Letters to “Gentlemen”


On my deck …

I have been busy trying to find details of an illusive ancestor George Brown in Durham when I randomly began searching for Reuben Miles at the British Newspapers webpage. Voilà! Reuben was a writer!! Better still, so was his wife, Elizabeth.

I know very little about Elizabeth Groves, the wife of Reuben Miles. Now I know she was obsessed with mushrooms and was an avid commentator on the local market scene.

Elizabeth Groves was the daughter of John Groves, a possible chair maker, and was born in c1830 in Bristol. In the 1851 census, Elizabeth is living in Clifton Road with her two sisters, Mary & Anne, or employed as Stay Makers. In 1851 she married Reuben Miles, a gardener who later became a potato dealer. The couple had four (known) children: Reuben, Elizabeth, Thomas and William Henry.

In the newspaper archives of 1866 and 1867, I have found several letters written by Elizabeth Miles that all begin, “Gentlemen, ..”. She has several letters describing mushrooms and how to cultivate them; she discusses the plight of the potato dealer and developing standards similar to those used by corn and flour dealers. She calls for the implementation of a sack engine for the weighing of potatoes. And then there is the mushroom so large it raised a paver.

There are still many questions in the life of Elizabeth however some are answered in one other letter she wrote to the Western Daily Press July 1867 where she describes the narrow escape a lady and her two children had as a bull charged them in the middle of Castle Green. The lady and her children managed to find shelter in a potato store in Narrow Wine Street – I presume the store was owned by Mr Reuben Miles and his wife, Elizabeth.


Elizabeth died in 1867 at the age of 34.

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1 Response to Letters to “Gentlemen”

  1. Pingback: Don’t You Know Who I Am !! | Laney's Past

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