Recording Uttlesford History 



 homepage uttlesford

One of the most exciting experiences in researching my book on Walden (The Well-ordered Town: a story of Saffron Walden 1792-1862) was the discovery of the rich resources of Saffron Walden Museum archives. Being such an old museum, it has been the recipient of over 170 years of contributions by numerous collectors, and all sorts of fascinating bits and pieces have ended up there – documents, as well as objects. Here is just one example, a collection of letters concerned with emigration by local people to Canada in the 1830s. It seems that the 3rd Lord Braybrooke was actively seeking information and encouraging people to emigrate and there are a number of letters on this subject (ref 40493), including some from emigrees giving first-hand information on conditions in Canada. To understand more about the context of emigration at this time, please see The Well-ordered Town, page 82.

© Transcription: Jacqueline Cooper, Recorders of Uttlesford History website

© Archives: Saffron Walden Museum 2008.

EMIGRANTS LETTERS: Names mentioned - Mumford, Perrin, Marshall, Wright, Burk, Bush, White, Wright, Thurgood, Gibson.


Letter January 8 1834 to Captain Bowles from [William Britain?]:

‘My Dear Bowles, I have only 5 minutes to give the best answers I can to the questions Lord Braybrooke suggests - but shall be happy to aid in such a course by getting more information should you wish it... as it appears to me that most suited from Christian Laws, the prudent population, the established religion and proximity to England to our agricultural emigrants, a great mass of whom I expect will depart in a short time from my own county. In Quebec and Montreal ships commence sailing about the 20 March and go on to Sept. to N York all the year The next time for sailing is the spring. Provisions for Quebec should be enough for 60 days for N York - 40 as the maximum. The fare is entirely a matter of arrangement with the captains. The Colonial Office paper of Feb. 9 32 gives certainly a fair account’ - advantage of Lower Canada is Eastern Townships where work is immediately begun, journey is short and expense very trifling - ‘after landing either by going up the St. Lawrence’- some areas too wild for a posh settler; requirements depend on objects of settler, whether he has family, etc.Object was to encourage small capitalists and very good land in favourable situations to be sold at very low prices to give encouragement’ mere labourers ought to have at least £5 for every adult and £2 for a child if their object is to go to the Eastern Townships’ - money could be lodged for safe keeping .. the writer of the letter regularly went to meetings and liked to encourage ‘deserving persons who would possibly be misled by the usual exaggerated reports.’ PS full fare with provisions from London last year average £6 for adults and children under 14 half that sum, without provisions it was £3.

Letter 10 February 1834 to Lord Braybrooke from [William?] Bowles in London:

‘I shall be charmed to assist you in any way in your capacity of Agents General for Emigration - the subject is one of my great hobbies, and you cannot do me a greater favour than to employ me. I have been talking to two people who have given me a good deal of useful information - one is the man at Colonial Office who attends the Emigration Committee there, and the other a great friend of mine who writes the inclosed letter, but you will observe that all his remarks apply to Lower Canada, where the climate is more severe and the difficulty of maintaining cattle (in particular) much greater - on the other hand the distance from Quebec is not great, and the county already to a certain extent inhabited and civilised.The Colonial Office has not published any information of later date... the most (correct?) authority on all the subjects you mention - the fares are rather lower - about £6 including provisions for adults, and an arrangement is now making to secure the emigrants against all ? on the part of the master of the vessel who for this sum is to be bound to furnish them with sufficient (and specified) provisions. The ships from London will commence sailing for Quebec early in April - you will see by the Emigration Committees pamphlets in what manner money is remitted to Canada, and paid to the emigrants on their arrival at Quebec or Montreal - It is better they should proceed direct to the later place where there is a Government Agent, to forward them to the points where they will obtain the best locations or most certain employments. I have got now the address of a house in the City which they recommend, and I will go there tomorrow for more information which you shall receive before you leave Audley End.’ This letter also has a comment on the Irishman, O’Connell and a question in the House of Commons; ‘Please remember us very kindly to Lady Braybrooke - I am very glad we are to see you so soon. The accounts of [John?] Catkin are better today and I trust he is going on quite satisfactorily, but it will be a tedious business.

Letter 12 February 1834 letter to Lord Braybrooke from Captain Bowles, Royal Navy, 11 Leadenhall Street

In reply to enquiry about cost of sending emigrants to Canada in the early ships: each adult to Quebec - berth, provisions water, fuel = £6; to Montreal ditto £6.10s. with deductions of [2.5%?] if the number of adults exceed 20 and deduction of 5% if it exceeds 40 adults, children under 14 charged half price, infants under 12 months free. Allowed 5 cwt luggage for each adult, free of charge to Quebec or Montreal. Bedding and all necessaries required by emigrants on the voyage can be obtained at an expense of about 7s.6d per head. Should the emigrants be destined for upper Canada and it should be deemed advisable to have them conveyed to York we think an arrangement could be made here for covering all the expenses to that place at not exceeding 40s ...’

Another letter to Lord Braybrooke, undated

‘The enclosed letter is from the house to which I was recommended by the Colonial Office, and it is the one which undertook the conveyance of Lord Egremonts’ emigrants the year before last to Upper Canada, and performed their contract satisfactorily. I sent you their scheme for victualling yesterday, and you will receive tomorrow some interesting letters form the emigrants to their friends in England published by the Petworth Committee ... The fish ships from London for Canada sail about the twentieth of March and follow each other in succession until September, but it is a good point to get out early .. emigrants should arrive the day before the ship sails and embark at once, their baggage having been shipped previously. They are victualled from the day of their embarkation, and incur no further expense even if the ship should be detained.’Trying to get new map of Upper Canada.

Unidentified sender/ recipient, no date: £11 for each adult and half that sum for children (babies free) might be need to meet all expenses after emigrants reach ship. Lots of emigrants changed their mind after every preparation was made, some even at the quay side - recommend parishes give every applicant in advance a deposit of one pound per headas deposit. Then if the parties turn back, no expense is incurred by the parish and it falls upon the person himself. The applicants should not be too eagerly encouraged to go otherwise they will become imperious and [?]. they are doing the parish a favour’Petworth pamphlets reliable; re cholera cases ‘in many English villages the mortality was much more appalling and one place where that disorder is inflicted by Providence seems as safe as another’‘Few instances occur of families returning, but many single men have come home and plague the parishes to which they belonged but these persons have always been drunken dissolute characters, and if any such apply there is some benefit in getting rid of them even for one or 2 years, and the outlay seems never to exceed the cost of maintaining a road labourer the most useless of all the members of society, for two years- supposing many persons to go much may be done by ladies in different parishes working for their poor neighbours worn clothing and bedding being most essential and every little contribution of this most would be of service. Supposing other labourers from the neighbourhood to go I should recommend the whole party embarking together in the course of next month as they will feel less strain and co-operation in aiding each other. The Quebec Hospital Tickets seem well worth attention.’

Letter William Perrin to his mother July 15 1834:

‘Dear Mother, I remember my most affectionate love to you and my sisters and my brother James.Dear Mother, I hope you will not take it hard to part with your son James to let him come here next spring, for he would have six dollars per month and board and lodging. Joseph Marshall now receives 7 dollars a month with board and lodging. I am quite well and happy. Mrs. Bush and Mrs Marshall greatly rejoiced to receive and we often commune together. Remember my kind love to Mr [Lukes?] White and Wm. White. I return many thanks to you for what you have sent for me: likewise to Mr Gibson [Jabez?] and to all that enquire after me for you see the paper will not hold out to mention their names. Ann and Samuel Bush, S and I Marshall are quite well and their children too and they would be very happy to see any of you here that are disposed to come here. Marshall has a cow and 2 sows and 10 pigs. Mr Marshall is apprenticed to a farmer: when his time is out he is to have a yoke of oxen and harness and horse, 5 hens and a cock, education, a new suit of clothes and money if he behaves well. Charles has 7? dollars a month, and Samuel 3 dollars with board and lodging Samuel Bush has 4d a day and board too. Little Ambar 2 dollars a [?] and board and lodging. John 1 dollar with board and lodging: he has a sow and pigs and another in pig, a hog in the stye fat, and another to put in too. Marshall will send a letter shortly. Ann Bush will shortly be confined and then she will send too. We have been at work by the piece in the wood. We made 11 dollars in 11 days and now we are begun to make a hedge. I am well and happy, bless god, I remain your humble son - William Perrin.

Another letter below this, appears to be rewritten in fair hand:

‘Dear Christian friendsIt is to inform you of the rest of my tedious passage, the part to Montreal, price is 7s.6d to Prescott 5s, 3s a hundred for all luggage, ferrying to York 2 dollars, and 2s9d for luggage: from York to Hamilton 2s6d. We were in this barge a week: the whole time we were 12 days: this is a very expensive passage: we landed at Hamilton the 24 day of May We could hear no tidings of our friends till the fifteenth at Sunset. We found Wm. Burk’s little girl one mile from Hamilton: then we had 5 miles in the Burkes to Sam Burk’s House at Barton. Francis Marshall commenced work on May 30th. Many are deceived in the dollar here, a dollar is 8s York, and 4s6d English. The first job I did was at bark-peeling: HD a dollarwhich is 4s with board and lodging, £1 then we cleaned a piece of ground for a garden by the piece, and then we digged a cellar by the day, for 5 a day and found ourselves. Here they make their own sugar loaf and candles vinegar and yeast to raise their bread. The women without the cows and shear the sheep, spin the wool, and weave their clothing. Sheep about 2 dollars, a cow from 15 to 25 dollars, a horn from 50 to 100 dollars, Pork at York 6s per lb, New? Butter 1s York, that is ? There is not many shoes worn here, but all boots, for them 3 dollars. All kinds of clothes are nearly as cheap as at home. All kinds of tools may be bought here. I had come again to America I would bring no luggage with me. All work is different from home: here is no nails with shoes, neither there a stitch took round the sole, but the soles are all pegged with wooden pegs. They grow no barley, but wheat, Indian Corn, Buckwheat, Cabbage, peas, French beans and potatoes. Farming work is quite different here than with you, for [?] farmer buys a large quantity of land: then they have no hands to farm it, for a? they plow the land twice, then they sow the grain: so it remains till Harvest: they do nothing to the land here but plow and sow: they put no manure on the land, but it lays in their yards, year after year till they cannot get into the barns; then some of them move their buildings, and set them elsewhere. Some throw it into the creek, and the water washes it away; others put it on the land, a waggon load at a place and never spread it at all.

Letter September 1834 from John Mumford, Township of Murray, Bay of Quinte. Upper Canada to his sister:

‘My dear Sister and Brothers, I received your long and kind letter dated last March in due course. I greatly thank you for it I have inclosed to you care a power of Attorney for the selling of the cottages, but hope that will sell for more than £50. My brother David Wright and WRD Thurgood will see by the power of attorney, to enable you all to come over the sea to Canada, but you must bring with you £10 of the money, for I have been at great trouble, and expense in procuring the power of Attorney, I had to travel a considerable distance to have it properly executed: and I think I have a right to expect £10 at least left of my property on that account. Littlebury parish will do something to help my brother in law and his family to remove and Walden parish will help Brother Suddy as much as they can. We have no poor laws in this country therefore they must not expect any parish assistance here. If you think proper dear sister to come along with them I think you will be able to procure a dollar a week as wages in some of the merchants or store keepers houses in some of the villages or small towns, such as Cobourg or Bellvill in Upper Canada; but as you do not know how to spin work you will not suit to live with a farmer for they make clothes and blankets and flannels for their own use. As clothing of all kinds is much dearer in this county than in England and tailors do charge much higher I would advise you by all means to bring as many clothes of all kinds and shoes etc. And blankets and other bedding as much as you can...’ (list of things which would be useful - bed pots, iron or brass cooking pots and pans, candlesticks, irons, jars for pickles tea kettles, metal teapots, cask for water or beer.Tools for carpentry, blacksmiths, gardening, needles and threat, kitchen gardenseeds of common kinds put into bladders to keep from air of the sea, few quarters of common English hay seeds, farming tools such as pickaxes hoes, spades, shovels, chains ‘but chopping axes will be of no great use, as the axe for cutting down timber in this country is of a short and different shape, weighs about 5 lb. ‘In regard to wages, as money is very scarce, farmers generally pay part of it in the produce of their farm a young flock. An active man from England etc. will get about 40s per month and his board and lodging and washing. An American who is accustomed to the ways of the country and knows how to handle the axe will if cutting timber get about 60s a month. An old countryman may soon learn to use the axe well if he wishes to do so, but it requires practice. A stout boy if he knows farm work may earn 5s or 6s a week and his board. A girl of 12 years old may earn 5s a week if she learn to spin wool on the big wheel. There is no difficulty in finding places for children from 8 years old ad upwards if they are of good temper and disposition. There is at present a great demand for workmen on the St Lawrence and other canals where they get 60s... but they must be steady, sober men, able to withstand the temptation of cheap whiskey and bad company. It will be several years before the canals are finished. On your arrival at my house which is only a small one I will do my best to get situations for you, not far from me’ ... Working mechanics could get much higher wages than in England - stonemason 7s6d to 10s a day and his victuals, much in demand for building locks on canals. Blacksmith 5-6s3d a day and victuals Carpenter 5s -6s3d, tailor 7s6d, bricklayer, shoemaker, wheelwright, waggonmaker, coopers saddler, ironfounder, etc. 5s per day and victualsHalifax Currency was 5s to the dollar.‘The harvest this year in this country has been very productive, and the last summer has been very hot, and the cholera broke out about the middle of July . advise you to sail from England as early as possible in the spring ... advise to bring turnip seeds, mangel wurzel, early and Scotch cabbage seed, radish, white mustard and onion etc. Advice to ‘go in a vessel with a large number of emigrants, as there is great risk of having sickness on board and in that case you will be detained at an island below Quebec to perform quarantine perhaps for a fortnight. And if you could I hope that God will protect you all and bring you safe to the end of you voyage in January’.Wish sister had not left her old master and mistress, not sure what to advise her re leaving England - ‘from the general healthiness and pleasantness of the climate I think she will have a chance of enjoying life and arriving at old age, and the people here generally treat their domestics with great kindness and in farmhouses they always sit at table and eat with the family. I suppose my sister does not intend to marry. Wives in general are in great demand, and very few old maids are to be found in Upper Canada: young women find husbands when they are 16 or 18 years of age, and if they are not mated before the age of 22 or 24 they begin to despair. In the London District, west of York, there are such a number of emigrants (bachelors) that anything that wears a petticoat if good of its kind will find it a good part of the world to go to on speculation. A young woman is not expected to bring her husband much fortune; indeed they seldom have more than their clothes and a end or feather bed. They learn to dance to the tune of the spinning wheel (barefooted in summer) and there musical accomplishments at the religious meeting house to which places young people go dressed in all the finery they can muster’. Wildlands cost 10-20s an acre Halifax Currency, often less and severally years allowed for full payment bring quart of common house beans, few full ripe gooseberry seeds, cherry and plum seeds, good 8 day clock with brass wheel would sell for 50 dollars.

From affectionate brother, John Mumford.