Lake Macquarie History

Letter from Tom Fennell to his brother William, 4th February 1851

4 February

Dear William,

I cannot tell you the surprise and sorrow which filled my heart on receiving your last dated 15th August 1850 after my return from (indecipherable) Lake where I had been for some time. The dreadful news of dear Mother’s sudden death was indeed an awful and unexpected shock to me which I think must at least be the finishing strokes of those sorrows which have for the last two years been daily increasing. I did trust that I might have been permitted once more to have received my Mother’s blessing from her own lips, but as God willed otherwise I will learn to overcome this sorrow that for whole days takes possession of my heart. It was with great joy that I found from you letter that her death was attended with so little suffering and that she passed into another world with that mental and bodily peace that all Christians hope to die in. It must indeed have been a dreadful shock for poor sisters; tell me how they bore it and all about them, what they intend to do and where to live, and how Rohana’s health is. I wish my dear little Hity was with me, for with the property she has she could live as well off comfortably as ever she did at home, but the distance I feel [is] too great for us ever to get together again, it is a country that would not suit Amy at all. The books that dear mother left to me as a special legacy will indeed be valued and cherished by me for the sake of the giver, for it shows that she still loved me although in my boyish sin I forsook and left her in her old age. Do send me the pictures too if they do not cost much carriage for you cannot think what melancholy pleasure I feel in looking at the few little trifles I have got that remind me of those happy days that have gone by. Send me Lord Nelson, as for the plate, you can do what you like with it, but I think the money is the most use to me. At the time your letter arrived I had gone down to (indecipherable) Lake to catch and salt fish in hopes of being able to get some money to send Hity the interest of hers or the last year, but I had no luck but my old sort - bad - for the net was rotten and we did not get as many as would pay expenses. Richard was with me. I hope you will deduct my money due to Hity from me for interest from my sum, you have mine and give her it with my love and thank her. You have never told me anything about that balance of £8 or £10 you told me you [were] going to send by the next post after the rum came. I have asked about it in three different letters. I wish you would let me know for if you did send it I ought to enquire at the post about it for you [are] in general so particular that I think there is some mistake.

You will remember in my last I told you that dear Hity would not give me the assistance that I hoped to have received from her. I should give up the station at Trialba for I found that as Richard had left me and taken his own and Mr Holt’s cattle I was losing by it. I did so and went to live with a dear kind friend William Sparke Jnr who has a farm at Hexham and who offered me a home with him as long as I wished to stop. He is a native of this country ( I do not mean a black) about 18 years of age and of as kind and honest a disposition as was ever found in a human being, and add to this that he is as handsome, black hair and eyes and of the best figure (for the natives of this country [indecipherable] any [indecipherable] people in that respect) you ever saw. You have his picture but you will love him not for that but for his being the only friend, except Charles Ranclaud who remembers, and were kind to me in my misfortune. I came to live with William and [indecipherable] in August and immediately took a situation under a person named Turner to manage his Coal Pits which are at Hexham. I was to receive £55 a year and to live at is expense (but Wiliam would not hear of my leaving him, so I continued at his house). I remained with him, Mr Turner, until December when he failed and he kindly told me he had no more need of my services and as he had not a penny himself, he could not of course give me one. So I served him well for near five months, for I had to be at the pit by six in the morning, to remain there until six at night, and had to ride ten miles there and ten back, and yet I never got a farthing for it. I even used my own horses all the time, but I have always had [bad] luck.

I am still with Willie and shall stop here until I hear more particularly from you, which I hope to do shortly. I have a little land under cultivation, which will, I trust, pay my expenses in the meantime. In the meantime for my [needs are] few as I live with Willie. I wish William, if the parcel has not been already sent, that you would get something with my money for William, and let it be something good, say, a pair of those black leather over for riding in, or a real handsome riding whip, and send it to him as a present from you with a note telling him how much you thank him for his kindness to me. Do not send any more things to Moses but direct them all to Mr Coates, for I would rather they were not sent to him. Do not forget the book that Mr Tait said he had given you for me. I shall write my dear Hity shortly, but I am so busy with the threshing machine just now that I have little time, and I begin to plow tomorrow. But she shall hear soon, so shall my Polly. Thank her for her letter and tell her that I truly grieve for her loss. Tell [indecipherable] that I rejoiced to hear of the increase of your family and I trust that blessings will increase in proportion. The [indecipherable] as I think of her who was always a sharer on my good wishes, but as she has gone where sorrow shall, I am thankful that she is now at rest and pray that we shall all meet hereafter in that happy land of living.

I think that if you shall send me when you get my money, £5 worth of roofing the same as before, it will be as well for it is of great use on a station. Richard and family are all well. He is much kinder to me, therefore do not mention his former behaviour in any of your letters to him for it might cause a difference between us. Louisa has had another little boy. Newcastle improved as a shipping port therefore the prices of agriculture produce is higher. You must remember me to John and Cresswell. Tell him I took a 70lb fish down at the lake. Remember and seal your next letter for your last had no securing.

Rest dear William to be your affectionate brother
N. Thom. Fennell

Acknowledgement of Country

We remember and respect the Ancestors who cared for and nurtured this Country. It is in their footsteps that we travel these lands and waters. Lake Macquarie City Council acknowledges the Awabakal people and Elders past, present and future.

Council acknowledges traditional custodians throughout Australia. We commit to listening deeply to and collaborating with First Peoples in our work.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website and Council's cultural collections may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material.

This website may contain place names, opinions and terms that reflect authors' views or those of the period in which the item was written or recorded. These may not be considered appropriate today.

If you experience any issues with the website or its content please contact us [email protected]