Letter 17

Augusta Dobson to brother Edwin Harris. Plymouth, 28 April [1846]

Plymouth, April 28, 1844

My dear Edwin

I had hoped that ere this we should have had a letter from you informing us of the arrival of a little stranger; none however has come. We are therefore though very anxious to know that all is well, yet obliged to quell our fears and believe all is right and that Sarah is again well and surrounded by her little group which must now be looking formidable. We were not quite satisfied with her account of yourself. Your health does not appear so good, as your friends in England would like. Are you discouraged? I wish you would write freely about the matter. Mr Evans told us that you had said you should try things a little longer. Rendel’s influence is so increasing with the Admiralty that I do not despair of his getting you some appointment either in New Zealand or Australia, or are you so pleased with farming that you would prefer that? I do not think you are open enough in expressing what you feel. Do you doubt the continued interest of us all? You ought not to do so. Poor father and Mother are very anxious to hear that things are better and above all to know that you and Sarah are happy but this we fear cannot be the case unless you are raised above [want].

We were delighted to find from your letters that the box arrived safely and in good condition. I assure you I felt not a little jealousy to see the pains Aunty took to get it filled; you found the trifle in money; we took for granted you understood that some of it was a private affair.

You will be surprised to hear that Father has left the business in Union Street. Henry has the entire management of it. They (I mean Father, Mother and Aunt Maria) are just gone into a very comfortable little house next to James’s in Park Street and Ellen remains with Henry who has had a pretty shop made of the parlour. Giving also the china closet at the back which he intends to let.

The little room on the first and second floor he has taken into his own shop, reserving three rooms & the kitchen for themselves.

You will naturally ask how Father is to live; his income will be small but we hope enough. Henry is to supply a hundred a year, Rendel gives 25 and Stephen & Dobson 10 each more; this makes nearly the hundred and fifty. You I am sure will rejoice in this arrangement especially when I tell you that father’s health made him unfit for business and that mother though as well as we have a right to expect required the same change.

[…] Miss Hill’s and Katie continues a pupil. Dobson met the D’Estesces on Sunday; they always enquire for you all very kindly and would rejoice in your prosperity. Father and Mother and Aunty send you all their most affectionate remembrances, the former would write to you but he finds it now a most difficult task to write a long letter. Therefore you must not think it is want of regard. He talks a great deal about you and thinks more. Emma said she should write to you, I mean our sister, but I am not quite sure that she will be in time for this vessel.

Do write us very soon and say all you feel. I trust things are by this time looking brighter. Father is very anxious to hear that this is the case and begs you will be explicit in saying particularly what your hopes and fears are.

Kate has for the last three or four months been in the greatest anxiety about Lewis who has had rheumatic fever and is now nearly worn to a skeleton from abscesses which one after the other have formed in his knees. We do not despair of his ultimate recovery but it is very very slow. Again my dear Ned accept the affectionate remembrances of all your friends, give the children many kisses from all here and tell them they are not forgotten. Aunty is very sorry that her writing is so unintelligible that you did not understand that the combs and brushes were from our sister Emma, the patchwork quilt was from Katie Court and every thing that was not [noted] came from Union Street.

I hope it will not be many months before another such a box will be filled. A letter directed to Father for us can be forwarded therefore direct him 36 Park Street. Dobson unites with me in affectionate love to you and Sarah.

I am ever your affectionate

Augusta Dobson.

MS letter to brother Edwin Harris, New Plymouth, NZ. Written in Plymouth, England, 28 April 1844 [sic] and postmarked 28 April 1846. Puke Ariki. ARC 2002-190. Box 2, folder 4. (N)


Plymouth, April 28, 1844
Augusta Dobson dates her letter 1844 but it is postmarked 1846. The later date is correct (see #19).

Mr Evans told us
Perhaps James Evans, surgeon superintendent of the Amelia Thompson in 1841.

You will be surprised to hear that Father has left the business in Union Street
Pigot’s 1844 Directory lists Harris James & Son, painters & guilders at 2 Union Street in Plymouth (101). The same directory lists son James Cobham Harris, artist, in Park St. Pigot’s 1830 Directory lists the Harris business, ‘Glass Warehouses – Crown,’ and ‘Painters & Glaziers’ at 23 Parade (241).

[…] Miss Hill’s and Katie continues a pupil
Sentence fragment at top of page, apparently unconnected with the sentence at the bottom of the preceding page. The reference is to Emma Hill’s school in Liskeard, where Katie Court was a pupil at the date of writing. She would have been about 11 years old. If an inserted page in the letter has been lost, its content seems likely to have concerned news of Augusta And Dobson’s own family, sons Austin, Charles, Hamilton and James, born between 1840 and 1846.

A letter directed to Father for us can be forwarded therefore direct him 36 Park Street
From Augusta’s comment (‘They (I mean Father, Mother and Aunt Maria) are just gone into a very comfortable little house next to James’s in Park Street’), it would seem that James Cobham Harris lived at 37 Park St, an address he retained in census returns for 1851, 1861 and 1871.