LETTER FROM MARY Allen, Mary ALLEN, WIFE-TO-BE OF
EDWIN Boultbee:Edwin (b1790) BOULTBEE, TO CHRISTOPHER Cotton, Christopher COTTON, ESQ.,
STRETTON, NEAR BURTONONTRENT, STAFFORDSHIRE
(This transcript has been revised to modern sentence structure.)
Hobart, Tasmania Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) Van Diemans
July 29th, 1823
My Dear Mr. and Mrs. Cotton,
I must not take up much room in telling you why I did not write a journal to you on shipboard. It was so inconvenient to attempt it, there were so many interruptions and our voyage had so little variety, or interesting adventure in it, that I felt but little inclinations to take up my pen. Even when the ship was sufficiently quiet to admit it, and during our passage through the torrid zone, you will easily imagine that the heat was so intense, as often to forbid even the small exertion of writing. It was enough at such times to lie down and beat the heat - you could not do that without being in a profuse perspiration, yet upon the whole, hot as it was, we did not suffer so much as I expected we should, with the exception of my Uncle who wasted away very fast. However we got over pretty well, we were so fortunate as not to be long becalmed.
Our voyage was accomplished in a much shorter time than that of some other ships which arrived here a little before us. We left England on the 6th of March, and first saw the coast of Van Diemen's Land on the 6th July. We had weather towards the last, we were in several gales, but only one that could be properly called a storm. We lost our top masts, some of our sails, etc. at least they were blown down in a gale with a great crash which surprised us for a moment, till we knew the extent of our loss. We had at another time one jolly boat dashed in pieces by a wave. It was fastened as is customary on the stern of the vessel; think how powerful the water must be to break it. The bulwarks of our ship were also driven in. These were all the accidents we had.
You will wish to know my feelings during these commotions. It is not easy to express them, but I cannot say I ever felt in danger but once; nor was the voyage so disagreeable as I expected on some accounts, but I certainly never should go to sea for pleasure as some people say they do. It was particularly uncomfortable when the waves dashed over the sides and flowed into our sitting apartments, and it was in all the sleeping berths but ours - we saw but three or four vessels besides our own the whole time, and two of these were unfriendly; we saw many birds, but not many fishes, two sharks were taken which we tasted and found very good, and we saw some black fishes about twenty yards long and abundance of porpoise.
The confinement of a voyage is very irksome and as to the sea sickness, it is indescribable, you must experience it to have any adequate idea of it. I began the first amongst us on the first day of sailing, never shall I forget the sensation, happily however we were only sick. It was not with us accompanied, as you told in jest we might expect it to be. I could tell you many things, that will not look very well in writing, but as I cannot see you, must forego the pleasure. Were you likely to come, I could inform you of several things desirable to bring, both for use on the way and for the merchandise here, but I need not till there is more probability of it. We had plenty of water such as it was. Our clothes about which you perhaps remember I was anxious before we set out, lasted us very well, with the aid of your liberality. My pelisse and brown bonnet are most useful to me here.
After all our tossing about, I never experienced greater pleasure
than when I went on the deck and distinctly saw the beautiful rocks of
this land. The first appearance of the shore is very romantic, high
rugged rocks partially covered with woods are first seen. Then as
you leave the ocean and enter the fine large river Derwent River Derwent
it is delightful to see first one hut then another, rise into view, and
at length the long wished for Hobart, Tasmania town presents itself.
The situation of it is very pleasant, and the place prettily laid out.
The houses in general are only one story high, there are some exceptions.
The building is chiefly of wood, poor in comparison of England, but such
as people may make themselves very comfortable in, if they have plenty
about them. Especially after a long voyage, which is the best preparation
in the world for an emigrant, for the deprivations necessarily undergone
by the way, make many things tolerable which we should scarcely think so
Indeed my dear friends, we have very much to be thankful for as to myself as an individual, I have every attention from all our friends. I do not yet know whether to wish my friends to come here. I will say more on that subject when I better know how it will answer to us who are already here, I should first tell you that we fully intended to go to New South Wales New South Wales when we left England, but on our voyage heard so much of the superiority of V.DS. Land as a place of settlement that my Uncle and Wm. were induced to read and enquire further into the difference of the two places, and in consequence of the information they received, to prefer the latter. I am glad we have no further to go, it is partly on account of the extreme heat of the former place and the droughts to which it is liable that we stay here. Every thing is at present uncertain with respect to our prospects of settling but before it will be necessary to send this, perhaps I shall know more. As soon as we saw the inhabitants of this Colony we were told many things to make us feel disappointed, but before we suffered ourselves to be discouraged we determined to hear further and we find that very little credit is to be given to the tales we hear. It is a notorious place for story telling and idleness. You hear almost as many different views of a subject as you consult persons.
Some emigrants have not done well but as far as we can learn it is for want of exertion. Here are no poor people. Wages are enormously high, so they work only a part of their time. Every thing is dear, I wish your dairy of cheese was here, it is 4s. a pound for good; milk is 2s. a quart, butter 6s. pr.lb. so we eat dry bread of course. The cows give but little milk, partly I believe owing to neglect in the management of them. There are many pretty horses for riding, they are very dear and it is seldom you see any but oxen in the carts, and they use six for what two horses would draw with ease. The bread is very good, potatoes are 8d. a hundred weight, (I have mentioned the prices of several things in my brother's letter I will not therefore repeat it, besides you will hear from F.P. most probably -- and the change in the price of things is very variable as far as we can learn in this short time.)
There is every prospect of an industrious steady person getting a better living here than in England -- I have seen Robin Creswell, Robin Creswell, he is prospering very well in the brickmaking business and likes the country very much, he says if a male will but be industrious he is sure of doing well -- he told us a steady woman is worth a hatful of Guineas! He desired to be remembered to you.
As we do not go to N.S.W.S. we have no opportunity of hearing of your brother Cotton, William Wm. except from Mrs. Salmon, whose name you will recollect she was a Miss Morris of Burton, she recollects her brother seeing him at Port Jackson, Australia, now Sydney Port Jackson as you have heard, but since then has not heard anything of him. I am very sorry I cannot send any news more satisfactory to you about him.
My Uncle has met with two or three convicts who accosted him, one a boatman -- it is now the middle of Winter here.
I think the climate is delightful. There are the largest
cauliflowers I ever saw now growing in the gardens, lettuces & radishes
in plenty too, and geraniums in flower in the open air. Also gilliflowers,
mignonettes and very pretty evergreen shrubs abound. Peas are in
some places in pod. I have seen them about a quarter of a yard high.
There are slight white frosts in a morning, and the nights are cold, but the days are very pleasant. The rainy season is expected soon, then it will be less pleasant, the scenery is most romantic and picturesque. But the rivers so highly extolled in the publications, are I believe by no means so large or so grand as they are described. I have been but a little way into the country, they say imagination cannot conceive any thing more sublime than some of the rivers are.
We wish very much if possible to settle near Hobart, Tasmania Hobart Town chiefly on account of the Market -- I do not think it is much punishment for a man to be transported to this place, the Convicts convicts do not work so hard as a labourer in England, and they have every encouragement to try to get something for themselves. A sort of lassitude seems to pervade all ranks as far as we have seen, nobody seems to exert themselves, I hope we shall not become lazy also.
You would get a large grant of land if you were to come. There is a regulation now that no one, however large his property, shall have more than two thousand acres at once. But the grant may be repeated, if you can get interest with the Governor. There is plenty of amusement in the country for a sportsman. Tell Christopher he would admire the parrots and cockatoos very much.
The inhabitants dress very gaily the ladies in nice chilla capes. It is so common for a man and woman to live together without being married that before you venture to conclude they are so, you must hear from good authority. A female servant is an uncommon thing. Men do the chief of the work indoors, as well as out. A steady woman would get very good wages. I hope the next time I write to have something to say which will induce some of our friends to think of emigrating - business is done by barter, there is not much money in circulation.
I must tell you the price of stone Blue -- it is 1/6 per lb.
As many Scotch emigrants are here, it is intended to establish a regular communication between Edinburgh Edinburgh and Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) V.D's Land. A vessel is to sail about once a quarter of a year, and I trust by that or some English ship, I shall receive a letter from Stretton. Nothing will give us so much pleasure as the letters from our friends, now that we are sixteen thousand miles from them. Pray write to me the first opportunity -- any thing ever so trivial will be interesting.
The Natives in Tasmania natives are not numerous. There are some of them, perhaps eight or ten, come to the town to get food sometimes, one woman is all I have seen. She could speak English, had clothes carelessly made and put on. Looked sociable and really is not so very plain as they are described. (She said her name was Gooseberry!) As to the Great Chiefs about whom you talked, there are none of them, so I am afraid I shall not come riding in my carriage with a naked Chieftain. Alas!
There is a very pretty Church in this town. How strange we should think in our own Country to have no grate in our parlour but a wood fire made on the hearth. It has really not an uncomfortable appearance, and the fires are excellent for cooking, etc. The cedar tree does not grow here, but there is very pretty wood for furniture. Some of the trees are immensely large. The smaller sorts are more numerous, this is convenient to the farmer, as to clear the land himself is laborious, and it is too expensive to have it done.
A more healthful place than this can scarcely be found. Children are not subject, it is said, to any diseases, as they are in England. They also say there are no infectious disorders, but I can at present only tell you what I hear. My Uncle is quite recovered since we came ashore, and the hot weather on the voyage together with the change of air seems to have completely renovated my Aunt's .......... She is better than she has been for a long time before. The rest of us are ... .... little illness in our ship except the sickness, we eat very .... ...... ....... why we were as well I think it appears to be the general ....... ...... ...... in time become a very flourishing place, settlers flock to in(quire) ..... our .... ........ of land for them.
It will take a long time to people the whole of it -- a good deal depends on having good recommendations to the Governor. He is very easy of access and forwards the views of the settler as much as he can. We have a most useful friend in the Clergyman in early Hobart Clergyman of the place a most excellent man, he and his wife supply us with vegetables from their garden. He has great influence with the Governor and their society is very pleasant.
I wish you had sold oysters such as we have had today, they are about as large as three English ones. However, a stew of ten with pudding and cauliflowers made dinner for five, they were a shilling a score. We might get them ourselves by wading a little way, when the tide is down. The shops are poorly set out and at the same you see ginghams, shoes, artificial flowers, earthenware, in short almost anything.
August 19th -- I can now tell you that my Uncle is become possessed of a thousand acres of land, a considerable portion of which is I believe fit for cultivation without clearing or anything but ploughing and sowing. It is situated 70 miles from Hobart, Tasmania Hobart Town and called Ross Bridge Ross Bridge. We were very anxious to be nearer the town but there is no grant so large that we can find out of desirable land any nearer. There is a town to be built close to our grant to be called Campbell Town, Tasmania Campbell Town. Almost all the emigrants are Scotch and they seem in general more hospitable than the English. My cousin Wm. has also got a grant unasked for of a hundred acres. He exerts himself to the very utmost to get forward and to make us all comfortable. As I see more, I begin to wish my friends to come. What a nice grant you would get if you were to come with your capital, and how nicely in a short time you would be situated having money to settle with without such exertions as we poor settlers are obliged to use. I wish you would come. I think you would not dislike it, the worst is you cannot get a steady female servant. People all either do their own work or make ... ..... do. We have not yet suffered many privations only that we have no milk or butter, except that we have milk given us for tea. Kangaroo is very good, most like Beef Steak of any thing.
Direct to me to be left at the Port Office, Hobart Town till called for.
Since I began to write this I have seen several natives. My cousins walk the country without any idea of fear from any thing. It is Winter now so they do not think of serpents. Will not Mrs. Adams yet consent to come to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) Van Diemens Land? I wish you were all here. Several ships with passengers are come in since we arrived. Some are going on to Sydney, Australia Sydney but more prefer remaining here. We have been a little way into the country and admire it very much.
Let me again remind you to write to me, pray remember me to any friend who may enquire after me. Accept the sincere and grateful respect of yrs sincerely and affect(ionately).
MAllen, Mary Allen
We have never yet felt that loneliness and state of desertion
which we anticipated before we left England. When we go to the settlement
perhaps we (will experience it).