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Thomas Waters’ Letters to Bedfordshire 23 February 1866

April 9, 2019

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 23rd February 1866

My dear Brother & Sister (Joseph & Elizabeth (nee Waters) Robarts)

I wrote to you last mail but I was too late in posting. They are so uncertain in closing the mail here. I received your letter two months back again, mentioning the loss of poor David. I would like to hear how the poor widow is, and what family she has. I trust I may never hear such sad news again from England.

I expected a letter last mail with some portraits enclosed, but I was disappointed. I am expecting to hear that George is married. I would like to hear from him. I hope his leg is quite well again. I think Annie’s mind is employed in matrimonial affairs, or she would surely have found time long before this to write a few lines to me, better late than never. Is she living with you? If she is tell her I think it very unkind her not writing. You must think what a pleasure it is to receive a letter from a relative after being away from all  my relations for fourteen years, and never been able to see or speak to one during that time.

I have Annie’s, Mary’s and poor David’s wife’s portrait. They are nicely framed. I hope I shall have your own and the whole of your family. Give my love to Mrs George Kidman, not forgetting George K. and the family when you see them. I will endeavour to write to all at once, but I shall be too late for this mail as it closes to night or at 7 O’Clock tomorrow morning. I did think I should be able to write to William and George this mail, but I am too late.

I have been very busy this last fortnight engrossing Deeds etc. The next fortnight I may not have much to do, and I will endeavour to write to all, if possible. I never hear anything of Miss Robarts. Is she still an old maid and with her companion Miss Crouch? I should like to hear how she is. When you write I wish you would let me know as you can of old friends.

Do you ever hear or see anyone from Edworth or Havannah, farm’s? I often think of Warden and wonder if George Davies and his younger Sister Lizzie are married or not. It has many times struck my mind that George Davies would be sticking up to Annie—but I suppose if he is living he has been married some time.

I posted a paper today for Mr Robarts, which I hope you will get and would be obliged by your sending me one as often as you can. I will enclose a portrait of my wife in this note. I am sorry that I have not the children to send you at the same time, but I will send them as soon as possible. I cannot see with my right eye yet, but the left one is very strong. My right hand, I am happy to say, is perfectly sound but the left I fear will never be strong again. At the same time I am able to make use of it a little. There appears to be something in it that pricks me like stone. The Powder still remains in it in lumps.

You know what the blasting powder is. It is very course. The little finger is very small and from that along the side of the hand has been all taken away.

One thing I have been going to ask you some time but have forgotten till now (you will think me very stupid), that is to refer to the family Bible that was in the house at Newton Bury and inform me the year that I was born in. If you are not able to see that Bible perhaps you would be kind enough to ask Mr Taddy to search the registry at Dunton Church. I do not know that it would be of any great service to me but I would like to know. Tis strange that I should forget the year. I know the month and the day of my birthday. It is the 5th of October but that has generally passed by without being thought of.

I am in hopes by the next mail to send you, or inform you, by that Vessel, you will receive a case of skins of different birds and animals obtained in this country. You will, I know, get them stuffed. The skins will be prepared ready for stuffing.

I intend at the same time to send (and in the same case), a few specimens of gold to give you an idea how the gold is found in the quartz stone. There is a great deal of money made here by quartz mining. Certainly some are very fortunate. These quartz stones are not to be found in any part of the colony, but where the gold is found in the reefs. Sometimes, they may have to sink a shaft 100 feet before they strike a reef and in other places the reef is to be seen projecting out of the ground.  And again, all reefs do not contain gold. Therefore it is quite a speculation.

This is a great mining country. I have not myself taken a share in any of the companies. I know some that are actually clearing £25 per week and those people are in the same office as myself. They are investing that in other mines and should they turn out well their fortunes are made. It is not only buying a snare which can be had for lO/- or £l but it is the calls that are made which must be paid up to enable the works to be carried on.

I must come to a conclusion by saying that myself, wife and family are well. Hoping this will find you all equally the same and except our loves an well wishes.

from Your affectionate brother

Thomas Waters

# Please note: David is Thomas’ brother.

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 – 23 May 1863
Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire Kyneton 23 May 1864
Thomas Waters’ Letters to Bedfordshire 23 March 1865

*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.

From → family history

  1. Ivan Waters permalink

    Hello Jennifer, thanks for the post. Do you have information on his wife Elizabe I attended Denise Mancer’s funeral in Rochester where l met her Sister Margaret and Brother, plus a number of younger generation. My late wife Coral had researched the Mancer history so afterwards the phones were busy photographing the documents. Regards Ivan

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Ivan I haven’t done any research at all in Elizabeth. Good that you were able to make contact with so many

  2. Barb Triphahn permalink

    Interesting letter. Amused that he knew his month and day of birth but not the year. I see the same thread running through many of my old family letters – a longing to know about family and friends and to know they are well.

  3. Do you have copies of some of the photos he mentions? Have you been able to follow up on the registry at Denton Church? Great letter, so many clues for family history in it. Transcribing letters makes them so much more accessible. It is terrific they were preserved.

    • Anne unfortunately we don’t have copies of the photos. In some of the letters he mentions stuffed birds. We have a large glass box with them that have survived. The letters have given many clues to follow up. They are priceless. Thanks for visiting

  4. Jennifer,
    This is such a great post! As you said, you can almost here the homesickness throughout his letter. I am sure many of our immigrants felt the same way, as they left their families behind in the old country. I have enjoyed reading his letters very much. They tell such a story!

    • Thanks Dianne. I’m pleased you’ve enjoyed the letters. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to leave family behind knowing you wouldn’t see them again. Thanks for visiting

  5. This letter is fantastic, I’ve got the read the others. It’s awesome that you have these and are sharing!

  6. This is a wonderful treat. The letters really give you glimpse into his life. I’m curious if anyone has the family bible he mentions.

    • Yes we are so fortunate to have these letters. Unfortunately the family bible hasn’t come to light yet. Thanks for visiting

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Thomas Waters 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. #52ancestors | Tracking Down The Family

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