“I dislike arguments of any kind. They are always vulgar, and often convincing.”
Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)
Step back 140 years and we find (DLT 5524/27/19) John Wallis, British Consul in Cairo intervening by letter in a dispute regarding a piece of engraving undertaken on Lord de Tabley's behalf. The letter explains that Lord de Tabley had complained to Mr Borg that the cost of the job was too high, but the engraver refused to lower his price. Mr Borg suggested they have the value of the work estimated by four leading engravers in Cairo to which the engraver consented. This was done and each agreed that the price, four pounds was a fair one. In the end on being offered three pounds the engraver accepted. Sometimes it seems an argument can be a cost effective way of doing business.
Elsewhere (DSS 1/3/263) we possess lengthy correspondence and papers from 1713-14 relating to the collection and payment to Sir Streynsham Master of certain outstanding rents and profits from the Somerford estate with Peter Shakerley. It’s not always the riveting disputes of our time which survive two centuries and more.
ACAS may not have existed in the 17th century, but thankfully there were still people willing to step in and help. One record we have (DLT A/8/96) from 1639 states that:
“Peter Maynwaringe of Smalwoode announces that he was apptd arbiter in the quarrel between Peter Leicester of Tabley & Thomas Wood of Netherpever concerning suit at Peters half manor of Netherpever, due from Thomas Wood and for the rent of a pair of white gloves due from him. Judgement in favour of Peter Leicester. Signed Peter Waynwaring.”The local Quarter Sessions records are a fine source of legal undertakings. In 1607 (ZQSF/55) we find an “Examination of John Cotton of Huntington, Cheshire, gent, concerning the quarrel between Ralph Jemson and Robert Foord and Anne his wife, the said Anne being the daughter of the said Ralph, concerning a cow claimed by the said Robert from the said Ralph.” Enough said.
Finally, for this little summary of antagonism and mistrust at least, I stumbled upon (DLT 5524/28/4/3) two letters from Peter Legh in 1794 to the estates department concerning giving notice to the chapel organist, Mr Bond as a result of ‘bad behaviour’ on his part. There is also a letter from George Leicester concerning this affair which includes a copy of a letter between Mr Legh and George Leicester. The incident involves an altercation between Bond and Legh over Bond’s wife. Bond apparently did not satisfactorily apologise and was therefore sacked. If the tabloids had existed then, a two page spread with interviews and a picture or two would surely have arisen.