The Lost Families of Stratherrick, Strathnairn, and Dunmaglass, Inverness-shire, Scotland
Melbourne, Port Phillip, New South Wales
1st May 1849
My dear Mother
I am induced from motives of filial affection to write you these few lines with the full belief that they will be appreciated by you after so long a silence. This is the first time more to my shame, that I have presumed to address since my arrival in this distant part of the Globe; the last time I wrote you was in July 1841 from Scotland but whether that communication ever reached you is to this day to me a mistery. I doubt not but you will be no little surprised to see from the heading of this letter that I am so far removed from you, but I shall proceed to relate to you the circumstances and causes of my sojourn to so distant a land.
In the beginning of 1841 my brother Duncan emigrated to the adjacent Colony to where I am now (distant about 300 miles) South Australia. I was then at home, in my relative Mr A. McTavish’s Office a Clerk, from the sedentary nature of my duties my health became greatly impared So I was determined to go abroad. In the beginning of 1842 a gentleman who had lately arrived from the West Indies was at Inverness (Mr Alastair McKenzie, lately an Officer in the 90th Regt of Foot and son of old General McKenzie of “Belleville Rosshire) was appointed by the Secy of State to proceed to Port Phillip as Sheriff for that district; being an acquaintance of Mr McKenzies, the locality whether he was going to proceed being adjacent to where my brother was, and the accounts from that place being so promising I made up my mind, and embarked with him in May 1842 for Port Phillip, where I arrived after a very pleasant voyage on the 29th of Septr 1842. On my arrival I found many acquaintances from the Mother Country; such has been the immense emigration to those parts, that you could scarce know the towns and villages from English ones. I was not long out of employment for on the 1st December I received an appointment as a Clerk in a Govt Office at a salary of £84 p annum, I am still holding the same situation but through my length of Service my salary has been raised to £100 p. annum, you may think the salary much but when you consider that everything is three times as dear as in England it is only as much as will support you. Since my arrival here I have often heard from my brother, but only had the pleasing gratification of seeing him once, that he came 300 miles on horse back to see me, he is in good health and is in a good situation as Superintendent on a large Grazing Establishment. He like myself has had his misfortunes, which I shall next proceed to relate to you. On his leaving Scotland, he left in the hands of our Executor Mr Dun. McTavish of Garthbeg, after a balance had been struck and matters arranged to come here, a sum of £428 for which he received an authority to draw, on his arrival in the Colony, consequently on his arrival, he purchased sheep, and gave bills on home on the strength of the £428 which were returned dishonored, the consequence was that he was to sell off at an enormous sacrifice to meet his demands, and compelled to take a situation for his support. On my departure from home a similar arrangement was entered into leaving in the hands of the same party £300 of my money, being balance according to my father’s will I was also disappointed. I have communicated to my agent at home several times on the subject, and I am informed that the individual in whose hands the money is has turned Insolvent, and in some manner or other compromised with his Creditors, however we have no received one single farthing or perhaps never shall, our relatives at home seem to have completely set their faces against us, I cannot now even receive an answer to a letter, but kept in utter darkness as to their proceedings. If I were possessed of sufficient funds I should certainly go home for no other purpose than to shew them up. But however no more at present on that subject. This is a fine healthy country, no one need be out of employment here, and for persons possessed of small capitals independences can be realized in a very few years. If I had got my money on my arrival I should be now returning home worth thousands I am certain of it. Thousands are emigrating here every year from the United Kingdom. If ever this letter should come to your hands of which I have great doubts, I hope you will loose no time in writing me, give me a small account of your present position and any incidents that may have transpired that would be of interest to me, of your proceedings and whether you are comfortably situated. Bye the Bye I wish you to tell me likewise the day and year and in what particular place my brother Duncan & I were born; we had a dispute on the subject. I think I shall always remain here. I have made this the “Land of my adoption”. I shall send this letter to the Care of the Hudson’s bay Coys Secy, who I presume will forward to you. I am compelled to adopt this -----?-- being ignorant of your proper address; which I hope when you write you will not forget to inform me of; when you write direct “Mr Donald McTavish, Deputy Sheriff’s Office, Melbourne, Port Phillip, New South Wales”. this will always find me, whether I then belong to the Office or not, it will be forwarded to me, but you had better enclose my letter to Mr. Smith, H. bay Coy’s Secy London; with instructions to him to put mine with the direction as above in the General Post office and it cannot then be misled (if prepaid by him) without which it would not be forwarded.
I shall now conclude by wishing you and Mr McKenzie to whom I beg to be reminded, every success and happiness. I should very much wish to put myself in communication with Mr McKenzie, and any letter from him would be thankfully received by me; I sincerely hope that the long silence that has prevailed will no longer exist, and that we may have frequent opportunities of revealing to one another our destinies. No more at present, I shall be anxiously awaiting in about twelvemonths time for an answer to this letter.
I beg leave to remain
My dear Mother
Your most affectionate son
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