Oldknow Letter; H Oldknow; 21 December 1789; 1966.22.1


Oldknow Letter

About this object

This letter is written by H Oldknow to her mother from her school in Nottingham. While it is a personal letter, it is also obviously a set exercise for meaning, manners and handwriting. The letter would have been scrutinised by a mistress in charge before it was sent. No privacy here! The handwriting is tiny so a transcription is provided here: “Hon.d Madam / I receive’d your Letter with abundance of Joy: and you may assure yourself I shall be careful to observe those commands which you have been pleased to lay upon me, And Hope Madam by that Time which your Prudence has thought proper to assign me at School, my Accomplishments will give you such satisfaction as shall be answerable to your Experience. / I am / Madam / your most dutiful / and obedient Daughter / H Oldknow / Nottingham / Dec.r 21, 1789”. The formal address of Honored Madam is in stark contrast to the Dear Mum of today. The sheet of paper, although stained and aged, is of good quality. It has been folded into an envelope around the letter, and on the back middle square the mother’s name is written. And why is this letter, written in the late 18th century in Nottingham in England, in the Whanganui Regional Museum collection? The letter came to New Zealand with a settler family which brought all its family treasures and mementoes when they migrated. It was donated to the Museum in 1966 by a descendant of those settlers. We do not know who H Oldknow was, or her first name or how old she was. The letter does, however, give us some interesting information about education for girls from a family of affluence and also tells us something about the relationship between parents and children of that era.


H Oldknow

Maker Role


Date Made

21 December 1789

Place Made


Place Notes

Nottingham, England

Medium and Materials

Paper / ink


22.5 x 22.5 cm

Subject and Association Description

Letter from daughter at school to mother

Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

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