Lake Macquarie History

Letter from Richard Fennell to his brother William, 30th April 1851

Lake MacQuarie
30th April 1851

Dear William,

I have enclosed as I mentioned in my last letter an account of the money transactions between Tom and myself, and my reason for doing are that Tom has endeavoured to make it appear that his failures have entirely arisen from his assisting me, whereas the fact is that I am entirely ruined through helping him. From the last letter I received from you he appears to have written that I was completely done up and a move was necessary, whereas the fact is at that time I could muster one hundred and eighty head of cattle, four breeding mares and four young colts besides the necessaries for commencing in my old line of life, dairy utensils, cart and dray, farming and fencing tools. In fact all I wanted to set against which was a debt of £50 due to Benjamin and Co of Sydney (who would have waited my own time to pay as they are rich shipmates of mine) and I have from time to time paid them a great deal of money instead of a [trust] under such circumstances being ruined.

I can assure you it is a very comfortable start (and I imagine that Master Tom would have no objections to take it today and not think himself badly off either) if I should have kept on the place where I was at the rent of 6/- per week. I gave, after the license had expired as a farm and an accommodation house for travellers, a good paying business without expense or trouble. But when Tom returned from Sydney when taking the farm of Maryland and requested me to join him in it, though I would not run the risk of that [had] I know he could do nothing with it himself at a rent of £100 a year without all the assistance he could obtain, and thinking that the sum of £25 a year would find my family in clothes and what I might require, and the cattle would be increasing until I saw him in a position to get on by himself. I agreed that he should pay my expenses down and I would give him the dairying of the cows to pay that expense and remunerate him for their feeding on his farm.

This agreement entered into I sold him my cart and dray, thinking I should not want them again for a while, and the money would pay Benjamin and Co. a part of the debt, and he was to get a draught horse bullocks to take us down, as he would want them on the farm, and [after] he went to take possession, was to then come back, help me down with the cattle. But when he was once at the farm, he did not fancy leaving the company he had met with there, and instead of returning to get all down together at as little expense as possible, left me to do the best I could; find bullocks and horse myself by selling what otherwise I should not have had to part with, and I was forced to leave the cattle behind, as I could not drive the team, and look after the stock as well. By which I lost a great many cattle and he a seasons dairying besides putting me to that expense of near £30 for bullocks and horse and £20 travelling expenses that journey. As I told you before the station was not worth tythe of what he was to give; it was thrown up and Trialba station taken after getting some little jobs done there.

I wanted to return for the cattle and leave him to get in some crops with my bullocks, but as I told you before he would come with me and made a regular mess putting himself to the expense of £12 quite uselessly for after all when he heard the sum had arrived he left me again to shift for myself and when I got down 6 weeks afterwards he had not a penny of the money left neither had he paid any rent or laid in a supply of provisions or bought our farming implements or anything else, with the exception of £28 he paid for me. I have no idea what became of the money for had it not been for the kindness of a neighbour my wife and children would have been starved while we were away. So they had not put him to any expense, in fact during the time I was with him I only took a ration the same as a regular servant as I heard he made a talk of his providing for us, and I am sure I earned what I agreed for and when I tell you that Louisa had to attend to the dairy of 40 cows, wash and bake for him besides keeping his house in order. She did enough for her miss (which I had not agreed for) as I stipulated most particularly that she should have nothing to do her own place, and her own family being as much as she ought to have to manage the work she had to do there and the uneasiness she was made to feel has had an effect on her constitution I fear she will never get over as she has ever since shown decided symptoms of [Pleuritis?]. From Tom not having paid any rent or provided means of getting on I was thrown on my own hands and it has taken all my cattle to get together, bullocks etc to get on with and to find food and clothing for my family for the last 18 months a good many have died from disease and 8 head and my old working bullocks sold out of the pound. In fact I am now what Tom represented me two years ago, done up, whereas if he had exercised common prudence I should have been no worse off nor better off that then. This is a plain statement of facts which I send you not with any idea of family on his part (for thoughtlessness and I think a natural love of appearing somebody has had more to do with it than any vicious propensities), but to exculpate myself from any blame as he was in a manner committed to my charge that he has learned a salutary lesson I hope when he received his next supply. I trust he will be content to appear what he really is, a poor man, and not endeavour to take high flights until his wings grown properly feathered.

Louisa joins me in affectionate remembrances to Mary and accept the same yourself from your sincere friend and brother

I should now bid you goodbye again until I shall please almighty God remove his chastening hand from me for I have no wish to burden others with the story of my calamities, and they so completely occupy all my thoughts I cannot write cheerfully.

Wheat and flour are very dear and likely to still rise in price. I have not been able to get any and have been living on corn meal these three months. We are beginning to get used to it now but it did not go down well at all at first.

Please thank Mrs. Tootal for her kind letter the only one I have received from anyone these 2 years past, and say I will send her an answer as soon as I can muster spirits to write in a way that will not give her the dolefuls.

Once more dear William farewell and do not think that when I drop correspondence with you I shall cease to remember. No William I do and always shall love you as a brother, honour your principals as a man. I feel the deepest gratitude for the many acts of kindness you have shown to me and mine and that your earthly course may be as happy and prosperous as I am sure your heavenly lot will be blessed is the heartfelt wish and prayer of your brother.

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