ALLEN (Ralph, 1694-1764, Postmaster and Philanthropist, Squire Allworthy of Fielding’s ‘Tom Jones’)

Autograph Letter Signed to “Sis” annotated in another hand as being Mrs Buckeridge, asking that she “cause the inclosed Letter to be safely deliver’d to Sister... on to Mrs Lewis...”, 1 side 4to., Bath, 21st October

Ralph Allen was a British entrepreneur and philanthropist, who was notable for his reforms to England's postal system. He was born in Cornwall but moved to Bath to work in the post office, becoming the postmaster at the age of 19. He made the system more efficient and took over contracts for the mail system to cover England to the borders of Scotland and into South Wales. He bought local stone mines from his postal profits and had Prior Park built as his house to show off the versatility of the local Bath stone, using the old post office as his town house. With the architect John Wood the Elder, the stone he mined was used in the building work for the development of the Georgian city. However, the mines did not consistently make a profit and Allen subsidised them from his postal profits. He was a close friend of Alexander Pope, who wrote of him in his ‘Satires of Horace’, “Let humble Allen, with an awkward shame / Do good by stealth and blush to find it fame”.
On the verso is her draft reply “Dear Brouther yours I reced and return you many thanks for all your frendships to Me and in particklor for this and shall bee very well satesfide to Land at yr intrest you mantion on a Good security of which shall not doot of when you take yr trubel to act in it ye mony is what I have saved and is in 8... Bonds onknown to Mr Ball soo that can Land 8 hundred and fifty pounds and when heare from you will sell ye bonds and pay yr money to your order and am Dear brouther yr affectnot sister and very much obledg...”, 1 side 4to., 26th October 1742
Ralph Allen married Elizabeth Buckeridge in 1721. Elizabeth Buckeridge died in 1736. Ralph then married Elizabeth Holder of Bathampton House. Presumably he is writing to either a maiden sister in law or one of his wife’s sisters in law.
Allen was instrumental in improving the navigability of the Avon canal between Bath and Bristol. Shares in the company were held by, among others, his wife Elizabeth (Buckeridge), mother Gertrude, nephew Philip (son of his brother Philip Allen), sister-in-law Sarah Hudson (his wife Elizabeth Buckeridge’s sister, mentioned in her father’s Will), and brothers-in-law Anthony Roderick Buckeridge (his wife’s brother, mentioned in her father’s Will). This letter could relate to this.

Item Date:  1742

Stock No:  42146      £475

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