Chandler, Richard

Variant names

Hide Profile


While nothing is known about Ann Harris or Richard Chandler apart from the contents of this collection, their three-year correspondence provides tremendous insight into the history of working-class women in early nineteenth-century England. The finished letters of Ann Harris tell a story of a woman constantly searching for independence and self-worth in a social class without privilege and only limited freedom. The drafts of Richard Chandler, though minimal both in extent and information, present a man in pursuit of love and happiness struggling to attain what he most wants. The words of Harris and Chandler reveal a deeply loving and troubled relationship that echoes the difficult realities of working-class life at this time.

From 1804 to 1805, Harris was employed as a governess, and briefly a nurse, in the English town of Hereford, County Herefordshire. The fall of 1804 marked the beginning of her aquaintance with Richard Chandler, a young man from the country village of Prestbury, County Gloucestershire. In her correspondence, Harris confided the hardships and frustrations of working-class life to her new friend. Her letters are often filled with descriptions of exhausting work days and the lack of freedom associated with such a lifestyle. Ann's day-to-day existence was significantly circumscribed by the obligations owed to her employers, duties that limited both her social life and her privacy. Indeed, Harris' relationship with Chandler was greatly affected by her situation, her letters pointing to meetings arranged clandestinely, the risk of discovery never entirely eliminated or avoided.

Despite such obstacles, Harris and Chandler perpetuated a promising romance that led to an engagement in October, 1805. In November of that year, however, Ann was given the opportunity to work for her brother in London, a position she eagerly wished to take. With Richard's blessing, she took up residence with her brother, working in his newly purchased public house as a barmaid. Harris' tenure in London, rather than granting her the liberation and independence she desperately craved, was plagued with additional unhappiness. Her letters of this period speak of dashed hopes and continued feelings of imprisonment, sentiments that fueled her decision to break all ties with Chandler in August, 1806.

Though Ann's silence was not permanent, communication with Chandler resuming by February, 1807, the prospect of one day marrying is notably absent from her subsequent correspondence. Harris' remaining letters for the year 1807 emphasize her loyal friendship to Richard and her ever-present desire to find and secure a better opportunity for herself. Richard's drafts, on the other hand, point to a renewed desire on his part to not only correspond with Ann, but still fulfill the dream of a happy marriage with her.

The abrupt termination of their correspondence in September, 1807 thus provokes many unanswered questions. In her last letter to Chandler, Harris' decision to again stop all communication is credited to Richard's ignoring a loan request made by her in August. However, the absence of further responsive drafts by Chandler leaves the couple's tumultuous correspondence without closure. Though financial troubles appear to be responsible, attributing the split to a single cause would be simplistic. The sudden end to the documented relationship between Ann Harris and Richard Chandler must be viewed against the broad social context which defines the collection.

  • 1804:: Ann Harris began corresponding with Richard Chandler in October. Harris moved from Cheltenham, County Gloucestershire to Newnham, County Gloucestershire in October. Harris moved to Hereford, County Herefordshire in November to work as a governess.
  • 1805:: Harris was employed as a nurse from July to September. Harris and Richard Chandler became engaged in October. Harris departed for London in December.
  • 1806:: Harris arrived in London in January to work for her brother. Harris broke her engagement and all correspondence with Richard Chandler in August.
  • 1807:: Harris resumed correspondence with Richard Chandler in February. Harris asked Richard Chandler to lend her money in August. Harris decided to again terminate correspondence with Richard Chandler in September.

From the guide to the Ann Harris correspondence, 1804-1807, 1805-1807, (Rivera Library. Special Collections Department.)

Epithet: of Woodborough, county Wiltshire

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001196.0x0003b9

Epithet: of Add MS 21017

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001196.0x0003b5

Epithet: of London

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001196.0x0003b8

Epithet: printer and bookseller, of London

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001196.0x0003ba

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn William Wright, clothworker, of London: Bond to: 1669.Sir Nicholas Stoughton, 1st Baronet; of Stoughton in Stoke-next-Guildford: Bond by: 1669.: Signed.John Maxfeild, tallowchandler, of London: Bond to: 1669.Richard Chandler, of London: Bond to: 1669... British Library
creatorOf Ann Harris correspondence, 1804-1807, 1805-1807 Rivera Library. Special Collections Department.
referencedIn ARMS and pedigrees principally of Shropshire families, with an index of the names prefixed. Collected apparently by Richard Chandles, whose name appears on the title-page, with the date 1695. See the continuation, in Add. 28,616. Paper; XVIIth-XVIIIt..., 17th century-18th century British Library
referencedIn Vol. III (ff. 299). C.includes:ff. 1-21 passim Charles Cadogan, 2nd Baron Cadogan: Letters to T. Birch: 1752-1761.ff. 12-15 British Museum: Observations of Lord Cadogan on the plan for the showing of: 1756.: Signed.f. 22 Caesar: Letter to T. Bi... British Library
referencedIn 1. PEDIGREES of Shropshire families, being the continuation of a collection now forming Add. MS. 21,017, ascribed to Richard Chandles. The first of the present series is that of Sandford, by William Ryley, Blue Mantle, 1634, continued by Francis Sand..., 17th century-18th century British Library
referencedIn PAPERS Of the Family of Nicholas, of Roundway in Bishop's Cannings, co. Wilts. ; 1559-1754. The contents are: -Plan of Roundway Farm, the property of Edward Richmond Nicholas, M.B.; temp. Geo. II. f. 1 ;-Acquittances by John Zouche, Under-Sheriff o..., 1559-1754 British Library
creatorOf ALPHABET of arms of English families, described in blazon. Paper; late xvith cent. On the fly-leaves are the names, "Fraunces Shepard," "Edmond Whight," "Richard Watts," and, later, "Richd. Chandles, 1725." The original Lettering had the initials "C.... British Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Harris, Ann. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Prestbury (England).
Shropshire, England
Hereford (England).
Rowde, Wiltshire
London (England).
Devizes, Wiltshire
Bishop's Cannings, Wiltshire
Shropshire, England
19th Century


Active 1559

Active 1754



Ark ID: w6dp44w8

SNAC ID: 59613280