The following letter was transcribed for us by Mike Salmon, email@example.com from his collection of Prince Edward Island Covers.
Addressed to Miss Nicholson, Thornton Park, Near Berwick on Tweed, England. Received Berwick July 21 1851. No PEI postmark. Rated 1/- in black manuscript (to be paid by recipient)
Ch. Town, P. E. Island, Gulf of St. Lawrence, July 4th 1851
My dear Elizabeth and Harriet,
I should have answered your letters (most welcome) they were) earlier were it not that I was anxious to give you the best information upon the subject you both mention – the suitability of this place for emigration. After the receipt of yours, I obtained an introduction to Mr. Thornton, a gentleman who has had a great deal to do with farming & purchasing land here. He proposed that I should write out a list of questions, & he would write the answers underneath, which I accordingly did, & after considerable delay (owing to Mr Thornton’s absence from home) I received the answers, which are as follows: -
What is the general quality of the land? A productive, though in general a light soil and consequently requiring the frequent application of manure. (Manure is easy to procure, in abundance)
Is land easily procured, either to rent or purchase? It is both for rent or purchase.
What is the average rent and purchase of good land in favourable situations? The average rent in good situations is from 1/-3d to 2/-5d P.E.I. currency per acre, for 50 acre farms and improves in quantity. Higher rents (20 s to 60s currency) are sometimes obtained for farms in the neighbourhood of Charlotte Town. (Mr T. does not state what the price of land is, but you may get good farms in the country from £3 to £5 per acre currently. We paid £10 & £14 per acre for one close to town). (The Currency is found by adding ½ to the sterling. Thus £1 stg. Is 30s curcy.)
Is purchase or rent preferable? Purchase I think as the uncertainty and often difficulty of selling farm produce for cash to meet an annual or half yearly rent, renders the tenant’s situation more uncertain than it ought to be, where the livelihood of himself and family depends solely on his energy. Skill and industry; and also a leasehold is not so readily disposed of as a free hold, in the event of a tenant wishing to remove. (All the persons I ask agree in preferring freehold to leasehold farms in the Island without any exception).
What sized farms are most likely to succeed? A great deal depends – or in fact all- on the mode of farming but for a family, I should think not less than 100 acres & up to 300.
Is there any advantage (commensurate with the additional expense) in Living near Town? By living near Charlotte Town, there is greater certainty of a market; and if a gentleman, more choice of society, and a better opportunity of educating a family. (Land near Town of course is dearer, but otherwise I don’t think any expense would be saved by living in the country, except dress and such things, which you study more when near town).
To what kind of farming are the soil and climate most favourable? Grain and hay crops. But the latter is not for exportation. Wheat, barley and oats are exported, chiefly the latter. Previous to the potato rot large quantities of that article were shipped to Halifax and Newfoundland. This is not a grazing country.
What market is there for farm-produce? The markets abroad are Halifax, Newfoundland and I am glad to say that for the past two or three years, we are finding a market for oats and barley in the United States. The home market is principally in Charlottetown and with the merchants and traders throughout the Island.
What kinds of stock, implements &c. are to be had? All kinds of stock and implements required, can be obtained here, not very expensive; but it would be advisable for an emigrant to make arrangements before leaving Britain, to have such kinds sent out, of improved stock and implements, &c. as he may think most suitable to the climate and soil, after being here some time. ( The Agricultural Society here has recently imported some fine Durham and Alderney Cattle.)
What workmen are to be had for a farm? All kinds of workmen can be had, the wages varying from £18 to £36 currency, besides board and lodging, for men and boys 16 years and upwards.
Would it be advisable to bring our farm servants? A good steady farm servant, as chief manager and superintendent would be found very serviceable where more than 3 servants are employed at outdoor work.
What are the average returns per acre, of the various crops? I should say the average of wheat is 20 to 25 bushels, barley 35 to 24, oats (Black Tartanan) 30 to 35. Hay 1½ to 2½ tons. Turnips 5 to 7 hundred bushels, premium crops of turnips have gone as high as 800 to 1000 bushels. I don’t give any return of the potato crop, as it is altogether uncertain since the rot. "I think it right to remark" (adds Mr Thornton) "that an emigrant should know that out of door farming operations as to working the soil are generally at a stand from the middle of December to the middle of March, and more frequently the beginning of April, owing to the severity of the winter, which is one of the greatest drawbacks the farmer has to encounter here."
So far Mr Thornton. He wished me, however, to ask information also from other parties, before giving his opinion as advice. But rather than delay longer, and lose this mail, I will send the information first as it is, and I believe (as far as I know) that what Mr T. says is the case, as he has resided here many years past and is an educated and intelligent man. As to the climate of this island I must confess it is a trying one. We have a very hot summer from the middle of June to the middle of September, - a splendid autumn, weather bracing and delightfully fine, colder in November and a hard, hard winter from November to the end of March. Then a cold, changeable and trying spring till the beginning or middle of June. We have little rain, and very few fogs, - perhaps 3 or 4 in a twelve-month. The air is clear and pure, and the place has the name of being healthy, though I really think there have been a great many deaths. However, I am no doctor, so will not bother you with any crude ideas of mine upon that subject. I have kept a meteorological Journal, of which I subjoin an abstract.
You see we have pretty cold winters, & hot summers. To make up for the backwardness of the season, everything grows very quickly. Wheat which only appears above ground about the middle or end of May, is cut in August, (from the beginning to the end of August). Other plants come on in the same proportion. By the bye, you ask what kind of house servants are to be had here. – They are not very numerous, & good ones are remarkably scarce. Many are regular thieves and bad characters, - most are stupid and careless. They have no idea of a neat way of doing their business, but all is confusion and higgledy–piggledy. We have latterly been fortunate, in getting really good servants. Housemaids’ wages are from £10 to £12 currency, and cooks’ from £12 to £15. Our servant man, who takes care of the horse & garden, chops the wood, & does a great deal of really hard work, but does not wait at table or open the door, gets from £18 to £20. One man is enough in a moderately small household, but the women servants are so lazy that you must keep 3 or 4, unless you live in a very small house. Gardening (I mean flowers) is rather a discouraging operation here, for the soil and climate are so very different to what they are in England, that plants require quite a different mode of treatment. And weeds do grow so abundantly, that unless you have kept your garden in good order for many years, they will fill all the beds. People dig up flower beds in the latter end of the autumn and expose the earth to the action of the severe frosts of winter, which destroys a great many weeds, but they spring up afresh next year in different places, like the Hydra’s heads. I suppose this trouble is what causes such a want of spirit in gardening, - people don’t seem to care about it, & there are only 2 or 3 decent gardens in all the town. In order to give some encouragement to so delightful an art, Mrs Grubb is this summer going to have a flower-show, at which small prizes are to be awarded for the best specimens of flowers, fruit & vegetables exhibited. I have been raising some melons for this show, but as it is to be at the end of this month, I am almost afraid they will not be ready in time. Kate is cultivating some balsams for the show, and lindens in the horticultural way. The taxes are very light. There is a land tax of 2/-6 for every town & pasture –lot in the town & Royalty (pastoral lots are 12 acres). Then there is a road tax, a dog tax, & (in town) a pump and well appeasement, all very light indeed. In fact, you may say there are scarcely any taxes at all. But there is a good deal of indirect taxation, for nearly every imported article pays a good sound duty, so that most imported goods are dear. As nearly all the houses in town are of wood, there is great danger of fire, though, thanks to the precautions taken, few fires occur. The town is divided into 4 districts, each of which has its fire warden, fire engine, & staff of firemen, together with a general corps of ladder-man, & fire-hook-men. Upon an alarm of fire, the church bells are rung, and every householder is obliged, under a penalty, to send a man to assist, with a proper fire-bucket. The fire wardens have the entire management of the proceedings. Two lines of men are formed, from the engines to the nearest pump, or to the river, one of which passes the full buckets up, and the other returns the empty buckets. The firemen (who are tradesmen, mechanics & others) have each their proper place, & the ladder-men are employed in removing people or goods from the houses; while the fire-hook-men, with their formidable weapons, pull down & raze to the ground such buildings as are likely to catch fire and spread the conflagration. And all together they do they do their work very well. Last March, about the middle of a stormy night, the wind blowing a strong gale, a fire broke out in a narrow street, and burned so fiercely that serious apprehensions were entertained for the safety of the town. The street was not 12 yards wide, & the opposit
I wish I could give you a favourable account of Simeona’s health, but her disease is again making progress, and I too much fear that my next letter will bear the news of our loss. However, we are not altogether without hope, and after all, we are in the hand of Him who knows far better than we, what is right for us. I was in hopes that she would have returned this summer to England, there to seek a remedy for the disorder, but today it has been decided that she will not go,- indeed, she herself wishes to stay here. I am not sure whether you know what our ideas of our future state are, but unless you do, you can have no idea how consolatory and delightful they are. I must now conclude, having exhausted time and matter, and got a headache besides, so, with kindest regards from all here to you and your’s, believe me to remain, your aft. Cousin
Kate sends her special love to you both, and will write in my next letter. Also,- though I said the summers were so hot, we have had a very wet one this year, and I am now writing with a fire in my room (at night). The wild strawberries are just now ripe, and currants set. Plum, cherry and damson trees were in blossom in the last half of June, & apple trees at the beginning of this month.
Transcriber’s note: words in red may not be correct, as they are difficult to read.See also:
View Tombstone and Data: [ Margaret Beazely ] | [ Simeona Beazely ]
[Interestingly, Margaret's (referred to in this series of letters as "Mother") tombstone, is one of the stones in the cemetery now known as the "Old Protestant Burying Grounds" on University Avenue (Elm Avenue), in Charlottetown. Simeona (referred to here as "Ona"), is buried nearby… The Inscriptions: Margaret, wife of George Beazely, d. Nov 13, 1850, age 49 | Simeona, dau. Of Commander and Mrs. Beazely b. Aug 17, 1821, d. Aug. 31 1851, age 30 years. Simeona's stone is a bit weathered, with some spalling and was relevelled last year. Margaret's stone is on the ground, but in excellent condition. It could be remounted on a base or simply placed in the ground, as there is a lot of blank space on the bottom of it. Do you know of any descendants who would be interested in helping to restore this stone? If so, please contact George Wright - firstname.lastname@example.org]
Nov. 1850 Letter from Alexander Beazeley
Mar. 1851 Letter from George Beazeley
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Nov. 1852 Letter from George Beazeley