Letters home

Charles Huntriss was the youngest son of William Huntriss, millowner, of Halifax. Between 1864 and 1872, Charles attended school in Blackheath in London, and these pages contains copies of the letters he wrote to his parents.

Whilst many of the letters are mundane (a recurring theme is that he has nothing to say), they do contain a fascinating insight into life at the time – at least from the perspective of someone who was the son of a very wealthy mill-owner. Charles and his brothers had private educations – but his sisters were not afforded the same. There are references to the Crystal Palace exhibition and the Irish problem, a knife on “The Heath”, apologies to Papa for poor school reports, and a host of stories about various types of wildlife.

Blackheath Proprietary School

The Blackheath Proprietary School was established in 1830 to give sound liberal education similar to the public schools of England. From its inception, it worked towards ensuring it had an educational reputation that would be the equivalent of its public school contemporaries. The school was founded on joint stock principles and there were originally 100 shares priced at £20 each; proprietorship of a share entitled its owner to send or nominate a boy to the school.

The school had a profound influence on the game of football, in both Association and Rugby codes, and in 1863 became one of the founders of The Football Association.

The photograph above is from the Blackheath Society Archive.

The school flourished for much of the 19th century, but it was threatened by the dimishing lease on its site, the popularity of boarding schools and the availability of the day schools nearby. It closed in 1907.

The site was redevloped in 1937 as Selwyn Court. Its buildng caused controversy in Blackheath, and was a catalyst in the foundation of the Blackheath Society, which continues to vigorously campaign for the character and quality of the area.

Click here to see other photos of the school from the Blackheath Society archive. The photograph above is from this Archive.

The school flourished for much of the 19th century, but it was threatened by the dimishing lease on its site, the popularity of boarding schools and the availability of the day schools nearby. It closed in 1907.

The site was redeveloped in 1937 as Selwyn Court. Its building caused controversy in Blackheath, and was a catalyst in the foundation of the Blackheath Society, which continues to vigorously campaign for the character and quality of the area.

This plaque above the door to Selwyn Court commemorates the site of the school.

The letters

The table below summarises the letters that Charles wrote whilst he was at school. You can click on a particular letter, or scroll down to see all the letters.

29th Apr 1864Family – and other livestock
16th Jun 1864Bill in mischief
22nd Nov 1864Dead goldfish, a messy dog, and two types of moth.
7th Nov 1865A visit to Crystal Palace.
23rd Apr 1866Charles is now living at 41 Lee Terrace. He has two tortoises.
12th May 1866Oh dear – things aren’t going so well. Letter to Papa.
14th Jun 1866Family, five hundred lines, and Fenians.
24th Aug 1866A stuffed dormouse, horses and sweets
22nd Sep 1866Another sister for Charles, greeted with all the enthusiasm a 12 year old boy can muster.
27th Oct 1866Special classes and stammering
14th Nov 1866School report. Another letter to Papa
11th Feb 1867Getting his thanks and excuses in first ….
20th Aug 1867Stormy weather
9th Feb 1868Another letter to Papa – I wonder why…….
17th May 1868On the bottle
7th Jun 1868A jolly snake
12th May 1869The tortoise is no longer
3rd Mar 1869Nothing to report – except for reports
20th Jan 1870Slippers, a rail journey and Virgil
2nd Jun 1870Reporting a death
1st Sep 1870Enjoying a stomach ache and turkey eggs
16th Sep 1870A lecture on Inductive Electricity
18th Sep 1870Fellows, fun on the Heath, and firearms
9th Oct 1870Canaries going cheap, Crystal Palace, corns and a paper chase
30th Oct 1870Cousin Ellen and old Gout-face
27th Nov 1870A long walk and a pigeonlue
14th Dec 1870Going home
28th Jan 1871Skating and … too much information
11th Feb 1871Smallpox
22nd Feb 1871Self denial – giving up algebra
4th Mar 1871Looking for dormice, finding Prince Arthur
21st Mar 1871An appointment with K at London Bridge
10th May 1871Too many silkworm eggs, too few tortoises, too much for Mr Hart
21st May 1871How do you put your Mum’s mind at rest? Tell her about a local murder …….
11th Jul 1871Checking invoices
18th Sep 1871Pork pies and smallpox
3rd Oct 1871Headaches and a paper chase
10th October1871Pleading for liberty
25th October1871Not happy …
5th Nov 1871Decision time
28th Nov 1871Shirts, the study and skating
12th December 1871Over the way,Tichborne and travel arrangements
23rd January 1872Pleading to come home
6th February 1872Partial liberty and a squeaky voice
11th March 1872Nothing to report – except for the Prince of Wales, an Emperor, and an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria
29th February 1872Desperate to come home
30th March 1872Accident
1881A few years later…

29 April 1864

Family – and other livestock

As I have finished my lessons in good time tonight I think I will write to you.

I could not help it but as I was playing rolling about this afternoon on the heath my keys and my knife fell out of my pocket and I never felt in my poacket until I had got home and it was almost teatime when I did feel and Bill and I went back for them but we could not find them.

Tell Polly I will write to her as soon as I find time for it. How is the billiard room going on and how are Fanny and Polly and all the other livestock especially the dog.

Please will you ask Papa if I may learn swimming at the baths there is a man at the baths that teaches.

The cakes and the parkin which you gave us are not eaten yet.

Please write and tell me how many eggs the hen canary has laid or if she is still sitting I don’t much care to know.

Please can you get some lead put in this pencil it only had a very little in ?? through it.

and now with best love from us all to you I will say goodbye I am your affectionate son,

PS I would have written to Polly tonight only I have no paper.

The Heath was not far from school. It is good to know that the tradition of carrying of knives by youths in South London has a long history….

Charles obviously had a propelling pencil. Such mechanical pencils were first used in the 18th century; the first patent for a refillable pencil with lead-propelling mechanism was issued to Sampson Mordan and John Isaac Hawkins in Britain in 1822.

The baths would have been at Alexandra Hall, just across the road from school, and had just been built – they continued in public use until the 1920’s. at some point they were taken over and became a branch of Lloyds Bank

10 June 1864

Bill in mischief

I am sorry to say Bill has been in mischief for on Thursday after school he was going down the school steps his left ankle doubled under him him and he sprained it and so the reason is he will just miss examinations.

How are Fanny and the dog and all the other things getting on? I am glad to …

…hear you are getting on with the Billiard room I wonder whether it will be finished when we come home – I hope it will.

I have hardly anything to put only that I have not broken anything yet or I have not got into any mischief that I know of. I have not any work to do tonight or tomorrow as examination has just begun.

At the bath here I can jump in of the side …

… which is rather higher than the plunge pool at home, only these baths are much deeper than at home.

And now as I have nothing else to say and it is rather late I must say goodbye. I am your affectionate son

22 November 1864

A dead goldfish, a messy dog, and two types of moth.

I am very sorry to hear that my goldfish was dead, aren’t you?

They have got a nasty little sort of white dog that does nothing but mess all about the house.

We have had out two …

… bufftip moths out already by forcing them over the fire on the mantlepiece and the oakeggars are grown a great deal.

Bill is reading the Lancashire Witches over again and I am reading my Robinson Crusoe.

I have just found that I have lost my tie on the heath this afternoon

and now as I have nothing else to say I must say goodbye. I am your affectionate brother,

PS I have just made a little calendar out of a book but I shall not use it till next year.

7 November 1865

A visit to Crystal Palace

I had a very nice day at the Crystal Palace on Monday and we stayed to see the fireworks which were very good. We all got the holidays. I bought several things there – a very little box of dominoes for Daw and brooch for Jess in the shape …

… of a bird flying and this little knife for Polly amd a India rubber face for Belly rather like Anne and don’t tell Mr Hardcastle I have bought him a shilling spectacle case and I bought several other things for myself and others. I forgot that you said in your letter that Harold was to tell you all about Crystal Palace or I would not have written tonight.

I would send Jess her brooch but it would make the letter too heavy.

And now with best love to all I remain your affectionate son

PS There was a bonfire in the heath on Monday and we saw some rockets go up while were in bed.

The Crystal Palace was a cast iron and plate glass structure, originally built in Hyde Park, London, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. The exhibition took place from 1 May to 15 October 1851, and more than 14,000 exhibitors from around the world gathered in its 990,000 square feet (92,000 m2) exhibition space to display examples of technology developed in the Industrial Revolution.

After the exhibition, the Palace was relocated to an area of South London known as Penge Common. It was rebuilt at the top of Penge Peak next to Sydenham Hill, an affluent suburb of large villas. It stood there from June 1854 until its destruction by fire in November 1936.

A postcard showing Crystal Palace in Sydenham

23 April 1866

Charles is now living at 41 Lee Terrace. He has two tortoises.

The merit holiday begins next Saturday and I think we are all likely to get it and we are going to have a half holiday sometime this week I think and we have made it today Tuesday.

I have hardly anything to write this letter but I am writing in all the spare …

… time I have. We have got someone else in our bedroom now It wants two months to the holiday yet (???)

And now please excuse the writing and the short letter as it is just tea time and I can’t thing of anything else to say except that I have two tortoises being kept for me which will live in the garden at home if I bring them.

So with best love to all I must say good

bye. I am your affectionate son

12 May 1866

Oh dear – things aren’t going so well. Letter to Papa.

I am very sorry indeed that I got a bad report and that I lost my merit holiday but I promise that I will try very hard to get a good one next time and to get my holiday and be high in my form.

I am your affectionate son

14 June 1866

Family, five hundred lines, and Fenians

Harold thanks you for you letter he is in bed and had a headache yesterday and a pill at night but he is a little better this morning.

Lelly was coming to meet us yesterday afternoon to go a walk (with) us but it was wet so she could not come. Cousin Ellen and Louisa were coming with her.

But if it is fine on Saturday we are going there.

Jimmy gave us five hundred lines last week for making a row, first for us making a noise in the bedroom in the morning and he came up and gave us two hundred, and then I made another downstairs and he made it five hundred but they are all finished now.

The examination begins tomorrow for the higher forms but for the others it begins on Monday.

I think that I can hardly help getting this merit holiday as …

… I have only lost two ??? for conduct – if we do all get it we will to go Uncle Henry’s for the whole day very likely as it is on Saturday if it is fine.

And now with best love from us all to all, I remain your affectionate son

Tell Bill I am glad to hear that the Fenian head centre is rapidly improving in not worrying

During the mid-nineteenth century the ranks of the English working class were swelled by the immigration of may tens of thousand Irish people. An important feature of Irish immigrant life was the emergence of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), the Fenians, during the 1860s.

On 5th October 1867, it was decided to arm Halifax Borough Police with Colt revolvers and with cutlasses on account of there being known Fenians in the town.

Newspaper cutting from 1866

24 August 1866

A stuffed dormouse, horses and sweets

Harold thanks you for your letter and he wants one of you to get that stuffed dormouse it is on St James Street the shop is just by the Brewers Arms on the other side of that little road that goes down by it.

Tell Polly that the comfits are not finished and that I take one every night. I got another tie out.

Have you tried the two horses in the carriage yet? I suppose that I have spelt carraige wrong but I don’t know.

I am trying a crow’s quill it is very soft.

I must leave off now because Fanny has come to get a walk so ??? excuse haste, best love from all to all I remain

… your affectionate son

PS Mrs Farrahs acid drops are done and are very nice alright

22 September 1866

Another sister for Charles, greeted with all the enthusiasm a 12 year old boy can muster……

Thank you for your very nice letter. I am glad that you have got downstairs again and I am very glad there is another baby.

Excuse beginning in this way on this side of the paper I am half asleep and everybody is shaking and bumping against me so it is rather hard to write.

It has been very wet this morning but this afternoon it cleared up a bit.

This sheet of paper has had some ink spilled on it and so that makes it a little more smudgey.

It only wants(?) about twelve days to the Michaelmas holidays now – I think we shall all get the merit holiday.

Please excuse such a short letter as I want to try and write to Jess and can’t find anything to put. I am your very affectionate son

PS Please tell Bill to write to me soon.

Effie Huntriss was born on August 28th,1866, and was the last of the children of William and Ellen.

27 October 1866

Special classes and stammering

Thank you very much for the tie and book and letters. I think I shall like the book very much.

I like the Special much more than the school and the work is quite as easy very nearly – we have maps to draw every Saturday night.

I often meet Willie Whitworth on the heath – I met him this afternoon.

Please thank Jess for her starfish and seaweed and letter – I would write to her if I had time. I suppose you will meet this at home so shall direct it there.

The acid drops are all done but the gingerbreads are not.

And now with best love from all to all, I remain your affectionate boy

PS I think that Uncle Henry’s dodge has not done me much good in my stammering only a little bit

Willie Whitworth

Charles refers to Willie Whitworth. It s possible that Willie is part of the Whitworth family of Luddendenfoot, which is just outside Halifax).

In the 1860s, the Whitworth family’s mills at Luddendenfoot employed a large number of pauper factory apprentices who had been sent by the Poor Law Unions in the south of England. The system of apprenticing poor children caused umbrage in the district, and the locals were in the habit of insulting the apprentices, calling them white slaves and other degrading names.

14 November 1866

School report. Another letter to Papa.

Thank Mamma please for her letter and Lelly for hers. I am writing chiefly to ask if I may learn Geometric Drawing we have it once a week instead of arithmetic for as many as learn it for one hour, I got my work done beforhand.

Please give this little cocoa nut shell to Draa and tell her to give her own …

… to Polly or if she likes to give this to Polly and keep her own.

I know what my report is – it is “Satisfactory” and for drawing “Not as good as it might be” but I can’t get a good report for drawing. I wish I might leave of and learn Geometrical Drawing for its much jollier.

And now with best love to all, I remain your affectionate son

18th February 1867

Getting his thanks and excuses in first …. .

My dear Mamma

As I know that you will write to me on my birthday I will write and thank you for it so it will answer it though in the night before.

I have been absent from school ever since Friday morning after school and went to bed directly. I was away one day in the beginning of the week …

… after dinner or rather at about 2 o’clock for I had no dinner and there I stayed until after after breakfast this morning with a very sore throat. The doctor says there were great yellow spots in it. It hurts most awfully. I had a bad headache on Friday and part of Saturday. It had been awfully jolly today. I have been in the library and drawing room with another fellow that as strained his back somewhere or other, but we are both going to school tomorrow. I am for a birthday present – that is why I am writing tonight because I have no books and therefore I can’t do any lessons.

I have had a dormouse brought today it can go at at a frog. It ran across the table twice and jumped off and ran into a corner the first time. but the second it directly??.

Once this afternoon it ran across the table and I thought it had jumped of(sic) and after I had been looking for it a short time I saw it on the edge of the table cloth.

I hope if Papa does come down at all it is next Saturday and stay in London all Sunday and come and take us up to London on Monday because it is so near the next holiday which I think we shall all get except me but if I lose it it will be because I have not been at school for such a period.

I do wish Daisy was not going to be sold. Many thanks for that book you gave to me for my birthday present. He gave me it before on Saturday night because I should have nothing to do all Sunday in bed. I read it through on Sunday

… the first chapter which I read on Saturday. It is a very nice one. I think I did not read all the lectures only forty of them there and them there you bought it on the day that Lelly and and you and I went in the town one day to Birtwhistles and I believe you chose it because no had no name on of the price in it. I tried to find out but I couldn’t.

This ugly ?? is intended for Isabel it is here in her perambulator and Bill showing her in it just fancy then.

Harold nor I got one and now I must stop.

I remain your affectionate boy

20th August 1867

Stormy weather

Last night there were two awful thunderstorms (it had been lightening all the evening) all of a sudden we were almost all of us awakened by a most awful crash of thunder exactly over heads very nearly and it put me in such a fright

… that I was all in a lather (and I was not quite dry this morning when I got up) and I covered my face with the sheet and my hands to keep the lightening out and then the storm seemed to go away somewhere and soon after it returned buut I was awake this time and so I was prepared for it. It made a most awful row – I thought the house was falling down almost (a thunderbolt fell by the Crystal Palace). I almost thought there will be another storm tonight I believe it has been lightening but I am not quite sure.

Please ask Bill to write a wee little note if he can.

Will you give this heart to Polly please? I made it today …

… out of a bit of cocoa nut shell I picked up off the heath. I have been trying to make little baskets out of greengage and plum stones and as I was finishing one this morning the handle broke of and the other did the same tonight but I will try to make some more and send them to Polly or anybody than wants them.

I am going to write to Jessy if I have time tonight which I hope I shall have.

I must now say goodbye, I remain your affectionate boy

PS have you told Bill about those little cricket things that I took with me and that I told you to.

Please tell Bob Whitworth to make haste and come back to school when you see him I do want him so

Are my dormice alright – does Polly always feed them?

Two balloons came over the heath from Crystal Palace it was ??? between five and six

9 March 1868
Another letter to Papa – I wonder why…….

I got your letter and was much surprised and very sorry to hear that my report was a bad one, for a short time ago I went to my form master’s house to tea and he told me that I had got a good one so that it is just possible that he has put down my name and direction to some other boys or some other mistake as they are sometimes made.

Will you please ask Mamma to bring some envelopes and stamps as I have had to borrow this one – I have plenty of note paper.

I shall try and make sure about my report so I will ask the master but I am not certain he will tell me.

I remain your affectionate son

17 May 1868

On the bottle

It is a long time since I wrote to any of you but I have been brewing up things to tell you.

I suppose you know that I was poorly a week or two ago and away from school Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Mr K said it pulled me down so that he gave me port wine to the alarming extent of two …

… glasses a day for three days.

Thank Ned for his letters and Mr ???? says he had rather that he write a lot more to me and you too but he says that I need not answer them until I please.

Tell Ned that I have got a lot of little Pickwicks on my finger and that I want him to send me some little pictures to make my corner ??? I have got some things in the way of pictures but I sadly want some more.

There is a rage for flowers now and we have got a lot outside our bedroom window.I myself have got a little rose and big scented clove carnations and small verbena and a little fuschia and there are loads more seeds and flowers of other fellows.

It is supper time now I must conclude. I remain your affectionate son

7 June 1868

A jolly snake

Thank you very much for the letter and the calendar.

It has been very jolly for the two last two or three days, for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday there was a small bazaar across the road. Some of the chaps went I among them and I and some more exhibited some animals, my tortoise was with them.

We got eleven shillings on the first day and only about four on the 3rd on the second we did not go.. Yesterday some of us went to the sports in the afternoon.

A lot of fellows in the house have got what Kemp. calls spurious measles as it is measles but not very bad.

My tortoise is so jolly lively it runs about the garden and eats grass and worms. I oiled its shell to take to the bazaar and it shone so jolly. It passes all its time in the garden I scarcely ever touch it.

Tonight at church we had Pilgrims of the night for the last hymn they don’t sing it properly.

I went with a chap to see his rabbits and things he has got such as a jolly snake – it is so cold and you can tie it round your neck it is not a poisonous one it swallows little frogs alive.

And now with best wishes to all I remain, your affectionate boy

PS it was because I was absent that I lost my merit holiday. All the other masters give average marks for it but I am almost certain this one does not so I have often heard because I have got no bad marks and done very well beside.

12 February 1869

The tortoise is no longer.

Thank you for your letter. I am awfully sorry about my tortoise and I am writing to ask if it is not to far gone to have its shell kept and cured for me.

I can not write a long letter because I am in a hurry and have not much time and so please excuse bad writing it is almost supper time I believe.

There was one word in your letter this morning that I could not quite make out it …

… something that was being built it looked like helm but neither Harold nor myself could make it out. It came just after you had put about the colts being on Swires Road field.

It has been rainy all day here today, so I went to Gynmasium both at 12 and 4 instead of the bath.

I am glad that Papa’s cough is better. Tell Ned that I shall perhaps write to him when I have time.

Yesterday we had mince pies for dinner with some beastly burnt brandy in them that tasted awfully bitter and gave me a bad headache for the rest of the day.

And now with best love to all I remain your affectionate boy

3 March 1869

Nothing to report – except for reports

I ought to write to you though I don’t know a word to say.

I suppose Harold has told you that we began long hours last week on the day after the merit holiday.

Our reports are very satisfactory for Harold, and satisfactory for me. I am reading a book called Handy Andy it is very jolly.

My face is breaking out like Jessies but not so badly but I fancy it is only the cold wind and weather.

I have not …

… seen Bob Whitworth for a good long time I believe though I am not certain he is poorly but don’t say anything about it to any of his people because I very likely am wrong.

It wants five weeks today until we come home which is I suppose you know soon after Easter but we have three days at Easter.

My common coat and waistcoat are worn out at the braid and buttons and so I am wearing my best until they come back and now with love to all I conclude I remain your affectionate son

20 January 1871

Slippers, a rail journey, and Virgil

I am writing about my slippers which were not packed – I mean the wool worsted ones and I want to know if I shall get an order for a new pair here. Mr Tyson will send me those they were rather small for me but I could wear them. If you do send them please don’t forget to pay the carriage and will you answer this as soon as you get same because until you do I have none to wear.

I have been promoted to the 2nd special.

I was not sick in the train because when I began to feel asort of qualm creeping over me I folded up the bag used it as a pillow, laid down on the seat and dozed – but the seat was so hard that it has made me quite sore. I was lying down all the way from Leicester Dykes or somewhere about there or getting up at the stations.

When I unpacked my clock I found that it had got spoilt and will not go at all but I will leave it alone till next holiday.

My feet and legs were so icy cold in the train I thought they might drop off.

It has been rather cold here today and been snowing a very little.

Now with best love to all I must conclude your affectionate son

PS Please send be a Virgil and a 1st vol of Chrestomatie. I have given Pitman only one cake of Parkin and have kept the other two downstairs

Please will you send me one of those largest size hooks to put my watch on Jess knows the sort I mean.


A selection of passages from an author or authors, designed to help in learning a language.


Leicester Dykes

Leicester Dykes could refer to Raw Dykes – a Roman earthwork and scheduled monument in Leicester. The monument consists of two parallel banks up to 20 metres apart, with an excavated channel running between them. A stretch 110 metres long survives, but originally the earthwork was at least 550 metres in length.

The field to the east is now the site of the King Power stadium, the home of Leicester city FC

2 June 1870

Reporting a death

I should have written sooner but I have been so precious busy. I was confirmed last Saturday and went away for my merit holiday.

Have you heard that ???? died a week or two ago – he had some teeth out and it had splintered his jaw. Then he caught cold in it and got inflammation in it the inflammation flew to his brain and killed him. He was due to have been married in a month.

Did you go to Harrogate in the carriage? How far is it?

I don’t know when you are going home so I shall direct this to home so you will be sure to get it.

It was the Derby Day yesterday at Epsom and we saw lots of things going. It is nearly supper time and I have nothing so say so I remain your affectionate son,

I am going to seal this letter for you.

1 September 1870

Enjoying a stomach ache, and turkey eggs

In my old waistcoat pocket I left some of my valuables please take them out and take care of them.

I was not sick but could not eat my sandwiches but when I got here I enjoyed a stomatch ache and the turkey’s eggs the latter very much.

Mr Tillotson got into the carriage at Lightcliffe and after Peterbro’ I had only him and another man …

… with me. My slippers are to be found nowhere here the servants say they were not left here will you search well for them at home and if they cannot be found I suppose I shall have to get a new pair.

Well with love all I remain your affectionate son.

Tell Lucy to take good care of the aquarium.

16 September 1870

Lecture on Inductive Electricity

I did mean to write to you but I can’t think of anything to say, excepting that it has been very wet today which of course you won’t care to hear.

I bought this little knife at the Crystal Palace for Pogey but for goodness sake don’t let her try to write to thank me or if she does don’t send it.

I only got your letter after the merit holiday but …

I thought of those photos, though I did not get any for two reasons because I was not quite certain about the size and because I had not taken very much money with me. I am sorry I did not get some and chance them but if I go there again this term I will get some though I don’t think I shall go again.

On Thursday night we went to a lecture on “Inductive Electricity” by Mr Hart but he smashed his last experiment thing though he showed us some very jolly ones.

Another fellow and I have just been letting our canaries have a fly about the ante-room outside the dining room. Some …

… fellows are now melting a broken tumbler in the fire and getting the molton drops from underneath.

Now with best love to all, I remain your affectionate son.

Please give this note to Ned in answer to a question which he once asked me.

18 September 1870

Fellows, fun on the heath, and firearms

I want to know how I am to send you those drawings they are a good size but I can double them and will they have to go by Pattern of book post.

There are only nine left in this house. Will you or some one send me cousin Ellen’s address I have forgotten it again.

A new master Mr Pearce the vice principal who only came last term has got Mr Pember’s house he has only been married a few weeks and he can’t make his boarders do what he tells them at all, he is a small man and stoops.

There are two new fellows in my form, twins they are so alike that we can’t tell which they are from Montreal I believe.

Lee Church the one we go to in the evening is being altered so the Gymnasium is used instead on Sunday. This morning in Fenns Church it turned so dark that they had to light up.

The other day that Richardson and I had a rare joke On the …

… heath there were about a dozen eating pears, apples walnuts etc round a man’s fruit basket so we two got hold of a hose and that the cricket ground is watered with and ran with it as hard as ever we could and knocked them all on their faces and spolt all their fruit that they were enjoying – I laughed till I cried.

The other night some of the fellows at Pearce’s began began to fire bullets out of a pistol into their bedroom wall and they got 500 lines each for it and will only do 5 a day of them

It is almost time to get ready for church so I must conclude I remain your affectionate son

Pattern Post and Book Post

The Parcel Post service did not start until 1883. The Book Post service was introduced on 1848; in 1863 the Pattern Post was introduced – a service for posting manufacturer’s samples.

9 October 1870

Canaries going cheap, Crystal Palace, corns and a paper chase.

Thank you for your letter and the stamps. I have got my merit holiday but have not gone away, though I have been asked for the next or next but one to go to Wimbledon and one of those two I suppose cousin Ellen will ask me to her place.

I have got two very nice cock canaries which I bought pretty cheap giving for one (a young one I think) 2/- it sings very well

… the other is just begiinning to sing. I gave 2/6 for it, a cage, and a lot of seed.

I don’t suppose you have seen those photos. I got them in the village a few days ago at sixpence each, if you care to buy them from me you can at the same price but if not send them back – I am not particular which.

I shall have to go to the Crystal Palace tomorrow.

I was caught in a rather heavy shower of rain yesterday evening we are having rather wet weather here now.

My corn plasters are all done now. I used the last for the paper chase but my corn does not hurt at all now though it has not gone but I believe I have another coming.

I have nothing more tosay so with love to all I remain your affectionate son.

Give this note to Ned please

30 October 1870

Cousin Ellen and old Gout-face

I didn’t write last Sunday because I had nothing to say, but I think I have something to say today.

Is cousin Ellen at Hackness yet because if I don’t go to their place this merit holiday which is next Saturday. I can’t go the next because I am asked to go somewhere on that one; but I don’t know …

… and that puzzles me. I wish you would write and advise me as soon as possible.

I saw Lawes this afternoon and he told me to tell Ned to write to him.

I have taken to learning drawing again because we have got a new master called Steele a very nice kind of fellow that is he never joins us buts lets us do as we like about drawing and cutabout on the desks and ??? and talks rot with us; but I can learn much better with him than Gout-face, though Gout-face is still at the school.

I suppose you know about Bob Whitworth and school going to shut up at Christmas I …

… think Bob is going to some other school for half a year or so but don’t say anything about it only you should not. I don’t know are you coming to London at all this term if so when.

We have had very wet weather here lately but today it has been very fine.

With love to all I conclude, your affectionate son.

27th November 1870

A long walk and a pigeon

I have not written to you for some time as I thought you might not have come back from Scarbro’. We have been out for an awfully long walk with Dr Morgan, and after I came back the fire was out so some of the chaps lit it and I went upstairs for paper to draw it up when I got there I saw a pigeon on the window sill asleep so I pulled off …

my boots and crept up behind it and grabbed it and took it down and put it an a cage.

I am keeping some dormice for Bob W.

I should’nt think you ???? much at Scarboro’. I suppose you know I went to Uncle Henry’s last Thursday and am going to Wimbledon this next ?????? on Wednesday to the holiday, I come home on the Thursday.

Excuse haste, I have nothing to say as it is tea time and I have to brush the mud off my trousers.

I remain, your affectionate son

14th December 1870

Going home

I could not write to you last Sunday becasue I was at Wimbledon for my merit holiday which was from Friday at 12 till Monday at 9, thought I did not go straight there over the City of London Brewery and then Leadenhall Market; there was rather a heavy storm there but London was in an awfully dirty mess.

The Wednesday before I had to go to Wimbledon to play in a football match so I stopped rather later than the other fellows and went to tea at the same place I went to for the merit.

Thanks for your letter and the paper. I never knew anything about Morton’s leaving.

You may expect to see me at home tomorrow (Thursday) week. I shall start from Kings Cross by the 8 o’clock train which gets to home at 2-20 so mind and have the dog-cart sent to the station as I dont want to have walk back all dusty and carrying all my hat boxes and umbrellas etc.

Tell Harold I shall bring home my canaries if he wants to know.

Here is a crest for Bess if she cares about it.

I don’t think I shall write home again unless perhaps on a post card though I shall expect to hear again from you.

I wish I could get a day’s holiday from school for hurting my nose.

I have nothing else to say so with best love to all I remain yours affectionately,