Letter – Nicholas Walton to John Ibbetson – 12 Dec 1775

Document Type: Letter
Date: 12 Dec 1775
Correspondent: Nicholas Walton
Recipient: John Ibbetson
Archive Source: TNA ADM 66 97
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To John Ibbetson Esqr.                                                  Farnacres 12 Decemr 1775



      By the Boards Minute of the 12th April last we are ordered to provide a good and sufficient Iron ‘Chest as soon as possible for the use of the Agent at Langley Lead Mill to deposit the Plates of Silver in during the time they shall be in his custody’.   In thinking upon the proper way of executing this order, we considered that if the Chest was made so small as merely to hold a single Cake of Silver, which is all the Agent has in his hands at one time, and seldom keeps it more than two or three days, that a Robber might carry the Chest and Silver all away together; and as we apprehended that there was an equal necessity of securing the Silver pieces, which are now kept in progression to the length of a Month, and sometimes more, in a Wooden Chest under Lock and Key, in the Refinery; it appeared to us that an Iron Chest would be of the most utility, that would contain the Silver pieces as well as the Silver Cakes; which Silver pieces consist of a piece of Lead, taken from each Working Silver Test, after having Worked the whole Quantity of Lead that can be conveniently done in one Test; that is generally from 84 pieces of Lead of 1 Cwt. each; so that all the Silver being contained in the piece of Lead drawn at last from the Test, it will, in consequence, contain the Silver of all the rest; that is it will be 84 times more rich in Silver than the Pigs are in their natural State before they enter the Furnace; and these pieces of Lead so drawn, are called the Silver Pieces: and which contain at a Medium about the Value of £10.10. worth of Silver each; and as we frequently collect above 20 of those Silver pieces before the Fine Silver is extracted by an entire separation from the Lead, and which is done in a Test at one Operation; we have frequently more than £200 worth of Silver on hand in these Silver pieces at once: we therefore fixed upon the dimensions necessary for containing the Silver pieces, as well as the Silver Cakes; and as on enquiry, we heard of nobody in those parts, capable of executing such a piece of Work, we made enquiry, as to the prices paid for such kind of Things, and from the information we received we had reason to expect a Chest of proper dimensions, for about £30 we therefore gave an Order, to a principal Ironmonger of Newcastle to send for one from London.   The Chest is now come and will undoubtedly answer the purpose intended very compleately, but we are most exceedingly chagrined to find that the expence of it, will far exceed our utmost expectations.   It is an excellent piece of Workmanship, and done in the manner it is, we don’t apprehend it over -charged; for it is finished in a manner fit for the Treasury or the Exchequer; that is, with a degree of nicety and exactness no way necessary for Langley mill, and as it is of a size not likely to be saleable at NewCastle or in the Neighbourhood; we do not see our selves intituled to return it: We have therefore previous to applying it to use, thought proper to acquaint the Board herewith; that in case such a Thing should be wanted, for depositing any of the Valuables of Greenwich Hospital, there will be no loss attending it, but the Frieght by Sea hither and back again; If therefore the Board are pleased to order it to be sent to Greenwich, we will endeavour to supply the Mill, with what may answer the End at a cheaper rate.

      The Chest is 4 feet long, 2 ½ wide and 2 feet deep, is made double, outside paneled, Inside plain, so that papers &ca intended to be preserved from Fire will have the best chance.   The Lid is made in Two parts, the Lock very curious with 3 bolts and 2 Keys, it weighs 13 Cwts. 12 Lbs and the price altogether £53.   It is charged at 8d. p[er] Pound at London exclusive of charges amounting to £4:1:4 of which the Freight, Cartage and Quay Dues £<2>:16:6.   We are

      Sir  Your most Obedt Servts. 

		N.W. Junr.	J. S.

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The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467