10 July 1846
I believe you are desirious of engaging a young man to assist you, now Harison <2> has got a brother I think would be the very man for you, he is at present in London foreman in a Carpenters business, but does not seem to like it very much, on account off the samenes, he has a great taste for philosophy, at least according to his brothers account, who told me a great many of his doings he seems to be very clever in mechanics, he told me when a boy at school he used to take a watch to pieces and put it right again, I can not write you all I heard about him, only one thing among many is that he has been trying this last two years to discover the pertual [sic, perpetual?] motion (whether that proves him to merrit to be thought of better in your opinion, or quit the reverse, I leave for you to concieder)
I for my self do not kno any thing about him except that he has been here ones to see his brother, and seemed to me a very respectable person and he took uncommon great attention to the Talbotype, his brother has written to him to ask him if he should like to be imployed in the buisenes, and he answered that nothing would give him moore plasure, I thought as he is a clever workman (or else he would not be foreman in a London house) that you could emploi him in a great many ways, I ask wath salary he expected he sayd £50 the first year and sixty the nex if you was satisfeid with him, board & lodging of course included – he gets 100 pound a year at present but no board and lodging, so that would be nearly the same – he has no objection to wait on you in traveling but not to clean the shoes (of course that the boots can do) if you like to engage him I think he better com here for a forthnigt or a month to learn part of his buisenes, at the same time I could see if he would answer your purpose, iff he is anything like his brother he will do,
Your obedient servant N. Henneman
1. Nicolaas Henneman (1813–1898), born in Holland and trained in Paris, was WHFT’s valet who emerged as his assistant in photography. Henneman set up his Calotype works at 8 Russell Terrace, Reading. Commencing operations at the start of 1844, it functioned both as a photographic studio and as a photographic printing works and continued through late 1846, at which time Henneman transferred his operations to London. Although Talbot supported Henneman through custom, such as printing the plates for The Pencil of Nature, and loans, it was always Henneman's operation. His business cards made no mention of "The Reading Establishment," the designation that it is popularly given today; the only contemporary use of that title seemed to be by Benjamin Cowderoy - see Doc. No: 05690 - and in Henneman's initial correspondence with WHFT.