Letter from John Hingston in Tasmania to his cousin Sarah in Devon in 1850

John had emigrated with his father, brothers and sister to Tasmania in 1842 see newspaper article). His cousin Sarah was some years his senior (she was then 43, he was probably not yet 23) and although Sarah kept the letter it is probable that she was not greatly tempted by John's suggestion that she might like to join them there. Unmarried, her home was with her sister and parents in what are thought to have been comfortable circumstances on a Devon farm, though in February 1851, at the time of the census, she was staying with an elderly uncle on his own farm. The idea of marrying might not have been so far from her mind, as she had an aunt who married for the first time at 45, but John's letter will have suggested that she would have to make many sacrifices to do so.

The letter was written in a neat copperplate hand suggesting some care over John's schooling, but the original spelling and grammar have been retained. It was probably considered rough and illiterate then; compare for example the wedding congratulation letters of a generation later to Agnes Stephenson, from people who would probably have been considered rather below Sarah in the social scale.

For more on the Tasmanian Hingstons see the Hingston One-Name Study site.

Maitland Farm July 21 1850

Dear Cosin

I now embrace this opportunity in writeing these few lines, most sincerely hopeing it will find you and Uncle and Aunt and all your family and relations enjoying the blessings of health and happiness, and I am glad to be able to inform you that all your family here are enjoying good health at present which is a blesing we cannot be too thankfull for, wile one after another on every hand around us close their eyes in death we still are spared I have no doubt but that long before this time you have heard of the death of our Dear Father who departed this life twelve mounths ago the 18 of this mounth it was a great comfort and consolation to us all to see him so resigned to the Lords will I hive heard him say he had allways looked forward to death with dread but said he if this is death it is a way in which I never expected to meet it, the sting of death seemed quite taken away he did not speak for some hours before he died, but seemed to be enjoying sweet sleep and so life departed without a sigh or a struggle I dare say you have heard by Uncle Williams letters how the property was to be divided Brother Andrew was to have 40£ Brother Henry and William as they were both started in farms for themselves were to have 1£ each the remainder was to be equally divided between miself and James and Robert and Elizabeth, Brother William has got one part of our farm to himself his part is about 100 acres his house is about three quarters of a mile from our house I and James and Robert are carrying on the other part of our farm together our part is about 236 acres, we are all three single and for anything I know now, are likely to remain so for some time all though I must allow a good wife about the house would seem comfortable but their is not so good a choise here as there is at home there are no steady old house keepers here like there is at home they generally get married that are any ways steady they frequently marry verry young here often not more than 15 or 16 young woming think if they are above twenty they are gatting quite old maids I must now tell you that our Sister Elizabeth has entered into matrimony she was married on the 12 day of June by license at the wesleyan chappel at Longford which is about 6 mile from our house and I think that she will have a very comfortable partner he is a verry respectable young man from Summersetshire and we have had an opportunity of knowing him for this 5 or 6 years, his name is Fredrick Look Frampton, we find it rather strange without a woman about the house and I dare say you will think so but there is many houses here that has not got a woman about the place there is a great many woming here that has been transported here that will do themselves but very little good or any body else they are principally from great towns and many of them worthless carracters the are hired out to the settlers from the government factorys I think there wages generally are from £6 to £10 per year and their meat and drink and if they do not suit your purpose you have only to send them to the factory again to remain there untill they can get another place, so you see that their wages here is better than a great many woming servants at home Dear Cosin you must be aware that we have met with a great loss to loose our Dear Sister I may say that we have lost in her our second mother but there is one thing she is not gone far from us her house is about a mile and a half or too mile from our house brother williams is about half way between the too, so our sister is able to come down once now and then to put things to rights a little it is a very great comfort that our family are settled around so near each other so that we can very often advise or assist each other when nessary our Brother Henry lives about 4 miles from our house they are all pretty well his Wife has very lately been confined of another little boy which is their fourth boy their names are William Andrew and Fredrick the one before this last died and was buried in the same coffin as its grandfather Dear Cosin you must be aware that our expences last year were very great but it is a comfort for me to be able say that we were able to meet it without much difficulty our doctors bill only and medcine was between £30 and £40 and then he told me he had taken off several pounds, doctors charges here are very high and they do not find medcine, so it only their labour, the write a prescription for you to go to the druggist and you have to pay very dear for your medcine it is a great comfort to us all to be able to say that allthou our Dear Father has been called away from us he has left behind him a good name and I am sure if we had wanted to borrow 50£ we could very soon have got it so you see we are not without friends and I hope the Lord will direct our path so that we may walk in the right way and do the thing that is right for we are told that a good name is better than riches

I dare say you have allso heard of the death of Mr. French, Brother Williams wifes Father, he died about the middle of January last and the day after the funeral Brother Wms wife was confined of a little girl which makes their second their names are Elizabeth Jane and Louisa Ann Brother Wm sent a letter to Uncle Andrew about two or three mounths ago and I know their has been one or two more sent some time ago but we never received any answer from them nor never heard weither they arrived or not Brother Wm has lately received a letter from Uncle William we were sorry to hear that Uncle John had been so unwell, but we ware glad to hear by Uncle Wms last letter that he was recovering I sent a letter to Brother Andrew the same time that Wm wrote to Uncle Wm and Cosin Thomas sent a letter to his wife the same time but neither him, nor me received any answer to ours nor did not hear wither they arrived or not I will now give you a little account of Cosin Thomas and Cosin William they are quite well they have taken a little farm together about two miles from Launceston it is about 30 acres their rent is £25 per year there is a fine garden upon it about an acre well stocked with fruit trees there garden will be worth many pounds a year as it is near town they have lately bought a nice young mare broken in and quiet for £13 they have got 2 cows of their own, we have been able to assist them with different things we have lent them a horse to help put in their crop and lent them corn to sow there ground and for there own use and brother Wm has given them his old cart and I hope we shall be able to assist them farther untill they can get a little return and then I hope they will be able to get along I believe Cosin Wms Wife is expecting to be confined very shortly I believe they are all verry glad they are come out here this is a very good climate it is rather warmer in summer than England and not so cold in winter but rather more changeable you can get most of the common nessarys of life here very cheap beef and mutton are now from 1½d per lb bread from 4d to 5d the 4lb loaf most kinds of fruit is very cheap here and grows well we have a nice garden but it is rather young yet but trees bear much younger here than they do at home, and we have a cofortable house of six rooms 4 below and 2 above, we hear that you are still unmarried I think if you were out here you would soon pick up a husband, so now Dear Cosin I must conclude and hope you will forgive whatever you see amiss, my dear sister and brothers send their love to you please to remember us all to Uncle and Aunt and all enquireing friends I hope you will send me an answer as we are allways glad to hear from home please direct to Mr John Hingston Maitland near Longford, Launceston Vandiemens Land and so no more at present from your affectionate Cosin John Hingston

[Addressed to:] Miss Sarah Hingston, Ashford, Parish Avvertongifford Near Modbury Devon England

[Marked:] Longford 20/8/50

[Franked:] Launceston 28AU23 1850

    VR 20FE20 1851