Emigration from Stroudwater in the 1830s and 40s
My emigrant’s passage started in Bisley
Along a snowdropped Sunday footpath to the church;
The service had just ended –
I sauntered in through the open door,
And there to my surprise, in a glass case,
Lay a nineteenth century list of parish accounts,
With an italicised card:
‘cost to the Parish of Bisley of ‘emigrating’ 68 persons from the parish’,
Together with a bible open to the fronts-piece:
‘The Bible which was presented by the Reverend Thomas Keble who was the Vicar of Bisley when they and 66 others emigrated to Sydney, Australia in August 1837 [The Bible has been rebound].
Two other information cards lay partially hidden beneath the bible, I could pick out a few words, however:
‘hoped they might have a more prosperous life. They were equipped with clothes, transport and food to Bristol and Thomas Keble also presented each family with a Bible and a Prayer Book.’
Prologue the First: Mr Ricardo
CONSIDERED AS A MEANS OF RELIEF
IN THE PRESENT DISTRESSED
CONDITION OF THE POOR
BY DAVID RICARDO, ESQ.
PRINTED BY J.P. BRISLEY
Price One Penny each, or Five Shillings per Hundred.
The distress of the Poor at all times forms a strong claim upon our sympathy and compassion – and though in some cases it may be brought on by their own idleness and improvidence, and therefore require the application of strong measures to check its growth … like a parent who chastises his child … But in the present condition of the Poor in this Neighbourhood … we have to encounter all the difficulties of a failing trade, and our inability to substitute any other means of independent labour … their patience and resignation is urging on their more influential neighbours to make efforts to assist them.
The question is, – what is the best means of affording them effectual relief? …In the first instance, a Subscription was proposed, and the Rev. Thos. Keble, with that spirit of kindness and benevolence which characterize all his proceedings … raised a considerable sum among his own immediate friends; but it is quite clear that a sum of money thus raised could never be sufficiently large to meet the emergency of the case – and besides, it would only meet half the evil, for the question is, not to provide the poor with bread by the hand of Private Charity, but to devise some means by which they may earn it for themselves.
This proved to be the case – the Funds raised were found to be inadequate … shortly after, the first attempt was made to introduce a more sound and effectual system of Relief. A ship was sent to Bristol, and a portion of the unemployed Labourers were invited to go to another country … but from an indisposition to engage in anything new, and from a general misapprehension … this attempt did not meet with all the success it deserved; still, some families availed themselves of the offer, and the accounts they have sent home of their prosperous condition in New South Wales have tended to dispel the natural prejudices which all must feel against a country of which they know nothing. All parties agree to the relief occasioned by the departure of the few that went – and if at any future time Emigration should be conducted on a larger scale, we must still look back to this first Attempt, as the step from which all our further efforts have sprung.
About this time, Her Majesty at the suggestion of the House of Commons sent down a Commissioner to enquire into the distressed state of the Neighbourhood, and to see if any means could be devised to alleviate it. The Commissioner came down, and gave the fullest and most patient attention to the subject: he enquired of all classes … and the result was … with our failing Trade … the only means likely to give us real relief, was Emigration …
application was again made to Government to facilitate Emigration … but the engagements already formed prevented them from giving us a ship this year – however,–they showed their good will by requesting Mr. Marshall, the private Agent of the Colonial Government to come down, who has offered a passage to 205 persons; they hold out to us the hope of further and more effectual assistance next year, and there is every reason to hope, that Emigration may be carried on to a larger extent.
The following is a brief account of the nature of the assistance offered by Government …The expense of the Passage of a man and his wife to Sydney … is £35, but this sum is not raised by a Tax on us, but is supplied by the Funds, which the Colonial Government has raised by the Sale of Lands in Australia. It is of importance to bear this in mind … the Colonial Government very reasonably claims the right to itself of refusing to convey persons who would not be serviceable to them – the Government tells us, “all that you have to do for your Emigrants is to provide them with proper clothes and to put them on board the Ship …”
The quantity of Clothing required for each Passenger is, besides a Bible and if possible a Prayer Book, 12 shirts or shifts, 2 flannel petticoats (for females,) 12 pair of dark stockings, 3 towels, and such other articles of dress as are essential to cleanliness, health, and comfort; also a knife and fork, table and tea-spoons, peter or tin plate, tin pots, comb, soap, &c.
These articles are very expensive … it will often happen that a man may sell all his household goods, and yet not be able to raise a fund sufficient to provide them: if no fund were raised to assist … the poor man must linger on here … while the outlay of 30s. would convey him to a land of plenty …
The means of providing the Funds … are by a Rate upon the Parish. By a recent law, Parishes are allowed to borrow any Sum not exceeding half the Rates of the Parish for the purpose of Emigration, and to repay it in five years … this Neighbourhood is but one vast Family, and if we were to take away a portion of the more active and put them in a situation to fend for themselves, the bread that supported them is still left behind, and will be divided among those who remain … in the shape of an increase of Wages …
No! These are not the evils of Emigration … Expense … Clothing …Landlord … Tenant. A thousand other little interested considerations cross our thoughts and influence our minds, while we overlook the real and great objection to sending our Emigrants abroad – the sending them to a place where there is no Church Establishment regularly formed, and where they will often be placed in situations such, that they will not have the opportunity of having the blessed truths of the Gospel brought home to them. – But the eye of the Lord is in every place … if in the conscientious discharge of the duties committed to us, we should provide some of our neighbours with the means of going to New South Wales, I feel convinced that He will follow them there; – we shall in the mean time be looking upon that Country as the Land of our relations and friends … it must be our unceasing endeavour to send to them all the advantages of Religious Worship we enjoy at home.
Gatcombe, 15th Nov. 1838.
For the consideration of Persons desirous to Emigrate
1. Large Families of young Children will in no case be taken at the expense of the Colonies. Young married people with families just coming on are the most eligible.
2. Each Applicant should be provided with Testimonials of his Character signed by the Clergyman of his Parish, or the Minister of that religious persuasion to which he belongs, and the respectable persons who may know him. Character is of great use.
3. Each Applicant should be provided with proper Certificates of his Health and the Health of his Family.
4. No woman would be received on board, who is so far advanced in a state of pregnancy, as to render it probable that she might be confined before the termination of the voyage.
5. None would be received on board, unless they have been previously vaccinated or had the Small Pox. Persons having families would do well to look to this, and get their Children vaccinated at once.
6. Linen made up of Calico of inferior quality may be had at the Market House School, Minchinhampton. Shirts, price 1s 3d. Shifts, 11d. and other Articles in the same proportion.
There is still room for a few young married persons of good character and not having large families of young children, by the ship Roxburgh Castle, on 28th December next. The fullest information on all subjects connected with Emigration may be obtained by applying at Gatcombe, on Monday and Tuesday in any week, between the hours of nine and ten.
J. P. Brisley Stroudwater Printing Office.
Prologue the Second
Royal Commission into the Condition of the Handloom Weavers
‘In Gloucestershire I found an acrid feeling existing among the workmen to their masters.’ (William Augustus Miles)
“Beggarly Bisley has long been a proverb, and the improvidence of the people has been as conspicuous in the way they have married young in spite of this, and also the way in which they have kept their children at home hanging on to a miserable and uncertain pittance, in preference to sending them out to work for their bread elsewhere. The way in which parents keep their grown-up children at home to this day is quite vexatious…”
“ In the winter, you must remember the frost hinders their work very much, for they cannot afford fires in their shops and working by candle-light, which they are forced to do for a full six of their sixteen hours…takes a good deal from their earnings.”
”The last few years of extreme distress seemed to have caused an alteration…and many of the young people now go out to service, though not before they were clean starved out.” (The Reverend Jeffreys, to Miles)
“I am brought so weak … I and my children are very destitute of clothes. The Word of God tells me to provide things honest in the sight of all men, but I cannot do it; it also tells me I shall get my bread by the sweat of my brow, but I have the sweat of the brow and not the bread and all through oppression…I have four miles a-day to walk to my work.” (George Risby, a Nailsworth weaver, in a letter to Miles)
“The weavers are much distressed; they are wretchedly off in bedding; has seen many cases where the man and his wife and as many as 7 children have slept on straw, laid on the floor with only a torn quilt to cover them … has witnessed very distressing cases; children crying for food, and the parents having neither food nor money in the house…These men have a constant dread of going into the Poor Houses…witness has frequently told them they would be better in the house, and their answer has been “We would sooner starve.” (Erasmus Charlton, Police Serjeant at Hampton, writing to Miles)
“That when he earned only 4s. a week he contrived, by living upon bread and water, to save 3d. one week, but could save no more for a long time; the ‘coppers’ were cankered before he could put more to them…” (Jonathan Cole, Horsley weaver)
“At one time he considered the weaver to be as well off as any mechanic, but now he is the worst off of any…very great distress prevails…many of them cannot afford tea, and content themselves with a sop of bread and some hot water…The men look spent and wan, and the females thin and exhausted…In his opinion the low rate of wages arises from the men underselling one another in work, and the competition of masters to get their goods as cheap as possible in the market.” (Woodchester grocer)
“The weavers at Uley are in great distress, but relieved in some measure by allotments and emigration. The amount of wages is low; they are paid in truck…some few took the workhouse, some went to other districts, some to Canada, some to Australia. The distress …is extreme (and the most suffering are the most silent)…children are half naked; they have scarcely any bedding and actually sleep under rags…” (Wm. Augustus Miles)
The Wider Context
Janet C. Myers has said that ‘we can read the emigrant as a liminal figure who crosses geographical and textual boundaries’ (on that 3 month, 14,000 mile voyage), ‘allowing us to track the tensions and to address the complex imbrications of domesticity and imperialism’: the transportation and creation of the pleasures of the hearth – the bridge to ‘home’ and a wall against Australian convict and gold rush reputation.
We can read characters from the pages of Dickens, Trollope, Ellen Clay and Clara Morrison in this way: will not debt-ridden Mr Micawber become ‘An important public character in that hemisphere’? We can read the lives of real genteel middle class ladies and would-be governesses in this way: I ‘Can’t quite make up my mind about the Colony’. Or, I ‘fear that I should not fit into English ideas again’, or, ‘as soon as I have paid my debts and saved … for my passage I shall come back to dear old England.’
The last of England! o’er the sea, my dear,
Our homes to seek amid Australian fields.
Us, not the million-acred island yields
The space to dwell in. Thrust out! Forced to hear
Low ribaldry from sots, and share rough cheer
With rudely nurtured men. The hope youth builds
Of fair renown, bartered for that which shields
Only the back, and half-formed lands that rear
The dust-storm blistering up the grasses wild.
There learning skills not, nor the poet’s dream,
Nor aught so loved as children shall we see”.
She grips his listless hand and clasps her child,
Through rainbow-tears she sees a sunnier gleam,
She cannot see a void, where he will be.
Ford Madox Brown, Sonnet (1865)
The Local and National Context
The late 30’s and early 1840s
(‘The Hungry Forties’, as they were known),
With unemployment, short time working, low wages,
High food prices, the Workhouse, Chartism,
And the suppression of trade unions,
All helped contribute to an exodus from Stroudwater:
Empty houses with their crumbling plaster,
Smokeless chimneys, deserted streets and lanes,
A melancholy silence,
(‘This town is getting like a ghost town’),
Ships sailing from Bristol bound for New South Wales,
Like the Orestes in 1839:
I intend to keep something of a diary, or memoir, to record my observations of the strange events that have befallen me in recent months, but particularly to record my observations derived from my forthcoming voyage to Sydney on the Orestes. Jack Reece (formerly of Bisley)
N.B. There is no record of a Jack Reece on the Orestes. We think the diarist used a pseudonym for reasons both obvious and more obscure. We speculate on his real identity at the end of his journal – the passenger lists give a clue. We think he was actually from Horsley.
Preamble to the Voyage:
Well, I am more than relieved to be at last on board down here in the dock at Bristol. Not because the Orestes is such a fine looking vessel, but rather more that I am so pleased to have put recent events behind me. These have been the strangest of days and the decision to emigrate has not been an easy one. It has been a long-drawn-out and clamorous affair. Our village has been like a parliament – but of warring rooks rather than of decorous parties of politics.
Some spoke of the virtues of industry, temperance, frugality, opportunity and hope. Why stay in poverty when you could build a new life for yourself and a new colony for the Queen? Letters will keep us connected whilst we remain on God’s earth. And ye shall spread the word of the one true God to heathen lands.
Others, more cantankerous perhaps – those whom Mr Augustus Miles chose not to report – asked why should we have to uproot hearth and home. It was all very well for the Reverend Keble and his ilk to bestow books, flannels, shirts and petticoats upon us, they said, but his church and class should SHARE their wealth with us, not condescend with charity and Bibles. These Chartists added that we had no right to take aboriginal lands either.
Older rooks were rather more lachrymatory, anticipating a lonely future devoid of family and friends – the workhouse loomed for them. ‘17,000 miles across tempest-tossed ocean! Four months in the company of God knows who and what! Why put yourselves at the mercy of wind, tide and current? Take a chair by the family fireside. Times could be better next year! We could all be in work again!’
That was the litany of my grand-father. I have it word perfect. I can see him now, at the table, head in hands: his frail voice betraying the truth. We all knew times would not get better.
The anguish of parting; the sorrow; and the tears rent the air all over Stroudwater. The day we departed was the worst. It wasn’t a retinue, more of a spread-eagle: the crying lasted all day. Some, through the benevolence of the clergy, had assistance to travel the turnpikes. Some took their goods and chattels down to the canal, thence to Gloucester, Sharpness and Bristol. We all arrived at staggered times at the docks.
August 13th 1839
All has been a hustle and bustle and a division into messes and berths. We have a ‘captain’ for the mess who ensures the table is laid and thoroughly cleansed after meals. Our berths are but 6 feet long, 3 feet wide and 1 foot 8 inches below the roof. We sank down with a mixture of heavy heart and elation tonight after waving goodbye to old England’s shore. We watched the spires of Bristol disappear slowly but ineluctably into the vapours of the day. Some cried; all waved; some waivered and wore regret on their faces. All accepted that there is unlikely to be any return.
August 13th 1839
Something of a storm today and some fellow passengers screamed in alarm as tables, chairs, barrels and emigrant accoutrements began to roll with the motion of the vessel. Many sick; many praying. Some loss of faith and hope on the part of a few. But no loss of charity on the part of the many.
August 18th 1839 Latitude 47.58
A fine day; beds aired; books read; some smoking and just a little toping and gambling. Apart from the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer and Wesley’s Sermons, the favoured reading would seem to be Mr. Dickens. I am not alone in keeping a journal.
August 23rd 1839 Latitude 39.45 Longitude 16.37
Our Sunday service needs description. The Godly needed no arousal, but the grog-men needed the bell to summon them to the Quarter Deck. The beauty of the occasion: the Captain reading the service as the ship’s sails caught the wind: ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ Other denominations gathered below decks later in the day for their discourse and prayers, less disturbed by the bleating of sheep and the cackle of hens, perhaps. The Irish had their own devotion.
August 26th 1839 Latitude 32.28 Longitude 16.45
The silhouettes and shadows of life on board can enchant .A cascade of water from a bucket as fellow emigrants cleanse; the Captain taking the noon-time with quadrant or sextant. There was a concert today, followed by theatricals and a dance.
September 2nd 1839 Latitude 24.48 Longitude 18.42
Still an unwelcome degree of sickness, ague and complaints of the bowel. The water is foetid, the beef objectionable and the potatoes deceiving. Tea and coffee disappoint in equal measure, although the coffee is just slightly less vile to the taste. Peas and rice and soup are best. Otherwise the amount of salt in the meat causes such a thirst and the water is, of course, unreliable.
September 4th 1839 Latitude 23.21 Longitude 16.45
Nearing the Tropic of Cancer – calm sea – extremely hot – porpoises in abundance -. I could not say with any veracity, as an exemplar, that Horsley folk are cleaner in their habits than Bisley, or Wesleyans cleaner than other Dissenters. There is great variability in attention to washing, scrubbing and scraping both of selves and berths. The same variation applies to both males and females, adults and children, married and singleton. The Irish have been of the finest company, fastidious in their cleanliness and circumspect in their worship. Fellow emigrants from the North and other parts of the kingdom have been mostly polite and gregarious. We number some 239 passengers, I think. About the half comprise emigrants from Stroudwater. The demise of the cloth trade being the cause.
September 11th 1839 Latitude 14.48 Longitude 22.30
Calm seas – flying fish – becalmed: ‘As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean’ – wind then up – seven or eight knots and good progress – but then a thunderous storm – consternation – but with the lightning came torrents of rain – all on deck with every receptacle that could be found – truly the case that empty vessels make most noise – but what a welcome and laudable noise – fresh water!
September 14th 1839 Latitude 6.5 Longitude 22.30
I am pleased to say that the schooling of the children has improved. There has also been less drinking and gambling. The advance towards the equator appears to have freshened rather than dulled the appetite for self-improvement amongst my fellow emigrants. Attendance and participation in service on the Sabbath is for the better for too: a marked improvement in the singing of the hymns. As our foods and preservatives deteriorate, so our capacity for moral and spiritual advancement strengthens.
September 19th 1839 Latitude 0.38 Longitude 26.45
And so we cross ‘The Line’, that tribute to the mathematical knowledge and imagination of humanity, a girdle etched across God’s creation. The equator was toasted with water by some, porter by others and grog by fewer. The sea is radiant silver in the day. The water closets are disgusting. You are about one hour and a half of the clock ahead of us back in Horsley. I wonder what you are doing now, dear mother, father and grandfather? I have taken to walking the deck at night to find some solitude to think of you. I like to gaze at the moon and wonder if you too, stare at the moon, thinking of me.
October 7th 1839 Latitude 29.2 Longitude 24.0
It is a remarkable sight: the beasts of a Cotswold farm on board the deck of a heaving vessel, and beyond, the occasional glimpse of shark, sperm whales and dolphin. It is a scene of unsurpassable incongruity.
We have had a death, and burial at sea. The sonorous tolling of the bell, the emigrants and crew all clad in their best apparel, the complete attendance at the service … the tiny corpse was placed in a canvas shroud, the Captain read the burial service … and the body slid into the depths and vastness of the deep. The sombre and majestic setting affected all greatly for some days.
October 21st 1839 Latitude 38.5 Longitude 0.0
The weather balmy, the sea calm, the winds light but favourable, as we heave to the East and away from dear old England’s chronometry – God speed! I have become good friends with two brothers from Stroudwater, Thomas and George Luker. They saw me writing my journal and have asked if I might help them improve their writing, orthography and reading. They are willing pupils: keen and down to earth, although lacking a little poetry in their souls perhaps. But that is more than compensated for by their utter and complete faith in the Lord – their devotion takes them far away from the mundane affairs of this world.
October 30th 1839 Latitude 41.37 Longitude 26.10
There has been another burial but a birth, too. Just as the winds arose to fill our sails, so an infant cry announced a new birth: The word of God, the breath of God, Divine Inspiration.
November 3rd 1839 Latitude 44.12 Longitude 40.35
High seas last night: cries of lamentation and consternation and profuse biliousness in consequence. The smell in the berths is far beyond that of the most noisome of pits or privies in the village of my youth. But it is a tribute to the honesty of my fellow emigrants that even though domestic utensils flew hither and thither last night with the pitching and rolling, not one soul felt anything lacking this morning when calmness returned to sea and sky.
November 10th 1839 Latitude 39.46 Longitude 74.56
George and Thomas continue to improve. Favourable winds have meant a rapid transit across the ocean over the past week. The decks have been busy with emigrants gathering to witness the birds of the air, the likes of which have never been witnessed in a Cotswold valley. Some Horsley poachers talked of downing an albatross, but a few words from me from Mr Coleridge dampened their ardour.
November 15th 1839 Latitude 39.10 Longitude 105.1/2
The Captain calculates that we may have a fortnight only before we reach harbour. Two weeks only before fresh water! And a change from the tedious uniformity of our repasts: Beef pudding; Pork and Pea Soup; Beef and Rice. Could the workhouse be worse? But just as the mercury rises in the barometer so do our spirits too. A second shark caught today.
November 20th 1839 Latitude 39.18 Longitude121.1/2
An excellent breeze and our larboard bow flies through the briny! Discussed a position of employment with George and Thomas last night. It is a paradox, I said, that I want the voyage to end, but yet, somehow, it has been like a Jubilee, or a suspension of time and from care. But shortly, the vicissitudes of Life will once more be our burden.
November 22nd 1839 Latitude 39.13 Longitude 126.00
Perhaps only four days before we taste fresh cheese again; drink tea and coffee without immediate regret; take unsullied sugar; eat bacon and ham un-tinged with green. A stalwart eight knots at times, today.
November 25th 1839 Latitude 39.1 Longitude 135
The anchor chains are being made ready. And like an anchor, my journal must shortly come to rest. Tis time to provide a register of births and deaths on this voyage: Anne Gazard of Horsley died at sea, 14 months. Edwin Griffiths, died at sea, 7 months. Tristran Carpenter, died at sea, 2 months. Sarah Derrett, wife of John, died at sea. Isabella Derrett, child, died at sea. Three gleams of light only: Orestes Trantor of the Nailsworth Trantor family, born at sea and two other infants, but I do not know their names.
November 27th 1839
I was staring at shoals of fish sparkling like rainbows when I heard that dramatic cry” ‘Land Ahead!’ I turned to see William and Anne Gazard, gazing out behind, no doubt thinking of infant Anne. I wished them well in their new endeavours. We shed both tears of joy and despair.
November 28th 1839
We have dropped anchor. I have husbanded my clothing well – and I must now attend to how I present myself on shore in my new surrounds. No need for canvas trousers and jacket again, I hope! I shall shortly bid my farewells to Stroudwater friends, old and new: Horsley families as well as new friends from Avening, Nailsworth, Randwick and Stroud. And, of course, dear Ann … I hope the brothers Luker can assist me – they have a position at a Sydney mill; the master is a Pitchcombe man.
We shall see.
I hope to recommence my journal when on shore, but tis time to pack now and secure it well.
Jack Reece once of Bisley, Gloucestershire, England, November 28th 1839.
The following extracts from the following letters are included thanks to the generosity of John Loosley
Letters written by THOMAS and GEORGE LUKER who emigrated in 1839 to Sydney, Australia.
The original spelling and capitation being maintained throughout.
Sydney, December 29, 1839
Dear friends we take the first opertunaty of writing to you hoping to find you all in good health and prosperity as it Leaves us at present we should have wrote before but there was no ship to sail we are happy to inform you of our safe arrival at our jurneys end after a very pleasant voyage we came to arbour Nov.28 we came ashore December 2 where there was plenty of masters waiting for us to go up the Cuntry but we are both at work at the Albion Steem Mill Sydney Hudges and Hoskings are propriators but our masters name is fowles he is a very good master he lived at pitcho comb 3 years ago … there was nothing particklar to write about the Voyage there was 2 Sharks Cought and 4 Porpercoes and several flying fish and a good many sea fowles … we crost the line 19 of September … there was 7 men hanged the day we came ashore and ever so many since for bush rangin but they are come down … meet is very cheap here you can go to a shop and have a pound cut of any part for 31/2d.pr. pound … wed desired to be remembered to all relations and friends … tell them we don’t repent coming … You may expect a few news papers in a few weeks but we could not get any not yet if you write to us direct to F. & G. Luker – Albion Mills Sussex Street Sydney to be left with Mr. fowles for us but we should rather you did not until you hear from us again we are not certain of stoping you may expect to hear from us in 2 monthes are less … do not persuade any Person to come because we are come but Any body might do better hear than in England if they would keep from the grog shop, woman earn 5s. a day and the very commonist of Labourers 26s. pr. Week some part of the people hear was transported to this part do now live independent and they might all save mony … so adue we have no more to say Though we are seprated now and far from one another yet we shall allways think on you our Dear and tender Mother your most afectshinate son
We Paid the Post to London
Sidney, April 9, 1841, in Answer to your kind letter Dear sister Mary
Dear friends one & all wee write to you & sincerely hope & pray that life & health & piece is now with you all for wee are far away although wee are seperated now & far from one another yet wee do offtimes think of you our dear & tender friends and Mother. Dear Sister it gave us much pleasure in reading your kind letter wee humbly pray that the Lord will grant that your advice may be a token of love & respect as long as wee live & and a happy releace for us in death it is our humble prayers that the Lord will reward you & prosper you in this world that when you are called upon to depart this vain World you may be ready to answer wee hope that you will all make sure your way that you will steatfastly follow the strait & narrow path never to bear or follow the vain pleasure of this World do never slight the Glory of God for the sake of all the treasures this World can produce that to day is & tomorrow is cut down & fadeth away … there have been thousands of Emegrates arrived here within a few weeks so that all the places is filled very fast but there is plenty of room for thousands more wee are both doing very well wee are more got to the ways of the place then wee was the first year wee have got several good friends because of our being steady genteelmen & tradesmen …
please to send back how you are all doing how you are getting on in this world … all though wee are far from you wee will gladly help you at anytime … please to send word if ever you think of coming here send word if you should be willing for us to be married here as there is every prospect of a fine flourishing trade here if no one else think of coming let William & John come it would be the making of their fortune … if wee was to get married here wee should never think to leave the coloney of New Southwales but if not wee might come home again in a few years let us know if you think that wee should be able to get a living in a honest way at home as we should rather be with you because if not most likely we shall get married & settled here we are like Mariners now we dot know one year what part of the world wee shall be the next we want to get settled either here or to see a prospect of coming home again we shall soon save money enough to bring us back if we here that wee should be able to get a good living at home if you have not any thought of coming & you think that wee should be able to get in to work so as to live respectable …
Sydney, January 1, 1842
My dear friends I write these few lines hoping it will find you in good health as it leaves us both at present but farther hope that you are living under the banner of faith wrestling with God preparing to follow dear Mary I could not say poor Mary she is not poor but rich in deed I receaved your letter that brought the tidings of her death on Monday the 19th of december just as I came back from dinner I was not able to work any more that day so I went to inform George about it of the news that was come it took a great affect of me I did not sleep but little that night after all the people was gone to bed in the house I got up to praise the Lord for his loving kindness toward dear sister for me to say that I was sorry of her death I could not although I shed many a tear but when I come to consider the wisdom of the Lord in taking her it brought joy and gladness to my Soul … i hope you will not moun for her dear mother but rather praise the Lord that you should train up a daughter that shall to open the door of heaven for you to enter in … the trade is very dull all through the country in every part there is people out og imploy in Sydney there is hundreds out of work of every trade the wages is comeing very fast men that 15 mionths ago would hardly like to work for 2 pound per Week are glad to get 25 shilings now .. this place will be almost as bad as England soon some time ago the Peoples talk was the times will get better but they get worse every month … I was talking to Mr. Capell that came from the grove near Stroud a few days ago …
Sydney, February 1842
‘Dear Father & Mother Brothers and Sisters i now write these few lines to you in answer to two letters one that Mary wrote June 26 wee rceaved January 10 one wrote Agust 15 reced. January 25 please to let us know who wrote this Samuels name was put to it but it was not his writing it was the worst that I ever saw both for writing and mistakes … I am living with David Beard that married Elizabeth Blanch they are both very well i pay 16s. per week and find my own bed and everything else except what i eat i am in a very good place at the tin plate work i earn nearly 2 pound a week but i work till 9o’clock nights except Saturday George is in a good place at a thrd. mill living with his Master he is earning 1 pound and Board and Lodging. We ask you if you was willing for us to be married your answer was that you should have no objection but you ask for a wedding ribond it was not that we had any idea of being married whatever we shall stay a good while longer yat so you may expect a batchlors ribond I cannot tell what may come to pass but i do not think in the least thought that either of us should be married in the country if so our wives are not here yet if all be well i live in hopes to see you again someday …
Sydney, August 12/ 1842
Dear Father & Mother Sisters & Brothers with our kindest of love and well wishes far more than my pen can express we write these few lines to you hoping it will find you all in good health and prosperity as it leaves us both at Presant we should have wrote before but we have not heard from you for six months Past so wee have been stoping week after week expecting to hear from you … we was never so long without hearing from you befor since wee received the first letter and wee was anchious to know something … I have got a very good master But I cannot say how long I might stop there as there have been several men offering to work for less wages than I am getting some of them ten shillings a week less … George & a youngman that came out with us from Randwick his name Ruben Beard they too are doing business for their selves they have got a windmill about two miles out the town they have been there about three months … I let them have all the money I had to help them to begin …
Samuel dear brother as I know you was always a person for a sprack & lively life wanting to see the world let me tell you if you was in Sydney you would soon see more than ever you saw in all your life in the first place is one of the finest Arbours in the World Vessels from all parts … ports with very large cannons plenty always ready for an enemy with about from five to seven hundred soldiers always ready the next here is about one hundred and fifty constables always walking the streets day & night then there is the government men by troops some cleaning the streets some diging stones some with the irons on their legs …
Sydney, March 25, 1843
… I could not tell what I would give to see you once more but the Lord’s will be done if the times get much worse I shall come home will I can if I was to stop here to long praps I might not be able to come to think of making a fortune is all out of my thoughts wee have both a few pounds enough to bring as home respectable by the time wee got there we should have but little I have not saved any thing lately … George & is partner is doing very well considering the times are so bad David Beard is at work for them they are living in the house with George they are well desire to be remembered to henry Blanch and all relations …
Valparaiso, December 29, 1843
Dear Mother Sisters & Brothers I received Yor Letter dated October 30 yesterday and was happy to hear that you was all well and that you received the twenty Pounds I sent you – but I have to tell you some bad news my Wife is dead … I had the best doctors advice that is in Chille but it was no good … there is John 41/2 years old Nimrod two years and two months George 7 Weeks …. My Wife was very respectable … she is buried in a Vault that will hold all my family it lost all together about 2 hundred dollars but thank god I am doing a Good business I Got 5 men and two Boys with plenty to do …
Valparaiso, September 30, 1861
Callebachrane 105 My Dear Grand Mother, Uncles, Aunts & Cousins, We received your kind letter, dated June 6, a few days ago and was glad to hear that you was pretty well … I am quite well, 7 my father but he sometimes feels Poorly about that Crack on his head he was mad for sometime, but he is much better now, we lost nothing by the earthquake …
From your grandson Father will fill it up
JOHN T. LUKER
and tell you more about things.
… i whould be very glad at any time to see any of the news dear John Land although I never saw you my prayers is that Almighty God may bless you for your kindness to my poor old Mother and Sister Ester tell them that my best respects to all of them but i do not think it possible for me to run away from church to go down to Framlords passage to see the tide come up are to lose my way on the Westeguth to see the ships when mother took us to Gloster to see uncle Sam …