June letters from Havilland Le Mesurier

Two letters by merchant and functionary Havilland Le Mesurier, one to his wife Elizabeth Dobree and the other to daughter Harriet Le Mesurier, from nearly 200 written while he was away working for the Army's Commissariat, in the Library collection.

London, 5th June 1801.

My dear little Harriett,1

I think the best way for me to get a Letter from you is to write first, as I am persuaded you will not fail to send me an answer. You know my dear Girl how happy we are to hear from you and therefore I am sure you will not disappoint me. It has given us great pleasure to learn that the air of St Peter's agrees so well with you as to make you grow fat, and I expect to see you at your return as plump as a little partridge.

Havilland is with us, but I expect he will set off about the latter end of next week to join his Regiment in Egypt, but from the good news we have we may hope that the hard fighting will be over before the time he gets there. Frederick is expected every day to go down to Weymouth where he is to attend their Majesties and the Princesses. Tom and Harry break up on this day fortnight, about which time we hope to see Louisa. Edward is always lively and well. Your dear Brother and your Brothers send their Love to you.

I pray God to bless you my dear Child, and hope you do not forget your Parents in your prayers. I shall be most happy to see you again, but as I believe it will do good to your health to remain in Jersey sometime longer, I am content you would be absent from us. Remember us to your Uncle and cousins and thank them for their kindess to you.

I am, My dear Harriett, Your ever affectionate father, Hav. Le Mesurier.

1 Henriette, 'Harriett', was the oldest child of Havilland Le Mesurier and Betsy Dobrée, born in 1783. She married William Chepmell of Guernsey and had 12 children. Her 'Uncle and cousins' were the once radical politician Sir John Dumaresq of Jersey (1749-1819), who lived in St Peter's in Jersey, and his ten children by his then late wife, Havilland's sister Mary Le Mesurier (d. 1787). See Balleine, Biographical Dictionary of Jersey, 1948, pp. 240 ff. In 1785 Jersey and Guernsey had appointed agents for their respective Chambers of Commerce in London: Jersey chose John Dumaresq to represent them, and Guernsey Havilland Le Mesurier; the islands also used Paul Le Mesurier, Havilland's brother and partner, as a lobbyist.

London, June 24th 1799.

After a fatiguing day I take half an hour before going to bed with only Havilland by my side, the two other boys being long ago fast asleep, to relax with thee my dearest Betsey and to communicate in confidence what is now going on. I have indeed had much anxiety upon my mind last the accounts of the Expedition now preparing and the appointment of Sir Ralph Abercrombie to command it should have occasioned thee to think I might be called upon to go, and all things considered should be induced to accept of the responsibility. Happily, my dear Girl, I am not put to the trial and after having done what I felt to be my duty, that is after first stating that after all I had said and written about Commissariat duties I would not shrink from putting it in practice at the moment of trial, I find arrangements are making which I could not agree to, and, without my being put to the trial, Motz2 is the man to go out as W[atson]'s Deputy, who stays at home to give his orders unless the Duke should eventually go out when he would accompany him. This, my dear Girl, I tell thee confidentially, that thy mind may be perfectly at ease as to my quitting London. As for the thing itself, time will show whether my fears are well founded. I can only say I would not accept Motz's situation for any pay, persuaded as I am that I should entail on my posterity debts and Lawsuits which may never end. Motz has now accounts to the amount of millions hanging over him, and he is going to be loaded with millions more. Mr W. will take care to keep aloof as much as possible, but he appears to me to have overshot the mark as to the future, altho' for the present he carries all before him. Be that as it may, my dear Girl, I am satisfied that I have showed the right way, and I had rather be as I am than as they are. If Motz should go out I do not say that I may not take a trip to look at the Army, although although this is extrememly improbable, and at any rate I would only go as a Contractor, free to engage as much or as little as I please and to get something by it, but in such cases, it probably would be in partnership with some of the Eckhardts or others. I only throw this out as a matter in the scope of possibilities, and in case my little Betsey was here. At present the Expedition, though preparing and very great, has no time fixed for its departure. Keep this my beloved to thyself, for tho' I have been obliged to tell Paul on order for him to know what he has to trust to, yet the matter of the Commissariat is a secret here.

I have heard with much surprise that Dobrée and Aubin are parted, that is past with the half year. This is very sudden and, I understand, the effect of disagreeement. Perhaps some further reasons will yet transpire. I should not think this would do either of them good. Perhaps they will know more of this in the Islands than I can do at present.3

Mrs Dupré4 has cancelled today and asked me whether you paid Harry's Entrance or not? I promised to write you as it is not charged in the Bill. My brother Tom writes me he dares not publish the Book5 he intended. I am told him I am glad of it as we shall be able to give him our opinion before it comes out. He has it seems nearly made up his mind to have one of the Livings. One he says is £300, the other £200, £250 a year at the utmost. I think he will as well to settle on one of them.

27th. Dost thou recollect this day seventeen years, my dear Life? God bless thee and mayest thou seventeen years hence if it be His will we should live so long, recollect the day with pleasure and delight. Yesterday young Harcourt dined with me. It was very handsome of him to come and pay me a visit, knowing that I was not to go out, as a mark of esteem and respect. In truth I hope in this case I feel what I recommend to my Boys, to be more anxious to deserve promotion than careful about obtaining it. I cannot help feeling for the Army and for my Country under the impression which hangs over my mind, as I fear many disorders, and lament that the British Commissariat will continue to be a reproach to the Country, for if the plan going on is followed, the greatest disorder will ensue. Sir Ralph Abercrombie has I know expressed himself in the handsomest manner towards me, and indeed compliments from all quarters are reported to me; this, you will say, 'nefait pas bouiller la marmite,' but now that I consider myself as elbowed out of the Commissariat, it is very pleasant to hear I still possess the good opinion of people I respect.

Betty is better. Today I have had the Taylor to make the Boys' clothes. It is an unpleasant circumstance that the blue Nankeen which thou sentest over by D. Watson disappeared that same day it came and has not been seen since. Certainly considering there was nobody in the House but Betty, her Sister and husband, the loss has given a good deal of vexation and to this day is unaccounted for.

28th. No packet is arrived today nor any Public News. Motz I find goes out very soon. Spiller6 (and his wife of course with whom Motz lives scandalously), London, Cooper, and Wright are said to accompany him. If Sir Ralph Abercrombie succeeds, perhaps the Duke and Watson will follow. Observe however I tell you all this in private.

I am told that Aubin, although no longer in partnership with Dobrée, continues in the House. I know not how to account for this except by supposing they have suffered losses, and Dobrée is supported whilst the other is not and consequently glad to remain as Clerk until he can find a situation. Do not however throw out this as it might injure the House.

Inclosed are two Letters from the Boys. Sir Thomas returns by this packet, but I suppose thee at Jersey where I will direct this letter. Le Couteur and Mary I find cannot dine with me before Monday, and as Sace(?) called last night I have invited him to dine with them, so thou seest my Love, I do not forget thy French friends. I have seen nothing of Madamoiselle or Demary for a long time, but I understand they live at Brompton.

Give our love to all the people at St Peter's. God bless thee my beloved. Love me always and think of me sometimes.

2 Henry Motz, later Commissary-General, died 1802.

3 Samuel Dobrée and Sons (later of 6 Tokenhouse Yard) can be found in directories at 65, Old Broad Street from 1800; Dobrée and Aubin, merchants, are found at this address 1798-99. From London Metropolitan Archives. In 1800 Abraham Le Mesurier, of Austin Friars (3, Austin Friars, being the address of the business of Paul and Havilland Le Mesurier), where his wife died in 1804, is listed as a merchant at Tokenhouse Yard.

4 The Reverend John Dupré of Jersey (1754-1834), the eldest son of Jean Dupré, rector of St Helier, and Marie Millais, had married Eleanor Bayley of Tring, presumably the Mrs Dupré mentioned here. In 1788 Dupré became the headmaster of Berkhamsted School, an Edward VI Grammar School at Berkampstead in Hertfordshire. According to Balleine, in his Biographical Dictionary of Jersey, 1948, 'he used his annual visits to Jersey to collect pupils for his school.' Most of the Le Mesurier boys attended Westminster School for a short period. Henry 'Harry' Le Mesurier, intended for a commercial career, was persuaded to enter the army by his brother Havilland; he lost his right arm at the Battle of Salamanca in 1812.

5 Poems, Chiefly Sonnets &c. which was published in 1799. His next book was a pamphlet, A serious examination of the Roman Catholic claims, as set forth in the petition now pending before Parliament, which he published in 1805, and which began a long series of similar works on this subject. He eventually took the living of Newnton Longueville in Buckinghamshire.

6 In 1806 George Spiller wrote a book on the Commissariat to rival Havilland's, Observations on certain branches of the Commissariat system &c.