Letter from Benjamin Wilson, brewer of Burton-upon-Trent, concerning supplies of barley,
©Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service
Benjamin Wilson had become Burton’s leading brewer by the end of the 18th century. He owed his success to the purchase of good quality barley and hops, as is shown by this letter, and his careful malt production. Brewing was Wilson’s core business although he also traded as a merchant.
This letter is extracted from Wilson’s letter book which shows his customer contacts with the Baltic and Russia, to where he exported beer and his careful attention to detail when dealing with his suppliers. Wilson retired from brewing in 1807 and sold his business to Samuel Allsopp, his nephew.
October 23rd 1797
I have your favour of the 21st before me. I have plenty of Malt on Stand, & therefore am under no urgent Necessity to begin to Malt. I have no objection nevertheless to take the 50 Quarter of Barley you offer me if it is in Truth 7 upon your honor of the excellent Quality you describe, & to make up a Cargo at future Marketts of the very best Kind, & upon the best Terms for my Interest. Mr Winrow informs me that he saw some Barley at Lincoln which is stouter & better than last years & that there were some charming Samples there last Friday. I trust that you will confirm this Opinion of his in the Excecution of the little order I now give you on Trial & that I shall find every Reason to be satisfied with the Manner of laying out my Money. I know your Experience & discernment in this Article & therefore if it fails to please me, it must arise from Inattention. Please also to enjoin the strictest Vigilance when it comes in, lest some of the unworthy Farmers foist in it a part of their damaged Corn. Both you and myself have had sufficient Experience of the farmers to be ignorant that altho’ some of them have toomuch Honor to be guilty of this fraudulent Action, there are others who are mean enough to take Advantage of an Indolent Man, in whom you may appoint to receive it. I am Sir Your humble Servant