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Thomas Waters’ Letters to Bedfordshire 23 March 1865

Thomas Waters was my great great grandfather. He was born on 05 October 1829, at the family farm, ‘Newtonbury’ Dunton, Bedfordshire, England.  He died on 28 June 1913 at Rochester, Victoria, Australia

Some years ago, I obtained from the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, letters that Thomas had written from Kyneton to his family in Bedfordshire, between 1862 and 1874. I have copies of these letters at hand. They make very interesting reading, giving a glimpse into the life of a battling newcomer to Australia, in the 19th century, The letters outline his difficulties in trying to support his family without economic or family support.  The homesickness Thomas is feeling for his family in England, is very obvious and heartbreaking to read.
HSV Location: Box 79-2
Item Type: MSS Collection
Item No: MS000976

I have decided to publish these letters over a series of blog posts, in the hope that family members may see them and contact me. I am very interested to make contact with other researchers of this family, so we can compare notes about the Waters family. I have started compiling articles for a book detailing the life of Thomas Waters and his family, both in Australia and England. 

Before reading this letter, it would be helpful for you to know that Thomas, was involved in an accident at Kyneton, on 18 November 1864. His left hand was injured, and he lost the sight of his right eye in an accident involving blasting powder. He was admitted to Kyneton Hospital and discharged on 30 December 1864.

Kyneton 23 March 1865

Dear David
I received your letter a few days back, announcing the death of poor father. I was not taken in much by surprise, not hearing from you for such a length of time. I thought something must have occurred to prevent you writing. I think it is three years since you informed me of his having lost the use of one side by an attack of paralysis, and I think it is more than twelve months since I heard from you. During that time, thoughts out of number flashed through my mind. Sometimes I would think I should see him again alive, but no, I was not to do so in this world, but I hope to be prepared to meet him in a better place.

I suppose my last would have reached you about the time I got yours, and on reading its contents you would think I had a narrow escape. I am happy to say I can use my right hand, and have good sight in my left eye, but I cannot see with the right. My left hand is getting much stronger, but I fear it will be some time before I am able to use it, as I have hitherto done.

I hope I shall be fortunate enough to get some light work such as attending in a store or writing. I have lately been writing for a solicitor, copying deeds leases etc., and have engrossed some for them. I may say what I have done has given great satisfaction. I not only found it awkward writing with the sight of only one eye, but to sit any time it caused a pain in the eye effected. I am obliged to wear a shade over it, although I cannot see with it, the light effects it very much. The doctor at the hospital is anxious to operate upon it. I think he wants to turn it. I had much rather they would not, as I can see well with one, and the other I hope, will become better, as I can do without the shade. I may be able to get as good a living as if I had both.

I am in great hopes. My wife has worked very hard. I have been out of the hospital three months, and not been able to earn anything myself until very lately. I am now in great hopes of doing better, if I get the work I am expecting. Light work pays better than heavy, and they have promised to give me as much as possible. She has stuck to the wash tub like a brick, and making the matter worse, she has a young child at the breast, but with all our trouble we have scraped up a comfortable living.

I was greatly in hopes I should hear George’s leg had got quite sound again. He must have received a severe injury. I trust I may shortly hear of his recovery. I hope to hear of your all being comfortably settled.

I was pleased to hear of poor Willy being taken in hand by his grandfather. I hope he will do well. I have not the slightest doubt but Tommy Burton will,  if he is spared, do well. From the appearance of the card you sent me it is a fine establishment. He one day may become the proprietor of a similar one. When you see him tell him to write to his Uncle Thomas. I hope you will not neglect writing to me as often as you can, I mean any of you. I would like to hear from you.

You will,  I have no doubt, push yourselves forward in the world, now you have a foundation to work upon, and I trust you may all succeed in whatever you may undertake. As for myself, should I be spared to receive the amount allotted for me. I cannot say, but I might go to Adelaide. My wife’s friends are there, and I am pretty well known, and I am inclined to think I should be more comfortable there than here, but there will be time for me to consider those things. If I can get a good living here, I will do so for the present, and watch for an opportunity of bettering myself.

I have promised to send my likeness for a length of time, but have never been able to do it until now. I may send another like it next mail. I can get now as many as I like for a shilling each. I am only sorry I had not my wife with me at the time. The cost would have been no more. I will send hers and the children, as soon as I possibly can. I have no doubt you would like to see theirs as well as mine. You will see by mine, that I was standing so as to hide the right side of my head.  The hair has not grown on it yet properly. It punished me to stand looking as I did, without the shade over the Eye. He advised me to put my left hand in my pocket not that the hand is disfigured so very much, but I fear it will never be its natural shape again, although I may be able to use it almost as well as ever.

I was pleased you sent the likeness of your dear wife. I should not have known it, had you not have put the name on it. I can see now a great resemblance of her poor father. Whether you do or not, I hope you will send me your own, and the little boy’s. George must send me his, and William, Edith and Eliza. In fact if possible I must have them all.

I was sorry to hear of the death’s of uncle and James Kidman. Is aunt still living? Let me know if the farm is still kept on at Edworth. Please remember me to any that you may see. I was very sorry to hear of Uncle Luxton’s misfortune. If you hear from him, let me know how, and where he is. I will write to him.

I will write to Messrs Masters & Ryder today, but first of all, I must obtain what intelligence I can, as to a branch bank in England. I would like the money to come through the bank. I have nothing more to say at present, but we are all well with the exception of my youngest boy, David. He has some illness upon him, like a great many other children in this district.

Our loves to all, not forgetting yourself. I cannot send you a paper this mail, but I hope you will send me one as often as you can.

And Remain

Yours truly Thomas Waters

Brief timeline for Thomas Waters

Links to previous letters written by Thomas Waters:

Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire – May 1862
Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire – August 1862
Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire – 17 May 1863
Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire Kyneton 23 May 1864

*Punctuation and paragraphs  have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading
My thanks to Graham Revill, Surrey, England, for transcribing these letters and lodging them with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.
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Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire Kyneton 23 May 1864

Thomas Waters was my great great grandfather. He was born on 05 October 1829, at the family farm, ‘Newtonbury’ Dunton, Bedfordshire, England.  He died on 28 June 1913 at Rochester, Victoria, Australia

Some years ago, I obtained from the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, letters that Thomas had written from Kyneton to his family in Bedfordshire, between 1862 and 1874. I have copies of these letters at hand. They make very interesting reading, giving a glimpse into the life of a battling newcomer to Australia, in the 19th century, The letters outline his difficulties in trying to support his family without economic or family support.  The homesickness Thomas is feeling for his family in England, is very obvious and heartbreaking to read.
HSV Location: Box 79-2
Item Type: MSS Collection
Item No: MS000976

I have decided to publish these letters over a series of blog posts, in the hope that family members may see them and contact me. I am very interested to make contact with other researchers of this family, so we can compare notes about the Waters family. I have started compiling articles for a book detailing the life of Thomas Waters and his family, both in Australia and England. 

Kyneton May 23rd 1864

Dear Brother

I made up my mind I should have a letter last mail, but disappointed I have not heard from you since you sent Mary’s and Ann’s portraits and that is a long time now. I did not write last mail.

When I last wrote, I was working with a farmer. I was ploughing with two young colts. The horses are not worked here the same as at home. No boy to drive for you, but for all that, I managed exceedingly well. I wish I had been put to such work before I left home. I think I told you the farm did not keep any hands after the seed was in, until such time it requires cutting. I finished there a fortnight back, and the master managed to get me a job at the cemetery. That is to trench the borders of the carriage roads and plant shrubs, and that is like all other work, hurried over. I think another fortnight will finish it. I was in hopes it would last some time.

I am now living in Kyneton Town, and have been here a little more than a week, in a comfortable little house at a rent of 3/- per week. I paid 3/6 in the other, with a half an acre of ground.  I planted nearly the whole of it with potatoes, but the crickets were so numerous they destroyed them.  I think I shall have a bag full of it and that will be all. I was in hopes of having sufficient to last me through the winter, and a few to help pay the rent.

The living is very dear here now. A loaf of bread is one shilling and other things in comparison. The loaf is supposed to weigh 4lbs, but we are obliged to be content with 3lbs and half. I suppose my next work will be road making, as that is the principal work here through the winter.

I hope my health will continue as well as it is at present. I suffered greatly last winter with bad eyes. I think I was nearly 5 months not able to work, and the greater part of that time I was getting in debt, and am now struggling to get clear, which I hope I shall. My heart is willing if I get plenty of employment. I have no desire to be rich, I merely want to get a comfortable living and pay my way, and my children to do the same after me. They may some day be a blessing to me, if I am able to bring them up in the world as I would wish. My eldest boy is 7 years of age. I put him to school as much as I can. He can read and write a little, but of course I cannot expect him to be much of a scholar as yet.

There is one thing grieves me much. We are living close to the Wesleyan Chapel and I have no other clothes, than what I work in, and I do not like to be seen in a place of worship in such a dress, but I am happy to say we have mustered sufficient for my wife to attend, as a few shillings will make a woman appear decent.

I live in hopes of being able to do better shortly.  In fact, I am always in hopes of better employment turning up for me. I don’t spend money in public houses. I cannot recollect the time when I last spent sixpence in one, in fact if I had the means, I have no desire to do so. I have a smoke occasionally, and I often wish I could get some of the same kind of tobacco I used to get at home. Here it is all in cakes.

I was very agreeably surprised the other night, when I came home from work to find my wife had managed to get Annie’s and Mary’s portraits framed. The man we rent the house off is a carpenter and he certainly has framed them very nicely. The cost of them was 4/- and I considered it very reasonable.

I would rather go short of food than had them destroyed and I hope you will fulfill your promise, and send me as many more as you possibly can. I do not know what it may cost to get them taken, but try and send me yours, your wife’s and children if you can manage it, and perhaps shortly I may be able to get some others. I should be happy to get them. You may rely on seeing mine and my family’s as soon as I am in a position to send them.

I trust this will find you all well, and Father comfortable. Give my love to him, and to all, and accept the same yourself, from self, wife and family.

And remain yours truly

Thomas Waters

Brief timeline for Thomas Waters

Links to previous letters written by Thomas Waters:

Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire – May 1862
Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire – August 1862
Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire – 17 May 1863

*Punctuation and paragraphs  have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading
My thanks to Graham Revill, Surrey, England, for transcribing these letters and lodging them with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire – 23 May 1863

Thomas Waters was my great great grandfather. He was born on 05 October 1829, at the family farm, ‘Newtonbury’ Dunton, Bedfordshire, England.  He died on 28 June 1913 at Rochester, Victoria, Australia

Some years ago, I obtained from the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, letters that Thomas had written from Kyneton to his family in Bedfordshire, between 1862 and 1874. I have copies of these letters at hand. They make very interesting reading, giving a glimpse into the life of a battling newcomer to Australia in the 19th century, The letters outline his difficulties in trying to support his family without economic or family support.  The homesickness Thomas is feeling for his family in England, is very obvious and heartbreaking to read.
HSV Location: Box 79-2
Item Type: MSS Collection
Item No: MS000976

I have decided to publish these letters over a series of blog posts, in the hope that family members may see them and contact me. I am very interested to make contact with other researchers of this family, so we can compare notes about the Waters family. I have started compiling articles for a book detailing the life of Thomas Waters and his family, both in Australia and England. 

 

Kyneton May 23rd 1863

My Dear Brother & Sister

You must of course think it very strange, my not writing to you. Had I not been able to write, there would have been no excuse, but I must admit I have been very neglectful to my relations in England.  Some people here are very fortunate, but I as yet have not been able to move ahead.

There was a time when I was in Adelaide, I thought I should get on, but unfortunately my master took ill and died. I lost my situation. I then held the office as Bailiff, in a local court. That answered very well, the first six months. After that time, business began to fall off, and I found I was losing what little I had accumulated previously.  In that case, I could not leave my office at a weeks notice. I was bound to stick there until some other person was appointed. There is no salary for such office. You merely receive fees for mileage and service, for different processes, issued from the Court.

I then made up my mind to try my luck,  Melbourne side of the country. Bad luck seemed to attend me where ever I went. As soon as I arrived there, my youngest child took ill, and died, and in about a week I was penniless. The doctors in this colony are beyond all reason. When I had paid for advice, and buried the child, I was left exactly in the state I have now mentioned, and not a soul did I know, or work could I get, so I will leave you to guess my feeling.  But I mentioned all that in my letter home, some time back.

In answer to that letter, I received the news of my Fathers illness, and the great change that has taken place at Newton Bury. I would like to see my Father. I am constantly thinking about him, wondering how he is. I am afraid I am too far off, ever to see him again in this world.

I occasionally hear from David. He knows my circumstances. I am sorry for not being able to supply him with better news, but I hope some day or other, doing better. I am getting known here, and am in hopes of getting more constant employment. The chances are a thousand to one against one meeting with a permanant situation.

The principle employment here is road work, and I am now pretty well initiated in that branch. I could do very well, if it was not for the draw back of paying house rent and horse hire.  Sixteen shillings per day for horse and dray, which I have often paid, when I had a contract on hand.  That is the thing that prevents me from buying one for myself. House rent again, pay you must. Those things will not allow me to make a start.

This last week I have resolved to try another place. A person offered me a house, with four rooms, half an acre of garden ground attached, and a well of water, for the sum of twenty five pounds. I was to pay ten pounds down, and the rest in six months. A friend has lent me ten pounds to pay down, which sum will stand for the rent, if I am not able to pay the remainder of the purchase money. I am greatly in hopes of meeting the demand and having a comfortable home. I dare say I shall be able to let it stand over for twelve months, if I have any difficulty in getting money from my employers.

In this colony, we are often times obliged to wait a few months for money. For instance I take a contract to make a piece of road, say for forty or fifty Pounds. I get a subsist, perhaps at the end of a month or so, as the work progresses, to pay the hire of  horse and dray.  By the time the work is completed, there is but little left to my share but for all, I am in hopes of conquering all such difficulties. My first thing now is to make and scrape up the borrowed money.

I suppose you heard from the letters I sent home, that I have a wife and family, three sons now living, and one as I mentioned, died in Melbourne. The eldest is named Thomas William, the next George Burton the youngest, David. My eldest is about five years and six months old, the next two years and six months, and the youngest five months. They are very nice children, and I am happy to say, I have a very industrious wife, and tries her best to make a happy home. I do intend as soon as ever I can to send home the whole of our portraits. I find it will not cost much.

My wife’s parents are very respectable people living in Adelaide. There is a large family of them. I believe they have nothing more than will bring up their family,  in a respectable way. When we left Adelaide, they were renting a section of about 80 acres of land, getting a comfortable living and nothing more. Without a little capital to work land,  it is not much use to you.

Any person to come out here with say £500, it would be a good start, and I think a fortune could be made in a few years. I will endeavour to give you more information about the colony in my next. I will write again shortly. I hope I shall hear from you, as early as you can, as I am anxious to know how you all are, and what kind of a home you have at Welwyn.

I have nothing more to say than hoping this will find you all well. My wife has been poorly the last few days, myself and children are quite well and remain with

Love to yourselves and children,

Thomas Waters

Brief timeline for Thomas Waters

Links to Thomas Waters letters:

Thomas Waters Letters to Bedfordshire – May 1862
Thomas Waters Letter to Bedfordshire – August 1862
Thomas Waters’ letters to Bedfordshire – 17 May 1863

*Punctuation and paragraphs  have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading
My thanks to Graham Revill, Surrey, England, for transcribing these letters and lodging them with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

 

Thomas Waters’ letter to Bedfordshire – 17 May 1863

Thomas Waters was my great great grandfather. He was born on 05 October 1829, at the family farm, ‘Newtonbury’ Dunton, Bedfordshire, England.  He died on 28 June 1913 at Rochester, Victoria, Australia

Some years ago, I obtained from the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, letters that Thomas had written from Kyneton to his family in Bedfordshire, between 1862 and 1874. I have copies of these letters at hand. They make very interesting reading, giving a glimpse into the life of a battling newcomer to Australia in the 19th century, The letters outline his difficulties in trying to support his family without economic or family support.  The homesickness Thomas is feeling for his family in England, is very obvious and heartbreaking to read.
HSV Location: Box 79-2
Item Type: MSS Collection
Item No: MS000976

I have decided to publish these letters over a series of blog posts, in the hope that family members may see them and contact me. I am very interested to make contact with other researchers of this family, so we can compare notes about the Waters family. I have started compiling articles for a book detailing the life of Thomas Waters and his family, both in Australia and England. 

 

Letter from Kyneton 17 May 1863

Dear Brother (David]

I received your letter last mail, also a paper. I find here unless you ask specially for papers, they never think of looking for them when you ask for a letter. I also received the one you sent previous. On opening the last newspaper, the first thing that caught my eye was some timber to be sold on the *Newton Bury Estate, & the Company to meet in the Cow Pasture.  I suppose then to proceed down to the fen close to the Oak Grove. I fancied all sorts of things. I suppose Mr Pope sells the timber to assist in meeting his demands, as I expect he purchased all the timber with the land.

Father must be very feeble. I hope I shall hear in my next that he has gained strength. I would rather than anything that I could see him, but I am afraid I am too many miles distant in this World. My mind is constantly occupied with home, and about the whole of you.  How you are getting on, and what you are all doing? I would like to be amongst you, but not as I am situated at present.

I still live in hopes of some day making some money in this country, and being able to return amongst you, but I must be more fortunate than I have been the last two months.

Myself and another took a contract (I think I mentioned to you in my last) to sink two water holes each 50 feet long 20 feet wide and 6 feet deep for the sum of 11d per cubic yard. We completed our contract so far as we were allowed and now it appears we may whistle for the money. We placed too much confidence in our employers, and did not get a copy of the agreement. By that means we have no chance with them.

I was greatly in hopes of buying a house and a small piece of land, when that was finished. I had an excellent chance a short time back, but I was not able. Another person took it. There is a four roomed house, half an acre of splendid garden ground, and a well of water. He bought it for £25, and has a good length of time to pay for it. He had a few pounds to pay down, but I can’t say how much.

Now, it is strange if I can’t buy a place. I am getting known. I also begin to know the ways of the country and I am not much afraid, but what I shall get work. I was offered a place the day before yesterday, which I intend to try and buy if I can get sufficient time to pay for it. The house I am living in now I pay £10 per year for. I have paid rent enough, since I have been in the Colony, to buy a good many houses, and I see now if I can only buy one I shall do a great deal better. The one offered to me is a four roomed house (formerly a Store) with half an acre of ground, fenced in, and a well of water. He wants £10 cash down and the remainder in ten or twelve months. Now if I had a horse and dray I would precious soon be the owner of a place like that, and probably in a year or two it might be worth a great deal more money. It is situated near the Railway and handy to the town, the next house to where I am living.

You say in your letter you thought you would be able to send me out a few pounds. If you could it would render_me a very great assistance. I find from one to ten pounds can be sent by Post Office order. When you write let me know what William, Edith, George, Annie, Willie and Tommy Burton what they are doing, and where they are living, and how George met with his bad leg. You omitted that in your letter.

I hope this will find you all well, as it leaves myself wife and family at present. I have had sickness in the house lately but all right again. I suppose Mr Roberts is still living at Bigswell Mills. I hope they are all well. Give my love to them if you should see them. I must write to them this mail if I possibly can, Mary too, you must let me know all about her.

You say George Beecher has been to London, and returned to Port Phillip again. I wish you could get his address and send it to me. I think be might be able to do some good for me. In fact I lent him some money once, which he never had the good manners to pay me again. Mr Franklin might be able to give it to you. Tell him I should very much like to hear from him. I would like to write to him this mail. If I could tell him, he must excuse my not writing, but to write to me as soon as he can. If I did write to him I must direct to you, as he may have left the Rose Edmond St, Camberwell address. I am frequently speaking of my old friends. and his name is often brought in. I was very sorry to hear of his loss – I drove his wife to the Church when they were married and away from the church as far as Putney, and him rushing after me in a cab, and from thence we proceeded to Richmond, and spent the day. He would well remember it if you mention it.

I was too late to write last mail. I will send a paper this mail. I was led astray with the other papers I sent. I addressed them by the over land route, and they were detained for insufficient postage. I shall know better for the future. I would like to send you some where you will see my name in them. You must look for the Lauriston & Edgecombe District Road Board Tenders called. If I get work under that Board you will see my name there.

I have at present got the roads to keep in repair under that Board. I have a mate with me. I have nothing more to say. I have not the money to send my portrait this mail. I wish you would send me as many from home as you can, your wife and children mind, as with trusting this will find you all well, and concluding with my love to all

And Remain Yours truly

Thos Waters

*Thomas’ father farmed Newton Bury Estate

Brief timeline for Thomas Waters

Links to previous letters written by Thomas Waters

Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire – May 1862
Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire – August 1862

 *Punctuation and paragraphs  have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading
My thanks to Graham Revill, Surrey, England, for transcribing these letters and lodging them with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

Two brothers and their cousin lost to war

For this Remembrance Day post, I am remembering two brothers and their cousin, who lost their lives in World War 1.

 David Waters, Private. Service Number 2711, Eighth Reinforcements,  5th Batallion AIF
Born in 1897 at Rochester, Victoria, Australia. He enlisted in the army on 8. April 1915, at age 18. He was killed in battle, in France on 11 February 1917.  Buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery in France.

from:  The Bendionian, Thursday, 1st March 1917, page 9
Obit David WatersPRIVATE D. WATERS. Rochester, 24th February. News is to hand of the death in France of Private David Waters, nephew of Mrs. A. Mancer, of Rochester East. He was the son of Mr. George Waters, butcher of Echuca, a former resident of Rochester.

DA09826David Waters

Albert William Mancer, Private.  Service Number 2716. 60th Batallion
Born in 1892 at Rochester, Victoria, Australia. He enlisted in the army on 25 August 1916., at age 24, He died in the front line trench at the Battle of Bullecourt on 12 May 1917, age 25. Memorial Wytschaete Military Cemetery in Belgium

from: The Rochester Express, Tuesday 5 June, 1917, page 3

Killed in Action.

PTE. ALBERT MANCER.

On Saturday the Rev E.L. Slade Mallen, Presbyterian minister, received official intimation that Pte. Albert Mancer, of Rochester East, had been killed in action, and accompanied by a request that the rev gentleman would break the tidings to the soldier’s parents.

Pte Mancer, aged 24 years, was the son of Mr A. Mancer, a settler at Nanneella, and Mrs Mancer, who, with her daughter, Mrs Austin, lives in the family homestead, in Rochester East. Mrs Austin’s husband is at the front.

Pte Mancer had been many years employed in the establishment of Messrs Moore Bros (previously Mr. A. Connell’s), where he learned his trade as a plumber. When the war broke out, he was at once desirous of serving under the flag, but was declared ineligible on account of the malformation of a toe. He tried to enlist again and again, without success, and ultimately had an operation performed on the toe, after which he was accepted, though a throat affection when in camp nearly resulted in further rejection.

In company with a number of other lads from Rochester, he sailed front on 2nd October, 1916, and had been only a few weeks in the trenches, when he yielded his life as a sacrifice to the great cause. He was born and bred in Rochester, where he was identified with a number of local bodies, including the Rochester Band and the I.O.R. He was also the efficient operator of the apparatus used at Mr. Armstrong’s picture shows, and was much esteemed by those with whom he was brought into contact.

He was married to a sister of Sergt. Vic. Lamb, another Rochester hero, who fell in the good fight some months ago, and leaves, besides his widow, a little daughter, about a year old. Much sympathy is felt for the relatives of the departed soldier, and the family of his widow has been sorely afflicted of late years. It is not long ago, since her father, the late Mr. Jas Lamb, passed away, in the almost prime of life. Then followed his son, Vic, and his son in law, Pte. Mancer

Ernest Charles  Mancer, Private. Service Number 5145. 7th Batallion
Born in 1898 at Rochester, Victoria, Australia.  He enlisted in the army on 25 January 1916. He was killed on 12 December 1917, in the battle of Flanders in Belgium, age 19. He was part of the 15th Brigade Trench Mortar Battery and was in a trench when a shell in the gun exploded, killing him instantly. Derry Road No 2 Cemetery, Messines, Belgium.

from: The Bendigo Advertiser, Thursday 10 January 1918, page 5
Mancer Ernest Death NoticePRIVATE ERNEST MANCER  News was received on Saturday that Private Ernest Mancer, who had just served seven months in the trenches, was killed on the 10th of December, in France.  The deceased is the second son of MR. and Mrs. Albert Mancer, of Rochester East, to pay the supreme sacrifice.  The late Private Mancer was only 20 years old.

DA14782Ernest Charles Mancer

These three young men were were nephews of my Great Grandfather Ernest Waters. I knew my great grandfather well as a child, and do wonder at the pain he must have felt as the bad news continued to arrive during the war years.

http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article90856196
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119592490
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article90832535
*please note: punctuation and paragraphs have been added to transcribed articles for ease and speed of reading.

Thomas Waters Letter to Bedfordshire – August 1862

Thomas Waters was my great great grandfather. He was born on 05 October 1829, at the family farm, ‘Newtonbury’ Dunton, Bedfordshire, England.  He died on 28 June 1913 at Rochester, Victoria, Australia

Some years ago, I obtained from the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, letters that Thomas had written from Kyneton to his family in Bedfordshire, between 1862 and 1874. I have copies of these letters at hand. They make very interesting reading, giving a glimpse into the life of a battling newcomer to Australia in the 19th century, The letters outline his difficulties in trying to support his family without economic or family support.  The homesickness Thomas is feeling for his family in England, is very obvious and heartbreaking to read.
HSV Location: Box 79-2
Item Type: MSS Collection
Item No: MS000976

I have decided to publish these letters over a series of blog posts, in the hope that family members may see them and contact me. I am very interested to make contact with other researchers of this family, so we can compare notes about the Waters family. I have started compiling articles for a book detailing the life of Thomas Waters and his family, both in Australia and England. 

Letter from Kyneton August 1862

My dear Father

Since I last wrote, I am sorry to say, I have not been able to do much good, as the weather has been so very unfavourable. I think, to my best recollection for the last two months, we have had but four fine days a very great deal of rain, with frosts occasionally. The frosts here are not like in England – it disappears as soon as the sun rises. We have on one or two occasions had a little snow, but not sufficient to see it five minutes after it has fallen. In fact it is a rare thing to see snow in this Colony.

You may think it strange speaking of winter, when you are in the midst of harvest, but our harvest does not come on until about Christmas Day. This world is upside down here, although I can’t exactly see it, but there are times I don’t know whether I am on my head or my feet. Myself and two others took a contract to make a road, £50 Job but the weather being so bad we have not been able to get the stone carted on the road. We should have made about six shillings per day each, but as it is, I am afraid it will not be one half,  but as the fine weather will I have no doubt soon set in, I shall I hope, be able to do better. I was obliged leave my tent, owing to the bad weather and rent a house which I am paying four shillings per week.

I shall expect a letter from England next mail. I was on the look out for one this mail, but I could scarcely expect one so soon. God knows whether I shall ever see home again, but I live in hopes of so doing, and I will if I am spared, once make a start and then you can go ahead. This is a fine country to make money if a person can only make a beginning and push ahead.

I should very much like to know how all are at home and what you are doing. I might get a letter every month. I intend to write every month myself. I was too late for the last mail.

I have not heard from Mr. Birt since I wrote to you. If you see Joseph Robarts, tell him to write. Be sure and give me his address when you write me. I would like to hear from him. Let me know how my relations are getting on at Edworth (Bedfordshire) and Havannah (Farm). Remember me to them when you see them. Is Mr. Taddy preaching at Dunton Church still? I should very much like to hear him there on Sunday.

I am sorry to say the Sundays are spent very miserably here, with a great many. There are a great many that never think on entering a church. This place has got very thickly populated with a railroad that is being made from Melbourne to Bendigo – a distance of one hundred miles. It has done good for the labouring men, and brought thousands from all parts of the world. In fact brought too many to get a good living. I think there is two Irish men to one English man. This town is principally inhabited by Irish and the farms round the country for a considerable distance.

I do not like this Country so well as Adelaide yet, but I dare say I shall as I get better known. Any person that could spend a month here for amusemen,t might enjoy themselves. There are many different kinds of wild animals to be seen by just walking into the bush. There is the kangaroo which weighs from 100 to 150 pounds. They run on their hind legs, requires a very swift dog to catch them. They are greyhounds, but very strong. I used to get a kangaroo occasionally when I was in Adelaide. I had a couple of good dogs, and was often crossing the bush to serve summonses when I would get some good sport. The hind quarter is very nice eating just like a hare. The tail is thought a great deal of for making soup. It is about as thick as ones arm and about 4 feet long.

Then there is the opossum , an animal about the size of a good large cat always to be seen on the trees on moonlight nights. They have a head very much like a fox and will bite as sharp. I think they live principally upon the green leaves on the trees. The trees here are always green, they shed their bark instead of their leaves.

There is the flying squirrel. That is an animal very much like the opossum.. It flies without wings. There is a piece of skin that joins on to its hind legs from the fore ones which keeps it into the air as it springs from one tree to the other. If they spring from a high tree they can go about 100 yards.

There are many other animals which are plentiful in some parts of the bush. and most of them good to eat. I have not tasted all, but have shot nearly all sorts. There is the Wallaby, the bandicoot, the wombat, the kangaroo rat. In fact they are too numerous to mention and there are some of the most splendid birds that eyes could see.

Cockatoos are as numerous here as crows in England and parrots of every description and colour. Wild ducks, geese and swans on some on the lakes may be seen by thousands. I have shot more wild ducks in two hours than I could carry but that was some years ago, when they were thought nothing of.

I am sorry I have not the chance now. I do intend some time or other, if I can to send you, some skins of different animals and birds. You could get them stuffed there and I think you would be pleased them as a curiosity.

Snakes are very plentiful here in the summer. We occasionally hear of deaths caused by the bite of them. My eldest boy, Thomas, was bit by one in the leg, but by binding up his leg tight and sucking the wound, it was the means of saving his life. People must be very cautious when walking in long grass or rushes near water. There are many kind of snakes here. I think the black ones are the most deadly.

There are a very great number of lizards here but they appear to be harmless. There are several kinds of them and vary from six inches to three feet in length very much the shape of a crocodile…..(undecipherable)

Ready made clothing may be obtained here very reasonable but unfortunately they don’t last long. Clothes made to order come very expensive. Lace up shoes from 20 to 30 shillings. I paid 22 Shillings for a pair a very short time back. Meat from 4d to 6d per pound, read 10d the four pound loaf. Sheep are sold in large quantities at about 5/- a head to stock a run. Good draught horses will fetch from 50 to 100 pounds, but light horses being so plentiful they are thought but little of

I have to post this today or I shall be too late for the mail. I am sorry I can’t get a paper to send with this. I wish you would send me a paper from home sometimes. I am happy to say myself, wife and family are quite well. Trusting I may hear the same from yourselves. Acccept my best love and believe me to remain

Your dutiful Son.

Thomas Waters
Kyneton

Brief timeline for Thomas Waters

Links to previous letters written by Thomas Waters

Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire – May 1862

 *Punctuation and paragraphs  have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading
My thanks to Graham Revill, Surrey, England, for transcribing these letters and lodging them with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire – May 1862

Thomas Waters was my great great grandfather. He was born on 05 October 1829, at the family farm, ‘Newtonbury’ Dunton, Bedfordshire, England.  He died on 28 June 1913 at Rochester, Victoria, Australia

Some years ago, I obtained from the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, letters that Thomas had written from Kyneton to his family in Bedfordshire, between 1862 and 1874. I have copies of these letters at hand. They make very interesting reading, giving a glimpse into the life of a battling newcomer to Australia in the 19th century, The letters outline his difficulties in trying to support his family without economic or family support.  The homesickness Thomas is feeling for his family in England, is very obvious and heartbreaking to read. .
HSV Location: Box 79-2
Item Type: MSS Collection
Item No: MS000976

I have decided to publish these letters over a series of blog posts, in the hope that family members may see them and contact me. I am very interested to make contact with other researchers of this family, so we can compare notes about the Waters family. I have started compiling articles for a book detailing the life of Thomas Waters and his family, both in Australia and England. 

Letter from Kyneton dated May 20th 1862

(page corner torn off: date deduced to be 1862 (from the time frame mentioned in the letter)

Dear Father

There has been a long time passed without any communication. I am very sorry that I have neglected writing for such a length of time. I put it off until I had good news for you, but it appeared that bad luck was to attend me, and I grew more careless in writing, but there has not a day passed for the last eight years that I have not thought of home and those I left behind. Some people here are very fortunate, and others on the contrary, and I happen to be one of those individuals who are unlucky in all their attempts to better themselves.

I held a Government situation four years as Bailiff in a Local court. The first year I was doing well, and by degrees the business became very slack. I was paid only for the number of summonses issued from the Court. Serving the Summons, and mileage going with the same, amounted to one shilling per mile. Some times I would earn two or three pounds a day. Then again, I might be a week without any thing. I was obliged to be at the office every morning at 10 o’clock and wait a few hours to see if any persons should come and take out any summonses. By that means you see, it hindered me from doing other work to fill up my leisure time. It was rather an unpleasant billet. Occasionally, I was obliged to walk into a neighbour’s house and seize all their goods and chattels. I dare say you would laugh at the idea of my being an auctioneer, but I have sold hundreds of pounds worth. I was bound to sell within five days after they were seized if the debt was not paid, but the people about there began to get too honest pay all their debts and the poor Bailiff was obliged to give up his Billet.

I was paying £20 a year rent for a house and keeping two horses. I was obliged to sell my horses to pay expenses. I thought then I would try another part of the Colony and I very shortly sailed for Melbourne. But I must tell you, five years ago I took unto myself a wife  and I am happy to say a good industrious one, and I am now the father of two little boys and very nice little boys they are. In fact they are acknowledged to be very pretty children – one is named Thomas William and the other George Burton.

It grieved me very much to hear from Mr. Birt of poor William Burton’s death. I hope Edith and Tommy is well and comfortable.

I dare say you will think this a strange ……. (indecipherable) me running from one thing to another in …..(undecipherable) manner but when I had made up my mind to go to Melbourne, I was going with another married couple, that was fellow servants of mine on a station. It was settled they should sail from Adelaide a week before me as I could not leave the Court business for a few days, and they were to wait with my wife in Melbourne, until my arrival the following week. But as bad luck generally attended me, the boat had sailed when I arrived in Adelaide, and therefore I was compelled to wait another week. I went to Mr. Birt’s and stayed with him until another boat sailed. During this time, the family that went to Melbourne with my wife, proceeded to Inglewood diggings, and left my wife in Melbourne for us to follow after them when I arrived in Melbourne.

But much to my sorrow when I arrived in Melbourne I met my wife at the railway station, with the youngest child in her arms, most dangerously ill, and she had that day paid the last of her money to the Doctor for advice. I had a few pounds by me, and the Doctor took every farthing from me trying to save the child but all to no …… (undecipherable). The child died and then I was left …. (undecipherable) Got the child buried without money or friend, and then obliged to give the Doctor a promisary note for £2, for a certificate of his death, before I could get it buried, which I managed at last, in a government grave at the Melbourne Cemetery.  And then in a strange country, strange people, and no money and no work to be got of any kind, in fact hundreds of people walking about out of employment with hard struggling, I managed to get as far as Kyneton, a distance of 60 miles from Melbourne. I walked that in one day, and a person paid my wife’s fare to go by coach, and I have remained in Kyneton ever since.

I had great difficulty in getting employment here at first. The country is so thronged with the labouring class. My principal employment here has been working amongst stone, using a hammer 20 pounds weight all day. It requires a great deal of practice to break the stones, not only to use the hammer. I am by this time well accustomed to it now and I like it very well if I can get plenty to do. I sometimes take a few Chains of a road to pitch, in fact, I have three Chains on hand now.

I started to work this morning but it came to rain. I was obliged to come home. I only get 15/- per chain for doing it 66 feet in length and 14 feet wide and the engineer is very particular with the work, so that I can only make about 4s/6d a day. Those that are doing well here, are in good situations, or have a horse and dray. They take those contracts, and do well by them. In the first place, they get about £10 per chain. They do what little carting there is to do, and get the labor done for £3, and pocket the balance.

There are several good gold fields discovered within the last 12 months, not a very great distance from here, and all those that have the means of going, try their luck. Several from this neighbourhood tried their luck and most of them returned with a nice little sum sufficient to give them a good start. Any person to come out here, and have about £150 clear, when they arrived here, they would be able to make an excellent fortune with care, in a few years. Not a great distance from here you can purchase 100 acres of land for £50.

I live in hopes of doing better myself shortly, but there is no prospect at present. It is a long lane that has no turning. We are at present living in a tent, 12 feet long by 10 wide – rather an uncomfortable residence you would fancy. My wife gets a little washing, which is a great help. Winter has fairly set in now, and of course it makes it rather bad for us now, as every thing is dull here at this time of year.

It would give me great pleasure to have a letter occasionally from Bedfordshire, from William, David or George. I hope one of them will write a few lines to me as early as possible, as I should very much like to hear how you all are. I suppose there is a great change since I left, but I hope for the better.

I am happy to say my self, wife and two children are quite well and hope you are all enjoying as good health. Give my love to all not omitting one. I will give you a good account how things are going on here in my next. I shall be anxiously looking for a letter in four months from this time, if I am spared so long. You may depend on hearing from me occasionally, as I feel within myself, I have done very wrong in neglecting to write.

Believe me to remain

Your affectionate son

Thomas Waters

Brief timeline for Thomas Waters

 *Punctuation and paragraphs  have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading
My thanks to Graham Revill, Surrey, England, for transcribing these letters and lodging them with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.
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