This Week in History: October 18

Just in time for Hal­loween, here’s a Scoo­by Doo-style mys­tery let­ter.  This is an unsigned note sent to Robert, pur­port­ed­ly from a good Samar­i­tan to ask him to send mon­ey to his poor des­ti­tute niece Vir­ginia Hamil­ton in Ire­land.  (Her father was Robert’s old­est broth­er, Andrew.)  Was this let­ter tru­ly authored by a well-mean­ing friend?  Did Vir­gini­a’s hus­band send it?  You decide.  Inci­den­tal­ly, it says Robert sent Vir­ginia 400 Pounds in hon­or of her 1867 wed­ding; that would be the equiv­a­lent of rough­ly $9,500 today.  (That’s a pret­ty nice wed­ding gift.)


Octo­ber 23rd 1877
Colonel Robert Campbell

1867 Shilling

Dear Sir
You will please pardon
an utter stranger writ­ing you an anonymous
let­ter, but it is for a kind­ness to a Niece
of yours that I write and I hope you will
par­don my bold­ness, but know­ing and hearing
so much of your gen­er­ous kind­ness to your
friends and strangers I thought I might address
a few words to you.  Her name is Virginia
Hamil­ton ( her hus­band’s name is Alexn.) and she
is a cred­it to the name of Camp­bell for every
one respects and loves her, but she has got
into dif­fi­cul­ties, or rather her Husband.
Rather he had been in some lit­tle debt
pre­vi­ous to her mar­riage (but she was not
aware of it). Her kind good Uncle Robert
sent her after Mar­riage 400 pounds she
told me she gave to her Hus­band 200 pounds
and invest­ed the rest on her­self but she
did not get keep­ing it long as there was
a lease of a House sold and she gave
100 pounds for it, well with one bill and
anoth­er she had to give all her money,
and this Spring one of their cred­i­tors wrote
for all his mon­ey and her Hus­band was
not able to meet with the demand so
he had to call a meet­ing of all his creditors
and the all agreed to take 10 shillings to
the pound they got 3.6 and 9 months to
make their pay­ments.  Your Niece Virginia
nev­er knew of it until three days previous
to the meet­ing and I, her dear friend, never
did see any­thing like her grief. Indeed it
was thought she would have gone out of
her mind but she bore up like a Chris­t­ian and
I told her she was not to blame as she had
wrought so con­stant in her shop had gained
so much cus­tom and they were doing so well
she would not allow her Hus­band to get
an assis­tant to keep down the expense. I asked
her to write her kind good Uncles her
cir­cum­stances and they would soon send
help but she said oh no I could not think
of doing such a thing as they were far to
kind to her and all her sis­ters, so please
don’t blame her in caus­ing me to write this
let­ter to you as she or her Hus­band or any
of her friends are not the least aware of
it being wrote. So kind Sir if you would
send her some mon­ey you would nev­er miss it
and it would be the means of set­ting her
up in the world and as they left themselves
want­i­ng any means to pay their cred­i­tors and
your Niece Vir­ginia is such a noble person.
She says “Oh if God pleas­es to spare me my
health to I would pay the last far­thing of
debt I would die hap­py.”  I have not a
a sin­gle friend I would pre­fer before her
since she came to this town she has been
a mod­el Woman and wrought all she
has one lit­tle son a promising
boy he is and his age I think would be
now about 7 years and two love­ly lit­tle daughters
aged 2 years and one year her own health is
very del­i­cate, so kind Sir I trust you will
for­give me for address­ing you this is every word
true and your Niece and her Hus­band above would
for­ev­er reward them for it and for Gods sake
send her the mon­ey.  Farewell good bye and God will
bless you.