Orphaned boy’s handwritten note hidden in church pew discovered after 125 years

A handwritten note that was hidden in a church pew has finally been discovered – around 125 years later.

William Elliot was just 13 when he penned the letter on the back of a chorister's order of service at Sunderland Parish Church.

The orphaned boy hid the note in a crack of a pew.

It was finally found when work was carried out during lockdown to restore the Grade 1 Georgian listed building.

A person looking at the wooden benches found something they thought seemed unusual.

They soon realised it was paper which was delicate and conversationalists worked on it so the words could be deciphered.

The boy wrote in pencil: "Dear friend, whoever finds this paper think of William Elliott who had two months and two weeks and four days on the 11 of August 1897.

"Whoever you are that finds this paper don't tear it up or throw it away… keep it in remembrance of me, W Elliott… I was the leading boy of this choir…

"I love you if you love me."

Research by Seventeen Nineteen volunteers, who are taking over the space, revealed William's dad was chief officer Thomas Duncan Elliott who was sailing on the vessel Skyros when he was washed overboard in 1887.

William's mum Sarah Ann Elliott was left a widow with four children and, although they had been fairly comfortable until then, by 1891 she was working as a dressmaker to keep the family afloat.

The boy was eligible for admittance to the orphanage after his dad's death and was ultimately accepted the following year.

He was discharged on October 29 1897, his 14th birthday – just weeks after he wrote his letter.

The youngster avoided going to sea, unlike many of the other boys at the orphanage, and worked for a local solicitor after leaving.

  • Hotel housekeeper shares top five cleaning hacks using cheap household items

Want all the biggest Lifestyle news straight to your inbox? Sign up for our free Daily Star Hot Topics newsletter

After 1901, the trail grows cold and nothing more can be found of William.

But next to the framed copy of his letter, which hangs in the church's Lady Chapel next to the very seat in which the boy composed it, is a wooden plaque commemorating the dead of the Great War.

And, listed among the dozens of names of the parish's fallen men and boys, is an individual with the same name but different spelling – W Elliot.

His plea to be remembered has inspired Seventeen Nineteen to launch The Dear Friend project, inviting anyone who wishes to, to write a letter back to William.

Source: Read Full Article