Monday, October 19, 2009

On the Road

Like many historical authors I spend a lot of time puzzling over how long journeys would take, how people got from A to B and how much it would cost.

Imagine my delight when I found an expenses claim from a lawyer called Jonathan Oldman to Sir John Musgrave of Edenhall, near Penrith, for a journey from Edenhall to Kempton Park via London in December 1795.

Helpfully, Mr Oldman took a variety of conveyances – the stage, a post chaise, the Mail and hackney carriages in London - so I was able to discover that a post chaise, its driver, the turnpike charges and food along the way cost £6 14s from Edenhall to York. He then changed to the stage coach to London which cost 3 guineas plus 4s 6d for tipping the drivers and 5s 6d for his luggage with 11s 6d for food along the way.

It is difficult to pick out the detail of his expenses in London because he lumps some of them together, but a night at the White Horse, Fetter Lane cost 6s and he then tipped the chamber maid, the waiter, paid for shaving water and caught a hackney to the Chertsey stage and that cost him 4s 11d in total.

The stage coach and driver’s tip from London to Kempton Park was a mere 5s each way.
On his way back he incurs £1 14s 8d in “sundry expenses” which suggests that perhaps he took the opportunity for a little fun – or perhaps I am maligning a sober lawyer. Certainly his laundry wasn’t included in that – it cost him 5s 6d.

Jonathan Oldman took the Mail home, travelling from London to Penrith at a cost of £5 with £1 for luggage and £1 7s 9d for tips and food. Overall his employer was out of pocket to the tune of £17 19s for his expedition.

I’d love to know what necessitated the journey and it is fun to imagine what a Cumbrian lawyer would have thought if he knew that a romance author would be poring over his expenses claim over two hundred years after he submitted it.

Louise Allen


Kim Swiderski said...

LOL, for some reason I have a picture of you giggling over all the information his expense report gave. Just like a little kid at a candy store.

Carol Townend said...

Hi Louise,
Yes, that 'sundry expenses' certainly looks as though it might cover a multitude of sins. Sorry, entertainments. It has got my imagination working overtime, that's for sure...fascinating!
All best

Jan Jones said...

I'm still astonished about paying for shaving water!

mizwaller said...

How smart of you to find this. It does make you wonder how a governess who made, what, 20 pounds a year(?) could go juantering all over England as they so frequiently do in other authors stories? This brings me to the whole unrealistic incomes that people have in many Regencies.It drives me crazy.

Lori said...

That is so cool! Where did you find such a thing? I have a lot of trouble figuring time and distance for 17th and 18th century travel, especially by coach. It is funny to imagine what the man would have thought if he'd known that his expense log would give so much pleasure centuries later.

Louise Allen said...

Sorry I've been so late in responding to comments - blame revisions, deadlines and builders!

I found this expenses claim on Ebay, Lori(one of my major vices. the other fantastic find recently was a bill for a funeral - much more depressing than all these sundry expenses, but still fascinating). And I absolutely agree with mizwaller about the importance of getting wages and expenses right.

Monica Fairview said...

Wow! What a find! I would certainly be thrilled to find this one!