Letter – John Erasmus Blackett to Joseph Dickinson – 24 Dec 1794

Document Type: Letter
Date: 24 Dec 1794
Correspondent: John Erasmus Blackett
Recipient: Joseph Dickinson
Archive Source: NRO ZBL 226 1
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Newcastle 24 Dec 1794

Mr Joseph Dickinson

I have received a letter signed by upwards of 100 of the Miners of Coalcleugh & Allanheads & Allandale, complaining of the high price of Corn. I desire than you make it known to them that I am very sensible of the difficulties which they & their families are likely to labour under on that account if some Method is not taken to give them relief, which it shall be my endeavour to do, & for that purpose I shall lay their Grievances before Colonel & Mrs Beaumont who I am confident will [be] compassionate [to] their case.  But that no time may be lost in procuring for them a sufficient Supply of Rye at a more reasonable rate I have already contracted for a Quantity from the South which on its arrival shall be sent up to the Mines; I have likewise wrote to Hamburgh to purchase a larger quantity of Foreign Rye, but it is probable that may not arrive before the middle or end of February next. I have no doubt that Col & Mrs Beaumont will approve of these measures. It becomes very necessary that the Miners should be undeceived respecting the present scarcity & consequent high prices of Rye, and nor they have been led into by some evil disposed Persons). No ships with corn have during the course of this year been refused to enter & land their loadings at the Port of Newcastle. So far from being this case a number ships of this Port could not procure a loading of Corn at any rate owing to Prohibition which had taken place at Dantzick & other Ports in the East; The Great Importation of Rye at this Port in 1790 & 1791 reduced the Price so low as to discourage the growth of that article not only in this Country but in the Southern Counties, which instead of Growing Rye as formerly they now grow Turnips. The War in Poland has been a great impediment to the growth of Corn in that Country & the King of Prussia’s Prohibition has put a total stop to the Exportation of all kinds of Grain from the Ports in his Dominions. These have been the sole Causes which occasions the present scarsity & high Price of Rye. The Complaint of the Miners respecting the Measure is [struck out: I believe] equally ill founded. The Winchester Bushel it is well known is the legal standard Measure, & what is termed the Hexham Bushall no long[er] in use is not so, but [struck out: it is normal for] the Farmers or other dealers in Corn regulate their price according to this Measure by which they sell. The Court Baron of the Manor of Hexham nor a corn jury appointed by that Court have no Power to regulate the price of Corn in that Market. In Case any Impositions have arose by the Dealers in Corn not giving the Miners the lawfull measure they are entitled to, that Matter shall be enquired into, & they shall be redressed: but The Rye is Purchased by the Winchester Bushel, & must be sold by the like Measure, & any Persons selling Corn within the Manor of Hexham by any other Measure [struck out: incurs a Penalty for so doing] are punishable for the same.  On your receipt of the Rye I desire that it may be delivered out to the Workmen according to your Discression in proportion to the number of their respective families taking care that they have the legal Measures and not imposed on by the Millers; I would recommend to them that they make use of a mixture of Potatoes with the Rye Flour agreeable to the enclosed Receipt, which makes wholesom good Bread. You will Communicate this to the agents at the other Mines as well as to the Workmen at Coalcleugh.

I am Sir Your Humble Servant

John E Blackett

I engaged for a Quantity of Rye from the South before the receipt of the letter from the Workmen or any other Intimation.

[annotated on cover:] 

David Renwick    ) Allanheads                  

Thos. Broadwood  )                                        

Joseph Whitesmith  A. Town                       

Jno. Liddell       Coalcleugh

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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