Mr. Biggs

Bromham Mills


(For Mr. Coleman, Brickhill)                                                    


Hobart Town

Oct. 2nd, 1833


My dear Parents and Relatives,

(Please send this to Bromham when you have read it.)


Abraham wrote a letter to our friends at Bromham about a fortnight after our landing which I hope before this reaches you, you will have seen a copy of the same, in that he gave you an account of our voyage with the exception of his illness which took place about 5 weeks before we left sea.  It was a very violent bowel complaint called dysentery.  He was confined to his bed just a fortnight during which time he was never able to have his clothes on.  The Doctor said his life was in imminent danger.  What my feelings was at that time my pen fails to describe, but I am thankful to say God in His infinite mercy was pleased to restore him, though very weak for some time, and myself scarcely recovered from the same complaint.  I was at times almost worn out with fatigue.  A very nice lady who was in the cabin, hearing we were ill very kindly sent her servant to enquire after our health, and what was much better, each time sent by her a bottle of white wine.  I believe we had in 3 weeks 5 bottles all of which she had save out of her allowance.  This we found to be a treasure indeed, as the Captain allowed us arrowroot twice a day during our illness, we had a little of it in the same which was very nice and what we had stood much in the need of at that time.  After this we had the weather rather rough so that for some days we were scarcely able to stand on our feet or lie in our beds, but after all our difficulties and afflictions and many a heart rending thought, on Saturday August 24th we heard the welcome sound “Land’s in sight”.  The day was very cold, remarkably thick, so that we could see land but very imperfectly.  The next morning we came into harbour and dropped anchor, just 16 weeks from our leaving the downs.  This event was attended with a mixture of joy and sorrow, with sorrow when I thought of the distance that separated me from my dear relatives, with joy when I thought that we had been preserved from so many dangers liable to have befallen us, and that our dear children were all spared.  I am sure you will be thankful to hear that they enjoyed good health during the whole voyage.  Your dear Edwin is much improved; he is scarcely like the same child.  He is now as strong, if not the strongest of any of them.  Baby cut 6 teeth at sea, she is getting on her feet nicely.  Her birthday was last Sunday, the 29th.  They often talk of you.  Alfred says he will write to you.


But to return, in the evening Abraham took a boat and came ashore, went to Chapel, which is a very pretty place, and heard Mr. Turner, the missionary stationed here.  After service he introduced him to several of the friends who received him very kindly.  One gentleman, a storekeeper living in the principal street, requested that he would bring me and the children and make our home at their house (until our house which he had taken and which wanted some little done to it was ready to go into).  He thankfully accepted their kind offer and came on shore on Tuesday the 27th.  We remained with them a week, and were treated with the greatest kindness.  I am sure it would have done you good to have seen the poor children so delighted being set down in a comfortable room by a good fire and a table spread with good food, such as new bread and butter for their breakfast, preserved apples and peach pie for their dinner, after being deprived of such comforts for so long.  I can assure you, my dear parents; these things were no small treat to any of us.


Thus far Mrs. B. has written when I came home from my work at ˝ past 6.  As the post closes at 8 I have but very little time to write more, nor indeed should we have sent at all by this ship, if we could have been sure that my last letter was delivered in England.  When you write to us be sure to make mention of what letters you have received from us, and send by post, directed to me at Mr. Barrett’s stores, Elizabeth Street, Hobart, Van Diemens Land.


We are just beginning to get a little comfortable in our new home, having our things unpacked, clothes washed, etc., etc.  Our packages came well, nothing spoiled, nor more than two or three shillings worth broken.  Of the prices of provisions, I gave you an account in my last.  They are still about the same, but we have learned that there is a way of getting things much cheaper, viz. by attending auction sales of which there are a great many every week at the different Marts.  Sugar, butter, and bacon etc. may often be bought at one third and sometimes one half less than at the shops.  Dunstable bonnets were sold a few weeks ago at 1/6 to 3/- each, while at the shops they could not have been bought for 4 times the sum.  The case seems to be this. Speculators send out such goods as they have heard are in demand, but before they arrive a ship or two has come in with this same kind of goods, and the market is glutted.  The merchants then send them to these auctions where they are sometimes almost given away.  I saw a good strong pair of pistols sold for 9/6 worth 3 times as much, and a few guns at the same rate.  A cow and a calf sold for ₤3.10,0, and another for ₤8.  You will see by the newspapers which I intend to send you that at these sales there is something of all sorts.  But household furniture seems to be the leading article.  This is made up, I have no doubt, by the numerous unfortunates who, like myself, have been deluded away from their homes by the false, the basely false reports of Merchants and Captains whose only object seems to be that of making up their cargo.  When these poor creatures get here, houseless, friendless and moneyless instead of finding that their services are wanted, it is just the reverse, or should they get employment they receive but 7/- a day instead of the expected 12/- or 14/- and have to pay double the reported price for most of their victuals and drink.  It is owing to the mercy of a gracious God that this is not our case.


As I stated in my last, I had work to go to, either as a journeyman or Master as soon as I was able to do it.  I prefer the former at 7/6 per day and am still employed on the same piece of work with which I began, viz. a very handsome French bedstead for Mr. Hewitt.  Its cost, for the woodwork and screws only will be about ₤20.00.  As soon as this is done I think of commencing the erection of a new house for my own residence and business upon a piece of land I have been advised to buy, having a frontage of 33 feet to the outer end of the best street in Hobart Town and 130 feet front to the back.  For this I am to pay ₤20.00 down and ₤50.00 at some future period on which we have to decide.  To enable me to pay this ₤50.00 and erect my wooden house at a cost of about ₤100.00, our very excellent friend Barrett will advance the money at Bank Interest 10 p.c. holding the title of the land in his possession as security for his money.  I reckon on a total outlay of ₤200.00, this at 10 p.c. is ₤20.00 per annum.  I shall then have a freehold that would be let at ₤40.00 a year and upwards, the like to which for size and situation I believe I could not get for less than ₤50.00.  But more this in my next.


From what I have said about the sales, my friend, Mr. Reilly, will see the propriety of my not sending for anything in the way of merchandise at present.  But Charles (who is in excellent health will want a jacket and a pair of trousers to work in in less than 9 months and trousers for Sundays in 12 months.  By which time I hope to have a little package of such things as I shall write for my next post.


My present opinion is that nothing will pay so good an interest for money as building land and building.  I have but little doubt that if I had but a few hundred pounds I could make it pay (as others do) from 20 to 40 p.c.  The Indiana came in about a fortnight after us.  Mr. Davis stepped at the Isle of France.


My Richardson has been up to Launceston, says that side of the Country is far the most fertile.  Think I shall have to put up his wooden house bye and bye.


Mrs. B. joins with me in kindest respects to Mr. Reilly and family and all enquiring friends.


Write soon and often to yours in affection


Ever the same,


Abraham Biggs.


P.S.  My friends at Bromham will be kind enough to tear off this half sheet before they send the other half to Mr. Reilly. 


Eliza and the children are in a better state of health than I have ever known them for years.  What a mercy this is.  I have reason to be glad that I am here, but more of this in my next.  Write soon and often to your affectionate son and daughter,


Abraham and Eliza Biggs


Our love to you is unabated.  Forget us not at the Throne of Grace.