Catherine Jane Rendel to brother Edwin Harris. London, [August 1842]
… at not getting the letter which Sarah said you had written Mr Rendel. He is very much disappointed as he wished particularly to hear from you. Sarah’s letter to father was directed to Mr Rendel, I concluded by mistake, and imagined that father had the one intended for us but none has come.
We are all well but I have not much pleasant information to give you. Stephen is out of employment; he wrote us yesterday and his little boy is very ill and has been for some time. They are quite on Mr Rendel’s hands and if it were not for that and Mr Rendel’s having two of the Elliott family also I should have indulged myself in sending some little comfort for you and Sarah but under those circumstances I am sure you will not think it unkind that I do not.
I am anticipating a visit to Plymouth with great pleasure. We shall often talk of you. Who do you think has found me out lately: Mrs Dibdin. She is left a widow and is nearly destitute with three children.
I did not know her though she would not tell me her name for some time. All her beauty is gone. She is stout and matronly. She wanted me to write for her a petition to the Queen Dowager to get two of her children into schools. I have done it and she seems pleased. I do not yet know the result. She has a pension of £10 a year.
Sarah’s letter gave me much pleasure. It breathed such a cheerful spirit and such disregard of her privations and annoyances that I was quite proud of it. Do write again to me particularly as I know Mr R. would be pleased. If you can get on without Capt. Hobson I shall be just as well pleased. I suppose his stay there does not exceed five years. I believe that is the normal time of government.
I am writing now in great haste which is really disgraceful when my letter is to travel so far but I have just heard from Ellen who says that a parcel is immediately going for you and I wish this to accompany it. I hope my next letter will bring better news of Stephen and Emma. So far ill fortune has followed him. The Germans are bankrupt and having nothing more to hope from Rendel. They refused to pay Stephen more than the rate of £120 a year. He had calculated on £150. I am glad to say that he has conducted himself so well as to secure Mr R.’s good opinion and I trust something will be found for him.
Augusta and Dobson go on comfortably. We shall be near them for we stay at Colonel Smiths. The old gentleman is as industrious and active as ever. I am glad to hear that Mr Brown is active and well. He was far from it when he left England.
Our boys have been at home for the vacation. Meadows is doing very well. He has gained several prizes and promises to be a first rate mathematician. Lewis is the same sweet fellow he always was. He is at school at Brighton which we thought better for his health.
They shall send you some drawings soon. Miss Corbyn dined with us a couple of months ago. She found me out and has promised to do so again. She is still with Capt. Napier. She wears very well though she is much thinner. Plymouth news you will hear from Ellen. Do you know that Greeves is in India. He went out for Mr Rendel to superintend the establishment of some Floating Bridges at Calcutta.
You know of course Beardmore is married and living at our old house in George Street. They do not increase and multiply. Has anyone told you that we have an income tax of 7 pence in one pound to pay? Every one who has an income of £150 pays it. We have had a glorious summer only too hot. An abundant harvest but there is much distress and rioting in the country.
God bless you my dear Edwin and all belonging to you. Give my love to Sarah who I hope is happy with her young New Zealander and kiss the children. Ever your affectionate sister C.J. Rendel.
Mr Rendel sends his kindest remembrances. He hears of you with the greatest interest.
MS letter to brother Edwin Harris, New Plymouth, NZ. Written in London, England, [Aug 1842]. First page missing. Cranstone Papers. Copy at Turnbull. MS-Papers-0489. Item 1.
[…] at not getting the letter which Sarah said you had written Mr Rendel
The first page of Kate Rendel’s letter is lost. She is in the middle of describing who has received letters from NZ.
Stephen is out of employment
See Ellen Harris’s letter of Jan 1842 concerning Rendel’s arrangement of a clerkship at Bristol for Stephen Court (#7). The Court’s eldest son Stephen was born in 1841.
and Mr Rendel’s having two of the Elliott family also
JM Rendel was supporting members of his married sister’s family. Lane (10): ‘Socially, JMR associated with the town’s professional set. His closest friends were Samuel Elliott, a surveyor, later to become his brother-in-law, George Wightwick and John Foulston, leading architects in the district, and the Greaves family, who had earlier sold their gracious family home to Lord Nelson’s mistress, Lady Emma Hamilton.’
We shall be near them for we stay at Colonel Smiths
Colonel Charles Hamilton Smith (1776-1859), retired soldier and writer on natural history, lived at 40 Park St, Plymouth. His eldest daughter Emma was unmarried and was her father’s companion and assistant (DNB).
I am glad to hear that Mr Brown is active and well
Charles Armitage Brown (1787-1842), was a passenger on the Oriental, Nov 1841. His son Charles Brown was a passenger on the Amelia Thompson. Brown Senior was a literary figure who had been a friend of the poet John Keats. He was critical of the New Plymouth settlement and planned to return to England but died suddenly of a stroke 5 June 1842. He was buried on Marsland Hill, behind St Mary’s Church (Kete New Plymouth).
Meadows is doing very well […] Lewis is the same sweet fellow
Alexander Meadows Rendel (1829-1918) continued his father’s business, becoming a prominent civil engineer. Three of his brothers, George, Stuart and Hamilton Rendel, also became engineers. Lewis Rendel (1830-1851) began a career in engineering but died young. In 1841 concerns about Lewis’s health prompted the Rendels to remove him from Edward Lane’s school in Plymouth (see #7).
Miss Corbyn dined with us a couple of months ago
The daughter of Sarah Harris’s Aunt Corbyn, living in the London household of Captain Henry Edward Napier, RN, whose wife died in 1836 leaving four children (O’Byrne).
You know of course Beardmore is married and living at our old house in George Street
Nathaniel Beardmore (1816-1872) married Mary Bernard in 1841. He was JM Rendel’s first pupil and was offered a partnership in 1838 that was dissolved 10 years later.
Has anyone told you that we have an income tax of 7d in one pound to pay
Prime Minister Robert Peel introduced the first British income tax outside wartime in June 1842, levied at sevenpence in the pound for annual incomes over £150 (Paget 2). 7d was 7d in 20 x 12d in pre-decimal days, so not as heavy a rate as it may sound.
An abundant harvest but there is much distress and rioting in the country
Innes: ‘When Parliament met at the beginning of 1842 the new ministers had plenty of problems to solve. Chartism was again becoming active, trade was depressed, want was widespread, Ireland was disturbed, rumours of disaster had come from India. The country at least hoped that the financial ability with which Peel was credited would find some solution for the existing problems so far, at least, as they sprang from economic causes.’ (Peels Ministry)
Give my love to Sarah who I hope is happy with her young New Zealander
News has reached England of the birth of Frances Emma Harris 14 Feb 1842 (see #9). Kate Rendel’s letter was probably written in Aug 1842, reaching NZ in Jan 1843 via the barque Essex (see notes for #10 and reference to Miss Corbyn in #11).