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Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire 23 December 1865

May 29, 2019

ThomasWaters is 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 23rd December 1865

My dear Sister and Brother

I trust you will pardon my neglect in writing to you before this. Three mails have left here since I received the melancholy intelligence of poor David’s death. I wrote to him the mail previous. Little did I think such intelligence would reach me. Poor boy. I dare say he left his home wife and family in good health, and as cheerful as possible with the expectation of returning, benefited by his round, taken with his horse and trap. Poor thing he was not to return any more alive. It is well for us we do not foresee things, but I hope he was prepared for it. He had promised so many times to send me his portrait. I wish I had it, if he had it taken. I wish you would go to the person who took it (they are sure to keep a copy) and get one and send to me, not forgetting your own and Joseph’s, with all the family if possible.  I promise to send you mine and the family next mail if I can.

I wonder how it is that no one cares to write to me from England. Try what you can do towards persuading some one to write. I am anxious to know how you all are. I would like to write to William this mail, but I have not time. I will at once write to him. I shall address it to you. He may have left Dunton. I hope himself and family are well and doing well. I hope George’s leg is better. Tell him to write and let me know what he is doing and how he is getting on and where he is living.

I suppose Edith is married, yourself and Mary, but Annie I think could find time to write, as she has no family to look after. But her valuable time may be taken up with making preparations for some future movement. For all I know she may be married by this time. If so, I should like to know to whom, or if not I am very inquisitive. I would like to know who is the most likely person.

I was thankful to receive the money that was sent me. With my illness and not being able to do anything for such a length of time, I got greatly in debt. My first thing was to pay my debts.

What made the thing still worse for me, we were burned out. Every thing destroyed. The poor children had not a single thing to put on them. Myself and wife, we had the clothes that we were wearing at the time, and that is all we saved. I sent a paper with the account of the fire in it.

Now ,I have provided myself with a house for I bought a little piece of ground fenced in with a very small house upon it. There is a good well of water. The only thing now is to make the house a little larger, and then as regards a home I shall be all right. I cannot get a house for less than £1O.O.0 per year rent and that is a great deal to save. The house will in a few years pay for itself.

I thought I could not do a better thing with what money I had left. Mr Chapman, I suppose took on hands to forward the money to me, and he did not forget to pay himself for his trouble. £9.0.0 he kept back and sent me £91.0.0 and then I had all post offices charges to pay which was nearly another pound. I ought not to mention it as I was truly thankful to get it. I should write to Waters Masters and Mr Ryder. I am sorry to say I have not done so yet. It must be done by the next mail. The least I could do would be to acknowledge receipt of it.

Give my love to Waters and Mary when you see them. Let me know their address. I send you this mail, a newspaper or two. I wish you would send me one every mail. I will endeavour to send you one monthly. I expect the mail to close now in a few minutes and I must conclude by wishing all of you all the happiness and good health the world can afford.

I must say my eye still remains as it was. I cannot yet see with it. My hand is getting stronger but it can never be so strong as was. There is a great portion of the side of the hand taken away.

My love to all and I remain your affectionate brother

Thomas Waters

Tell me where to write to William, George, Annie. I hope Mr Robarts will write to me as soon, and as often as he can. If Mr Franklin is still living, let me know his address. I have never heard of George Beecher. I wrote to him but no answer. I believe he is not a great way from here – Allot7 of Section 26. Jenning St. You will see a X made in the allotment that is the one I bought

Thomas Waters
Melbourne Victoria

*Thomas writes this letter to his sister Elizabeth and her husband Joseph Robarts
*The money referred to that he received from England, was bequeathed to him by his father in his will

Links to the previous letters.

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
Thomas Waters’ Letter to Bedfordshire 20 September 1866
Thomas Waters’ Letters to Bedfordshire 9 October 1871

Brief timeline for Thomas Waters

*Punctuation and paragraphs corrections to spelling errors 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. These old letters are such a treasure – thank you for sharing.

  2. Thomas’s longing to hear from relatives back home comes across so forcibly in his letter. It highlights the stark challenges facing our ancestors when they set out to forge a new life, so far from home.

  3. Laura Hedgecock permalink

    Oh, how heartbreaking. It’s a great insight into how our immigrant ancestors felt, living an ocean or two apart from loved ones. Thank you for sharing these beautiful letters.

  4. “I wonder how it is that no one cares to write to me from England.” ~ That sentence alone just tears at my heart. I agree with the above comments, in that his letters can give us a glimpse into our own ancestors’ feelings when they immigrated so far away from family.

  5. Letters are such a valuable resource for letting our ancestors tell their stories in their own words. Thomas seems so lonely… such a sad story. Thank you for sharing!

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