Thursday, June 17, 2010

costs of travel in the past.

This travel budget is from 1762 from Darlington in the north of England to London for one lady. This is an 18th century account, and they take knowledge for granted, so interpreting can be tricky. However, it's clear this was seen as a vast amount of money for a trip to Town.

"Miss Ann Allan's journey up (London is always up) consumed nine days. Six coach-horses, a coachman and postillion, came from York for her (it was common for the hired post chaise to pick up at the door. The option was for someone to take the traveler to the nearest posting inn), and in the service were occupied fifteen days. (That implies that she had the same coachman and postilion for the whole journey, which is interesting, because it also implies that she used the same horses. However, the roads were so bad at times, that speed might not have been possible, and the lady might have wanted long breaks, in which case the horses could be rested, watered, and fed.)

The accounts next says "for which they were charged 261. 5s. Od., besides coachman and postillion's fees."
This sounds like nearly 270 pounds for the carriage and horses alone, almost 30 pounds a day. A poor labourer might have to try to live on 30 pounds a year!

On the return journey, the coach and six horses cost 280 pounds.

Then it adds that the road expenses back to Darlington were 611. 6s. 3. That must be the costs for stops, including overnight plus tolls, but it still seems an enormous amount. I assume the lady was traveling with some servants, but perhaps she took a retinue!

It concludes, "The total cost of the journey up and down was 1500 pounds,; and some 700 pounds were spent by the lady in town."

On Ann Allan, the Allan family were one of the most important in Darlington, and i found this note about the church. "The Church Plate consists of two large silver flaggons, two plates, and a chalice with a cover, given by Mrs. Hannah Eden and Mrs. Ann Allan: “Vasa sacra Deo et EcclesiÅ“ S. Cuthberti in Darlington humillime offerunt Hannah Eden et AnnaAllan, Anno Domini 1772.”
Also George Allan Esq. (who married Thomasine Prescott,) built Blackwell-Grange. His last surviving daughter, Ann Allan who died in 1787"

For a later Ann Allan, who bears some resemblance to Miss Haversham of Great Expectations, read here.