1780 – Solicitors were too honest for bribery – or were they?

Below is a transcripion of a 1780 legal document sent from John Williams of Barletts Buildings (Holborn London) to Abraham Stevens Attorney at Law, Stowey near Bridgwater.  The document contains a Britannica watermark and the Receiving House identifying stamp number.


 Bartletts Buildings on 22nd July 1780

The King Agt Smith and the two Processes – I have taken due
care that Hollcott shall bring with him all Three
Original Indictments Agt Sir William
& likewise the original Affidt made by the now Daft
and Margt Parva at last Bridgwater Assizes – Hope
you will have sent you (Ye) next Tuesday Nights Post
a copy of one affdtt prepared by Warren carefully
examined by Mayo and with it that Affx’d  Copy of
Indictment & Sentenced Agt Sir William that has been
already procured.
I write you this at seven in the morning being
about to set out with Mrs Williams for Devon. she is
in tolerable good spirits & descries her compliments
to Mrs Stevens and yourself. Her not forgetting
the Humber but she declares she is satisfied both you
and myself are Free Masons.
Lady Yeo & Sr William – tis impossible but from the Acco(un)t
already sent, you can prepare an In(itia)l Acco(un)t and see
the exact sum due.
If Sir Wm intends me a good Haunch of Venison
this can easily by a whole head sent to Salterton as a Cow head –
may you know a whole side is better but I leave that to will
of my donor. – I beg my Complimts to Sr Wm and am
Sir, your obliged Able Servt. John Williams
The letter, from John Williams to Mr Stevens is fairly standard in content. The formalities of business followed by personal pleasantries, until you reach the end. It would seem that Mr Williams is partial to a back-hander and suggests what Sir Williams might want to donate, in this case in the form of a side of beef! He even goes so far as to state the destination of the ‘gift’.

Abraham Stevens married Elizabeth Buller 28th November 1765 and they had two children. William Stevens born 1st January 1767 and Lavinia Stevens born 19th November 1771. Lavinia married Philip Hancock on 19th November 1795 and died exactly a year later on the same day of 1796 at the age of 25.
Abraham Stevens died 15th October 1794, Lavinia outlived him by a scarce 2 years.
Ursula Martin
Bridgwater Gene Pool
Visit my website to see how I can help you research your family history – CLICK HERE

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