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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 15 March 1768

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Dr Wharton at Old-Park
near Darlington

Dear Sr

I am so totally uninform'd, indeed so helpless, in matters of law, that there is no one perhaps in the kingdom you could apply to for advice with less effect, than to me: this ought to be a sufficient warning to you not to pay more attention to me than I deserve. you may too take into the account my natural indolence & indisposition to act, & a want of alacrity in indulging any distant hopes, however flattering; as you have (I think) from nature the contrary fault, a Medium between us would be possibly the best rule of action.

One thing I am persuaded I see clearly, & would advise strongly: it is, that you should never think of separating your cause from that of your Nephew. your rights are exactly the same, you must share the profit & the loss. he is a Minor & under your care: to set up any distinct claim for the private advantage of yourself & family, would surely hurt you in the eye of the world. the slightest apprehension of any such thought will make a total breach between Mr Ll: & you, whose advice & activity seem of such singular use in all your designs. this will force you to pass your whole time at London without other assistance, than what you must hire; & perhaps produce another law-suit between you and your own Nephew. but you speak irresolutely yourself on this head, & as you have had a little time to think, since you wrote your letter, I doubt not, you have already drop'd any such idea. it remains then to communicate immediately to Mr. Ll: the opinions of De Grey, & to advise with him (without reserve) about this application to the Treasury.

Now I am going to talk of what I do not understand: but from what I have lately heard of the D: of Portland & Sr J: Lowther's case (wch is in some respects similar) if you obtain this Grant (for wch you must pay too a certain rent to the Crown; & if any one outbids you, they will be prefer'd) your right to it is never the more establish'd, provided any body start up to contest it with you at law, for the Courts are still open to redress any injury, that a person pleads he has received by such grant. in this therefore I should be guided by Mr Ll: and Mr Madocks. the application to the Treasury is easy, I believe: St:, or Mr W: will probably acquaint you of the manner: but I could give you good reasons, why the former should not be ask'd to interpose personally in obtaining it, at least why it would be uneasy to him to do so.

There remains then the foundation of all this, the legal right, you & your Nephew have, to this extention of the tythes, about wch your counsel themselves seem dubious enough; & you cannot expect me to be clearer than they, especially as there are two things not at all explained in your letter, viz: What is that Grant to Morrice & Cole, & when made? & who is Rector of the Church, or (if a Vicar) who presents him, for it appears not to be you? all that you seem to me clearly entitled to is a right of continuing the suit, wch your Brother begun, wch contest may beget others to infinity. shall I tell (but without consequence) what I should wish? that you would sell these tythes out of hand, & with them all your expectations & all your lawsuits: if these are worth any thing, Purchasers may be found sanguine enough to give such a price, as Mr Jonathan did, & you will be no loser; if they are not, you may lose a little money, & in my opinion be a great gainer: for this inundation of business, of eager hopes, & perhaps more reasonable fears, is the thing in the world the most contrary to your peace, & that of your family. but I determine nothing, we shall hear what the three Referees say, & what Mr Ll: determines upon it.

I have made hast to answer you, considering the difficulty of the case: you will therefore excuse me for my intention's sake. Mason is arrived in London, & lives for the present at Stonhewer's, in Queen-Street. I rejoiced to hear, you got so well over that Monster the Trent. make my best compliments to Mrs Wharton, & your Family. I am sorry to hear Miss Wharton has been ill: Mr Brown presents his respects to you all, down to Dicky.

Adieu! I am ever
T G:

Our weather has been mild & fine enough of late. the [next] letter will give an account of it. Wilkes (they say) will be chose for the City of London. T. Lyon has lost one of his causes in the house of Lords against Ld Panmure.

Letter ID: letters.0531 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 51
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 51[?]


Date of composition: 15 March 1768
Date (on letter): March 15. 1768
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Pemb: C:
Place of addressee: Durham, United Kingdom

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 3 pages, 229 mm x 182 mm
Addressed: To / Dr Wharton at Old-Park / near Darlington / Durham (postmark: [illeg.])


Language: English
Incipit: I am so totally uninform'd, indeed so helpless, in matters of law,...
Mentioned: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 182-183, Manuscripts collection, British Library , London, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

Print Versions

  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CLI, vol. iv, 116-119
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, including the correspondence of Gray and Mason, 3 vols. Ed. by Duncan C. Tovey. London: George Bell and Sons, 1900-12, letter no. CCCXXVI, vol. iii, 192-195
  • Correspondence of Thomas Gray, 3 vols. Ed. by the late Paget Toynbee and Leonard Whibley, with corrections and additions by H. W. Starr. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971 [1st ed. 1935], letter no. 475, vol. iii, 1027-1030