Lake Macquarie History

Letter from Richard Fennell to his brother William, 22nd April 1864

Lake MacQuarie
22nd April 1864

My very dear dear brother,

Like Oasis in the Wilderness, Like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land was the sight of your much-loved handwriting to me. I had entirely given up all hope of ever seeing it again, but I hope we shall now "start afresh". Should you not have time for regular correspondence, send me a few lines when opportunity presents itself, or direct out old newspapers to let us know you are still around the living of which I before began to entertain serious doubts and fears which were equally shared by all the family circle who not only love but in a manner venerate you as my earliest impressions of good are all connected with Uncle William, bibles, expositions of scripture, your own letters which have been read over until some of them are nearly worn out, all tend to the same impression. Pray do not leave us in such a state of suspense any more.

I am sorry to say I cannot obtain any tidings of Tom. I have neither heard from or of him since he left this part of the country. We did not part very good friends for his unfortunate propensity for drinking caused him to act in a way I could not allow when children were getting of the age to take notice, in fact there was a great deal said and done which would distress both you to hear and me to relate. I most sincerely hope that change of place connections may have worked a moral reformation in him though I much fear the failing was of too long standing, for the seed was not sown in this country. I will endeavour in every possible way to discover his present residence.

I am happy to hear so good an account of Mary and the olive branches, may God in his great mercy spare you long to be a blessing to each other. My three eldest are making rapid advance towards man and womanhood. The youngest is now eight years old, we have six in all, four boys and two girls, all good children, unfortunately not very intellectual as I have had neither means or opportunity to send them to school. Never having since marriage lived within thirty miles of such an establishment and boarding schools are quite beyond the reach of my means, so that what little education they have is home acquired and my time is so much occupied with supplying their bodily wants, I have not the chance of attending as much as I should wish to their mental acquirements. They are, however, thank god, strong in health and limbs and not likely to be placed in a situation of life to require large self [achievements] as I should like them to follow the same primitive sort of existence I have myself adopted for years, being certain it is the best both for body and soul. I think I heard my eldest girl say she was going to write to one of her cousins so you must tell the young ladies how matters stand and tell them to shut their eyes to all imperfections.

Australia is just now in a woeful plight everything going wrong we have now been three months in a state of bog. The accounts from the interior of the havoc occasioned by the floods is heartrending. The farmers have all lost their wheat crops with the rust, and now the continuous rain has destroyed the maize and potatoes. Thousands that were in comfortable circumstances are reduced to penury. The scab has also appeared among the sheep and the pleuro among the cattle which last has, I am sorry to say, nearly ruined me within the last two years. I have lost nearly all my good milking cows besides bullocks and young stock. 3 years my census return of cattle was 210 head and a few months back all I could return was 43. Weary work is it not and it happened at a time when they were most required as I had just purchased a few acres of land to make a little nest for my birds, and the expense of farming a new establishment from the wild bush is very great, and takes many years to get any return. Now my cows were the bankers from whence the dividends came to meet such contingencies, and their failing throws me on my beam ends completely, but there is a silver lining to every cloud, the only thing that daunts me is I am growing old, weary and rheumatic, but let what may come I intend to persevere to the last for a home of ones own is of too much importance not to be hard strived for.

I enclose the receipt for the remittance which from what I have written above you can imagine how thankful we were to receive and please also accept our most heartfelt thanks for your kind addition to the amount. It has found the youngsters in many things they much required more than you can imagine for those who always have plenty do not understand those sort of things.

I am sorry to say I must conclude for it is sundown and after dark I cannot see either to read or write, and I must start for town before daylight in the morning or I shall not be back tomorrow night which is Saturday, and have never been a Sunday away from home since I was married, so with kindest love to Mary, the young folks and yourself believe me Dearest William

Your most affectionate brother

Please direct to Wallsend instead of Minmi

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