Banking Ombudsman FORMAL RECOMMENDATION on passbook

bank ombudsman recommendation PDF version

I recommend that the complaint by MRS. S. E. COADY (“Complainant”) against MIDLAND BANK PLC (“the Bank”) be withdrawn without the payment of any money or the provision of any valuable consideration by the Bank to the Complainant.

Following the issue of an Assessment on 11th October 1993, I have received further detailed submissions from the Complainant and a response to them from the Bank. All of that further evidence has been carefully considered and the evidence previously submitted has been reconsidered in detail. Nonetheless, that has not caused me to depart from the findings in the Assessment which I now confirm and repeat below with relatively minor change.

  1. The Complainant maintained a series of current accounts at the Forest Hill, Fleet Street and Mark Lane branches (“the Forest Hill Branch”, “the Fleet street Branch”, and the Mark Lane Branch”) for many years.
  2. She has produced to me, bank statements from the 9th September 1968 until the 5th February 1969 and from the 28th March 1974 until closure of the last account at the Mark Lane Branch on 30th October 1984.
  3. She has also produced the relevant cheque stubs and the paid cheques from the earlier period.
  4. The Complainant had a deposit account with the Mark Lane Branch from about 1980 until 30th October 1984 and has produced to me all but the first page of the statements relating to it.
  5. The Complainant also had a deposit account with the Forest Hill Branch. (The Forest Hill Branch was closed on 19 July 1991 and all accounts were transferred to Sydenham Branch). However, that deposit account (“the disputed account”) had been opened as long ago as 1971 at the Forest Hill Branch. The last entry in the passbook (“the passbook”) for the disputed account, which is still held by the Complainant, is 13th August 1973.
  6. From 1971 to 1973 the Complainant was living in Kuwait with her late husband. However, she was at their London address from July to September 1973 with their children.
  7. Activity is apparent on the disputed account from 9th July 1973 to 13th August 1973.
  8. Despite the passbook being in the Bank’s possession on several occasions, as evidenced by the entries mentioned in the above paragraph, no opportunity was taken by it to note in it the interest which must have accrued between 19th July 1971 and 13th August 1973. __
  9. In 1975 the Complainant commenced employment with H.M. customs & Excise (“C. & E.”).
  10. The Complainant’s husband, a doctor, was tragically drowned in October 1975. Thereafter, the Complainant concentrated primarily on bringing up and completing the education of their five children.
  11. Whilst the Complainant was employed by C. & E. she joined the “Custom Fund” which gave a good rate of interest and she used it as a deposit account.
  12. With her education pay, trust the for estate left by her husband the youngest son, she was and able an to manage.
  13. Her brother and sister-in-law died within five years of her husband and she inherited some further money.
  14. The passbook, the Complainant says, had been put “in a safe place with other papers”, before the death of her husband.
  15. For the reasons stated in the above paragraphs, she says (and I well understand) that her attention was “fully elsewhere”. It was not until she retired from the Civil Service and had the leisure to go through her papers that the disputed account again came to her attention. Her current accounts with the Bank had been transferred from the Forest Hill Branch to the Fleet Street Branch in 1976, and later, when she moved office, to the Mark Lane Branch.
  16. In 1984, when the Complainant closed her account at Mark Lane, she transferred the amount standing to her credit to two different accounts, one at the Bank of Scotland, the other being an Alliance Building Society Bank Share Account.
  17. On the 9th July 1991, having found the passbook, the Complainant went to the Forest Hill Branch and asked for the interest to be calculated to that date. She said that she would then withdraw the whole amount and move it to an account bearing a better rate of interest. She appreciated that the calculation of interest would probably take some time, as 22 years interest had to be worked out. She, therefore, left the passbook at the Branch.
  18. On the 29th July she wrote to the Manager of the Forest Hill Branch saying that, “as the deposit is redeemable on demand,” she was surprised not to have heard from him.
  19. 1 On the 31st July 1991 the Senior Branch clerk of the Sydenham Branch, to which Forest Hill Branch account had by then been transferred as explained in paragraph 5 above, wrote to the Complainant saying that no trace of a deposit account in her name could be found, and that “all records were computerised during the mid-nineteen seventies”. He said that he had researched the Branch records as far back as 1978 and could find no evidence that an account was open at that date.
  20. 2 Further correspondence followed. On 19 September 1991, the Manager of the Sydenham Branch wrote to the Complainant:

    “Firstly, the Deposit Account passbook in your possession has no value as Deposit Account passbooks were withdrawn between the years 1973 and 74 and the passbook was superceded by an account number your deposit account was 53013340 ….. ”

  21. 3 On the 11th December 1991 Mr. PW of the Southbank Area Office of the Bank wrote saying that he had made “further enquiries” and that ” all Deposit Account Passbooks were abolished in 1972 and the Branch records produce nothing supporting the continued existence of your Account. As a result, I must advise you that I am unable to agree with your claim.”
  22. On the 13th January 1992 Mr. E., Manager of the Bank’s Customer Relations Department at Head Office, wrote to the Complainant as follows:

    “Unfortunately I I regret at this stage that I can only re-emphasise the content of Mr. PW’ s letter to you of 1lth December 1991, in which he stated that following consultation with our legal department, Passbooks are no longer a valid claim to a deposit and in the absence of any further proof of your claim the Bank is unable to assist you further.

I do realise the disappointment that this must bring you and that this is not the response that you would have wished for. I do, however, thank you for taking the time and trouble to bring this matter to my attention affording me the opportunity of reviewing the situation.”

  1. The Complainant then brought her complaint to this Office and produced the passbook. It shows a balance of £4,102.66 as at the 13th August 1973. The Complainant claims that the Bank is in breach of its obligations in refusing to pay her that balance together wit~accrued interest.
  2. In my view, the legal principles which apply in such circumstances are as follows:

(a) Notwithstanding the period of time which has elapsed there is no question of the Limitation Acts applying, because monies on a deposit account are repayable only on demand and time does not start to run against an account-holder in a bank I s favour until a demand has first been made. Furthermore, the Bank itself has not in this case sought to invoke the Limitation Acts.

(b) Where there is, as here, an account which has been long dormant and an issue arises as to whether or not it is still subsisting, that issue falls to be resolved by striking a balance of probabilities in the light of all the relevant circumstances of the case, as was decided in the case of Douglass v. Lloyds Bank Ltd [1929] 34 Com. Cas. 263.

(c) It is a general principle of long standing that where there is a normal and regular course of events or procedures, it is to be assumed that these have taken place or been followed, in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

  1. 1 The Bank is unable to state exactly when the disputed account was computerised.
  2. 2 Mr. PW of the Area Office said, in his letter of 11 December 1991, that passbooks were abolished in 1972, (see paragraph 19.3 above). Yet earlier on the 31st July 1991, the Senior Branch clerk at the Sydenham Branch had said, “All records were computerised in the mid [my underlining] nineteen-seventies.” and on 19th September 1991 the Branch Manager of the Sydenham Branch had said “between 1973 and 1974.” (see paragraph 19.2 above), therefore, clearly there are discrepancies between the dates for computerisation given by different officials.
  3. 3 Mr. NPE of the Customer Relations Department on the 13th January 1992, after he had “completed a full enquiry” could “only re-emphasise the content of Mr. [PW] IS letter of 11th December 1991”. Mr. NPE also seems to have overlooked what had been said by the Senior Branch clerk and the Manager of the Sydenham Branch.
  4. 4 Finally, in writing to this Office, the Bank has plumped for “the latter months of 1973” as the date of computerisation. Presumably this was because the entries in the passbook in July and August of that year show that the disputed account had not yet been computerised.
  5. 5 In any event, the computerisation was clearly not 1972 as suggested by Mr. P.W. and Mr. N.P.E.
  6. 6 Nevertheless, because an account number was allocated, I am satisfied that the disputed account was computerised, at some time after 13th August 1973. The Complainant suggests 5 April 1974 as on that date her current account statement reverted to “Sheet I” with a new computer format of the Sheet itself. However, though regrettable that there is uncertainty about the exact date of computerisation, nothing in my view turns on that once satisfied as I am that it took place and that it did so after 13th August 1973.
  7. It was noticed, by this Office, that the Complainant had various shares held in safe-keeping by the Forest Hill Branch which were transfered to the Fleet Street Branch. It appeared a possibility that the money in the disputed account had been used to purchase these or other investments. The Complainant has satisfied me that this was not the case.
  8. 1 The Bank has resisted the claim and maintains that the account was closed, because:
  9. 2 It I S internal procedures, full details of which have been provided to me in confidence as is permitted under the Terms of Reference governing this Scheme, state that an account may be regarded as dormant two years after the last entry and where contact has been lost with the customer. In this case, the Bank did not lose contact with the Complainant until after she closed her accounts at the Mark Lane Branch on 30th October 1984.
  10. 3 Copies of the Forest Hill Branch’s Unclaimed Balances Register for surnames with the letter C. for the period 1914 – 1991 have been produced to this Office. They have been produced in confidence under the Terms of Reference governing this Scheme because they reveal the names of other accountho1ders which the Bank is not entitled to disclose to third parties. I have, however, inspected them and the names shown do not include an account in the Complainant’s name.
  11. 4 I accept on the evidence available to me that the disputed account was computerised when the number, 53013340, was allocated to it. Moreover, the Bank says and I accept that no account under that number can be traced at any of the branches mentioned in paragraph 1 above.
  12. 5 Under the Bank’s internal procedures, disclosed to me in conf idence, Ledger Records, Account Open and Closed Books may be destroyed after ten years and, therefore, generally at the time this complaint was brought they only went back to 1980/82. The Bank has, however, been able to produce Securities Record Sheets of the Forest Hill Branch showing the transfer of the Comp1ainant’s securities for safekeeping to the Fleet Street Branch.
  13. 1 When sending this Office the bank statements referred to in paragraph 2 above, the Complainant drew my attention to the fact that sheet number 18 of the Forest Hill Branch statements showed interest on the disputed account credited to the current account. This showed that the disputed account was still in existence at the date of that statement, which was for the period the 30th April to 24th May 1976.
  14. 2 However, no other entries showing from the deposit account occurx. a transfer of in any other interest of the about the
  15. 3 The interest was credited on 3rd May 1976 and was £30.03. It was expressed to be interest to 23rd March 1976. This seemed an unusual date for interest to be paid and I queried it with the Bank.
  16. 4 The Bank informed me and I accept that the standard date of application of interest on deposit accounts in 1976 was the third Monday in June and the third Monday in December. Tuesday, 23rd March was not, therefore, a date upon which standard interest would have been calculated.
  17. 5 It, therefore, seems to me likely, upon the balance of probabi1i ties, that the disputed account was closed on or about the 23rd March 1976. It was then found that a further small amount of interest was due to the Complainant. It could not, of course, be credited to the disputed account because it had by then been closed. It was, therefore, instead credited to the Complainant’s current account.
  18. 6 This point was put to the Complainant who replied at length.

Amongst other things she said:

“To summarise no interest is shown for the 5 years 1971 – 1975. No large capital repayment is shown in these years or in 1976 prior to the entry of May 3rd.

£30.02 is too small a sum to be the interest on £4,000 or thereabouts for 5 years as the closing payments would have had to account for all those years when no interest was calculated and entered. Had the account been closed at this point there should have been an entry of a final large transfer on 23.03.76 or in the quarter preceding.”

  1. Deposit account interest is normally credited to the deposit account in question. It is only if specific instructions to credit another account are given or when such an account has been closed that it would be credited to a current account. This, in my view, is why no other entries in respect of interest from the disputed account are shown in the current account statements which the Complainant has produced. Furthermore, it does not follow that a withdrawal from the disputed account would automatically be credited to the current account. It could well have been used for other purposes. The Complainant says that this would have been contrary to her normal practice and that it was not. She has also given full details of her normal expenditure, covering outgoings on her home, chi1drens education, car, holidays, food, furnishings and entertainment.
  2. The records provided by the Complainant are indeed meticulous. However, they do not include any statements supporting the existence of the disputed account after the allocation of the number 53013340 and following computerisation.
  3. 1 Despite the confusion on the part of the Bank as to exactly when the records were computerised, I am satisfied that they had been after 13th August 1973 and prior to March 1976. In my view, on the evidence available, I think it probable that from the date of computerisation of the disputed account until the date of closure in 1976, computer generated statements for the disputed account would have been produced and sent to the Complainant. The Complainant says that she has demonstrated, by the production of the current account statements, plus school accounts and so forth, that she is a “dedicated record keeper” and it would be a “psychological impossibility” for her to have destroyed the computer generated statements in respect of the disputed account if any had been sent.
  4. 2 I fully accept that the Complainant is indeed an excellent record keeper, but even the most meticulous of people occasionally both mislay records and misrecall events of many years ago.
  5. I find, on the balance of probabilities that:

(i) Prior to computerisation it was not a requirement that the passbook should be written up when presented for a transaction. Indeed the instruction to leave it at the Bank for that purpose indicates the opposite if anything. I do not, therefore, draw any inference from the fact that up to 13th August 1973 accrued interest could have been noted in the passbook but was not;

(ii) From the date of computerisation on a date after 13th August 1973 and prior to March 1976 the passbook became obsolete;

(iii) The Bank did follow its normal and regular procedures in this case;

(iv) The disputed account was closed on or about the 23rd March 1976, after the balance had been withdrawn or transferred elsewhere; and

(v) Following closure of the disputed account an adjustment of interest due to 23rd March 1976 was made and credited to the Complainant’s current account on the 3rd May 1976.

  1. In the circumstances and for the reasons given, I cannot recommend the payment of any compensation to the Complainant. Wi th hindsight this dispute might have been avoided had the Bank (and other banks) called in all old passbooks on computerisation. They were not obliged to do so and did not. It would also have been preferable if the Complainant had not, initially, been given contradictory dates for the date of computerisation when she first brought this complaint. However, these are not matters which entitle her to compensation under this Scheme.
  2. Despite finding against the Complainant, I should like to add that I am satisfied that she has brought this complaint in the genuine and honest belief that the balance was not in fact withdrawn or transferred from the disputed account. She has presented her cas~ coherently and fairly and has in all respects been as helpful and as straightforward as she could be to this Office in the course of carrying out its investigation. It is, therefore, with considerable regret that I find I have no alternative but to reject this complaint on the evidence available to me.

The Banking Ombudsman

19th April 1994

statement statement2

7 Buildings-

The architect’s problems in dealing with clients impossible demands are illustrated in this extract. Imagine the size of the inscription necessary to make such large letters. Impossible to achieve while keeping the correct proportions of the pillar.

We think of vandalism as a 20th century phenomenon. So it is on a massive and near universal scale but graffiti have appeared throughout the centuries and here we have an example of awareness of the strong possibility that vandals would deface the monument.

Life and Correspondence of Mrs. Delany 15 February 1722-3

Lord Lansdowne to Colonel Bernard Granville

” ..• 1 thank you for the plan you sent me of the pillar erected upon Lansdowne, but I find the performer has not been exacLHis directions were to be sure of making tables for the inscription so large that the letters might be easily legible at a distance by any passenger on horseback … it was likewise forseen, that unless it was surrounded by a rail it would be impossible to hinder it from being defaced by comers and goers, who would be apt to scratch their own conceits and sentences upon it.”

Dear Miss Heber

Mrs. Bland to Miss Heber Seymour Street. 13 Sep. 1791

“Your acqaintance, Mr Hookham, has got a most tempting House. I was walking past it very lately & was kindly ask’d to Look at it. The Library & building of the House Cost £3000-& the first contains 10,000 Volumes to Let out to subscribers. The room is above 100 feet long, to have a large table in the middle, seats & other accomodation that, when Ladies have been walking with a Beau, they will find it the best way into Bond Street to Hook’em. n

British Museum

M. Grosley Vall. P.74

London suffered from humidity and “WOUld be uninhabitable, if, to supply it with constant fuel, it had not’ a resource in sea-coal, which immense forests would be insufficient to furnish … in the month of Mayall the apartments in the British Museum, apartments as extraordinary on account of their number as their size, had a fire in them: not so much to warm the rooms, as to preserve from damps and humidity the books, the manuscripts, the maps, and the curious collection of ali sorts deposited in that fine building.

Activities and inventions

From the top to the bottom of society people were very much more active in the 18th Century than in the late 2Oth.At the bottom agricultural labourers aided by horses did by hand ploughing, sowing seeds and harvesting, their teenage children were mostly employed as servants, their wives worked most of the hours of the day preparing food, washing clothes by hand, gleaning in season.Nowadays the same group of people are aided by machines which take away the effort of work, or are unemployed and receive a dole. Likewise upper and middle class people use cars to travel and machines to do most tasks so that it is necessary to go to a gym for exercise. The diaries show us even well off people walking, riding and engaging in activities of a/l kinds.

The amazing Dr. Morris successfully pursued so many activities it is hard to list them. He had a professional life of visiting and diagnosing patients which involved much travel. He had his own ‘elaboraory’ in which he dispensed medicines. He played many musical instruments and played in consorts with his friends, took his children to their boarding schools. He ran s~veral farms, supervised the brewing of a vast quantity of beer and entertained friends regularly. Besides all these activities his mind was very inventive and he personally tried to solve many little problems which were thrown up in everyday life. He undertook tasks which we would pass on to specialists such as cleaning a watch or servicing a barometer. His mind was constantly active noting things which did not work well and thinking out solutions then trying to make the mechanisms himself. He made a new jack for his harpsichord of metal instead of quill which would have resulted in a very much louder sound. He made a mechanism for opening and closing his curtains which sounds very like the contrivances sold today for this purpose.He devised a way of counting the revolutions of his coach wheels so that he could record the number of miles travelled. He was indeed a renaissance man.

Dudley Rider as a student made himself a fountain pen, presumably fitting his quill pen with some sort of reservoir. All of our diarists were writing in the tedious way then necessary. They used the feathers of geese, swans, and crows. They had to point and slit the lower end. The hollow inside the feather held some ink but not much so writing involved constatntly dipping their quill pens in ink. In 1809 Joseph Bramah (1748-1840) patented a machine for cutting gooe feathers into three or four nibs to be used with a separate pen holder. As early as 1780 a Birmingham manufacturer, S. Harrison produced a metallic pen but it was too difficult to use We see passages faint as the ink supply diminished or blotted where it flooded and marvel at their industry and at the ease with which we can put down our thoughts on word processors.

One might imagine that aristocrats with many servants passed the days in idleness or at least dOing no more than the many social activities which undoubtedly occupied much of their time. Mary Delaney’s diaries show an intelligent and gifted woman engaged in many artistic and craft works. Her paper mosaics, flower paintings and shell work were famous in her time. She also did knotting,was interested in organizing gardens, growing orange trees and making wine.ln her old age she was a valued friend of King George.

But machines were being invented and beginning to effect all branches of society. Spinning and weaving and agricultural machines took away jobs while enabling less men to do the work. Mary Delaney noted an invention by which 1800 candles were lit in 3 minutes, but unfortunately not how this could be done. Part of the entertainment for the well off of her day was to see wonderful machines like the clock which played twenty four tunes perfectly or an Orrery.

Dr. C Morris 27 April 1709

“Saw out of my Garret Window Cox hanged at Stookley Hill with my little telliscope.” 11 June 1709

“I cleans’d my wife’s Gold Watch.” 28 July 1709

“I prescribed for Mr. Mayowe of Truro and sent the form by the post in Mr. Mills letter to him.” 20 February 1710

“I rivetted on the Brass ornaments of my snaffle Bridie.” 21 Nov. 1719

“Mr. Hill came and mended some faults in the Penning my Harpsichord … James Parfitt put on the Brass Gemels [Bars placed together as couples) on my Harpsichord.”

15 Dec. 1719

“Later I made an end of a Harpsichord Jack of mine own invention to strike the String with brass, without a Quill.”

20 Nov. 1720

“I had a new hand made of Deal, by Thomas Parfit, put into the Time-Beater … .1 went to our Cecilia-Meeting at Close-Hail.”

20 Jan.1722

“I visited my Daughter, she having been, Yesterday morning about 8 a clock deliver’d of a Daughter.

Mr. Brook ofAxbridge came, with Mr. Thomas Parfit & set up the Five -Feet Pendulum Clock which I bespoke of him & calculated. I paid him 6 Guineas for it without a case.”

7Feb 1722

“I washed the mercury for my inlay’d Barometer”. 19 July 1722

“I bought in the Castle in Bristow, a large Cock for the Cistern in my Garden, & a Brass Wind-fall for the lower Pipe of my Pump. I bought, betwixt the Bridge and the Back, a Lock for my CoachHouse Door. My Servant waited with my Horses at the Glass-House in Bedminster, where I call’d & bespoke some Glasses. I got home by 10.”

8 Sep. 1722

“I put some of the Pictures which had been cleans’d, & vernish’d by Mr. Hodges [an ExeterJapanner] who came about this Country to cleans Pictures.”

13 Feb. 1723

“I went to the Toy-Man, now (from Bristow-Fair) at the Christopher, & bought a pretty Snuff-Box, for Travelling.”

16 May 1723

“I finished the putting on the Spurrs & Barrs of my Jack Splatter-dashes” [A gaiter or legging]

20 Sep. 1723

“I fitted the strings for my new-contriv’d manner of Drawing & undrawing the curtains of the Window in my Dressing-Room.”

19 Nov. 1723

“I made an end of calculating the Machine to be fix’d to my Calash to Count the Revolutions of the Wheel, & consequently the Miles travelled.”

28 Feb 1724

“Mr. Burland gave me a Bridge for my Bass Violin which he made on purpose: They all supp’d on Sturgeon.”

300ct.1724

“John Bird fitted a Sprin[g]-Jack for my Harpsichord with the addition I had contrived.”

Dudley Rider

Monday, August 29. 1715.

“Began to read Perkin’s Law, but it came into my head to make my pen that belongs to my pocket book into a fountain pen, which took up all my morning and I did it at last.”

M. Grosley

Travelling from Dover to London on a sunday on which day the police law forbade coach travel.

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“Between Canterbury and Rochester the inhabitants of a village situated on the side of the highway had made choice of that day on which the high road was to be free, to remove a windmill from the left to the right side of the road, to the place which seemed best suited to it.

[Shades of Don Quixote !]

“Now as the country is very woody, the body of these mills is a sort of high cage, which receives the wind above the trees: this cage which bears a strong resemblance to a bee-hive, consists of a circular frame of wood, surrounded with a lattice rough cast with lime. That which was to be removed having the form of a cone thirty feet high, with a diameter of 12 or 14 feet, moved on in a hollow way which we were then travelling in, and which it filled: twenty or thirty men, some of whom dragged it along with cords, the remainder pushing it on with their hands, advanced

slowly; and as it had twenty fathom length of road still to go, we had little hope of soon getting rid of it: coachmen, postillions, passengers .. alighted, and joined those who pulled or pushed it on: after about an hour’s labour, we reached a part of the road, where the slope, which bordered one of its sides, was least steep; this slope was made level, and lengthened out by a pick-ax: at last the carriages reached the ridge of the road with the help of cords, which entered the body of each carriage and the coach-box. All the frenchmen present laughed heartily at the adventure, but this had not the least effect on the flegmatic temper of the English: both young and old talked of many different expedients to get rid of us: at last they went about their work in good eamest, disengaged our carriages, and resumed their business with all the seriousness of men who had passed their life in removing windmills. ”

Mary Delany

February 9 and 11. 1724-5 To her sister, Ann Granville

“I was interrupted by Lady Peyton and her daughters who called on me to go to hear the musical clock … it is a new one, and a complete piece of ingenuity as ever I saw; it plays twenty-four tunes with as much exactness as it is possible for them to be played in concert, the price of it is five hundred pound. He was hoping to dispose of it to the King for Prince Frederick.”

[Lady Peyton was the wife of Sir Tewster Peyton, of Doddington, Camb., Bart.]

“I hope you received the harpsichord strings, the ballads and the edging. I send the rest of the strings this post.

-Mary Delany

12 October 1727. The day after the Coronation of George 1/ and Queen Caroline. To her sister Ann Granville.

“I was a spectator in West minster Hall, from whence the procession begun, and after their Majesties were crowned, they retumed with all their noble followers to dine … The room was finely illuminated, and though there were 1800 candles, besides what were on the tables, they were all lighted in less than three minutes by an invention of Mr. Heideggar’s, which succeeded to the admiration of all the spectators; the branches that held the candles were all gilt and in the form of pyramids … Everybody I knew came under the place where I sat to offer me meat and drink,

which was drawn up from below into the galleries by baskets at the end of a long string, which they filled with cold meat and bread, sweetmeats and wine.

I hope you found the worsted; I packed it with the flax, which if it proves good I desire you will give me the satisfaction of knowing.”

[Mary Granville and her mother were celebrated spinners, both in flax and in that preparation of wool called Jersey. Her descendant Lady LLandover who edited the letters still possessed her spinning wheel, a piece of purple poplin and damask napkins of the finest texture of her spinning in 1860.]

A more ordinary day. Mary Delany’s letter to her sister vividly conjures up the day.

“Last night I returned from Court cold and weary, … 1 found a room full of smoke, the wind and the rain beating against my windows, my pussey lost (as I thought), but she was found. Well, into bed I tumbled about half an hour after one. I slept tolerably well, dreamt of nothing at all, waked at eight, roused Mrs. Bell, huddled on my clothes, bought eighteen yards of a very pretty white silk for Trott, something in the nature of shagreen, [a sort of silk taffeta with a grained look] but a better colour than they ever are; it cost sixpence a yard more; the piece came to three pounds and twelve shilling. Then I called for my tea-table, sent John of a Howdee [hOW d’ye do?] to my Aunt Stanley, and at his return he brought me a letter from my dear sister.”

August 23. 1729.

to her sister

“Lady Sunderland is very busy about japanning; I will perfect myself in the art against I make you a visit and bring materials with me.”

to the same

September 9. 1729

“Everybody is mad about japan work; I hope to be a dab at it by the time I see you.” 8 June 1731

“The next day I met the Percivals at Mr. Wesley’s where after a good repast and kind welcome, we walked up-stairs, where we were to be entertained with an orrery. You must understand that this is a machine in form of a sphere, wherein is demonstrated the solar system, with all the motions and distances of the planets. Just as the learned man was going to explain to us, a summons arrived for me to go to Mrs. Monck’s Christening, which with great regret I did. I represented Lady Shelburne. no woman there but myself. I stayed there about an hour, and returned to the good folks in Conduit Street, but the celestial affair was over.”

Letters and post to her sister March 3. 1738-9

“to tell you all the particulars … would flourish out more paper than a single frank would contain.”

Mrs. Foley, of Stoke Edith, Herefordshire to Mrs. Dewes at Bradley near Droitwich in Worcestshire.

November 11. 1740

“I am, my dearest Mrs. Dewes, quite out of patience with your post, for your letter dated the 4th I did not receive until last night and the one you mention to have wrote in answer to mine never came to my hands: can you blame me for being anxious .. Please to put “post town at Gloster upon your letters; if they don’t come safe we will try by way of London.”

ACTIVITIES

same person and date

“I was engaged with my crayons and painted whilst they talked the world over, and now and then put in a word to let them know I had my ears at liberty though my eyes were employed:that double entertainment is a high regale to me, but it come seldom in my way.”

30 October 1746

Daily activities at Cornbury, seat of the Duke of Queensbury.

“We meet at Breakfast between nine and ten, which lasts near two hours intermixed with conversations; when over, the coach is ready for D.O. and me to tour in the park,and to see my Lord’s improvements, and the rest of the company ride … We return home at two and spruce out, dinner at half an hour

AGHVlIL~5

after two; the afternoon- coffee, sauntering, conversation comes on, and tea; my drawings produced, many civilities are uttered, and the whole ends with a pool at commerce, which brings us to our hour of supper; and we go to our separate appartments at eleven.”

Knotting

Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes October 27. 1750

” •. 1 am knotting a plain fringe to trim a new blue and white linen bed I have just put up; as soon as that is finished I will do some sugar-plum for you .. ”

In 1861 Lady Uanover still had some brilliant blue linen chair covers with a border of oak leaves cut out in white linen and tacked down in different sorts of white knotting which also formed the veining and stalks, the work of Mrs.Delany. She said it was the custom of ladies to use their knotting shuttles in periods of relaxing such as the tea-table hour.

January 12. 1750-51

“I have made a pipe of orange wine and next week shall make raisin wine by your receipt.”

[very much larger quantities of light wines and syrups appear to have been made annually of currants, raspberries, and other home fruits in private families than is now the case. note of Lady Uanover, editor 1861)

January 19.1750-1 Delville

Mrs. Delany to Bernard Granville

“I am now considering about a greenhouse, and I believe I shall build one this spring; my orange trees thrive so well they deserve one. I propose having it 26 ft. by 13, and 13 high.”

December 16.1755

Mrs Delany to Mrs. Dewes. Spring Gardens

“I hope you do not take damp walks, but make use of your sedan.”

[It appears from this advice that sedan chairs were used in the country as well as in London.]

January 31.1756 New Street,Spring Gardens Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes

“Mr. Wesley [her godson] came one morning to see me. I told him if he would cross the park from Pall Mall, (where they live) he might come to me at any time after nine: he seemed pleased and I gave him my key of the park door.”

17 November 1756. Bath Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes

“We got to Bristol at one. Mr. Calcot, the philosopher was there, who has the famous collection of fossils … his collection is rare and curious, of spars, minerals and tossns, such as I have never seen, and unanswerable testimonies of the Deluge. But his heart I believe is of the petrified kind, and encrusted with avarice, for he has many of most sorts in his collection, and he gave me not so much as a single grain of tin! however I was not disappointed, as I went for instruction and entertainment, though not without some small hope of a little gain.!

September 4.1757 .Bath Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes

“Lady Caroline Fox has taken lodgings in this house, and comes on tuesday.”

No date

“Lady Andover and I have entered on a piece of work to surprise the Duchess of Portland on her return, which is flourishing. It is a frame of a picture, with shell work, in the manner of the frame to your china case; and we are as eager in sorting our shells, ptacinq them in their proper degrees, making lines, platoons, ramparts, as the King of Prussia in the midst of his army, and as fond of our own compositions.”

December 29.1757. Bulstrode Mrs. Delany to Mrs.Dewes

“I have now in hand two frames of shells in their natural colours … The Duchess has just finished a bunch of barberries turned in amber, that are beauti{ll, and she is finishing an ear of barleythe corns amber, the stalk ivory, the beards tortoishell. At candlelight, cross- stitch and reading gather us together. .. 1 think the knowledge of houswifery is very necessary to everybody, let their station be what it will, but I am afraid my Pauline (Her niece) got cold with her mince-pie making.”

February 11. 1758. Spring Garden Mrs. Delany to Mrs.Dewes

“I am glad Mr. Lucy is so well; I wish he would bring some shells from Naples; there are very pretty ones there, though none extremely rare … 1 sent you a specimen of Gibraltar shells, to let you see Captain Meade may bring you very pretty ones ..

We had like to have lost all our week’s linen and three suits of the finest Irish damask;

the washerwoman’s goods were seized by her merciless landlord, and Lady B–th and the Steward threatened, that if we did not lay down six guineas our linen should be sold! I sent for Mr. Chapone, who got us our linen, only paying for the washing. Glorious news came today of Clive’s great victory.He shames all our generals.”

[Colonel Clive in conjunction with Admiral Watson gained a victory over the Nabob Suraja Doula after a campaign of only thirteen days.]

March 7 1758

[Mrs. Delany’s husband.the Dean of Down, also had a victory. After a case lasting for years Lord Mansfield in The House of Lords declared in his favour in the matter of a marriage settlement of his late wife. The decision vindicated his reputation, though he was left liable to pay three thousand pounds.]

c.P.Moritz Travels in England

At Oartford “I first saw (what I deemed a true English Sight) in the street two boys boxing.”

Shoe making craft

James Lackington’s Memoirs

He worked for Mr. John Taylor of Kingsbridge … ” he never treated me as a journeyman, but made me his companion. I was the first man he ever had that was able to make stuff and silk shoes; and it being also known that I came from Bristol, this had great weight with the country ladies,and procured my master customers, who generally sent for me to take the measure of their feet, and I was looked upon by al to be the best workman in the town, altho’ I had not been brought up to stuff-work, nor had I ever entirely made one stuff or silk shoe before.”

Learning to write

“I was obliged to employ one or other of my acquaintance to write my letters for me. My master said to me one day he was surprized that I did not learn to write my own letters. The thought pleased me much, and without any delay I set about it, by taking up any pieces of paper that had writing on them, and imitating the letters as well as I could. I employed my leisure hours in this way for near two months, after which time I wrote my own love letters, a bad hand, you may be sure; but it was plain and easy to read which was alii cared for.”

Dr Peter Oliver

30 March 1784

“I sent a power of Attorney to Dr. J. Jeffries to get my Dividend for me.” 30 November 1784

Dr. Jeffries in company with Mr Blanchard set off in an Air Balloon from the Rhodenum, Park Lane 25 Minutes before 3 o’clock & landed in the Parish of Stone in Kent 10 minutes before 4 o’clock.

[Dr. John Jeffries 1744-1819. American balloonist & Physician, born in Boston. A loyalist during the American Revolution, he settled in England and made the first balloon crossing of the English Channel with the French aeronaut Francois Blanchard in 1785.

Jean Pierre Francois Blanchard 1753-1809, french baloonist and inventor of the parachute. With Jeffries was the first to cross the Channel by balloon in 1785. A flight which was reported upon in the diary of Sophie van la Roche. Blanchard was killed during practice parachute jumps from a balloon.]

Nancy Woodeforde 15 June 1792. Friday

“I wrote a letter to Mr. Samuel Woodforde my Brother which I began at seven and finished before eight, being in haste to send it up to Mr. Bidewells that he may put it into the Post Office tomorrow.

14 July 1792 Saturday

Received a letter from Brother Sam. Paid for the letter 5 pence.

Penelope Hind

Diaries and Correspondence 1787-1834 Sarah Markham After a visit to friends

“Rarely did we return without finding marks of the tender way our Mother employed herself during our absence. At one time a little room alloted to us, and where we deposited our choices things, was fitted up afresh;pretty boxes Etc. of her own making to ornament, fresh prints to adorn it; and at another our chamber was fresh papered and made gay and chearful; and in one way or other, proofs were given of a delight in making us happy.”

Hannah Mary Reynolds

[See housework for details of diarist.] 18 August 1793 friday

“Walked with my father [Abraham Darby of Coalbrookdale] to the Parade and saw the Camera Obscura.” [In Liverpool]

William Holland

1 April 1803, Friday

“no clock striling this morning. Little William jumped down from the staircase window, jarred the clock so much that the pendulum fell off and was bent so we must have Mr Coles to it.After dinner Coles came to set the clock in order.”

26 November 1804, Monday

“Called on Coles the clockmaker about the Jack.” 3 December 1804, Monday

“I walked down to Stowey, called on philosopher Coles and paid for some little articles. He shewed me aa curious clock of his invention which was carried to London and exhibited before the Society of Arts and then raffled for and won again by the philosopher. He is certainly a wonderful man.”

Sybil’s Dodgy Dossier

Correspondence between number 10, FCO and MP:

Dodgy Dossier

Approximate text (from OCR scan):
JIM DOWD MP Lewisham West

Mrs Sybil Coady 111 London Road Forest Hill

LONDON SE233XW

HOUSE OF COMMONS LONDON SWIA OAA 02072194617

020 7219 2686 (Fax)

26 March 2002

Thank you for your recent letter regarding the Prime Minister’s approach to Government foreign policy.

Given your obvious concerns in this matter, I have contacted the Prime Minister with a request for his response to the points you raise and as soon as I have his reply I will contact you again.

Best Wishes

Yours Sincerely

Constituency Office: 43 Sunderland Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 2PS Telephone: 020 8699 2001 /020 8291 5607

LONDON SWlA 2AA

From the Direct Communications Unit

3 April 2002

Dear Mr Dowd

I am writing on behalf of the Prime Minister to thank you for your letter of 26 March with which you enclosed correspondence from Mrs Sybil Coady of 111 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3XW.

The Prime Minister has asked me to arrange for a Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to reply to you direct.

Yours sincerely

STEPHEN CLARKE

Mr Jim Dowd MP

..

Our reference: 146424/02

Foreign & Commonwealth

Office

London SWIA 2AH

~ April2002

From the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

Jim Dowd Esq MP House of Commons London SWIAOAA

~ ~:/L-.

Thank you for your letter of26 March to Tony Blair, enclosing one from your constituent, Mrs Sybil Coady of 111 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3XW about Iraq. I have been asked to reply as Minister responsible for relations with Iraq.

I know some people fear imminent military action against Iraq, but they need not. No decision has been made on military action. It is not imminent and certainly not inevitable. We intend to consider the way forward in a calm, measured and sensible way.

The choice in the end will be Saddam’s. All he has to do is comply with the demands of the United Nations, including by allowing UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq to make sure he has dismantled his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme. That was something he promised to do after the Gulf War. Indeed, it was a pre-condition of the cease- fire back then.

Saddam runs one of the most, if not the most detestable regime in the world. Political opponents are routinely tortured and executed. Saddam has invaded his neighbours and, uniquely for any dictator in the world, has used chemical weapons against them and even against his own people.

Our policy toward Iraq is not confined to the threat ofWMD. We care about the problems ordinary Iraqis face living under the current brutal regime. This is why we have worked hard, within the UN system, to remove restrictions on the flow of humanitarian goods. Unfortunately, the Iraqi regime frustrates our efforts by failing to order the humanitarian supplies the UN oil-for-food programme provides for, and the Iraqi people need. It is Saddam Hussein, not the international community, who is indifferent to the suffering of ordinary Iraqis.

The United Nations supports our taking a strong line on Iraqi compliance with UNSCRs because only then do we have a chance of convincing the Iraqi regime to allow the inspectors back in. When the UN inspectors were there doing their job they uncovered

significant evidence of Saddams weapons of mass destruction programme, despite the Iraqi dictators’ efforts to disrupt their work. Their reports pointed to the regimes attempts to conceal significant parts of their weapons programme. For the last three years there have been no inspections because Saddam made the inspector’s work impossible. All the evidence indicates that Saddams weapons programme has accelerated since then.

So, I’m afraid doing nothing, simply putting our heads in the sand and hoping the problem will go away won’t work. We learned over Al Qaida and the Taliban, the Balkans with Milosevic and back in the 1930s with Hitler that the cost of not acting or delaying action against such a terrible threat exacts a far higher price in death and human suffering in the end.

Sadly, sometimes military action is necessary. But we always take it only as a last resort. As I said at the start of this letter, no decision has yet been taken on Iraq. I hope it will not come to military action. But the ball is firmly in Saddam’s court.

Yours sincerely

Ben Bradshaw

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign & Commonwealth Office King Charles Street Whitehall

London

Sybil Coady

III London Road Forest Hill London SE233XW

DQ_Q_ M~ CoOJi~

Thank you for your recent letter about Iraq. I have been asked to reply.

I am of course aware of the considerable media speculation that the UK is preparing for imminent military action against Iraq. But the speculation is just that – speculation. No decision has been taken. But it is true to say that we, like the UN Security Council, the European Union and Iraq’s neighbours, continue to have serious concerns about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes. Because not only does the Iraqi regime have these weapons, the potentially horrific capabi I ities of which threaten the security of the region and the world, the regime has also shown, with its extensive use of chemical weapons against Iran in the 1980s and against the Iraqi people of I-Ia I abj a in 1988, that it is prepared to use them. Saddam Hussein remains the only leader in world history to have authorised the use of nerve agents.

We know that the Iraqi regime has these weapons because UN weapons inspectors working in Iraq from 1991 to 1998 found the evidence. For example, the Iraq is admi tted possessing large quantities of chemical warfare agents including Sarin, Tabun, Mustard Gas and VX Gas. They admitted producing deadly biological warfare agents such as anthrax, botulinum toxin, gas gangrene and aflatoxin. And they admitted hiding these and other weapons in desert sands, caves and railway tunnels. At the end of i998, however, Iraq’s persistent obstruction of the work 0 f the UN inspectors finally forced them to leave, although they were still unable to account for 31,000 chemical munitions, 610 tonnes of precursor chemicals

used to produce VX gas and 4,000 tOIU1es of chemicals for other munitions. We believe that the Baghdad regime is still hiding these weapons in a range oflocations. More importantly, we have seen evidence, much of it based on sensitive intelligence, that in the three year absence of weapons inspectors, Iraq has persisted with its chemical and biological weapons programmes and that it is developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering these weapons to targets beyond the 150km limit imposed by the UN. This would allow Iraq to hit countries as far away as the United Arab Emirates.

Faced with this threat, the international community’s most pressing demand is therefore that Iraq allow weapons inspectors to return and finish their work. If there is nothing to hide, the Iraqis should have no problem in allowing them to do so without preconditions. Saddam Hussein knows that the UN Monitoring and Verification Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) teams have been ready to get to work in Iraq for almost two years. He knows too that we are looking for real disarmament. But instead of co-operating with the UN weapons inspectors, he indulges in propaganda stunts, making phoney offers for British inspectors to visit under controlled conditions.

It is not just in the key area of disarmament where Iraq has failed to co-operate with the UN. During the last twelve years the UN has imposed twenty seven obligations on Iraq, including that the regime end its repression ofIraq’s civilian population and co-operate in accounting for the Kuwaitis and others missing since Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Iraq remains in breach of23 of these obligations. In the face of these obstructions our diplomatic efforts will continue. But Baghdad must understand that we cannot allow Iraq to reject the will of the international community and to pose a threat to regional and world security forever.

Until the Baghdad regime complies, the rigorous controls which have helped to contain Iraq for the last twelve years must remain. This is a point on which all members of the Security Council are agreed. These controls have played a vital role in frustrating Saddam Hussein’s ambitions. Nonetheless the human rights record of the Baghdad regime – a regime which thinks nothing of using rape, torture or assassination to silence its opponents – remains notorious as one of the worst in the world. Although the United Nations Security Council and the UN Commission on Human Rights have consistently condemned the repression of the civilian population, Iraq continues to flout UN resolutions and ignore its international human rights commitments. We agree with many others, including other governments in the region – that Iraq would be a better place without Saddam Hussein. But while he remains and continues to refuse to co-operate with the UN, so too must UN controls.

Meanwhile Iraqi propaganda continues to try lay the blame for the suffering in Iraq at the door of the UN rather than at the gates of Saddam’ s palaces, where it truly belongs. Unfortunately many well-intentioned people continue to be taken in by Saddam’s lies. The truth is that the UN allows the Iraqi regime access to more than enough money for all the humanitarian goods the Iraqis need. Indeed, according to a senior UN official’s recent report, the UN’s “oil for food” programme continues to make an “ocean of difference” to the lives of the Iraqi people. Since the programme began in December 1996, over $32 billion worth of goods – not just food and medicine but a wide range of goods helping to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure – have been approved for export to Iraq. Furthermore, the Sanctions Committee have agreed a list of over 16,000 items which are “fast-tracked” to Iraq, and which no longer need to be referred to the Committee but simply notified to the Secretariat. More than $8 billion worth of contracts have been processed through this accelerated procedure. As a result under “oil for food” last year, the UN’s humanitarian spending per head in Iraq was higher than government spending in equivalent areas (such as housing, health and education) in Egypt, Jordan, Syria or Iran. All of this has been achieved despite Iraq’s refusal to accept UN resolutions. How much more would be possible if the Iraqi regime put the Iraqi people first and began to co-operate. In northern Iraq, where the Iraqi regime’s writ does not run, for

example, the benefits of the “oil for food” programme are even more clear. The infrastructure of the north continues to improve, despite Baghdad’s attempts to hamper the UN programme there. Child mortality rates in northern Iraq are now lower than before UN sanctions were imposed. Although under the same UN sanctions, they are lower than the rates in the centre and south of Iraq. And they are still falling.

The UK remains at the forefront of efforts made by the international community to improve the humanitarian situation in Iraq. Since 1991, the UK has donated approximately £100 million in aid, both bilaterally and via the EU, making us one oflraq’s largest donors. The Department for International Development has allocated £9 million this financial year for humanitarian assistance to the people oflraq. Our programme in Baghdad-controlled Iraq focuses on the rehabilitation of hospital, water and sanitation infrastructure. In the northern governorates, our programme includes assistance to vulnerable groups, village rehabilitation and de-mining projects.

In contrast, Saddam Hussein prefers to spend money on statues and monuments to himself, not on medicines; and on weapons, not welfare. The regime has, for example, again cut Iraq’s spending on medicines under the “oil for food” programme. At $40 million, the allocation for the first six months of this year is a quarter what it was for the first half of last year. And yet the Iraqi regime is planning to build a $25 million Olympic stadium. The Baghdad regime has failed to respond to a six-month old UN proposal to improve child nutrition. And yet it has found time to make plans for a two-week programme of festivities “celebrating” Saddam Hussein’s birthday this year. While Baghdad claims that “oil for food” cannot meet the health needs of the Iraqi people, it has submitted contracts to the UN in recent weeks for over two billion cigarettes and almost 200,000 television sets. Overall up to $3.5 billion of funds regularly lie unspent by Iraq in the “oil for food” account. And a further $1 billion of humanitarian goods already approved by the UN for import into Iraq are denied to the Iraqi people, blocked by the Iraqi regime’s failure to process them.

The truth is that it is Saddam who allows the Iraqi people to suffer. We prefer to see them prosper. This is why we worked so hard in the UN to introduce the “oil for food” programme – the largest such programme in the UN’s history – and why we have led the way in proposing new arrangements to improve the flow of goods to the Iraqi people while maintaining control on the Iraqi regime’s access to WMD and military-related items. By unanimous adoption of UN resolution 1382 in November 2001, the Security Council agreed to implement these arrangements in May after further consideration of a Goods Review List. This list will mean no sanctions on ordinary imports, only controls on military- and weapons-related goods. It shows that we are focusing on the fundamentals – containing the threat that Iraq poses to its neighbours from its WMD and denying Iraq the opportunity to attribute the suffering in Iraq to UN controls rather than its own shortcomings. After further consultation with the Russians, who asked for more time to consider the list, we hope that these arrangements will be in place by the end of May.

The Iraqi regime opposes these arrangements, just as it opposed the offer, in UN resolution 1284, of the suspension of sanctions in return for its co-operation with UN weapons

inspectors. While Iraq remains in breach of this and its other international obligations we do not rule out any means of persuading it to comply. We have made it clear that any decision we make will be taken carefully, cautiously and in accordance with international law. But Saddam Hussein should be in no doubt that if he continues to refuse to allow weapons inspectors into Iraq to remove the threat, he will have to live with the consequences.

Further details of the UK’s policy on Iraq may be found on the Iraq pages of the FCO website at www.fco.gov.uk/irag.

Yours sincerely

Natalie Gowers

Middle East Department

Dining out: an unusual experience.

Newell and Jeannette Johnson undertook a mission to introduce me to some of the good restaurants in Forcalquier.

They started lasted night with “In Vino”. This restaurant is a block below Credit Agricole. We went down about 40 steps to get in and found the restaurant is a large vaulted room, open plan so the kitchen is in full view. The tables were laid with nice linen and napkins.

I was told that the proprietor was formerly at the bistro in Lardiers. He had divorced, his wife continues the bistro so now there are 2 restaurants. This one continues the tradition of Lardiers in having no menu. You eat the set menu which was always excellent and unusual.

We had been told to be there at 8 and were there promptly and were the first arrivals. Soon olives, bread and very good wine were put before us. Gradually other people came. The first course did not arrive until 9, we were by then rather hungry. It was a delicate slice of tart and a salad of octopus. One plus point for me was that all the food was presented in bowls or plates so we could serve as much or little as we wanted onto our empty plates, a relief to be spared the artistically decorated “plate of food” with its predetermined portion.

A long wait then the main course excellent roast lamb and thin rondelles of potato baked in butter.
Another long wait before the desert a fruit salad mainly of figs and a chocolate mousse (not up to Rococo chocolate).

The owner/waiter was more cheerful than in the Lardier days, his new love made him smile from time to time. Unusually the staff himself, a french woman and a Mauritian woman danced out of the restaurant carrying glasses of wine for their own interval between courses, with some happy embraces. Another wait for coffee and the bill. As a guest I have no idea if it was high or low. We finally climbed the 40 steps at 11.20 and got into the car.

Newell started it and then said the throttle is not responding. He finally coaxed it to crawl up the hill into the Place Bourget. Thence in 1st and 2nd gear starting well downhill but crawling. Newell kept saying wait until we get to the dechetterie, if we get that far… We did and crawled up the hill at walking speed to arrive in St. Michel at 12.20. I was very happy, so were we all, not to have to walk all the way up that long hill.

Do you agree it was an unusual evening out?