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Thomas Waters’ Letters to Bedfordshire 20 September 1866

May 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. 

Kyneton 20th September 1866

My dear Brother & Sister

I received your letter with the portraits for which I am very thankful. The moment I saw Mr Robarts’s, I knew it. I think it must have been taken some time. It appears to me as though it was only yesterday that I saw him, but the other, poor David’s, I looked at it and wondered whose it could be. I first thought of one and then the other, until I was obliged to read the letter, before I was able to find from whom it was taken. I fancied I could see a resemblance of William at the time I left home. On examination I see the dark curly hair under the hat, but I should never have known it was taken from him unless you told me. It appears so much stouter than he was when I left home, but of course a young person alters very much in such a length of time. In one of the poor fellow’s letters he said George was very stout. I don’t suppose I should know him if I saw him, there appears to be great changes since I left England. I am sorry to say for the worse in many instances.

I was surprised to hear of my Cousin’s from “Havannah” being so very unfortunate in their business, I believe Timothy and Francis are good business men. They may be, but the best must expect to meet with difficulties at times. You say George John is married. A very unfortunate thing for the poor chap to fail so soon – I hope Waters is doing well at Castle Camps. You did not say whether Mary M. was married or not, but that you thought Emma Jane would be an ‘old maid’ – a choice of her own of course.

I hope to hear from you by the next mail, and that Patty has recovered. The poor girl has had a long Illness. You did not say what was the nature or cause of her long illness. I trust to hear that a change has taken place for the better.

Since you last heard from me I have had an increase in my family, which is a daughter, born on the 5th August. She is not yet christened but her name is to be Susan Catherine, the only one in my family named after any one of my wife’s side. If you remember in previous letters, I gave the names of the whole of the family (as follows). The eldest boy, Thomas William, the second died in Melbourne named George Burton. Third a boy, and my wife wished to have the name of George in the family. I also added Burton to his name. The fourth boy – David – fifth Mary,  and the sixth you have already been furnished with the name as above. It was to have been Susan Ann but the family on both myself and wife’s sides being rather large we were thinking that we would not he able to name them after the whole without giving some of them two or three names – not that I am desirous of having such a number as to be able to name them after my brothers and sisters, my wife’s also, far from it. I am perfectly satisfied with what I have, and I can assure you it is as much as I can do to keep them along, but I am in hopes at some time they will be able to assist me when perhaps I shall not be able to assist them.

I expect to hear that Annie has become Mrs by the next mail. I often times think that I am very neglectful in writing, but I must give some of the Newton Bury lads and lasses credit, for being worse than myself. I should like to hear from George as I think he would be able to give me a good history after such a length of time making up his mind. I have had a great deal to think about of late but I think by the time the next mail leaves here, I shall be able to get a few lines written to nearly all. I hope you will not…………………….. [next page(s) missing]

Thomas Waters’ Letters to Bedfordshire 23 February 1866
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.
  1. Laura Hedgecock permalink

    Oh my heart aches for poor Thomas. How bitter-sweet it must have been to look at photos of loved ones so far away. Thank you for sharing these!

    • Would have been heartbreaking Laura. Can’t imagine what it must have been like to know you would never see your family again

  2. Congratulations! Your blog has been included in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
    Thank you, Chris

    Coming from a family of migrants, these beautiful words are very much like those of my family.. I have few letters, but the heartache within is so similar.
    A wonderful treasure to have and to preserve by sharing.

  3. Don’t you love it when they include so much info in the letters? I wish I had a few like this one.

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