A surprise 1898 love letter and poignant story found

I purchased an Edwardian specimen chest at auction, and on opening the bottom drawer an 1898 letter dropped out.

Letters were being exchanged daily the text shows between “Freddy” in St Moritz and his beloved in Kent, this 10 sided sample dated 17th January 1898.


Some internet sleuthing starting with the address reveals that she was Mary Wentworth-Forbes, daughter of Lt Gen Wentworth-Forbes who lived in this beautiful Georgian house The Gleanings in Rochester. She may have been late 20s or early 30s. One brother George was born in 1855 and a sister Lucy May who died young in 1896 was born in 1861, so this is possible, her birth date is not known. Possibly explains letter references to my old darling, old ducky etc.


Freddy was Major Frederick Arthur Bligh, aged 37 at time of writing the letter.

Here he is when older:


They married 6 months after this letter was written, on 22 June 1898. In 1905 a daughter Gwendolen was born. Freddy, also a JP and High Sheriff, was killed in action in November 1915 and full details about that action are online.

“Monday 15 November 1915 – We Lost 215
The Royal Scots provide supporting fire during an attack on the enemy trench H11A opposite Russel’s Loop. Companies number 1 and 2 charge and after bombing and hand to hand fighting capture the objective. Trench H11A is named Rosebery Street after Lord Rosebery, Honorary Colonel of the 1/7thRoyal Scots.

Today’s losses include:

Major Frederick Arthur Bligh JP High Sheriff (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 54.”

Mary died in 1928. Their grave is pictured online, it is in Hampshire. This is where our lovebirds are:


Their daughter married a Brigadier Barrington in 1933 and they lived in Brittas, Co. Meath, and a Brittas address is also indicated for  our couple. So this explains the presence of the letter in Ireland.

What does the letter say?

Handwriting is not easy and some bits cannot be made out.

Mentions a problem with his tooth.

Says how lovely the weather is “Really this winter is marvellous, so hot and such continued sunshine. Wish you were here my old darling”

They are planning for her to join him and she cannot get a sleeper berth it seems so he suggests travel by day and stopping off at Paris and a couple of other night stops and wants her to set off within a week.

She has been ill, perhaps with flu and is feeling better which pleases him. This has held up her travelling out to be with him which is getting him down.

There has been some ill feelings with some people at home, mention is made of the difficulties with Eva, could be her sister in law via brother George.  “look here, don’t you worry at small things ducky..” and some allusion to their forthcoming marriage “..bother them, hell  they’ll soon be taking a back seat!” And again “how I wish I could come and do your accounts for you – hell I shall very soon now old darling..”

It seems  possible her father had died or both parents and other relatives were in charge of her, not quite clear. What is clear is Trustees are involved and with regard to her forthcoming trip they want receipts from all the hotels! “It certainly makes one inclined to do them in the eye and do no bargaining for reduction in making arrangements. Yes, you spend every penny allowed now..”

More encouragement to set off and leave any sick travelling companions to follow, and then an affectionate sign off to Mrs Freddy looking forward to “a big long cuddle.. with you curled up on my knee”


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