This is one of the first letters. It's clear even then that my Great-Grandmother worked long hours on the family farm and had very little time to meet her 'suitor'. It seems that he wrote if the weather was too bad to visit, or if one of them was too ill to meet. Even at this early stage there are also some letters that he has written to clear the air after an argument. It's rather strange to read the justifications of an argument that took place 120 years ago!
Every letter through 1894 and 1895 ends with an affection 'sign off' and loving PSs. There are also a few Valentines cards in the pile and other cards that he sent her for amusement. Unfortunately the relationship appeared to flounder in 1896. My Great-Grandmother is accused of prioritising her work on the farm over making time to see her 'beau'. There are several complaining letters when she has clearly cancelled at the last minute.
Finally, at the bottom of the pile, there's an envelope with a plain piece of paper wrapped around this small scrap... It seems that he was finally tired of waiting. My Great-Grandmother couldn't bring herself to keep the letter where he broke off the engagement, but she cut the date from the top and kept it in an envelope with all the other letters.
She also kept the ring and I now keep it safe with other family heirlooms.
Eventually my Great-Grandmother found 'the man of her dreams'. He was an engineer from Stafford who cycled to north-east Manchester to find work in 1900. He was happy to let her run the farm, while he worked in a factory less than a mile away at the bottom of the hill. They had three children - two girls and then a boy. The boy was my maternal Grandad and he eventually followed his father into the same engineering trade.
I never knew my Great-Grandmother but I understand that she was profoundly deaf. Family tradition says that she became deaf following the shock of her first broken engagement. After all these years, we'll never really know the truth. I just feel very lucky to be able to look after a little 'time capsule' from 120 years ago.