and somewhat messily written letter, shows what ordinary Londoners felt about their Queen.
Note: "toko" is Victorian slang for 'a chastisement, or a thrashing".
"Rotherhithe Augt 20 1838,
We received your letter but found it very short. Mary was dissatisfied that you said so little, we wished to hear all the news of home and how you got there etc. If you do not say a great deal more when you write again you will catch toko when I come down — if ever I do.
Note: Parliament is 'prorogued', when it is discontinued, between sessions, but not dissolved — which involves re-election of members.
Mary and I walked to London Bridge on Thursday the 16th, the Shipwrights anniversary, got on board a small steamer and went to Westminster Bridge for 4d each. It was a delightful day and we enjoyed our ride.
When we got to Westminster Abbey, we saw great preparations being made and having made enquiry found out that the Queen was going to the Parliament House to prorogue it, so instead of going into the Abbey as we intended, we went across St James Park to my relations at Piccadilly where we took lunch and then started down by the Duke of York's Pillar to see the procession.
Note: It is staggering that these people thought nothing of walking the three hours to get home, then he says he hopes Mary will get stronger ! What for? The blister cure sounds worse than the disease. Medical treatment was another part of life in need of improvement!
We walked a long time but had a good view of her Majesty. Her countenance seemed to show that her mind was not free from care and anxiety though she bowed and put on a smiling look. May God Almighty bless her and give her a right judgement in all things.
The carriages and trappings of the horses were very handsome, several foreign ambassadors were present. We saw old Sir Frances Burden [Burdett?] on horseback, like an old farmer. Mary was pleased to see our gracious little Queen. When the procession had passed we returned to Piccadilly, took dinner and being tired lolled on a sofa until tea time. About 6 oclock we started for home, walked all the way as we could not fall in with an omnibus — reached home about 9 o'clock. Met Mr and Mrs Harlow in the park, they went onto the Zoological gardens in Regent's Park.
Mary's health is certainly better. The blister on the back of her neck did her head good but she suffered much with it, her neck was much swollen and the glands of her neck very painful. I hope she will get stronger at present she cannot boast of much strength."
The letter continues
"Miss Rhodes has had a bad face — she looked quite a figure with it the swelling is now gone down.
May has been in to tea with Martha and Miss Akam, little Mary and Martha do not agree. The girl started off one day down to Mr Hutchinsons, there are faults at both sides — - Mary and I went to tea with Martha yesterday (Sunday) George Bing came down to see us so he went in also. While were were there Mr Hutchinson came into the Kitchen and asked if we had heard the bad news, we said no, then said he, Doctor Blick of Walthamstow is dead. He was thrown out of his gig last night and died immediately. A gentleman came over to tell Mr Hutchinson of it.
You will most likely have heard of it before you receive this, it will be a cutting stroke for all the family. I have not yet heard particulars.
Am glad to tell you I am pretty well, we are very busy at the yard, working from 5 till 7 so that I don't know when we shall get an opportunity of calling on Mr Collins, the old folks will be quite out of tune.
Archer is well, so is Miss Akam, Mr Porter, the father of Caroline Porter is dead and the wife dangerously ill — I begin to think we shall not be able to come to Staffordshire this year, so give up expecting us — Shall be glad to hear of your getting a good place — allow me to say when you have a thing to do, don't drive off doing but set about it at once, I know you will save yourself much trouble because if you do it at once it is done with.
The writing then changes and it appears to be the wife Mary taking over. The spelling is quite different and seems to be written as it sounds!
John as tould you that Docter Blick is dead, he will be buryd on saturday thay keep him a week. Marther & Mary as got a Black gown and bonet that is all they have got, no caps, no stockings, no gloves, no lining for dress, no colers. Mr Blick is come and Miss Jane, Mrs Blick is not come up with them, thay will come down agane when the Docter is Buryd.
Mary and Marther are allways a quriling, Marther thought one day that Mary was gon to dround herself. Mary down town is going to leave on the 10th of the nex month her Master will not keep her.
Marther tould Mr Hutchinson that Mary came to Mr Blicks when he was in Church on Thursday evening. Marther and Mary go on very bad I mein little Mary, I whent with Marther to take her money out of the Bank. Send me worde if you make it out she said she will not put it in this Bank for she will leave when Mr Blick coms back, but I do not believe a word she says, she says give my love to Ellen tell her I will send her letter soon, but I do not like her way at all, Miss Rhodes sends her love to you and Miss Akam.
I am quite well, I hope you will send a letter soon.
Give my love to all. send me word if you have been to watton, you left your steal side comes I will send them soon or keep them till you come up againe wich I hope will be befor long.
Note: Although this looks quite clear and legible, if the phrase..."you left your steal side comes" is spoken out loud, I think it should be you left your steel side combs... I will send them.)
Send me word if you get that plase I hope you will be a good girl. let me have a letter soon.
Dear sister farewell god bless you till we meet agane.
Mr Bing, Sunday School, opposite St Mary's Church Rotherhithe, Surrey
Then there is a line of figures
£ " S " D
4. 11. 7 put in this bank
3. 0. 8 Marther
The letter finally ends with notes written on the outside flap in what may be John Bing's writing
Mrs Arden October the 1
2 S of malt and nine pound and half of hops
3 S of malt 3 pounds of hops
Robert Lawrnce 2 of October
4 S of malt
October 2 to Mr Levet
6 S of malt
Letters index page