[Isabella Petrie Mills, Manchester suffragist.] Autograph Letter Signed ('Isabella Petrie-Mills') to 'Mr Matthews' of Rochdale, reminiscing about her family and discussing her health.

Isabella Petrie Mills (b.c.1827; fl. 1916), suffragist, wife of the banker John Mills (1821-1896), President, Manchester Statistical Society; daughter of Rochdale engineer John Petrie (1792-1883)
Publication details: 
On letterhead of Coniston, Hale, Nr. Altrincham. 2 October 1916.
SKU: 21048

In 1899 Mrs Mills published a biography of her husband, titled 'From Tinder Box to Larger Light'. See the references to her in Crawford, 'Women's Suffrage Movement' (2003), and Daley and Nolan, 'Suffrage and Beyond' (1994), the latter work containing a reference to a meeting with Frederick Douglass. Her father, as she states in this letter, was 'John Petrie of South St Rochdale' (Petrie (1792-1883) was a Belfast-born engineer). 4pp., 12mo. Bifolium. In fair condition, lightly aged. She begins by stating that she has 'read with much interest in the “Rochdale Observer” a notice of a presentation to you on the attainment of your 90th. Birthday'. She does not know him personally, but 'when reading of your memories of past times I was minded to send you a word of congratulation, not only as to your birthday but also that you are well, and above all retaining your faculties & your memory, your interest in the Progress of the of [sic] Humanity towards higher & better conditions.' She feels about him 'as a contemporary almost – an old acquaintance – when reading'. In six months time she will also be ninety, and hopes 'to live a while longer to see at least the dawn of the “New Heavens & The New earth” to follow the purging of this terrible but inevitable War'. They must both remember 'many wars, from the Crimean onwards, never a one till now, that could be called, on our part, a Holy War'. She has '6 grandsons & 10 nephews in it – One great nephew Sir Jas Duckworths Grandson – was killed last year'. She asks him if he knew her father (see above), and states that she only has one brother left, 'George Petrie of Stone Hill Rochdale – (86 yrs)'. She exclaims: 'If only we could have a “crack” together!' (An early use of this English slang word, often erroneously claimed to be an Irish word spelled 'craic'.) Although 'with most of my wits about me', she bemoans the loss of her short-term memory. She is sending him 'a Book I wrote soon after My husbands (John Mills) death 20 years ago' (i.e. 'From Tinder Box to Larger Light'). She feels sure he will enjoy the accounts of Smallbridge, of which she 'knew every bit'. She asks a question regarding the United Methodists, with whom, like her father, he is connected. She concludes: 'Well, I must not write more – but talk to you through my bok “Tinder Box” - Im sure you have kindled many a fire with the Tinder Box.'