Lake Macquarie History

Letter from Tom Fennell to his brother William, June 1849

Trialba Station

June 1849

Dear William,

So long has been my silence to you from unavoidable causes, first of which is my want of cash to pay the postage; second because I had no good news to give you that I shall not attempt to answer your many kind letters but shall confine myself to that latest, 29th December, trusting to Harriet to tell you of all the events that have taken place with me since my last letter dated 28th July 1848. I must first thank you for your kindness in sending me the rums; they had been long expected and much longer needed by me; I received them on the 6th of this month with the greatest thankfulness. If Mr Holdsworth had paid you the amount when first you requested him I should have been worth £400 more this hour than I am. Last November I was offered by a person who wanted cash, one thousand bushels of maize to be delivered at my station for 1/- the bushel. I should have purchased it as I had plenty of storage room. Maize is now selling and has been for the last 2 months at 4/6 and 5/- the bushel. Not saying anything of that I have not had cash to bring the cattle down and have lost the dairy practice amounting to £40 at the least. I have had all household expenses going out without one penny coming in, and do have as Harriet told you to trust to the storekeeper to give me credit for these things and have had rent to pay. I am sure, dear William, you will be sorry for me knowing the grief and anxiety I have been at and no earthly friend to comfort me. With the amount that I received for the rum I am thankful to say that I paid off all my accounts, got the cattle down and have a little to spare. Dear William you say that I should be disappointed at not receiving the whole £200 you are right. I was, for I had so much confidence that I should do so, that I engaged on a larger scale that I should otherwise have done and I dread to look forward to the consequences. Would you Dear William by acting as you think your duty to (indecipherable) and others would let you let me have the use of the remainder for one year. I only ask and need it for that time, you will be conferring a kindness on me that you will never regret and you will save me many years of anxious labour, that by the badness of my health I am not fitted for; if you can do so, avoid delay but let me have it at once because it is merely to make a commencement I want it, and to meet my first years expenses. At any rate dear William do not take this request amiss I have made it in a blunt way and hope it will be received kindly by you. You receive kindness from friends who put confidence in you. I hope you will not think it amiss of me and hope for the same confidence and kindness. At the same time dear William I will carry on my business in the same way that I should do if there was no possibility of my receiving aid from anyone. Indeed when I give you an account of my station and the way I manage it you will pray that I go to as little expense as anyone possibly could. The rums arrived at rather an unfortunate time; the Herald of that week stated that rum was at a lower figure that had been known for many years in the colony owing to their being a great glut in the market. It was considered the best that had been sold or a great length of time. Brandy's are at an extraordinarily high price. [When] you found that there had been a glut in the market when first news arrived [then] that is the time you should choose for shipment.

Brandy is best liked in this country. I give you a copy of [Moses?] account, I found that they could get a better market than I could.

Now for my own concerns; Hity will have told you that I have removed to a station adjoining the one I first went to. I am now 12 miles from Newcastle and 18 from Maitland. A part of my ground is on the banks of Lake McQuarie. When I can afford I shall purchase a boat. We can get £14 a ton for salt fish; it takes about a fortnight a ton, deduct for salt, one mans wages and carting to market and it gives about £10 profit, but we can only take fish in this quantity for about 3 months in the year; I shall send you a plan of it shortly. I rent 2,160 acres of purchased land for which I pay the annual rent of £35. It belongs to a Captain Black who now lives in England. I am also, according to the new land regulations, entitled to 12 sections ( 640 acres in a section) of government land adjoining for the annual payment of [unreadable] 10/- the section. On my station I have about 80 acres of cleared land fit for cultivation part of which is at the house, the remainder about 3 miles off. The house is a very good one with rooms as large and good as those we had at [the] cottage. It has 6 rooms all on ground floor and is surrounded by a verandah and 2 good kitchens apart from the house. A good bright stall and stable, 2 dairie and 2 men’s huts and outer buildings. These are all on a small hill and the house looks down on a flat of fenced grounds and on every side we are surrounded by mountains covered with the most beautiful gumtrees. It is a quiet spot in which you would love to escape the pomp and [circumstance] of the world to think of that world which is to come. I have a good garden with many sorts of fruit and about 60 vines. I have not yet had any servants but when the cattle arrive I shall keep 1 one man only and the daily work I shall endeavour to manage myself and the cultivation must be done by Richard and the man. You see my notion of a great many men has soon gone to the wind. I got a good few horses to keep on my run and also cattle belonging to Newcastle and Maitland persons. The charge for horses is £1, for cattle 5/- yearly. If you do as I asked you in the former part of this I shall purchase a horse for £2 which will serve the mares £1 each and bring me in about £30 a year for I have 640 acres fenced in for that purpose. You see I have much for want of a little cash.

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