Travellers' Money

Letter from Duchess of Devonshire to Herries & Co., 1783

Letter from Duchess of Devonshire to Herries & Co., 1783

This letter is from Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire to London bankers Herries & Co. She writes to the partner of the bank, Robert Herries, to request a supply of money for her friend, Lady Elizabeth Foster. Lady Elizabeth was travelling through France, Italy and Switzerland. 

The Duchess of Devonshire and Lady Foster became friends in 1782, a year before these letters were written. However, their relationship took a turn for the worse when Lady Foster became the mistress of Georgiana’s husband, the Duke of Devonshire. The three lived together for more than 20 years until the Duchess died in 1806. The Duke then promptly married Elizabeth. These letters, written early on in the two women’s friendship, offer a fascinating glimpse into their lives before the drama unfolded. 

Supplying money to travellers abroad in the form of traveller’s cheques, or 'circular notes', as they were known, was new at this point. It was the brainchild of Robert Herries who set up his banking business in 1772 to exploit the idea. It proved very popular and was soon copied by other banks. Herries, Farquhar & Co. was taken over by Lloyds Bank in 1893. 

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