Writing Lines 10

Letter to sister Frances Harris in Nelson, 24 December 1861

Dec. 24 1861
My dear Frances

This is Christmas Eve, I was just going to bed very tired but thought I would write a few lines first. I wish I was with you now as I suppose that you are all at home tonight, perhaps you are having a nice little supper now or papa is playing the harp or like me you may be thinking of days gone by, but we will not look back, it is too painful and I cannot look forward it is too dreary, there is but one way to look and that is above.

This will be the third Christmas I have spent away from home the last at home was when Dr Renshaw dined with us.

I have been all day helping to decorate All Saints Church. There were about a dozen young ladies in the school room making wreaths, crosses and various other devices, they all appeared to have so much taste that I found it would be difficult to distinguish myself in the flower line, however I made one little cross with violet coloured flowers, with a small white wreath round it that was greatly admired.

Christmas day Mr & Mrs Des Voeux & myself received the sacrament early in the morning at All Saints, we went to church again at eleven, Mrs Richardson & Mrs King dined with us.

I saw Mrs Gore Browne at a concert on Monday, she appears to have made a favourable impression on the Hobartonians. The ladies say she dresses very plainly, a great contrast to Lady Young who could carry off any amount of dress being tall stout and very dignified.

MS copy of letter to sister Frances Emma Harris, Nelson. Written in Hobart, Tasmania, 24 Dec 1861. Breaks off mid-sentence. Copying date unknown. Puke Ariki. ARC2002-190. Single folio folded in half, watermarked Hammond Manufacturing Stationer.

Emily has been eight months in Hobart with the Des Voeux family. She does not describe her situation but from references to a concert and church-going, it seems likely that she continued to act as lady companion to Catherine Des Voeux and probably as nursery governess to the children. Apart from two letters to Frances, there is little record of Emily’s time in Hobart. A handcoloured portrait from the studio of artist and photographer Alfred Bock of 140 Elizabeth St, Hobart, is preserved in the Harris Weyergang Album Photographique. It is undated but must have been taken between 1861 and early 1865.

Mr & Mrs Des Voeux & myself received the sacrament early in the morning at All Saints
All Saints South Hobart Parish was established 1858 and is part of the Diocese of Tasmania. The church, designed by eminent Hobart architect Henry Hunter, opened for worship in 1861. Hunter was an admirer of the English Gothic revival architect Augustus Pugin, whose influence is apparent in the design of All Saints. The church is located at 339 Macquarie St, South Hobart, at the intersection of Macquarie St and the Southern Outlet. It is a few blocks away from the Des Voeux residence in Holbrook Place (upper Davey St). See ‘Restoring All Saints Church South Hobart’ and ‘Waiting for the Circus: Emily Harris in Hobart.’

I saw Mrs Gore Browne at a concert on Monday
Thomas Robert Gore Browne (1807-1887), soldier and colonial governor, Married Harriet Louisa Campbell (1829-1906) at St Quivox, Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1851. Browne was Governor of NZ from 1855 until December 1861, when he was replaced by George Grey and appointed second Governor of Tasmania, a post he held until 1868. ‘In Tasmania the Brownes lived just outside Hobart. Harriet Browne continued to attend and organise musical, theatrical and social occasions. She enjoyed her “bairns,” her weekly readings with “some very nice good girls,” and her weekly music practices.’ (Te Ara)

a great contrast to lady Young
Sir Henry Edward Fox Young (1803-1870) married Augusta Sophia Marryat in 1848. Young was the fifth Governor of South Australia, serving in that role from 1848 until 1854. He was then the first Governor of Tasmania, from 1855 until 1861. Sir Henry was the first Tasmanian Governor to occupy Government House, Hobart, the neo-gothic Vice-Regal residence on the banks of the River Derwent. (ADB)

Charles and Catherine Des Voeux quickly became part of Hobart’s fashionable social scene. Charles was a founding member of the Tasmanian Club in 1861 and  became a Freemason of the Pacific Lodge, Hobart, in 1873. In the early 1870s he had land holdings in NSW and on occasion acted as private secretary to Tasmanian Governor Charles Du Kane. He made at least one visit to England (1869) and travelled frequently in Victoria, NSW and Queensland. He also made annual trips to NZ in the 1860s, extending his land interests and overseeing arrangements for the running of Glenavon. His New Plymouth agent was Thomas Standish, and it is probably this connection that led to Des Voeux’s holding of the mortgage on Edwin Harris’s Frankley Rd farm between 1859 and 1862. Because of his land holdings Des Voeux was an elector on Taranaki rolls into the 1880s. See ‘Des Voeux Chronology.’

Taranaki Herald 28 Sept 1861: 1. Advertisements. NOTICE! The Fences at Glenavon having been substantially repaired, the farm bailiff Mr Thomas Hamblyn has received instructions to impound all cattle and horses found trespassing thereon, and to enforce damages for the trespass. All persons are hereby also warned from trespassing, cutting, or removing any plants, shrubs, or cuttings from the grounds of C. C. DesVoeux, or Mrs Richardson ; and any persons claiming a permission or authority to cut or remove the same are hereby informed that such permission is withdrawn. Thos. Standish, Agent for C. C. DesVoeux, Esq., and Mrs Richardson. New Plymouth, 28rd Aug., 1861.