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Letter from Eton College June 1835

This is a letter from Samuel Sandbach to his mother at Woodlands, Liverpool.

Samuel was the son of Samuel Sandbach, one time Lord Mayor of Liverpool and partner of the firm Sandbach Tinne & Co of Liverpool.  He was also a partner in a firm in Glasgow.  Sandbach Tinne and Co were involved in the sugar trade with the West Indies and owned plantations there.

For full details surrounding Sandbach Tinne & Co have a look at the letter on this web page Victorian Web.

This scan shows all the post marks on the letter.

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The spelling is as per the letter. Note the arcane use of the f style s where there is a double ss as in Princess. I cannot replicate this on the computer.

Eton College June 11th 1835

My dear Mother

It seemed to me better to delay writing until after Montem was over; though perhaps, I ought to have acknowledged my Fatherís kind letter immediately upon its receipt. I am much obliged to you both for allowing me to go in the boats, and shall ďmake it my study to gratify you in returnĒ. Fourth of June passed off very well with but one remarkable circumstance. One of the kingís horses got away from the grooms, and after leaping at our table and demolishing a few plates and glasses etc, sent it and all upon it and near it flat on to the ground. Fortunately no one was hurt. I escaped as well as anyone; but it was amusing to see the fellows coming from under the table, with their backs covered with dishes and plates and pieces of meat. The horse was soon caught, and did no more mischief. The fire-works were not very good.

What a delightful trip you must now be enjoying if you have weather like we have; beneficial, I hope to Eliza. You are indeed a find party. You will astonish the dull mountaineers. I hope you have all continued well and been able to enjoy the little tour to your satisfaction.

Montem was better than the two last have been. There was a very numerous show of carriages. The collection amounted to one thousand and six pounds; five hundred of which, at least, I should suppose, the Captain will pocket. All the Etonians looked very well. We were ordered into the school-yard at ľ before 11, as his Majesty was to be there precisely at 11. It was a boiling day, fur coats, cocked hats, and swords all adding to the heat. Their most punctual Majesties arrived at Eton at 20 minutes past 11. We marched round the yard past them three times. The Princefs Victoria looked well; but I cannot say that her pictures allow of flattery. The Duchess of Kent, the Duke of Cumberland, I think, and various others of the nobility attended. We marched up the Salt-hill along the road, and when we got there, were quite ready for some dinner, which was prepared in various rooms so as to accommodate us all. After dinner we amused ourselves for an hour or two, how we best could; some by fighting with cabbages, others with their friends. (William Swine came late on account of itís being a field day, and left early, because he was engaged to a Water Party in the evening.) We then came down and went to the terrace in the evening (which had been opened exprefsly for the occasion) wearing our uniform the whole time; so that you may imagine we were all tolerably tired.

We wear our (damage to letter) coats for the rest of the half.

There was a cricket match yesterday with the officers quartered here. Eton triumphed. I received Williamís letter dated 30th May. Robertson Gladstone has not made his appearance, as I conclude, that he does not intend to do so at this time. I hope to hear from Mary soon. I must be satisfied with thinking of here and here friends at her marriage. I shall be glad to hear from you all got on during the trip: How the invalids stood it, and if Eliza is better.


Your affectionate son

Sam Sandbach

An explanation of Montem from the History of Eton College by Sir Maxwell Lyte (1911):

In a school of such extreme age one naturally expects to find many curious and quaint customs surviving from former years. Here is an account of the "Montem"--more properly "Ad Montem"--one of the most peculiar and striking of old Eton usages, which is now a thing of the past, through never to be forgotten by any who have assisted thereat, whether as actors or spectators. "Montem" was a muster of the whole school, "in a sort of semi-military array, with band and colors, to march out to a mound in a field about a mile and a half distant--the well-known Salt Hill--where an ensign waved his flag, the boys cheered, and the ceremony so far was over. The professed object was to collect from the crowds of visitors who were always gathered on the occasion contributions of money, called salt, to supply the captain of the day, the head colleger, with funds for his Cambridge expenses. For this purpose two salt-bearers, usually the second in seniority of the collegers and the captain of the oppidans, assisted by some ten or twelve runners or servitors,and all dressed in fancy costumes, scoured all the approaches to Windsor and Eton within the shire of Buckhingham--for the collection of "salt" was confined, for some traditionary reason, to those limits--and levied contributions, by a sort of civil compulsion, from every comer, from the nobleman in his carriage-and-four to the rustic on foot. The cry was "Salt! Salt!" for which embroidered bags were held forth, and anything was accepted, from a sixpence to fifty pound note. In return the donor received a little blue ticket with a Latin motto on it--Mos pro Lege, or More et Monte-- and this ticket worn in the hat, or otherwise shown, protected the bearer for the rest of the day from any further demand." Royalty generally graced this occasion. For nearly forty years George III was present and regularly dropped "salt" to the amount of fifty pounds into the bag. The origin of this peculiar school festival is obscure. "The Westchester statutes (which were adopted for Eton in almost every particular) made provision for the out-door exercise of the scholars, by a daily procession ad Montem to St. Catherine's Hill, outside the city walls, which is still known as 'going on hills,' and takes place there regularly on half-holidays; and from this there can be little doubt that the term itself was borrowed." But so many abuses grew out of the old custom and so much license prevailed, that it was finally abolished. Prince Albert was present at the last celebration in 1844. His carriage was halted on Windsor Bridge, and he gave the salt-bearer the royal donation of £100.