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31 January 2007

Luminary documents

Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History; 9
Newspaper readership in south west England: an analysis of the Flindell's Western Luminary subscribers list of 1815.
Correspondence of Thomas Flindell


This small collection of correspondence from Thomas Flindell was acquired by the Devon Record Office in 1948. It formed part of a collection made by Herbert Townsend, probably gathered together beacuse of an interest in the postmarks. The original source is unknown, but it may have been taken from a solicitor's records.

The firm of Tipper and Fry is listed in directories as wholesale stationers. Caslon and Catherwood (DC6335) were typefounders at 62, Chiswell Street, Moorfields, London.

I am most grateful to the Devon Record Office for allowing the inclusion of these records in the present work.

DC 6327

Truro, 26th June 1805
Sir, I have to beg your professional assistance in a business, the issue of which is likely to seriously affect my future welfare. Soon after I was arrested in October 1802, my partners in the Falmouth paper demanded of me the books of the partnership, which I refused to give up, because the partnership was at that time indebted to my estate in a very considerable sum, and I had reason to fear a bankruptcy, which however did not take place. They then (as you may remember) published an advertisement in the Sherborne paper forbidding the public to pay me any debts due to the paper concern, which (notwithstanding the business had always been publicly carried on in my name only) prevented my collecting in as much as was necessary to cover the balance actually due by the partnershp to me. In the meantime they filed a Bill against me in Chancery, declaring that I owed them considerable sums which I refused to account for - this I answered by a denial of the whole charge, and tendered the books to them by the hand of Mr Young attorny of Falmo. who being engaged in compromising my separate affairs with my debtors necessarily became engaged in this business also. They refused to accept the books from Mr Young "because (as they told him) receiving them thro' Chancery would put me to more expense". From this it is evident their object was not justice, but spleen & oppression. The books were accordingly delivered into Chancery, through which they afterwards obtained a copy of them. No commission has been held to examine the accounts, or take evidence thereon, but the cause is set down for hearing before the Master of the Rolls on the 2d of July - and Mr Young has instructed his agent Mr Daniele Reardon attorney Corbet Court Grace Church Street to prepare instructions for Counsel to defend me. As you cannot but be acquainted with many circumstances connected with this business, and I have great confidence in your abilities and friendship, I am anxious that you should give your assistance to Mr Reardon in drawing up the necessary instructions. Mr Young has informed Mr Reardon that you will see him on the business, and added his wish to mine that he would profit of your advice. Mr R. will inform you what has already been done: and I have herewith enclosed you a correct copy of the partnership articles of agreemt. On the books of the partnership it appears that they owe me £33/12/4 independently of about £18 which the stand individually indebted to the concern for advertising, papers &c. but against this is placed property which I have in my possession belonging to them to the amount of £51/5/6, and which I have declared my readiness to give up upon their paying me the balance due to me. I should conceive too, that my accounts and the declaration accompanying them being on oath while their declaration against me is bare assertion only, should give my statements more validity in the estimation of the court. But I understand that they now cavil at particular articles of charge - my occasional journies collecting money, which were necessarily very frequent from the inadequacy of our floating capital to answer the prompt demands for stamps, advertising duty, labour &c. but these journies had the additional object of extending our advertising connections, obtaining orders, &c. it being frequently necessary to court connexions by civilities and expence, and advertising connexions were actually obtained in many instances by these means - another charge they now object to is that of £6 per week for editing, printing, &c after the paper was enlarged to the size of the Sherborne paper since the first agreement was only for £3/10. a week, but the paper, you will remember, was very small when begun - We soon, however, found that it was impossible to establish our paper without removing the preponderating ascendancy the Sherborne paper had obtained there - and a material objection to our paper was, its being too small for a weekly paper, and that the Sherborne contained much more matter at the same price. It is true that I can produce no document to shew that the partnership agreed to pay me this advanced price for my labours; but if the evidence of my wife has any weight she is free to make affidavit that Mr Jordan (the leading name among my prosecutors) delared in her hearing that the partners were well pleased with my enlargement of the paper and with my general management of it, and were willing to pay me the six pounds a week - any printer must be sensible too that even this charge is below the value of the work done - and indeed any one who has an idea of the labour and expence requisite in establishing a newspaper in opposition to such old-established papers as I had to contend with, in a remote and narrow part of the country, with no previous connexion or patronage as I have since obtained, must consider the sum of £320 as a mere flea-bite; and, my success has since proved that had they duly nursed the paper in its infancy, the returns before this period would have recovered the whole sum sunk, and double that sum at the back of it - But what better could be expected from 3 inn-keepers, a shop-keeper, and a custom-house clerk! - That my conduct was above suspicion, may be fairly presumed from the circumstance that, in the face of their advertisement in the Sherborne paper, the Noblemen, Members of Parliament, Sheriff, principal Magistrates, Clergy and Attornies of the county, with my neighbour and friend Robert W.Fox, one of the most cautious and sagacious men in the county at the head of the list, should sign a certificate of my abilites to conduct a paper, pledge themselves for my character, and hand me from one to the other till a sum was subscribed by them which enbled me to commence my present paper on my own bottom. Let me add too, and I have done, that during the progress of their malicious prosecution I have frequently, by my attorney Mr Young, offered to refer the business to any two printers of newspapers in the Kingdom, or to any other two or three gentlemen of character, at their option; and that they have uniformly declined all reference or other mode of fair and equitable adjustment, with the avowed motive of pushing me on to expence and ruin. All these facts I can substantiate upon oath: - and as you have been my friend Sir before, I hope and trust you will assist me with your abilites to prepare such a statement (jointly with Mr Reardon) as may enable my Counsel to baffle the envy and malice of my persecutors, who have no other object but to gratify their rage and disappointment at my present success and their own folly. I am Sir with due respect your most obed. servt. T.Flindell. P.S. I scarcely need add, that all your expences &c in this business will be paid with gratitude when I next see you in Cornwall.

[Endorsed:] Letter to Mr Wallis
Mr T Flindell, 26 June 1811

DC 6328

I Thomas Flindell of Exeter, but formerly of Falmouth, defendant in the cause now pending in Chancery, and in which William Jordan, James Wynn and others are prosecutors do volunarily make oath that the sum of three pounds six shillings and sixpence charged in the account delivered in by me in the said cause, and now, as I understand before the Master in Chancery, was really and bona fide paid by me to and between Arthur Mankin of the town of Falmouth, for making and fixing the sign board described in the said account and to --- Tonkin for painting and gilding the same. As witness my hand at Exeter this first day of July 1815
Thos Flindell
Sworn before me at Exeter, this first day of July, 1815
Rd Phillips

1193 13 9 Jordan v Flindell
1262 15 11 Affidavit of Mr Flindell


I send you my affidavit as to the item of the signboard - nothing could be easier than to get the receipt for this, but that my business would not let me go to Falmt till next week.

I cannot find words strong enough to express my very agreeable surprize at your letter - for I had been taught to think that the forms of proceeding in this case were insuperable obstacles to my obtaining justice - and I must believe that I owe much to your persevering attention and friendship.
I remain sir
Your obliged and most obedient servant
Tho Flindell
To Mr Reardon 1 July 1815

[Endorsed:] Mr Flindell, 1 July 1815
Messrs Reardon & Davis
Corbet Court
Gracechurch Street


This is to request you will have the goodness to send me 500 news stamps early in the next week - and your usual parcel at the usual time
I am
Yours obediently
Thos Flindell
Exon, 23d May 1816 [Annotated:] Fo 298 GF

[Endorsed:] T.Flindell, Exeter May 23rd/16
Messrs Tipper & Fry
[Postmarks:] Exeter 23 May 1816, A 25 May 1816

DC 6331

I miscalculated my wants in my last letter - and have now not 100 stamps in the house, beyond what are in the press for my paper of tomorrow.

I beg therefore that immediately on receipt of this, you will forward me 1000 per the Auxiliary Mail from the Bell & Crown, Holborn. They should reach me on Friday night.

Your particular attention to the request will oblige
Your most obed. servt
Thos Flindell
Exon, Monday 3rd June 1816

[Endorsed:] T.Flindell, Exeter June 3rd/16
Messrs Tipper & Fry [address as above]
[Postmarks:] Exeter 3 jun 1816, A 5 june 1816


I am reduced to the unpleasant necessity of informing you that I shall not be able to meet my acceptance, which becomes due on Saturday morning - till Monday.

I was taught to rely on the payment today of my bill of 140 odd pounds for election printing for Mr Bastard (the successful candidate) and am disappointed, & that so suddenly as to leave me no time to obtain a substitute in time for the post.

I know the request is unpleasant to all parties, and subjects one to injurious conjectures - If you cannot detain it in London till Monday, it must come back. If you can oblige me, I know you will.
I remain
Yours very truly
Thos. Flindell
Exon, 6th June, 1816

[Endorsed:] T.Flindell, Exeter, June 6th/16 Messrs Tipper & Fry [address as above] [Postmarks:] Exeter 6 June 1816, A 8 June 1816

DC 6333

I hope I am not too late in informing you - begging you, to send me off 1000 stamps per the Auxiliary Mail Coach from the Bell & Crown, Holborne, immediately on receipt of this - for wetting down here on Saturday next at furthest.
And you will make my amount for this month 5000 - including the above
And oblige
Your very humble servant
Thos Flindell
Exon, 1st July 1816 [Annotated:] fo 345 GF

[Endorsed:] T.Flindell, Exeter, July 1st/16
Messrs Tipper & Fry [address as above] [Postmarks:] Exeter 1 July 1816, A 3 July 1816

DC 6334

You will here receive my acceptance which should have been forwarded sooner
I am gentn
Yours very truly
Thos Flindell
Exon, Octr 5th 1816

[Endorsed:] T.Flindell, Exeter, Oct 5 1816
Messrs Tipper & Fry [address as above]
[Postmarks:] Exeter 5 October 1816, A 7 October 1816

DC 6335

Have the goodness to send me 12 packs cards, same size exactly as the pencel line which encloses this [4½ by 7½ inches], per first coach after you shall have received a very small parcel from Messrs Caslon and Catherwood which you will very much oblige me by forwarding with the cards
Yours very truly
Thos Flindell
Exon 15 Augt 1816 [Annotated:] Recd bills £100.17 RS. fo 413 GF

[Endorsed:] T.Flindell, Exeter, 15 Aug 1816
Messrs Tipper & Fry [address as above, postmarks indistinct]

DC 6336

In a former letter I requested that my months parcel might be increased to 5000 - you have sent me but 4000. I must therefore intreat that you will send off 1000 by Wednesday next at furthest by coach from the Bell & Crown, Holborn. Don't disappoint me, whatever you do.
I am very truly
Thos Flindell
Exon 27 Aug. 1816. [Annotated:] fo 442 GF

[Endorsed:] T.Flindell, Exeter August 27th/16
Messrs Tipper & Fry [address as above]
[Postmarks:] Exeter 29 August 1816, A 31 August 1816

DC 6337

I am under the necessity of removing a part of my acceptance of your draft £97/12 which will become due on Monday morning, when you receive it

Viz The interest Bill of Exon Genl Bank £42/--/-
My note 30 days ------------------- £55/13/-
Your mortification at this irregularity cannot exceed mine. The fact is that my tra[vell]er was sent out with Bills all regularly due and on the upper and middle classes of the country to the amt of £270 odd, and returned last night with only £38 odd of the money - and cash accommodation is no longer practical in Exon.
However as a fresh quarter turns with me in the coming fortnight, I shall not fail to get all right again.
And remain
Your most obed servt
Thos Flindell
Exon 9th Sept 1816
[Annotated:]End portage 2/9
Interest 8/10
[Endorsed:] T.Flindell, Exeter, Sept 9/16
Messrs Tipper & Fry [address as above]
[Postmarks:] Exeter 7 September 1816, A 9 September 1816


I have paid into the Devon Genl Bank today, the amt of my acceptance due on Sunday next.
And am
Your obedt servt
Thos Flindell
Exon 2 Nov 1816
Please send me only 4000 stamps per month till further orders

[Endorsed:] Thos Flindell, Nov 2 1816
Messrs Tipper & Fry [address as above]
[Postmarks:] Exeter 2 November 1816, A [indistinct]

DC 6339

Our election contest has reduced my stock of stamps - I trust you will be able to send me off about 200 by some coach of Friday next - Saturday will be too late - but better late than never
I am
Yours obediently
Thos Flindell
Exon, Monday night 2d Dec 1816 [annotated:] Fo 72[?] GF

[Endorsed:] T.Flindell, Exeter 2 Dec 1816
[Postmark:] A 4 Dec 1816

This page last updated 26 Feb 2001
© Ian Maxted, 2001.