Since it’s Valentine’s Day today (oh you hadn’t noticed?) we have picked out an interesting trio of 19th Century letters from our archive which tells a story that wouldn’t be out-of-place in a Jane Austen novel (set in Manchester of course).

It’s a tale of bold declarations, unrequited love and mischievous snoops. 

Mr Tubman's Love Letter - Ref: M478/9/1/10

The story begins with a love letter (above) from a Mr Michael Tubman to a Miss Elizabeth Lomas sent on 14th February 1849 in which he states:

 “Many a day and many an hour ‘av I longed to express to you the feelings of my bussum. Yes many a time as I ‘av seen your luvley face in chapel ‘av I thought you more a angel than a woman and oh how I ‘av longed to whisper in your ear that unutterable affection which I have endeavoured so long in vain to banish from my ‘art.”

The boy is clearly smitten. Unfortunately Miss Lomas does not feel the same way:

Elizabeth Lomas' Reply. Ref: M478/9/1/11

“Up to the time of receiving his letter, I had not been aware of the existence of such a person as Michael Tubman. He cannot therefore have deluded himself with the idea that I could take an interest in a young man with whom I have had no acquaintance. Upon reading his strange letter I felt not only amazed, but, at first, greatly annoyed at the presumption which could address to me an entire stranger, and quite apart from his walk in life, such ardent expressions of misplaced feeling.”

Ah…never mind hey- plenty more fish in the sea and all that. However the story does not end there. Miss Lomas goes on to explain that she was “called away for a minute and thoughtlessly left the letter on the table” and when she returned she found a woman called Priscilla Pepperton purveying it’s contents.

Miss Lomas ended her letter saying that “This morning Priscilla came with a letter she had written begging me to enclose it in mine to Mr Tubman, as she had a great esteem for that gentleman.”

Priscilla Pepperton's Letter. Ref: M478/9/1/12

The letter from Miss Pepperton (above) is a poetic reply to Michael Tubman offering herself in place of Elizabeth. Miss Pepperton is 63 and I don’t think her intentions were entirely genuine:

 “My dearest Michael I am afraid you’ll scorn a lowly parlour maid nor e’er believe that cupids dart has pierced my poor distracted heart yet so it is at sixty three I love thee Michael only thee. How can the girl you were addressing refuse so rich so rare a blessing. She merits not to be your wife and share with you the joys of life. That pleasure is reserved for me. I love thee Michael only thee.”

…and she goes on:

“I’m short but stately as a queen

I’ve all my teeth, except sixteen

My tresses are not very grey

And tho I’m rather dark they say

Affection no defects can see

I love thee Michael only thee

I’m sure I do not totter much

I sometimes walk without my crutch

My spectacles I’ve cast aside

My silver muff box long my pride

I part with all thy bride to be

And love thee Michael only thee

All vulgar follies I eschew

I long have worn a cap ‘tis true

I’ll cast it off and thee to honour

I’ll braid my hair a la Madonner

Tis right that all the world should see

I love thee Michael only thee”

She signs off the letter stating her name and address as:

“From your devoted

Priscilla Pepperton

Rheumatism Row

Paralysis Place


To view the rest of the letter’s and more Valentine’s Day treats from the archives visit our Flickr page:

CAN YOU HELP? There are some words in these letters that we can’t make out so if you think you know what a word is or think we’ve got it wrong please let us know! Leave a comment on here or on our Flickr Page.