Letter 11

Sarah Harris to sister Emma Jane Hill. New Plymouth, [January 1843]

Dear Emma,

I was disappointed at not hearing from you this time. Your present by the Blenheim was most thankfully received, particularly the little black bag full of all sorts. The Saxony dress is a treasure and fits. I noticed too some things from Mrs Ede. I can never express in words my gratitude to you all. I was much grieved, for Mrs Ede’s recent affliction, dear boy, I remember him well, those are indeed great trials, but it is the Lord, let him do what seemeth Him good. Our dear children are all well. Emily is just returned from a visit to Mrs Merchant, where she has been a week, Mrs M. says she is a sweet child. Mrs Merchant, I think I told you, is my most intimate friend. Her husband has just returned from a missionary tour, and has brought the melancholy account of the death of one of the Church missionaries, a Mr Mason, I think he said his name was. He was going with another gentleman to administer the Sacrament. They had to cross a river on horseback, the gentleman first crossed safely and Mr Mason was drowned. He has left a widow and no children.

The letter Lizzy sent by the person who came out with the Bishop we received yesterday, 12 months after date. The Bishop was here three months since, and christened our baby Frances Emma. Edwin was introduced to him by Mr Carrington. Frances is a nice little baby, very like Emily with dark hair. I had a very precarious time, obliged to call in the assistance of the second surgeon. Tell dear Lizzy I intended writing her but shall not be able to find news for a letter now. I wish she could come out as an intermediate passenger. She would perhaps get married well. I do not know of any other inducements at present. Give my kind love to Ann, kiss her dear boy for me, tell her I was in hopes to have heard from her. She must banish from her thoughts all unpleasant feelings between us. She had no part in it. She must write me without restraint with those warm and affectionate feelings that always did and still do inhabit her heart. The same blood that flows in our veins must always unite us.

My dear brother is often remembered. I was glad to hear of his good fortune in having something to set his children out into life with. I hope they will do well. Give our united loves to him; perhaps they may write us one day.

Do you think it possible to get me a little matter when next a box comes to vaccinate my baby? There is none good here, and it will not take. May I ask you to send me a little medicine for children. I do not hear often of Aunt Corbyn. Remember us kindly to her, and tell us more of her next time, she is very dear to us. Mrs Rendel tells us of Miss Corbyn.

I must conclude now my dear and affectionate sister with kind love to all our dear friends and believe me yours with the strongest love, Sarah.

The children send kisses and were much pleased with the savings bank and book.


Typed transcript of MS letter to sister Emma Jane Hill, England. Written in New Plymouth, NZ, [Jan 1843]. Typed for Mary Mountjoy Paddon, Aisholt, Watford Heath, Hereford, England, [1922]. Turnbull. MS-Papers-3761. (#4)



Dear Emma
Emma Hill lived in Liskeard, Cornwall, where she was principal teacher in a school for girls in partnership with Miss Loveday Adams and her widowed sister Mrs Mary Tickel (1841 England Census). Sarah Harris: Notebook (6): ‘Emma Jane Hill your Aunt who you have heard so much of, lived in England. She finished her education at Miss Linwood’s Establishment, Hinckley, Leic, Mon. After which she went in partnership with Mrs Tickel & Miss Adams who had kept a boarding school successfully for fifty years. Your Aunt Emma as you have always called her was the youngest partner & took the active part in the teaching, having received a very liberal education. Their school was given up after my dear sister’s death took place on the 24th October 1866.’

I was disappointed at not hearing from you this time
Though undated, Sarah’s letter to Emma appears to have been written on the arrival of the Essex 23 Jan 1843. The barque Blenheim arrived in Taranaki 19 Nov 1842. She was the fifth of the Plymouth company ships, leaving Plymouth 2 July 1842 with 159 passengers.

I noticed too some things from Mrs Ede
Susannah Ede (30) is named as head of the household in Barrell St, Liskeard where Emma Hill lived and worked. Emmeline Ede (17), Joseph Ede (15) and Caroline Ede (8) also lived there. Susannah Ede was the married sister of Loveday Adams and Mary Tickel (1841 England Census).

Mrs Merchant, I think I told you, is my most intimate friend
See notes for #6. Mary Elizabeth Poole (1812-1892) married Charles Edward Merchant in Halifax, Yorkshire in 1835. Four children were born in New Plymouth before the Merchants left for Australia in 1849: Clara Isoline (1842), Isabel Lucie (1844-1896), Claudine Maria (1846-1944) and Theodore Sedgwick (1848-1910).

Her husband has just returned from a missionary tour
Sarah refers to the death of missionary minister John Mason of Whanganui and fellow missionary Octavius Hadfield’s attempt to rescue him:  ‘In Jan. 1843, this good man, in attempting, with Mr. Hadfield, to cross the Turakina river near its mouth, was drowned. Mr. Hadfield had entered the water first, when his horse became unmanageable, and returned with him to the bank which he had left. Mr. Mason, meanwhile, had fallen off his horse, and, beginning to sink, was heard calling, “Take me out, take me out.” Mr. Hadfield–who, seeing the danger of his friend, had thrown off his coat and waistcoat–immediately swam to his assistance, and endeavoured, by placing his hand under his chin, to raise his head above water, but, as he raised him, he began to sink himself. He then dived under him, hoping Mr. Mason would lay hold on some part of his clothes, but he did not do so. Mr. Hadfield then, laying hold of Mr. Mason’s left wrist with his right hand, endeavoured to drag him through the water; but, finding that the wind and tide were carrying them further from the shore, he was compelled to leave him, then several feet below the water, with difficulty reaching the land himself in a very exhausted state. Five minutes before, they had entered the river together: now they were separated, to meet no more in this life–one taken, and the other left. Thus died this zealous, diligent, and faithful Minister of Christ, “taken away from the evil to come,” the first Missionary life which had fallen since the commencement of the Mission in 1815, notwithstanding the peculiar dangers to which the New-Zealand Missionaries continued to be exposed during that earlier period of its history.’ (Church Missionary Intelligencer 406).

The letter Lizzy sent by the person who came out with the Bishop
Lizzie was Emma and Sarah’s youngest sister Elizabeth Hill.

Give my kind love to Ann, kiss her dear boy for me
Francis and Ann Paddon’s first child Francis was born in 1838. Sarah refers to the falling out occasioned by Edwin’s financial losses to his brother-in-law Paddon before leaving England. See #1.

Mrs Rendel tells us of Miss Corbyn
See #8: ‘Miss Corbyn dined with us a couple of months ago.’