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Trade card for John Ringrose at Bluitt's Inn, York
P.12956-R

A full transcription of the bill is available on the museum's online collections explorer.

There are a small number of bills from post-houses or inns in the Fitzwilliam's collection, but none of them are addressed to a named person and only one is dated. This is probably because they are a running total of costs to be settled before guests continued on their journey (rather than sent to an address afterwards, as with the other bills illustated on these pages). There is no reason to suppose that they are connected to the Blathwayts, other than they have been kept together with their bills and the one dated bill is from the same period. The one illustrated above is one of two bills from Bluitt's Inn, York; the other carries the date 1786, the year John Ringrose took over the business from William Bluitt. It lists the food and drink consumed on this occasion, a great deal of which was alcohol (wine, rum and 'malt liq', or liquor). The main meal is just listed as 'supper', followed by 'stroberreys', which is presumably strawberries, and lobsters. Food for the servants is listed separately under 'Serv.ts Eating', as was typical for this type of receipt.

During the century travelling for pleasure increased, although the means by which tourists arrived at their destination varied. The less wealthy were limited to travelling by stagecoach, which were large horse-drawn carriages that ran to timetables. It was cheaper for passengers to travel outside the coach than inside, but they would have to endure the elements. The wealthy, on the other hand, could afford their own custom-made transport. Coaches became status symbols, and even families who could bearly afford one spent ruinous amounts of money on coaches, stabling and coachmen. In the early 1760s William Blathwayt splashed out on his own coach, made by Caleb Atkinson on David Street, Berkeley Square. It cost him £129 3s 9d, and he had to pay Atkinson in several instalments. In May 1777 Blathwayt commissioned another coach from John Hatchett, coachmaker to their Royal Highnesses, Dukes of Gloucester & Cumberland, on Long Acre. The bill (at Gloucester Archives) describes it as a 'very handsome & Genteel coach made of the best materials & season'd timber, body of the newest fashion... painted a pleasant brown with arms and crest over it properly emblazoned...'. The coach and related new equipment including four bridles cost just over £176.

The Blathwayts would journey back home to Dyrham outside Bath, one of the country's most popular spa resort destinations. Other seaside towns also grew in popularity such as Margate and Brighton (known as Brighthelmstone). Another, similar bill in the collection is from a popular establishment there, called The Ship, built by John Hicks in 1767. It comprised one card-room for gambling and a 90-foot ballroom, with galleries above for musicians and spectators. Elegantly decorated and capable of holding large numbers of people, it would have been an expensive investment. But proprietors in popular areas could almost guarantee trade from wealthy Londoners, determined to leave the city for the season (typically the months July - October). The Blathwayt family letters unsurprisingly contain references to escaping the 'dirty' town. One undated letter to William at Golden Square reads 'As the weather begins to be very warm & dusty, I presume you will remove soon from London to some of the Water drinking places till the latter end of the summer...'

Travelling also required special equipment. There are two bills from Thomas Griffith, trunk maker, in the Fitzwilliam's collection, who stated on his trade card that he made 'all sorts of strong travelling trunks, leather portmanteaus....'. On the 20 July 1775 Blathwayt bought a 'large strong chest', an 'iron squar'd best lock' and a 'small packing case'. Another bill issued from Griffith's shop dated the same year, in the collection at the British Museum, records the purchase of 'leather canteen with bottles', a small 'hair trunk' and other travelling accoutrements (Heal,120.42).

The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge has a few objects in the collection dropped by travellers, such as money boxes and keys. The image below, of an iron padlock and key, was described as a 'fetter-lock, with key, used for hobbling horses, before the enclosure of the fields' when it was donated to the museum in 1903. Given the small diameter of the inflexible metal loop it is perhaps more likely that the device was used to transport (and secure) humans than horses.

Iron padlock and key, Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, 1903.8

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