Transcribed by Art Hamill, email@example.com
4 February 1858
From: Joseph and Margaret Hastings, 17 Boyne Square, Blackstaff Road, Belfast
To: James Hamill, Margaret's father and her brothers at PEI
Belfast, February 4, 1858
Respected father, brothers and sisters I once more take it on me to address in a few lines, hoping they will find you in good health, as we are at present. Dear Clark1 we received your kind letter on the 3rd of November of which I answered the following week. We have been watching an answer these few weeks back but yet disappointed. A fortnight after I wrote to you I sent a letter to brother John2 in the states. I got an answer 16 days ago. I sent him the drawing of your farms you sent me. I also stated to them that you most kindly had agreed to do your endeavors to bring us out to that country. They were all rejoiced to hear it and told us not to stop one day if we got the chance. I wish it was the morrow dear brother. My friends seem to think it will be immediately. I did not put them past their notion as they told me to write back soon and let them know when I thought it would be, as they intend to send us a little money to help make us ready for the journey, which we might expect as early as possible in April. Dear brother there has been trying times in this country this last 6 months owing to these bank failures. There was not a days work for a man nor is there yet there at present 100 men breaking stones in the house of correction at ---- per day with some bread. So you may have an idea of things in Ireland, at present they established a relief fund for giving out bread to the unemployed house holders of this town, which was of use to many. Those that had any work got none. The weavers and the muslin sewers were the worst off. I work in the one place still in the Ulster model farm. The pay is small but we must do with it. Little David3 is in a shop in Castle Place4 . He has only 26p per week. He is a fine wise smart little boy.
I have nothing in particular to mention since I last wrote to you. Dear father, brothers and sisters we have no peace of mind to hear your well known voice on paper saying rise up and come away out of Egypt to this land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey.
I may let you know that brother John5 and his beloved Margaret6 still live in Cambridge. Some time ago they were in this town. He never came to see his sister nor once inquired whether she were dead or alive. He could not displease his lovely wife. Margaret7 was very angry such is the gratitude of John and his wife. We hope to have a letter from you by the next post. We long to see it. Let us know how brother Gibson8 and family is and how sister Mary9 is getting her health in that country and if our aged father10 be well. I have some what to say unto him which I will not say with paper and ink. But I hope to come to him shortly and speak face to face that our joy may flow. I will not write much this time til I get your next, as we hope it will be soon.. I may state to you that Wm John Strain11 is got married to the eldest daughter of James Calvert12, so old Molly13 is left her lone.
Margaret7 longs to see the day, if ever it be her lot, that she may once more see her venerable father10 and beloved sister9 . It will be a joyful meeting with us all, if it ever be our good fortune to meet. We need not ask how brother Robert14 is doing, by all accounts he is doing well. Tell brother Joseph15 not to marry til we go over and get his wedding and I will help to build him a house. Dear Clark1 , I will say no more til I get an answer. It may be there is one coming when this is going, but we had not patience to wait. So fare well for this time.
Believe us to be your affectionate
Brother and sister Joseph and Mary Hastings
Direct to 17 Boyne Square for me, Blackstaff Road.
Transcribed 3/14/2001 by Arthur R. Hamill from photo copies provided by Carole Graves who copied the originals currently in the hands of Frank Hamill, at the Clark Hamill family farm, Montrose, PEI.
I have taken some liberties in transcription, for the most part grammar and spelling. There are some words that are unreadable; a few were guessed at and others left blank with ---- denoting undecipherable words.
I have inserted number references in the transcription identifying individuals named in the body of the letter.
1.Clark: Clark Hamill, James Hamill's son.
2. John: possibly James's son (5), apparently in Cambridge, MA).
3. David: David Hastings, Margaret Hasting's son.
4. Castle Place: a location in Belfast.
5. John: John Hamill, James Hamill's son.
6. Margaret: John Hamill's wife (maiden name unknown).
7. Margaret: Margaret Hastings James Hamill's daughter.
8. Gibson: Robert James Gibson, husband of Mary, James Hamill's daughter.
9. Mary: Mary Gibson, James Hamill's daughter.
10. Father: James Hamill.
11. Wm John Strain: Brother-in-law of James Hamill.
12. James Calvert: unknown friend.
13. Molly: unknown friend.
14. Robert: Robert Hamill, James Hamill's son.
15. Joseph: Joseph Hamill, James Hamill's son.