Monday, January 14, 2008

Letters from Australia

I have in my archive two letters which were written from Australia by descendants of the Dickins family who emigrated to Australia. Unfortunately someone I think may be a direct descendant of one of the writers contacted me through Genes Reunited while I had allowed my membership to lapse. I hope she contacts me again.

This letter is from Mrs Robert White, Goomalita, and is dated August 30, 1903. I believe it was written to George Dickins, who lived with his son, George Robey Dickins at the end of his life.

My Dear Uncle,
I now take the pleasure of writing you this letter, hoping this will find you well as I am happy to say this leaves us at present. How is Lottie Dickens getting on she promised to come and see us when she was in Melbourne but she did not and we often wondered the reason why. I often think of her and hope she is well. How are cousins George and Herbert also their families. Dear Uncle I hope you will get this letter alright as I am putting on the address that Lottie gave me. We are having a good season this year. Last year was a record one for dryness. The crops and grass never grew except in a few favoured places, and it was worse in NS> Wales and the Maller districts as they had to cart water for miles by the paper reports. The crops everywhere are looking well. I have a brother in N.S. Wales he has been there a great many years, his wife died last January 19 of Tropical Fever and left two little girls, the eldest five years and the other three, it was very sad for him poor fellow, he has a housekeeper looking after the children and they are getting on \lright. Of course you know poor Margaret is dead she has been gone eleven years last December and her husband is dead he died six years ago. The family are all grown up the youngest a boy nearly 14. The eldest girl is married and living in Melbourne. My sister Harriet lives at Jea, she is housekeeping. Is Aunt Harriet still living. I suppose you are the only one of poor father's brothers alive. There is only one brother of my mother's living and one sister. I know Aunt Fanny and Uncle Robert are dead. Uncle Robert died when Lottie was out here and she wrote and told us about it. My brother John's widow lives at Mansfield she had three sons but one died a few years ago he got thrown from a horse, and he never recovered, and the eldest got married a few months ago he lives at Euroa he is the proprietor of the paper and is doing well. Now dear Uncle I must conclude I do hope you ill answer this letter as I would so much like to hear from you I will be anxious to know if this address will find you give my best to Lottie and all the members of the family with dearest love to yourself
I remain
your affectionate neice
Annie White
Benalla
Victoria

Notes: I corresponded for some time with a descendant of Charles John Dickins, who was the Dickins/Dickens who emigrated. Leonie MacDonell gave me some information on the background of the letter writer and the family.

Charles came to Australia in about 1847 with a squatter named Frederick Griffin who took up several acreages, among them "Preston" near Mansfield in north-east Victoria. Charles became manager of "Preston" when Griffin, who went blind while in Australia, returned to England.

Charles married a Scottish lass Mary Clerk/e in Kilmore (not too far from Mansfield) on 19 February 1851 when she was the ripe old age of 15. Their offspring were John Dickens (born 9 February 1852 - from whom Leonie was descended), MArgaret Dickens (born 21 April 1854), Anne Frances Dickens (born 1856 and writer of the letter, she became Mrs Robert White), Mary Dickens (1859), Charles Frederick Dickens(1860), William McKellar Dickens(1863), Louisa Harriet Dickens (1861) James Duncan Dickens (1865) and Sarah Elizabeth Dickens (1867).

James Duncan Dickens died of Diphtheria on MArch 8, 1869 and his mother died of the same (on March 16 that year). Charles died of cancer of the tongue in Violet Town (in the general vicinity of Mansfield) on August 23, 1886.

Charles and Mary's eldest child (Leonie's great grandfather, John) deid of a fever, presumably malaria, in Queensland in June 1886, leaving his widow, the one referred to in Annie White's melancholy letter, with three small boys. The eldest of the children, who Annie reports got married and was living in Euroa, was Leonie's grandfather, Alfred Sydney Dickens.

I only heard from Leonie a couple of times before she moved house... if anyone knows her current whereabouts I would love to fill her in on the progress I have made.

I mentioned two letters, and then only published one.  This is the other:

Argyle Cottage
August 28, 1891

My dear Uncle,
I was so glad to see by your letter to Father that you were well.  Father was not well a few months back but is quite well again.  Which I am sure you will be glad to hear.  I am ashamed of myself for not writing to you long before this.  We were so pleased with our cousin's photo, I think he is like my brother John only he is very dark.  I would like to have yours and aunt's very much.  When you get them mind not to forget to send me one.

I am keeping house for my Uncle McKellar ever since my aunt's death he is very old 85 years of age.I often see my sisters, Maggie has got four children, two boys and two girls.  She lives 11 miles from here.  Annie is married and got two children, one boy and one girl.  She lives four miles from here, and so I often go to see them. 

John is in New South Wales, he has got two boys, I have not seen him for two years - but we often hear from him.  I was sorry to see by your letter that one of my aunts was so ill.  I hope she will soon get well again/  When you are writing to them give them my love if I know their address I would write to them sometimes. 

I went down to Melbourne to see the exhibition before it closed it was a grand sight to see I enjoyed myself very much it was so large that when you got in you could not find your way out again.  There was a great many that had to ask the way out.  I had to do three or four times myself - it has been very cold here this winter I hope we are not going to have a hot summer it was very hot this summer - there is going to be a show here next month I am going to show some fowls.  I have very nice ones the first prize is a pound the second ten shillings.  I think I will get a prize.  I ought to.  I will draw this to a close, give my love to aunt and tell my cousins ask my cousin to write to me I would be glad to hear from him.  With love to all not forgetting yourself.
I remain dear Uncle
your loving niece
Louise Harriet Dickens

Probably both letters are only of interest to those who are related to the family.  I seem to have a growing list of people to whom that applies!

2 comments:

Rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebecca said...

I am a direct descendent of William Mckellar Dickens, the brother in the letter who was living in NSW. Thank you for posting this. I am interested in any other information about this branch of the family. My mother spoke with Annie Dickens' (letter author) son Cliff in the 1990s (when he was in his 90s).