For Women’s History Month 2017: Who was Magdalen Lloyd? A good question. All I know of her is from 26 letters she wrote during the 1670s and 1680s, from various addresses in Denbighshire and London, to her “cousin” Thomas Edwards, an agent of the Chirk family at Chirk Castle. Magdalen worked as a maidservant in London for several years in the 1670s before returning home to Denbighshire. Her letters are filled with everyday gossip and anxieties and aspirations, rare survivals which I’ve loved since I first came across them during my PhD research.
The three letters here cover her pre-occupations with money and getting a better job (the wage she mentions seems fairly average [see p.188 here]), her cares for her family (especially her mother) in Wales, and also the idiosyncrasies of her spelling and punctuation. I haven’t modernized the transcriptions: deciphering them is half the, errrm, fun.
Magdalen Lloyd to Thomas Edwards, Wrexham, 13 November 1675 [NLW CC E3348]
My humbul servis presented unto you I desire ye favor of you yt you will be plest to lend mee 10 s shillings with the berare that I may give my goone to be be made my mother send mee 10 shilling after yu wear att Palley celyn she could not help mee of any more att present ther will goe for trimings to make it 9 s or 10 shilling and for the makeing of it ther will goe 8s at lest and for ye rest I will by a pare of shous for I want them very much pray good cosen help mee this time and I hope I shall not trobull you for any mony to gett me close as long as I shall contynue in Wrexham for in deed I was very bare of klose when I cam hear I men of klos fit for me to goe to sirvis but I am very well furnis now I pray God reward you for mee I hope in God my mother can have som way to bay all yt you are plest to lend me with my prayers with you as long as I live forom
your obleged cosen
and thankfull Magdalen Lloyd
Magdalen Lloyd to Thomas Edwards, London 12 June 1676 [NLW CC E6210]
Ever honord cos:
I have recived your kind letter wch I render you many thanks for your care about mee I hope in my God I shall be able to recompens soon of your kindness yt you wear plest to shwee unto mee in time of need wch I shall ever acknowleg as long as I live dear cos I hope Mr Thomas hath aquaint you yt I went to a place indeed dear cos I doe not like it very well it is not for any work yt I doe mislike it but I will not part with it til I hear of a better all ye profit I shall have I shall be fitter for a better my wages is but 3 pound ten shillings indeed Mr Thomas taks great care about mee hee came to bring me to ye place if I had bin his sister he could not doe more for me conserning a place indeed he is very faithfull to you ther was not wan night as long as I have bin ther but he tokes of you and drink to your health and wis you to bee with him hee gave me 2 pound ten shillings to by cols I was very loth to take soe much after you went in soe much charity about me I hope yt you shall not lous a peny of all yt you gave me pray good cos satisfie Mr Thomas for his mony I make soe bould as to give cos Ed is letter in yours this time for I sent to letters for her to Dembis but I understand by ye letter yt I had lost in cek[?] is of ye humble servis of her yt is your ever thankfull cos to pray with you
Magdalen Lloyd to Thomas Edwards, [London] May Day 1680 [NLW CC E3731]
I give you many thanks for your kindness in sending mee a hors: mrs and her husband was gon: about 10 mile to live from London soe that I had not your letter in a week for ye hors was att ye inn 8 days a fore I hard of [i]t: I have put him in a stable in ye littill town whear my ould mrs lived in hee is weell looked to for I doe not lett him want for heae and oats I am a frayd ye have wronged him in coming for his eys runs: and hee yt looks to him tells mee: yt hee will bee blind hee canot see with wan eye ye perswayd mee that hee can never cary mee down but I hope hee will mend now hee is soe carefull looked to: I have bought mee a sadle: I am afrayd I canot gett company till ye later yend of ye term but as soon as I can have company I will sett out for ye contry I shall writ to you afore then: I am att London and shall bee till I goe to ye contry as for parting with my place Mr Thomas can satisfy you for I beelive I shall truble them if I can understand thay my caus is good the wod not a parted with mee by all mean but ye know ye reson: I am sory I have bin soe true to them in my mrs life time: as for a place I doe not fear in ye least I pray God send mee my health: pray good cos send this letter to cos Ed as soon as you recd it that cos Ed may writ to mee the very next post for I am to by some things haveing noe more: but my dayly prayers: for your care of me and I hope God will bless you what you have don for mee
Pray lett mee know if my mother is well
The letters are held in the Chirk Castle archives at the National Library of Wales. The Chirk Castle archives are massive and wide-ranging, but have not been digitised as far as I know, though the correspondence is catalogued. (If you’re interested in seeing more of the letters, I have transcriptions…). This recent article in Wales Online gives a broader overview of Magdalen’s experiences from her letters.