Emma Shepherd's Letter, Ballarat to England
I am trying to find some more info about a relative, Emma Shepherd, whose letter I have about her voyage to Aus., the countryside etc. I think she went in about 1870, but this is a guess. The trouble is the letter is dated 9th January, with no year. She went from Newbury, Berkshire, England, to "26, Signal Street, Soldiers Hill, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia". She says the voyage took "63 days", "and not one death during two months, except two little children of scarlet fever". There were 650 people on board, 50 first class, and 600 passengers in other parts of the vessel. She had "the use of, a nice piano, library, etc bath" and, "lots of people to wait on us". I wonder if it might be possible to trace her from some census of the area, or whether the length of the voyage, and conditions on board, might give some indication of the date? Sixty-three days sounds quite fast to me, but I have no knowledge of this. Her enthusiasm for her new life, (except for the mosquitoes and dust storms, which she did not like) is very charming. I would be glad to send a transcription of the letter, if it is of interest. Unfortunately a photocopy is not possible. She writes horizontally across the page, and then again vertically down it (to save paper, or postage costs?) This makes it difficult to read. She rented the house for £20 a year. She has to pay a servant 12s a week. "Everything here is so dear except meat and that we can have any part of for four pence a pound".
Any suggestions about tracing her or further information please? Thanks in advance!
Philip Hobson, Cambridge, U.K. - EMAIL
John Henry SHEPHERD married 1869 District of Reading, County of Berkshire, Emma Esther SHAW [FreeBDM Sep Qtr, Vol/Pg 2c/635]
Signal Street does not exist now but it could have been associated with the signal boxes for the railway station which is in Lydiard Street North leading up to Soldiers Hill. The houses she describes would fit this area. Emma was back in Lancashire in 1872.
26 Signal Street
My dear Aunt,
I intended writing to you before leaving England but my time was so short I could not possibly do so, I dare say you were surprised to hear of my sudden marriage and departure from old England I assure you dear Aunt I was greatly surprised myself for it was all done in such a hurry but it was of course my lot and I feel confident I shall never have cause to repent it. My dear husband although young is very steady and exceedingly kind to me. We arrived here quite safe after a delightful voyage of sixty-three days I was not sick the whole time and therefore enjoyed it very much it was very jolly we of course went first class and had every comfort the use of a nice piano Library Bath etc. and lots of people to wait on us there were fifty in our part and 600 passengers in the other parts of the vessel just fancy 650 people huddled together and not one death during two months except two little children of scarlet fever. I have beautiful little house at Ballarat which is about 100 miles from Melbourne for which we have to pay 20 a year for everything here is so dear except meat and that we can any part of for four pence a pound I have a first rate servant but have to give her 12 a week I am pleased to say things are looking bright at present. My husband is in a capital situation and we have everything we could wish for without being extravagant and are I assure you dear Aunt perfectly happy. My great trouble is I am expecting to be confined the end of April beginning of May. I am so cross so soon after being married. I do not like the country of Australia at all. It is nothing but [illegible] filled with horrible creatures such as snakes opossums kangaroos emus and splendid parrots and love birds. We get no pretty woods. Fields are missing streams. The mosquitos tease me dreadfully they are dreadful things I am swollen all over with their bites we have to sleep with net over our faces. The heat is intense and the hot winds are very trying they are very prevalent this time of year and are always accompanied by showers of dust. I spent a very pleasant Christmas at a seaside place about 60 miles from here and enjoyed it much it seemed strange for it to be in the sun such time instead of the depths of winter. My husband made me a present of a splendid piano last week he gave fifty guineas for it such a beauty quite new You would be amused at the houses out here. There are no upstairs rooms all in the same floor no pantry no cellar no back kitchen and not even a drain or sink. They are very pretty to look at principally wooden with verandahs all covered with delightful smelling creepers. When you see Uncle Brown please give my love to him and tell him how nicely we are getting on and that I hope he did not think it unkind of me not coming to see him before leaving home as I really had not time Do write dear Aunt and tell me all the news and how all the Newbury people are getting on and whether you have heard from Mrs. G again and especially how you are yourself I should like you to be able to pop in and see me in my pretty little house you would be so delighted to see it I will now say adieu as I have several letters to write by this mail and with fond love believe me my dear Aunt to remain your very affectionate niece