Letters from P.E.I. - Bell Owen, Simonstown to Margaret Haszard, P.E.I., March 8, 1859


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Submitted by Asha Murphy, murphy@apex.net.au, letters originally transcribed by Molly Osborne Knight


Letter from Bell Owen, Simonstown, to Margaret Haszard, P.E.I., March 8, 1859

This is the first of a series of letters written between members of the Owen family who emigrated to NZ from PEI on the "Prince Edward" and their relatives in PEI. The letters were originally transcribed by Molly Osborne Knight, great grand-daughter of George and Annabelle Owen and grand-daughter of George and Annabelle's youngest child, Annabelle who was born in NZ. Ms Knight says that the transcription process was a long and difficult one but it was a labour of love. She has kindly given permission for her "labour of love" to be displayed on the web.

Later letters in the series tell the sad story of the early and difficult life George and Annabelle faced in NZ and how they had planned to return to PEI but circumstances prevented this. In the letters there are references to many relatives and friends in PEI and where possible I have identified them. It appears that many of these relatives in PEI had had plans of migrating to NZ themselves but were discouraged from doing so by George and Annabelle. It should be noted that the continuance of these families in PEI and Canada is possibly a direct result of these letters and the contents therein.

This first letter was written by Annabelle Owen to her sister-in-law, Margaret Haszard. The Owens - George William (son of Thomas Owen and Ann Campbell, b. 15.9.1825 in PEI, m. 20.12. 1855 at Charlottetown, d. 9.5.1906 in NZ), Annabelle (daughter of Nathan Davies and Amelia McNutt, b. 1827 in PEI, d. 12.7.1860 in NZ) and their 2 young sons, Thomas and Charles - sailed on the "Prince Edward" to NZ. This letter was written during a long stop at the Cape.

The letter refers to a "large lump of gold" that was left behind by George. George was one of the shareholders and passengers of the brig 'Fanny' that sailed from PEI to California in 1850. I do not know if the lump of gold is linked to this journey or not. The words 'large lump' used by Annabelle to describe the gold can be interpreted differently by different people. It may not have been very large at all.

Asha Murphy


Simon Town, Simon Bay
Cape of Good Hope.
March 8, 1859

My Dear Margaret1,

I hope this letter will find you preparing to come after us, and Dear girl, I hope you will have a pleasanter time than we have had and I will warn you not to come with so many families, two or three would have been plenty for our cabin, we have suffered for want of room very much in every way, there has been such destruction of property I am heartily glad we did not bring any more of our furniture or goods, as what little we brought has been almost destroyed and if we look after it yet or speak about them get nothing but ill will and black looks, there seems to be no order - nothing but confusion and disorder and grumbling; but we must forget all of these things and think of our past mercies, the Lord has been very good to all of us. He has preserved us in good health and strength and Oh how unworthy we have been of these His mercies to us. George and the children have been and are quite well. Tom2 very often talks of you and he so much likes me to tell him long stories about all of you, poor Jo3 & Mary4 and Uncle Dan5. I told him I was writing to you, he said send Aunt Fanny6 and Annie7 a kiss, he says almost anything and is very much spoiled. There are so many children & most of them so wild and of course he tries to do as they do. Charley8 has grown very much & is getting his teeth fast, he has now 6 teeth and has grown quite strong and is a playmate for Tom. I won't say much about Simonstown as George has given your Papa9 a description of it. I would not live here for any money. Those lofty mountains look as if they were about to fall on us and it is always blowing a gale of wind so that it is so much more dusty than Charlottetown. We have been obliged to spend much more than we anticipated, it would not have cost us much more to have gone by England. Porter Ale Wines are very cheap here, you would get very good wine for 6d. a bottle so that some of our passengers have been indulging too freely but I must not mention any names, but you would be surprised where hear some of them, not George or Mr Smith10 either. We can get nice fruit here, large bunches of grapes for a penny I wish I could send you a few bunches, also peaches pears and quinces & now while writing I can look out and see the beautiful fig trees bearing. I can say I have sat under a vine and fig tree but not my own. You would like to know how we spend out time at sea, but I think George has given you a very good description in his letter to you from Pernambuco. I have finished Louisa's11 collar and have done a little more work. When arriving here George rented a room for a week so that we may do our washing, but came on board last night again & hope we will be ready to sail tomorrow, as I am quite tired of this place, the people here tell us we will arrive there in 6 weeks. Annie12 intends writing to her Mother but if she don't say she is quite well and sends her love to her. The children are getting fond of her, but I so often wish for poor kind Mary13, give my love to her. Tell her the milk did not keep longer than a month. George left that large lump of gold that he intended having rings of for you, and I. He left it in the desk in your store. I hope you will take care of it and bring it with you. Also all of the things we left behind they will be very acceptable if we live to arrive in New Zealand and will be dreadfully disappointed if we don't find lots of letters from home. Dear M. I would like to say so much more than I have but have come to the end of this & we know every one dislikes a cross letter will close with much love to yourself and George14, and you must kiss all the children for me, I intend writing Dear old Grandmama15 as I promised. I so very often wish I could take a peep at you all, I suppose you have one of the girls with you, if Dibbie16 is tell her that Charly17 is quite well and writing lots of letters & I think there is one for her, you must see his letters as he kept a diary. With love to my friends, your dear Papa and Mamma18 in particular, I am dear Margaret

Your affectionate Sister Bell Owen


END NOTES: See endnotes.html


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