Brief research shows that Elizabeth Wilson’s maiden name was Mathews. Where or when she was married is unknown. She was the daughter of John Mathews (1700-1783) and Grace Sewell (1704- 1788). Their marriage was registered in Skelton parish 15 July 1731. Grace was baptised 13 April 1732 and her brother Joseph on 21 May 1735.
Elizabeth Wilson received money to help with the care of her mother on 1st November 1785. Other vouchers signed by Isaac Dodd, Vestry Clerk, are of a similar freehand format. The payment to Elizabeth was delivered by the hand of Isaac Holm. It is assumed that the money was collected from or sent to a predetermined place known to Skelton people. Very often this would have been an inn or a well-known shop.
Letters from Elizabeth Wilson to Isaac Dodd were addressed with instructions to be left at the Black Bull, Penrith. The Black Bull was situated in the Corn Market area of Penrith. It had eight lodging rooms and stabling for 21 horses. In 1790 a Mr Murthwaite was the victualler there. Rye was sold outside the Black Bull, wheat at the Black Lion, oats at the Fish Inn and White Hart Inn, and barley at the Griffin. All were situated in or near the Cornmarket area.
By 1785 it appears that Elizabeth was looking after her mother probably at her home, following John Mathews’ death two years earlier aged 83. He is described as a poor man in the parish register. A voucher of June 1785 lists the clothes and property of Grace Mathews to be delivered to her daughter. Isaac Dodd and Thomas Moses signed at the bottom. Her belongings may have been all she possessed. They Included:
- 1 Chaf bed
- 3 blankets
- 1 pare [pair] of harden sheets
- 1 bolster and pillow and draw
- 2 Toppings 1 Rug
- Bed hangings
- 1 Bedstead
- Two Gowns
- 3 Petticoats
- 1 Hankerchief
- 2 Blue Aprons
- 7 Checked Do[Aprons]
- 1 pare[pair] of shoes
- 4 Shifts
- 2 pare[pair] of Stockings
- 1 pare[pair] of Clogs
- 6 Caps
- 1 chair
The first letter to Dodd in November 1787 has Tindal [Tindale near Farlam] written at the top. She expressed her concern that he has not sent cloth for shifts as the money is not enough to buy clothing on top of her other outgoings. Saying she needed to be able to keep her mother clean and cannot do this without a change of clothes. Asking him to show the letter to the Overseers’, she continues:
‘I have tobacco and everything to find. She has been a year and a half that she could not dress herself nor go to bed without help. If you don’t send cloth or money I must be obliged to send her back. I have now had her 3 years at May day.’
Elizabeth did get the money sent to her, however, as stated in her letter:
‘I received the money but had a great deal of trouble with a guinea which was not weight. When you send again write on the letter full weight or I shall have no chance with the carrier.’
Counterfeit coins were problematic around this time and up until the 1830s. Punishment could be severe. Weighing a coin was a way of trying to determine its authenticity. It may have been that Elizabeth thought she had been given money that had been clipped, or that it was a newer design of coin recently minted that she did not recognise.
The last letter of 15 June 1788 updates Isaac Dodd:
‘I received your letter with cash £0.2.9 in due time as for my mother and me we have had a very bad winter for she lay ever since Martinmass, but thanks be to God she has got it over. She was buried May the 29th 1788. So the money as it happened deferred the expenses of the funeral.’
The hand writing in the two letters differs so Elizabeth may have sought help to write them.
John and Grace Mathews
Further vouchers from the parish of Skelton have been found since this original blog was written that show Elizabeth Wilson’s parents John and Grace received help from the Parish prior to Grace being cared for by Elizabeth. In February 1781 an account of their belongings at Skelton poorhouse was made. The overseer for the poor being a John Pool of Unthank quarter. [photo below] After John’s death on 26 February 1783 Ann Steele received a payment of £1.6s.6d. for the maintenance of Grace. The payment was made by Isaac Dodd.
Cumbria archives and Library.
Andrew Graham, Secret Penrith (Amberley 2016)
The Register of the parish of Skelton Cumberland 1580-1812 Baptisms, Marriages and Burials
PR 10/110-112 Letters to the Vestry Clerk
PR 10/V/15 Voucher Cumberland. Small Bills and Petty Finance 1700-1834
Newspapers accessed at www.britishnewspaperarchives.co.uk
Carlisle Patriot, 20 September 1823
Carlisle Journal, 19 October 1839
Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 21 August 1771
Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser, 30 July 1782