An introduction to letters written by various members of the Cooper and Wright families in the eighteenth century
To discover personal letters written by ancestors in the eighteenth century, especially those written by and to women, is perhaps one of the Holy Grails of family history research. A trawl through the online catalogue of the Sheffield Archives, led to one such serendipitous discovery of letters that will be published herein over the next few months.
There are other bundles of letters in this collection, but we are interested in the three earliest lots, dating from around 1743 to 1795. The first bundle of 13 letters are from Dorothy Wright, (Sheffield Archives LD1576/1) to her daughter Catherine (Kitty) Elliott née Wright. The next bundle of 17 letters are from another daughter of Dorothy Wright, Rebecca Cooper née Wright to her sister Catherine "Kitty" Elliott née Wright, including a couple written by her husband David Cooper. (Sheffield Archives LD1576/2). The final, later bundle is of 9 letters from Catherine "Kitty" Elliott née Wright to her daughter Ann "Nancy" Hare née Elliott (Sheffield Archives LD1576/3).
The subject matter is predominately small talk, often expressing concerns about the well-being of other family members. Sometimes larger events creep in – the flight of the first hot air balloon; a performance of King Lear. They give an insight into the life of a reasonably well-to-do family through the eighteenth century, mostly written from the female perspective
These letters will be published in date order wherever possible. Most of the letters have the full date – day, month, year. A few do not, either being totally undated or with just day and month. They will be published in the order suggested by internal evidence of an approximate date.
Firstly, I would like to thank Sheffield Archives for their help in this project and for preserving and cataloguing the letters. Then I would like to thank Julian Towsey for the transcriptions and the editing. I would also like to thank all my friends who have patiently and politely listened whilst I bored them with tales of my ancestors! Finally, I would like to thank the Redline Company for designing this section of the website.
Sheffield Archives LD1576/1 - Folder