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Threepwood 25th January 1799 My Lord, I trust your Lordship will have the goodness to excuse my addressing you on the subject of the proposed Division of the Commons and Stinted Pastures in the Parish of Stanhope in Weardale, in which Division being a considerable Proprietor, I crave leave to express a due sense of the various advantages the Proprietors generally are likely to experience from Your Lordships indulgence and liberality of Sentiment, not only towards Enfranchising the Leaseholders within the Parish on reasonable terms, but also of encouraging the Growth of Timber, as well in the In Grounds, as on the Improved Wastes now wholly barren and unproductive, and which latter in a Country where mines abound and Timber exceeding scarce, must not only prove extremely beneficial to the Landed Interest, but also in future, of most singular advantage to the Lessee of the Mines, from the great scarcity of Wood in the Neighbourhood of the Mines, and heavy expence at which that necessary article is now obtained. But that I may not unnecessarily detain Your Lordship on the subject I wish now to communicate, with Your Lordships permission I crave leave to observe, that at a meeting of the Proprietors on the 14th Inst, for the purpose of hearing the Bill read, signing the Petition, appointing Commissioners, Arbitrator etc and at which meeting, Mr Hopper Williamson, the Rector of Stanhope, Mr Mowbray on behalf of Your Lordship, and Most of the Proprietors attended to carry the proposed measures into effect, much unexpected difficulty occurred, towards reconciling many of the Proprietors to a Measure, in all Respects so visibly calculated to the general advantage: notwithstanding that such was clearly demonstrated by Mr Williamson and others, a conduct this the more surprising, as at a former meeting at which I was present, the measure for a Division on the terms now proposed was then almost generally approved, but to the ill advice of some busy minded persons having lately alarmed the Proprietors with an erroneous statement of the heavy expence necessarily attendant on such a Business, must the whole be imputed. But as Mr Mowbray most probably may to Your Lordship have signified what I have there noted, and other matters with his observations thereon, I shall only further remark, that notwithstanding the obstacles that at first occurred, the Petition, towards the conclusion of the day had received the Signature of very many considerable Proprietors , and by the Assiduity and uncommon exertions of Mr Scruton the Solicitor to the Bill, on that and the ensuing day, it most probably should be in such state, as to enable its being in due time presented to the Houses, But as from the prejudices imbibed by several of the Proprietors, various Clauses of much consequence in the Division yet remain unadjusted, and without the assent to which, the Bill will be so narrowed as to be very incomplete, to affect a matter thus material, powerful Friends to the measure seem essential, or I much suspect we may ultimately fail to accomplish the Object We so evidently have hoped to obtain. It is a difficulty thus momentous, Your Lordship, in addition to the many singular instances of Good Will expressed to the Proprietors in the course of this Division, would permit my suggesting a means, by which the Obstacle thus apprehended might apparently be removed, it would be this, that as Your Lordships wish for success to the Bill has already been made known to the Proprietors generally by your Lordships Agent Mr Mowbray and by Mr Scruton the Solicitor to the Bill, if in Addition, Your Lordships Lessee Col Beaumont, could be induced to entertain a similar friendly disposition to the Measure (and from whose property in the Mines many of the opposing Proprietors depend and actually derive great advantages therefrom) and that such His disposition to promote the Bill was speedily signified to Col Beaumonts Mine Agents, and that the benefits resulting to them in common with others were to them clearly explained; the prejudices imbibed by those Proprietors in all human probability would thus effectually be removed, and the Bill on our next meeting (at most I should suppose in two or three weeks hence) for a Division on the large scale as originally proposed, be thus carried to its full effect. But should the Bill proved defective in this latter way, or through want of sufficient value which would prove fatal, experience an Opposition, much would it hereafter be lamented, not only by its present chief promotors, but also by those very misguided persons who have proved the cause, however ignorantly, of its failure, and this at a time when redress is unattainable, and more especially it would be regretted, when considered, that by Your Lordships liberality of Sentiment, the present Bill is fraught with many real advantages, such as Proprietors of Estates have not in any similar instance, hitherto experienced. But much as I sincerely wish the Bill to prove successful, to say more on the subject to Your Lordship is a liberty in which I do not presume to indulge myself, but which I trust, the importance of the matter at this critical period may, with Your Lordship, plead my excuse for having noted; and indeed, nothing less than the Idea of Your Lordship condescending to do the Proprietors every the most essential service by the liberal concessions in this Bill proposed for their Emolument, could have induced my flattering myself with the hopes of Your Lordships further aid in this matter. Mr Mowbray will I presume have informed Your Lordship of a proposal originating with Mr WIlliamson for Mr Harding the Rector of Stanhope commuting the whole of his Tythes for Land, by referring to a Committee, then named, and of which number is Mr Mowbray to devise a mode, that in no respect shall diminish Mr Harding’s present Income (and to guard which essential purpose it was agreed that the 3rd Commissioner should be of His naming) nor in future do prejudice to his Successor, and as in similar matter of exchange I understood Mr Mowbray had been imployed, and which terminated to the mutual satisfaction of the interested parties, this I much hope may alike prove successful, the Proprietors on their part being as I am assured perfectly well disposed to do ever thing in their power to make the Exchange agreeable to the Rector, we therefore flatter ourselves the Compromise will be effected as Independent of the general Regret of Tyths in kind being drawn, the Grounds for litigation between the Lessee of the Tyths and the Proprietors would thus be totally done away and in Justice to Mr Harding it must be said, that on the proposal being made, a disposition to oblige his parishioners on Suitable Terms has clearly manifest and were it known to Mr Harding, that a compromise on such Terms met Your Lordships Approbation, much reason there is conclude, that a successful Issue to the general Wish of the Proprietors of Estates would prove the result. Your Lordship will I trust permit my further observing, that Your Lordships Idea of constructing an additional Chapel in the extreme parts of the Parish in case of the Proposed Division go forward, was universally approved, and to the promoting so good a Work, the Inhabitants will most readily lend their best assistance. In an affair of the present consequence I have indeed unavoidably occasioned Your Lordship very much trouble, but which a Business of such importance in its Consequences, to the Proprietors of Estates within the extensive Parish of Stanhope, I presume to flatter myself will induce Your Lordship the more readily to excuse, With all due Respect I have the Honor to be, My Lord, Your Lordships Most Obedient Servant Fra Tweddell [In a different hand, sideways at the bottom of the sheet:] Mr Tweddell/ Jan.25.1799
John Erasmus Blackett mentions, in a letter of 8 March 1799 to Thomas Richard Beaumont, that he has received a ‘long letter’ from Mr Tweddell on the subject of the Division of Commons. Mr Tweddell’s letters do tend to be long and rambling. He was one of the joint owners of the Unthank Estate near Stanhope Weardale, hence one of the proprietors interested in the proposed Division.