17 Novr 1840
Absence from home has prevented my replying earlier to your Letter accompanying Mr Robins’ <2> – The facts of the case are simply these – You have been in the receipt of the Tithes of the Lands which Mr Montagu claims since 1807. When the Lacock Tithes <3> were commuted last year Mr Phillips <4> attended the Appeal Meeting and urged the Assistant Tithe Comr who presided, to alter the apportionment by substituting Mr Montagu’s name as regarded these Lands, for your’s <sic> – this the Comr declined doing, but adjourned the Meeting for three months to give Mr Montagu further time for establishing his claim. Mr Phillips attended the adjourned Meeting & again appealed to the Comr who again refused to alter the Apportionments – Mr Robins then applied to the Comrs at Somerset House, with no better success, & the Apportionment was confirmed – Under these circumstances you will not, I think, be surprized at my declining to submit your Title to arbitration – but though I declined, I trust you will give me credit for having done so with perfect civility, notwithstanding Mr Robins’ insinuation to the contrary – I should state that at my last interview with Mr Robins, on my declining to accede to his proposal, he expressed his
intention determination to distrain for the Tithes in question and I understand from the Tenant that he informed him of his intention to do so in case of nonpayment – but upon my promising to indemnify the Tenant, he appeals to you –
I would take the liberty of suggesting that, in case you write at all, you should merely state that you are satisfied with the validity of your Title, or refer him to me, or (if you prefer it) to Mr King <5> – Mr Robins must have known that he was doing a most irregular thing in writing to you after he had been in Communication with your Agent upon the subject, and what he says of “my treatment” of the case is a mere pretext for addressing you in the hope of getting an answer to suit his own purpose.
I return his letter – and remain
Yours truly & obliged
West Awdry.W. H. F. Talbot Esqre
2. Chippenham, Wiltshire: largest town near Lacock, 3 miles N.
3. The various Commutation Acts (from 1836) regularised the piecemeal reform of the tithes system. They substituted payment in money for payment in kind. Commissioners were appointed to oversee the execution of the Acts.
4. Joseph Phillips, Chippenham solicitor.
5. Of the firm William Read King & Son, solicitors, London.