Transcribed by Gary Carroll, email@example.com.
Not all of the arrivals to our shores were happy with our fair Isle. The following letter demonstrates how many felt when trying to start a new life in our Island. The rigours of winter, the difficulties of clearing land, and the lack of a constant food supply produced great hardships for them in the early years. Did you know we had 7 to 8 months of snow each year? :-) Such egaggeration is normal considering the hardships they were under in the early years of settlement.
St. John's Island Oct. 22d.1791
I wrote you in order to let you know that we are all well since we had a fine Pafsage of Six weeks & three days but some of them were very Sick with fevers The reason was that they were too much Confined in the Vefsel That man that wrote for his friends he Died Donald MacKinnon I shall now begin to tell you the History of this Province but its needless for me. You know it as well yourself. This Province is terrible Cold we have here Seven Months of Snow and frost and Sometimes Eight. If a man happen to wet his foot or hand half a mile from any House he is in Danger of losing his hand or feet. The Price of a Barrel of Potatoes Six Shillings when we arrived both Ships and the People Starving the Governor of this Island Sold Potatoes at the Rate of twelve shillings the Barrel the Bushel of wheat Seven Shillings & Sixpence Bushel of Barley Five Shillings -- If you please sir to inform the people if any Gentlemen intends to Crofs the Atlantic Ocean let him be there guide & Governor of the People of ? You may tell them from me if you please which you know Sir to Stay at home for their Constitution will not answer to the Climate here
I now travel the most of the Island which is Eighty Miles and the Governor himself I would not compare him to a man of your Title & Honour if you see the poor people & Situation that left you I am afraid they'l Perish both with Cold & hunger those that came from low lands of Scotland they are well of but the Uist too high and they Cannot do but a living, we came here we thought ourselves to make money but we came to freese instead of making money Suppose I although I work here four years It is impossible for me to make four Pound cash. If you please to write to me without no delay and I shall be much oblige to you. Nothing more to say but my compliments to Mrs. Macdonald
I am yours
P.S. Write Rory Steel to the Care of John MacKie St. Peters in St. Johns Island
This letter was copied from Microfilm A 1780 at PAC
It was addressed thus:
Colin MacDonald Esqr of Boisdale
by Edinburgh & Invernefs
North Britain South West