A few weeks ago, I shared a post where I talked about a hobby I very much enjoy, postal history. The reactions I received were positive (thank you for that) and it made me want to share a bit more. By now, you know I don't want to be overbearing and I try not to overwhelm people with what I put here regarding this topic. But, I also make no apologies about my interest and the enjoyment I get out of learning all kinds of things as I explore the history surrounding items in my collection.
In fact, many people have some set of topics or areas of knowledge that they find more than interesting - for whatever reason. I enjoy hearing people get excited about the things they enjoy. Why? Because I understand how good it feels when others take the time to try to understand why I like what I like. And, it can be pretty amazing what you happen to learn in the process of listening. Some obscure but interesting fact maybe? Or perhaps you will learn something about the person that gives you more appreciation for who they are.
Whatever it is - it's a good thing.
Why did Thurso have so many 'writers?'
I have had this item in my collection for some time now. It is a very attractive envelope because it shows a pre-printed advertisement for the sender of this mail - Attorney James Mitchell in Milwaukee. The first thing that makes this envelope interesting to me is that very few businesses were using pre-printed designs for their mail in 1864.
The second thing is that this letter was mailed to Scotland. At the time I bought this item, that might have been my biggest reason for wanting to purchase it. Well, that and it looked very nice. As I learned more, I came to realize that Thurso is the northern most settlement of the main British Isle.
Some time ago, I came across another item addressed to someone else in Thurso. I did not buy it, but I noticed it was also sent to a person who was a "Writer". So, let's back up a second...
The address reads: James Brims, Esq, Writer, Thurso, Caithness, Scotland, N.B.
My initial thought was: "hmm. Was there some sort of artist gathering in Thurso since there were multiple writers at that location?" Some quick searching blew that theory out of the water. Instead, I ran across a directory of some sort from the 1860s in Scotland. The directory had a note that said "Writers, see Solicitors."
Aha! I said! A solicitor in England is a lawyer or attorney. Therefore, after a little more effort to confirm, I learned that the Scots referred to solicitors as 'writers.' The idea that James Brims was an attorney in Thurso is further supported by the fact that a US attorney is sending him mail AND by the honorific "esquire" at the end of his name - typically an indicator that this person is a lawyer.
And, now you know.