Help with deciphering part of an 1841 letter.....

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SarahND
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Help with deciphering part of an 1841 letter.....

Post by SarahND » Sat May 13, 2006 2:09 am

I have just uploaded ( in the "Certificates- help with deciphering" section of the public gallery) the second page of a letter, written in November of 1841 in Glasgow, by R. Ritchie (I assume-- tell me if you think the signature is someone else!)

http://talkingscot.com/gallery/displayi ... p?pos=-545

I would appreciate help from any of you who may have had experience deciphering old letters from this period. I think I have transcribed the letter mostly correctly, but the closing formulas have me baffled. I assume they are predictable, but I don't know what they might be expected to be. The writer, throughout the letter, connects "I" with the following word, as in "I felt" > "Ifelt" and also uses abbreviations liberally, so I think the first part is possibly "Irem", shorthand for "I remain". There is a "with" on the next line and "Your svt?" < "servant"? Well, I'll let you decide what you think it is!

This part I am reasonably sure of:

... you should write Wm Huggins and he may get him sent out as from the Son at Aberdeen he would have nothing to do with him as he knew nothing about him- I felt very much indeed not knowing what to do and was glad to get any person to do justice to the Boy.
Trusting this will arrive safe along with the Portrait.


Thanks for your help!
Sarah

image url added by JustJean

DavidWW
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Post by DavidWW » Sat May 13, 2006 7:24 am

On a quick look, I reckon that it finishes

"I am ?????? (could also be as you suggest I rmn)
With Respects
Yours Truly(?)
R Ritchie"

David

SarahND
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Post by SarahND » Sat May 13, 2006 3:24 pm

Thanks, David. That word you have transcribed with all the ?????? is indeed a mystery... I was hoping there was some regular formula that would make it obvious to those who have had more experience with letters of the time. I guess not! And I'm not convinced by "truly"... looks like "avts" or "avfs" when compared with the rest of the letter. :?
Any descendants of R.Ritchie out there who still write like this? :!:
Sarah

DavidWW
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Post by DavidWW » Sat May 13, 2006 7:45 pm

SarahND wrote:Thanks, David. That word you have transcribed with all the ?????? is indeed a mystery... I was hoping there was some regular formula that would make it obvious to those who have had more experience with letters of the time. I guess not! And I'm not convinced by "truly"... looks like "avts" or "avfs" when compared with the rest of the letter. :?
Any descendants of R.Ritchie out there who still write like this? :!:
Sarah
The standard format was something like "I am your humble servant" or similar ............

Eureka !! ...... just thinking, had another look, and thought back to to a variation on the above - "I am, Sir, your humble and obedient servant", - so that, of course, the first line here is "I am, Madam" - now tell me he wasn't writing to a lady :- ..............

Agreed that it may no be "truly" ...............

David

SarahND
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Post by SarahND » Sat May 13, 2006 11:56 pm

Brilliant, David!! :D The letter was, indeed, written to a woman and in fact, the beginning to the letter, that you didn't see, started out, "Madam"... I'm sure you're right.

Just got back from marching to the skirl of the bagpipes in my academic robes-- the best part of the graduation ceremony here at Macalester College is the pipe band. I could have done without all the long speeches, though.

Thanks again, and let me know if you have a sudden inspiration on that word that is probably not "truly"!
Sarah

mallog
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Post by mallog » Sun May 14, 2006 3:35 am

When you look at his other "t"'s and " trusting" he seems very fond of crossing his "t"'s so I don't think it is "truly". Do you know the circumstances in which he was writing the letter or in what capacity?

Mallog
Anderson, McAlpine, Blue - Argyll
Dunn Fife /ML
Coutts, McGregor - Perth/Govan
Glen, Crow, Imrie - Angus
Scott & Pick ML
Mason - Co Down

SarahND
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Post by SarahND » Sun May 14, 2006 4:00 am

Hello Mallog,
Thanks for joining in!
Yes, he (if it was a "he"... I don't even know that, since the likely candidates in the 1841 census both, husband and wife, have a name that starts with R) was writing my great great grandmother in Connecticut to tell her about the last days of her father, who died in Glasgow (she had emigrated in 1837). R. Ritchie had been employed by her half-brother (the "son in Aberdeen") to care for their father in his last days. You will note that the letter was supposed to have been accompanied by a portrait, which apparently never arrived. It should have been an apologetic letter, since part of what was said was that much of her father's possessions were stolen out of his lodgings when he was lying there ill...

Do you think it looks like a man's handwriting? I'm not clear on that, but I suppose it is. Also, the Ritchies, if I have the right ones in the 1841 census, were both born in Ireland, if that tells you anything about the sort of formulas they might have used at the end of a letter...
Sarah

paddyscar
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Re: Help with deciphering part of an 1841 letter

Post by paddyscar » Sun May 14, 2006 5:07 am

SarahND wrote: ... written in November of 1841 in Glasgow, by R. Ritchie (I assume-- tell me if you think the signature is someone else!)
Would it be Retrie or Petrie, as there is no second letter with an upstroke for the 'h'?
... but the closing formulas ...


I am Madam
with respect
your
atty (attorney)? - consider the last squiggle under the signature - is that a "B" for barrister? This may be a bit fanciful, considering that an abbreviation of servant would be a more likely fit, in light of David's phrase which is suited to the times.
... you should write Wm Huggins and he may get him sent out as far as the Son at Aberdeen he would have nothing to do with him as he knew nothing about him- I felt ???? indeed not knowing what to do
.

I think in this last sentence he is trying to say "I felt stymied/stunned/lost indeed, not knowing what to do" ... but I just can't pull the right word out.

Frances
John Kelly (b 22 Sep 1897) eldest child of John Kelly & Christina Lipsett Kelly of Glasgow

mallog
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Post by mallog » Sun May 14, 2006 5:19 am

I thought if we knew the circumstances it would give us a clue to that elusive word "Your ???". I see I have automatically assumed it was written by a man. Not politically correct I know but given the times I was probably thinking

a) the formal way it was signed off
b) don't think a woman would talk that way in the body of the letter
c) don't think a woman would sign her name that way - would she not include her title?
d) the use of abbreviations suggests to me the person did a lot of writing in the course of their job
Considering all that I would say it was written by a man but what do I know !!! :lol: :lol:
Anderson, McAlpine, Blue - Argyll
Dunn Fife /ML
Coutts, McGregor - Perth/Govan
Glen, Crow, Imrie - Angus
Scott & Pick ML
Mason - Co Down

ninatoo
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Post by ninatoo » Sun May 14, 2006 9:52 am

He writes "I felt very numb indeed not knowing what to do and was glad to get any person to do justice to the boy."

and at the end....could it say "With respects, Your brother, R. Ritchie"?

Nina
Last edited by ninatoo on Sun May 14, 2006 9:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
Researching: Easton ( Renfrewshire, Dunbarton and Glasgow), Corr (Londonderry and Glasgow), Carson (Co. Down, Irvine, Ayrshire and Glasgow), Logan (Londonderry and Glasgow)

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