May 15th 1840
I am not quite aware whether you are return’d Home, but as the adjourn’d meeting is fix’d for Wednesday next, I should like to have your final answer in the case of Humphries <1> – I am sure you will give me credit when I assert, I could not willingly cause you any trouble or vexation, but I think in requiring Humphries to make me an apology & pay the expence of the Summons, is nothing but reasonable – I find on further investigation that my Keeper was on this side Reybridge <2> on Mr Montagu’s Land, when Blackman order’d him off & pointed to a part of the River where he chose to say my Rights ended; this I think a great piece of impertinence on his part and the consequence was, many other people came and fish’d there also – I again repeat I purchas’d the River of Mr Montagu as so many acres of Land, my Solicitor was satisfied from Documents I now have that Mr Montagu had the right to sell the River to me and I have Three Legal Decisions establishing that Right and has [sic] never since been disputed. Leaving these Rights out of the question, I will put it as you do, that you had the right to half the River from Reybridge Cottage to the Bridge and the Montagu Property the other half; it is therefore clear Humphries and Blackham <3> had no business to give leave or Fish on the Montagu side, where they were, for whatever Rights Mr Montagu had, now belong to me by purchase – They not only warn’d him off, but threaten’d to kick him, which he is ready to verify on his Oath, and others also who heard it. My Keeper also declares he has had no quarrel with Blackham or any illfeeling and if he had it could be no justification for driving him off my Fishery & taking possession of it, by which means I was to suffer by losing as I did, my small Fish – If Humphries does not make the apology & pay the Summons (thereby acknowledging he was in the wrong) I must reluctantly persevere in having the case heard by the magistrates at Corsham next Wednesday – If unfortunately you think Humphries ought not to comply with my demands; as the question was adjourn’d at your request, I wish to know, if Humphries will appear without the expence of another Summons – . If no apology is made, it would be look’d on by all the River Poachers, that they had a right to Fish as far as Mr Blackham deem’d proper to state, of course supposing it was with your sanction and my Keeper would be insulted & laugh’d at – I am perfectly aware the Petty Sessions have nothing to do with settling the right of the Fishery – as I mention’d in a former Letter, I have leave from Mr Montagu’s Agent to shoot and Fish
of over Mr Fry’s Farm and therefore on the principle of Half the River, I have a right to Fish as far as Mr Montagu’s Property goes, but I am perfectly willing to give up my right & make Reybridge, as you propose my Boundary. If you will give your Servants these orders as I will mine, it will prevent any future quarrels among them –
I certainly misunderstood your Letter about the Shooting, as you say it only alluded to the Fishing – I thought as I Rented with your Permission the Shooting from Hayward, that if he was to lose the Manor in a few Months it would have affected the Shooting as well as the Fishing: I am glad to find you do not mean to deprive me of the Shooting, as it would oblige me to give up my preserve of Pheasants & I feel much oblig’d to you for the Kindness of that accommodation –
I remain, Dear Sir, Yrs truly
T. W. Rooke
H. F. Talbot Esqr
1. Probably John Humphries, gardener at Lacock Abbey in the early 1840’s.
2. Reybridge, Wiltshire, 1 mi N of Lacock.
3. James Blackham (d. 1860), a tenant of Lacock since at least 1826.