Season 3, episode 11: 9th-13th June 1882. After Janie’s understandable outrage at Fred’s painting her in a such a bad light over her walk on Sunday night, Fred does his best to smooth things over after last weeks bust up. We also catch up w Fred's cricketing, and get in on the build up to a forthcoming boat race that caught the imagination of the whole country.Support the show
Welcome back to My Love Letter Time Machine, Hi, I’m Ingrid Birchell Hughes, and I’m serialising the love letters of my great great Grandparents, Fred Shepherd and Janie Warburton. Travel 140 years back in time with me now where we take a look at Victorian history through their eyes and today we’ll discover Janie is in the thick of the last week of preparations in the run up for her bother Fred’s and Polly Roe’s wedding and Fred does his best to smooth things over after last weeks bust up.
[Can Janie forgive her 'longsuffering' Fred?]
After Janie’s understandable outrage at Fred’s painting her in a such a bad light over her walk on Sunday night, he back tracks although I think he’s splitting hairs in order to do it. It also looks as if she has included a list of prices for their household purchases - although this has not survived:
THE NORTH EASTERN STEEL CO. LIMITED
Royal Exchange, Middlesbrough
June 9th 1882
My own darling Wife
I received your letter this morning for which I thank you. I am sorry darling that I pained you by the contents of my last letter as I did not mean to do that, but you know how strongly I feel upon the matter + how very sensitive I am as well upon anything like that.
I think though wifie, that you took me to mean more than I really did. I did not say (as far as I can recollect) that you had the same object in view as Fanny Makin – what I said I think was, that you surely could not have the same object in view. However my darling I did not mean to vex you or hurt you either so please forgive me this once.
You say that you would like to shake me for saying that I was your longsuffering lover. Am I not your lover, darling, + am I not also longsuffering? Of course if it would give you any pleasure or be of any practical use to shake me I would willingly be shaken; but so far I cannot see it – so beg respectfully to decline the offer. – Your further explanation love, puts quite a different light upon the affair – which I must confess I did not understand before.
I do know that you really love me darling, but for all that I am pleased that you agree with me, that you are mine absolutely as that is really the way in which I look at it. I have never seen you “nasty” love, + should be deeply grieved to see you that way now. It would certainly be new, but not pleasant, + might provoke other symptoms of a similar kind. How should you be love, if you were “nasty”? Would it be a vigorous furiousness, or a repetition of the old form of reticence?
I am pleased that you took the opportunity of getting information on Wednesday respecting the furniture – I am much obliged to you love for the prices. I have not had time to compare your estimate with the one I drew out, but will do so + let you have result on Sunday.
I don’t think it would be wise darling, to run as near £30 as you have done, because there would be the cost of the carriage to add on. Besides I find you have made a mistake in your addition which should be £30.3.6 instead of £29.3.6 as you had it.
I quite see what you mean wifie, now – you mean, that you prefer not to come before we are married, but to come up with me after our marriage, for the first time. I am thinking how awfully inconvenient it will be for you darling, but if you don’t mind, I have no doubt that even the inconvenience will be pleasurable, as we shall be together. I wish it was Darnall Feast love, + then we should be together again, you still think I suppose that I had better come over then love, don’t you?
Don’t you think the toilet tables that your Fred has bought, rather expensive love? I am afraid we shall not be able to afford £7.10.0 for them.
Mr Cooper has gone to Sheffield, Bradford, Preston + Barrow - + next week we have another Board meeting, which will mean another Sunday’s work for me. I would not care if I had you to cheer me up my darling, but I shall have soon love, so I won’t get glum.
Awaiting yours on Sunday, I remain
My darling Wife
Your loving true, faithful + longsuffering husband
June 9th 1882
My own darling husband
I have just returned from Darnall, I promised your mother I would go last night to see them but had to put off going until to night. I did not know the furniture would come yesterday. I went down with Mr Allen in his trap. He was going to the station with the letters + asked me to ride so I did + got there a little sooner than I expected, it was twenty minutes to eight when I started. I thought if I did not go last to night I very likely should have no other opportunity before the [Fred’s] wedding + they might think I was neglecting them, they told me I was quite a stranger.
Your mother was not very well. But all the rest are quite well. John is working so I did not see him. Louisa brought me to the church to meet Polly Corbet. I met her so we walked up together. I got here at ten o’clock.
[Continued] Saturday June 10th 1882
I received your welcome letter this morning for which I thank you, but I will finish answering your other one first love.
Oh love you have not said how you are getting on in your new lodgings + how you manage to board yourself I mean whether it is any cheaper.
I shall not be disappointed if you are not successful at the sports love, I think you have done very well indeed if you have to give up now, perhaps it would be best not to run at all this time, as I should not like your fame as a runner to diminish if you lose. You have not our celebratory sherry to train on. I wish you were here love you soon should have no doubts it will make a great difference to your speed.
Tom Wortley + Miss Mills called the other day. You said Annie his sister wanted to see me about going to Middlesbrough, there is an excursion for three days either this month or next. She thinks of going just to see the place. What do you think could you put me up anywhere for that time. It would be a night at Mr Davies’s + one at Mr Marstons the obligation would not be so great then + I should just be able to see my future dwelling place before I come to it.
Polly Warburton wants me to go there to morrow to deck[sic] her off a little bit I expect. I don’t know how we shall distinguish the two Pollys. They neither of them like Mary. We shall have to say our Fred’s Polly + our William’s Polly. I shall be wishing it is our wedding. I wish you could be here darling it would be enjoyable then. Jinnie Reckless has sent word to say that she can’t come I do feel sorry I know she will be so disappointed, it is the day before they break up + she has to set most of the children off home. Please excuse the paper love it is all I have until I have been to Mrs Allens.
I do love you more than ever my own darling husband.
I will always remain
Your loving true + faithful
Albert Terrace, Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough
Saturday June 10th/82[sic]
My own darling Wife
I have just a few minutes to spare before going to bed, so thought I would commence my usual Sunday letter love, for I know that you like a good long one for Monday’s.
Oh my darling, I do miss you on Saturdays, in the evening especially. We used to have such happy Saturday nights darling, didn’t we? It was so nice to be with you when the bother + worry of the week was over; + here is more worry + bother on Saturdays that any other day, without the solace of seeing you, which is hard love.
I had not finished work until four oclock this afternoon, + then after dinner went into the Park for a little while. There was some cricketing going on, but we were not asked to play, as hospitality even in cricket is not a very strong failing at Middlesbro. However eventually we succeeded in persuading one club to let us join, + Tom + I considerably astonished them by bowling + battling feats.
We did not have tea until eight o’clock + after that Tom went out first + I followed some time afterwards, but did not see him. I walked about by myself, + even yet I have not got over the feeling of loneliness seeing so many people + yet not one you know. I did so long for a sight of your sweet face my own darling – I wish it was October + then I should see you every day wifie. There is no one here my darling that approaches anyway near you in my humble estimation.
I wish it was morning my darling + then I should get another letter from you; but that means another Sunday to pass without you – which is not very exquisite. I love you my darling wife, more than ever. (x)
June 11th 1882.
I received your kind + loving letter this morning love.
I am glad that you went to see them at home darling, I like to think that you go to see them as often as you can during my absence.
We are very comfortable at our new lodgings love, more so than we were at the other + so far it has been much cheaper.
The first week it only cost us 14/9, the second week 12/3 (but that was the week I was away) this last week I think will be 16/-. At the old place it was about 16/6 every week including washing, + the above figures include everything. We made up our minds when we first came that we could make 16/- per week cover everything + so far we have managed very well.
I wish we had been here all the winter, it would have been more economical + more enjoyable. Of course it is not what I expect our home to be my wife, that will be happiness.
I am pleased that you will not be disappointed if I do not win anything at the sports love. If I do not get an opportunity of running here I don’t think I should run at Darnall – but we shall see.
With regard to the trip for three days to this place I expect it will be for the boat race between Boyd + Laycock which comes off on July 3rd.
If you come I have no doubt I could put you up some where for the two nights – but how would she go on (Annie)?
If Annie does not come with you, I don’t think I should like you to come love, as there is sure to be all the rough element in Sheffield come to see the race, + it would probably be a very unpleasant journey for you. Of course if your John came with you I should not mind, but I think you would not care to come alone.
If you came then love I don’t think I should come over to Darnall feast as that would be the week after. It would be glorious if you could come – as I expect it would be Saturday + we could go down to Redcar on the Saturday afternoon or Sunday. I think I should have to get a day off on the Monday. But it is certain there will be all the betting men in Sheffield come.
We will settle about the piano love when you get it.
I thought we had decided not to have a wardrobe love at first as we shall have a set of drawers from our house you know.
I include a comparison between your last estimate + the one I showed you + you must tell me what you think about it. I see you have put two bedroom chairs in besides the two included in the suite – will these be necessary.
We will be very careful when we are married darling, + then I have no doubt we shall get everything in good time love.
I should think the tin kettle will be very useful love in the emergency you mention. I am pleased that you think about these little things darling, for that will prevent you from inconvenience perhaps afterwards.
I think your Emma was doing a very foolish thing in reading such trash to the children because it is not advisable to give them a bad pronunciation especially when they are young.
I am pleased that you will put the cost of everything down love, it will be useful information when we get done furnishing.
I am rather surprised at your Fred going in for a Drawing room suite love, I did not think that was much in his line. But we will have a nice one afterwards darling, + then it will satisfy your dear little self.
I am glad that you forgive me darling, I will give you such a sweet loving kiss for it when I see you my own wife, which will not be long now.
The forth coming boat race between Boyd and Laycock seems to have been a huge deal. Middlesbrough man, Robert Watson Boyd (who you might remember from a previous podcast) was the English Sculling champion and Elias C Laycock was a professional sculler, from Sydney, Australia.
The number articles in the national papers including the Sporting Life, speculating on Boyd’s training regimen and boat adjustments in the run up to the race, suggest that this was one of the major sporting events of that Summer.
[excerpt from the Sporting Life]
June 12th 1882
My own darling husband
I received your nice loving letter this morning for which I thank you love, they are always such a treat. I do like a good long one for Monday.
I miss you quite as much as you do me, on Saturday nights my darling, we did have such happy Saturdays + Sundays. I it hard love to have to do without each other now but it is for us to be together always.
You were late home on Saturday love, you would be almost past your dinner. I wish I could have gone in the Park with you for a little while darling, it would have been enjoyable. I think they will ask you to play cricket next time you go in the Park, as you astonished them considerably by bowling + batting feats.
Oh darling I do wish I could have relieved your loneliness on Saturday evening. I was wishing for you here, when I came back from the post. I thought I would give anything for one of our old walks. I would wish you could have had a sight of my old face. You will see it every day soon now love + then won’t you be tired of it.
These dreary Sundays without each other are they not love? But they will soon be happier.
I went to school in the morning + to church, Lizzie Roe came in, in the afternoon + stopped about an hour. I waited for Kate up to nine oclock. Annie Wortley + Clara Denton came up about eight, George has not been so well again. Then Polly Roe came in about half past eight.
Polly + I went down with them as far as the bridge.
I have done your tie love. I have turned it + lined it, it does not look quite such a nice shape as I wanted it but it was rather awkward to do, I hope it will suit you darling.
I am glad you are so comfortable in your new lodgings + that you find it cheaper, you can stay at one place too long it seems love. I think you are doing very well darling to make 16/- cover all. We will try to make ours a happy home. About the excursion to Middlesbro love, Mr Glover has some friends to take Annie to.
I should not like to come by myself love if as you say all the rough element in Sheffield will come. I should not mind at all if Annie is with me. It would be glorious if I can come you would certainly have to get the Monday off.
Kate is going to leave on Darnell feast Monday, she will give Mother notice on Monday so that I should be able to manage if before she left. She had a row over something with Mother. If I do come love it would perhaps be better not to come at Darnall feast, then you could come just before our feast on the week after.
Our Fred rather fancied the hair seated suites, but Polly does not like them, so he gave in to her + said she was to have just what she liked. Our Fred has more pride in a house nicer than our John has, you wouldn’t think it love would you?
I am quite satisfied to be without a drawing suite love for a time. I will answer you about the house darling in my next. I haven’t time now.
I have been making two ruffles for the wedding + I have made two bonnets. I think I am general utility in these affairs. I have to have the honour of dressing the bride. I’ll give you one for Thursday + you give me a short one for that morning will you love.
The Royal Exchange, Middlesbrough
THE NORTH EASTERN STEEL CO.,
June 13 1882
My own darling Wife
I received your letter this morning + thank you very much for answering by return. I am glad that you were satisfied with mine on Monday love, it is as much pleasure for me to write as it is for you to receive them.
I wish you could have gone with me into the Park darling + also on Sunday – On Sunday it looked lovely – I am sure you will like it my little wife.
I thought you would feel my absence on Saturday nights love – as I do. You say I shall get tired of seeing your dear sweet face, never my darling – how could I, provided you keep it sweet etc.
I am sorry to hear that George Denton is not so well – I thought he was better.
I received the tie love + thank you very much for repairing it. I have had it 4 years now, + if I have it another 4 years I think it will not have done badly. I like it very much darling.
About the excursion to Middlesbro love, you did not say when it is to be. I think I was wrong in my last letter. I thought it would be on account of the boat race, but I understand that it is a Works trip + comes off next Saturday. I shall get more information tomorrow + will let you know. How would it suit you if it is on Saturday? I am dying to see you again.
Alvey says that Miss Smith would go, + is writing her tonight to tell her, so that if she went you would have additional company. Could you call on her tomorrow love? She is at Cockayne’s Mantle Department. Enquire at Watson’s Walk. I thought Annie would go to Glover’s friends but I don’t think you would care to go there. Get to know certain when it is love, + then we can settle the matter at once. Didn’t Annie tell you when it was?
I am sorry that Kate is leaving you as you may not get another as good as her. But you will not be troubled with anybody long my darling now. What was the row about? I always like to know being inquisitive.
You are evidently going to be a ‘big gun’ at this wedding love, almost as big as you will be at your own. Of course I shall be nowhere then my darling. You will be rather mixed up at first with the two Pollys, but will no doubt settle it amicably.
I wish I could be there love it would be fine experience in one never having been married before you know love.
I am sorry that Jinnie can [there] get love, as she had looked forward to it so much.
I will gladly excuse the various small sheets of paper my darling, it is a letter from you + as such – perfect.
I hope you will be able to come by the trip love, no matter when it is. I told [my landlady] Mrs Snaith that I expected my wife would be coming over to see me, + she wishes to see you very much. She is firmly convinced that I am a married man darling, as I told her I was going home to see my wife at Whitsuntide, + she asked Alvey if it was right that I was married, he of course said I was, + that settled her. I expect my manner has assisted in the delusion, being so very quiet + sedate you know love. She was asking me last night if we have any children. I said no we hadn’t but were expect[ing] one soon. Is that so my darling wife?
I received a newspaper from Nottingham the other day, but have not the least idea who from. I enclose the wrapper. Can you tell me if you know the writing love. I don’t like anything mysterious like that.
I shall await yours of Thursday my darling
+ remain my loving little wife
Your loving true + faithful husband.
What the heck Fred?! Why would you let your Landlady, Mrs Snaith, think that not only are you married but that a baby was on the way - I don’t get this at all. Unless of course it was awkward to go back on what Alvey had already said. I mean there is a part of me, wondering about some pact between Alvey and Fred that perhaps they are toying with the idea that if they can pass themselves off as married, they might be able to have their fiancees stay under the same roof at some point without scandal.
Unfortunately for us, we don’t get to find out what Janie thought of this as in the next podcast, her letters are almost completely taken over by intricacies of trying to arrange a possible trip to Middlesbrough, and, the full on stress and drama of her bother Fred’s wedding. And when I say drama, oh boy do I mean it, I can not wait to share that episode with you next time.
Thank you so much for listening to My Love Letter Time Machine. I’d very much like to share Fred and Janie’s story with more people, so If you haven’t already - can I ask to share this podcast with someone you think might enjoy it? You can also find excerpts of Fred and Janie’s letters on instagram at my love letter time machine all one word and you can write to me at my love letter time machine at gmail dot com.
Until next time, take care.
© Ingrid Birchell Hughes 2022