State Library of Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 30 December 1982

35

Manuscript: Three Letters From Christina Cuninghame to Agnes Cochran-Patrick Describing Life in the Port Phillip District

Christina Cuninghame lived in the Port Phillip District for nearly twenty years. Many of the letters that she wrote to her family during those years have survived in Scotland; these have been included in the Australian Joint Copying Project and are available on microfilm at the La Trobe Library.1 As well, there are letters and family papers at the Mitchell Library including diaries written by Christina and Sarah covering the years 1840–1847.2 The three letters presented here are not included on the microfilm and are published with the kind permission of Hunter of Hunterston House where the originals are held. All of these letters are addressed to her cousin, Agnes, or Nan as she is sometimes called. Agnes was the older daughter of William and Catherine Cochran of Ladyland, Beith, Ayrshire. Christina's first letter was in response to the news that Agnes was to marry William Charles Richard Patrick, of Woodside, Ayrshire and, as William assumed the name and arms of Cochran in addition to his own, Agnes became Mrs Cochran-Patrick of Woodside and Ladyland.3
Christina was born in Scotland, the eldest daughter of Lieutenant Colonel John Cuninghame and his wife Sarah (nee Peebles) of Caddel and Thorntoun.4 When her sister, Sarah, and older brothers, Archibald and John, emigrated with Christina to New South Wales three other sisters, Margaret, Helen and Kate (Catherine) remained behind in Scotland. The four emigrants sailed on the Euphrates and arrived in time to spend Christmas Day 1839 in Sydney.5 Christina and Sarah remained in Sydney for some months while Archibald and, probably, John joined a party overlanding to the Port Phillip District.6 Their arrival coincided with a burgeoning interest in this recently settled district where money-makers were enjoying an economic boom. The new settlement enthralled Archibald: in letters to his mother he noted that ‘Port Phillip is infinitely superior to any other part of the Colony’ and enthusiastically referred to Melbourne as ‘a nobleman's park’.7 He promptly took out a licence to depasture stock on a run called Wanregarwan and in June 1840 joined in the buying spree at the government land auctions to secure 139 acres to the north of the township on the Merri Creek.8
In July Christina and Sarah joined Archibald in Melbourne. They sailed from Sydney in the Bright Planet and were accompanied by some 85 cases of household goods, 49 packages of baggage and three head of cattle: all the paraphenalia necessary for colonial housekeeping.9 While John [Jack] took up the management of Wanregarwan, Christina and Sarah remained in Melbourne with Archibald.
The address on the first letter is simply ‘Melbourne’ which probably refers to somewhere in Lonsdale Street not to the property north of the town on the Merri Creek.10 From her window Christina could see ‘the bay at Williams Town where all the ships anchor’. But the view did not compensate for the disadvantages of living in Melbourne: it was expensive, their house was small and Christina did not find Melbourne ‘a nobleman's park’ but windy, dusty, and ‘a detestable place at the best’ [Letter 1]. Although Archibald threw himself wholeheartedly into the affairs of the town, she remained aloof from the gaieties of the local grandees and their ladies while longing for the sociability of her former life in Scotland. Of the small circle with which she did exchange morning visits little is known but among her friends in the colony was the enterprising Miss Anne Drysdale.11
The second and third letters are addressed from ‘Wanregarwan’ where Christina kept house for John from 1842.12 This run consisted of forty square miles fronting the south bank of the Goulburn River near the present town of Molesworth.13 John ran cattle and kept stud stallions.14 Among their neighbours were the Stevens family and John Cotton who was pleased to have such ‘highly respectable people’ living nearby.15 Christina seems to have been
36
no more happy in the country than in Melbourne. She referred to their life as ‘dull and lonely’ and chafed at the ‘weary distance’ that separated her from her family in Scotland. But she found pleasure in the delicious perfume of honeysuckle and the luxuriant growth of her garden despite the fact that the only gardeners she could hire were blacks: ‘nice gardeners truly’ [Letter 2].
On 8 July 1848 Sarah married George Bourchier Wrey; they, too, lived at Wanregarwan and in 1851 their son, George Edward Bourchier, was born. George, senior, died exactly three years later.16
Neither Christina nor Archibald married. On Archibald's death (23 Oct. 1856), Thorntoun passed to Christina and thence, on her death (Sept. 1861), to Sarah and her son George.17 Wanregarwan Station has disappeared. In 1877 Sarah's son went to the Goulburn Valley to visit the home of his childhood. He stayed with Mr Hastings Cunningham at Mt Battery Station ‘within about 20 miles of Wanregarwan’ but, although Mr Cunningham had formerly known his mother and uncle, George noted that ‘Wanregarwan seems to have ceased to exist and I can find nothing about it except that there is a parish of that name still’.18
Despite Archibald Cuninghame's considerable contribution to colonial life, he does not appear in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.19 It is, therefore, opportune to include further details of his career in Melbourne. Like many others Cuninghame did not intend living in the colonies permanently; it was to be a sojourn with the prospect of making money. In early letters to his mother he wrote that ‘my confidence of success is confirmed’ and that ‘I see a prospect not of making, a rapid fortune, but yet, of very good returns for my Capital’. He believed that success in the colonies hinged on three things, ‘Energy — Judgement — and Capital and with these anything may be done’.20 Using this formula he set about life in the new town where the economic boom was showing no sign of busting.
Before he left Scotland Cuninghame had had seven years at the Scottish Bar.21 Along with Redmond Barry, Edward Brewster, James Croke and Robert Pohlman, Cuninghame was admitted to the Port Phillip Bar on 12 April 1841, a month after John Willis arrived as the first resident judge of the Port Phillip District.22 Cuninghame has been described as ‘prolix, dry and tedious’ and, more savagely, as a ‘horse haired, sabled taking automaton’.23 Yet he had a busy practice and his success was marked by his appointment as official assignee of the Insolvency Court for the Port Phillip District.24
He did not confine his energy to his practice. He was ubiquitous at meetings and loquacious in support of many causes. In ‘all Colonial Communities’ he believed ‘there is but one force which can serve as an equipoise to that of Democracy, at once from its power and antagonism, I mean the wealth-power’, and he devoted much time to putting his precept into practice.25 He was on the committee of the General Hospital,26 a Director of the Pastoral and Agricultural Society,27 eloquent in support of an ‘Education Society’ in connection with the Australian College,28 and a founding member and later president of the St Andrews Society. This latter society, Cuninghame recommended, should be ‘a purely convivial one’29 but most of his energy was devoted to more serious endeavours. He was a member of a committee elected to oversee the incorporation of the town of Melbourne30 and, during the economic depression that swept across the colonies in 1842, was active on deputations that met with the town's bankers to discuss the possibility of introducing usury laws.31 At a public meeting in connection with the report of the Land and Emigration Commissioners, Cuninghame was outspoken in his opposition to a proposal that the Portland Bay District should be transferred into the colony of South Australia.32 When George Gipps, Governor of NSW, visited Melbourne in the spring of 1841 Cuninghame was a member of the deputation that waited on him.33
By then three things consumed the thoughts of men like Cuninghame: land, labour and separation. The squatters had already realised that until they were granted tenure of their squatting leases there was a danger of their losing everything they had worked for. Moreover, they argued, their runs suffered because there was a chronic shortage of labour heightened by there being so few assigned convicts in the Port Phillip District. A public meeting in April 1840 (at which Cuninghame played an active part) formed the Australia Felix Emigration
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Society: this body was concerned with bringing free labour to the Port Phillip District to compensate for the cessation of the supply of convict labour.34 Further, since there was to be no more convict labour, Cuninghame and his friends believed that they should remove themselves completely from the taint of a convict based society and that the most effective way of achieving this was to separate from the Middle District and establish ‘a Government and Legislature entirely independent of New South Wales’.35 Concern for resolution of the land, labour and separation issues was expressed at a series of public meetings throughout the early 1840s and culminated in meetings in 1845 at which it was decided to appoint Cuninghame as Port Phillip Delegate, charged with the responsibility of lobbying members of the Houses of Parliament at Westminister with the squatters’ arguments favouring the granting of tenure for their runs, the introduction of immigrant labour to the Port Phillip District and the establishment of a separate legislature so that the connection with Sydney could be severed. The urgency of their plea was contained in their decision that Cuninghame should proceed with ‘all convenient despatch’ and that he should receive a salary of £400 per annum (raised by public subscription) for two years.36 Appropriately Cuninghame left Port Phillip Bay on a ship called the Spartan in the last days of 1845.37 His term as Delegate was not without criticism.38
Among those who kept him informed as to the conditions in the colony was Christina. Throughout the early 1850s her letters constantly refer to the ‘upside down state of society’ that followed in the wake of the discovery of gold. She wrote that she was ‘amazed to find that your mind still clings so much to returning here’.39 He did not return but died in Scotland on 23 Oct. 1856.40
Marion Amies and Martin Sullivan

LETTER 1

Melbourne


My dear Agnes,
By this time I trust you are a staid and respectable Matron seeing the world somewhere with your gudeman what a surprise your letter gave us my dear child; such a marrying fit was never known, and this time you got the full benefit of giving us news as we had not heard one word about even a flirtation till your very kind letter told us we were about to have a new Cousin. Need I say how truly we all rejoice in your happy Prospects, and how earnestly we wish that every blessing may attend you in your new state; it is a very great happiness that all your friends on both sides are so much pleased, and that you all know each other so long and well already nor need you be far separated from your Dear Mama and Your own home. I am sure She will be quite pleased to have a Son, as well as dear Janette41 to have a brother; how very funny it seems to think of you married and sitting up at the head of your table and yet I think I can fancy it quite easily but oh! how I should like to see it! Well some day I trust I shall and become acquainted with our new Cousin, who of course I am resolved to like very much since he is my dear Nan's choice. I wonder where you would go for a wedding jaunt. Probably to the Continent, which I think Your new spouse has always been fond of, but I trust he will not inveigle you into remaining there too long, but that you will settle in your Native Land, which after all I am sure is far the best of any; do you remember what a roving inclination You used to have; and thought it would be fine to Come out here? but You must learn now to be very sedate and well behaved. In our last home letters they told us the great event was delayed till April and that you were all to go out for a while to the Country, but we did not quite understand if you were to return to Edinr however I hope Your Aunt Joanna at least might be able to go to be present, it would be a pity for them all to lose all the Sport; We expect to hear from dearest Kate a full account of the whole proceedings, and how your Ladyship looks and behaves on this important occasion. They have had a great deal to do with brides of late; indeed I think not one of our friends will be left single to keep us in countenance when we return old
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maids
to our ain countre. Helen and Margaret wrote to us all about their visit to you, and how kind your dear Mama was, and all the fun they had; they had enjoyed it exceedingly; I often just sit and wish so to be chatting with you all, and hearing all Your Mama's fun, and whenever I am dull or sad, I think her fun would set me all up again what nice talks we used to have in Edinr, those were pleasant days long past now. I am so glad to hear that all at Parkhill had been keeping tolerably well as far as winter had gone and I sincerely trust they would not suffer in Spring, which is the most trying time. Helen said that dear Anne Hamilton was looking uncommonly well and if possible more sweet and delightful than ever and Christina greatly improved in every way; darling Willie must now be a great boy too big to pet, what a pity! I owe you thanks for another nice Letter received some months ago, and which I have actually begun to answer more than once, but somehow of late, we have had always a great deal to occupy us or prevent our writing quietly. I am sorry you did not get my first letters as they would have given you many of our first impressions which now I cannot even recal myself; it was very odd that they did not reach you for in general however irregularly they come, Letters do get to their destination. I suppose you have heard from Thorntoun that instead of going to the bush as we intended we are fixed in Melbourne and Archy practising as a Barrister; we hear from all our acquaintances that he is likely to make a good figure and he has already his full share of cases in court, but it will require a great deal to make up for the expense of living here, and I must own I think it a detestable place at the best, but there is no choice if Archy is to follow his profession and I believe it is the best thing he can do; when we grow rich we may have a villa out of town, so we must keep up our hopes, but I have a great fancy for being really in the wild Country, where one might see all the birds and Animals, and plants and trees, which we can very little do here, at home I never thought of wishing to travel, but now I feel as if I could roam the world over, and should like of all things to set out on a voyaging round it, and stop at every place I ever heard of to have a peep. We can see the sea from our window at least a distant view of the bay at Williams Town where all Ships anchor, (for only very small ones come up to Melbourne) and when I see the white sails, and the vessels rising on the waves, I do so long to be in one, there is one land to which of course my wishes always turn first, but if I cannot go there, I am not very particular as to my destination, and would willingly take a voyage any where; I assure you this newly acquired restless disposition is very inconvenient, for of all places this is one where moving about is, to Ladies, most difficult, and I see little prospect of our getting further that this windy dusty Melbourne for many a long day. You may suppose we were much surprised to hear of Mama and our Sisters leaving Thorntoun, but I think they will all be better of a change, and I trust they may find Cheltenham suit them as I have often heard it is a very pleasant place, if the Buchanans go where they do it will be a great comfort to them, it is so unpleasant to be entirely amongst strangers. We shall be much better off if they remain in England rather than go abroad, for that would have made a sad interruption in our correspondence, & a great risk of losing letters besides cutting us off much more from hearing of our other friends through them. I fear the Parkhill family will miss them, and I am sure they will greatly feel the want of their society, tho’ in such cases, I think it is generally worst those who remain stationary; those who go a roving generally pick up something entertaining or pleasant. You will expect some News from this distant land; but really dear Agnes, there could not be a worse place for any thing amusing to fill a letter, after one has told of being alive and well, and where one is living, there remains little further to say; a Colonial town really neither has the advantages or pleasures of town or country; there are plenty of people no doubt, but no society in which we could wish to mingle, no evening sociability at all; all the nice people go to the country and as the roads are bad, and houses small, Ladies visit very little; gentlemen go about and keep up a circulation; I suppose the merchants and their Ladies, and other grandees of Melbourne may have gaities of their own but we never ever know what goes on in that way; our house is very very small and all our visits and visitors are in the morning. Sometimes
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also when Archy goes to the Station we pay a visit to a very nice family about 2 miles from Melbourne whom we know well, and who have been very kind to us, but after all I am best content always in our own house keeping things as far as possible as they should be; Sarah thinks the climate agrees with her, and I do think she is in some ways better than at home, but her eyes are very bad, or rather her sight, for there is nothing visibly wrong with her eyes, but she cannot read or work much. Archy and Jack both are very well, the latter lives at the Cattle Station, a hundred miles up the country on the River Goulburn; he paid us a visit very lately, and looks well, and rather likes the wild life; I often wish I could be with him he would be much the better of a Lady to make him comfortable but we cannot be with both, and Archy would take it very ill to be deserted. We hope in a few months to see Charles Buchanan42 here which will be a great pleasure, Charles MacKnight43 is here now or rather is at a Station about 70 miles off. He has two very nice partners, and I hope will do well; is it not strange to think of so many meeting here, in a scene so different from what we were all used to, but I often wonder how soon the feeling of novelty wears off. Now dearest Nan I think I must finish this Stupid letter, which is not worth sending You, but I am much hurried yet can delay no longer as the last ship for the season sails very soon; I have a great many letters to write for her which must be my reason for writing this in great haste; I begin to think Janette will take possession of it as her property, for I trust She is already Miss Cochran, yet I do not quite like to address Mrs W. Patrick for fear of some delay making it premature; one really is quite puzzled at this weary distance what to do with congratulatory epistles, and I have had not a few to write. Sarah is going to put in a few lines. Archy desires his kindest congratulations and warmest good wishes, and so I am sure would Jack were he here; pray give all our regards to Your better half if he will acknowledge Emigrant relations; and once more wishing you both every happiness
Believe me, my dear Nan's
Very affectionate Cousin

Christina Cuninghame
If you are in Scotland when this reaches you, give all our Kindest Loves to all at Lady Land and Parkhill. How much [?] and pleased we were to hear of Mr Roberts’ marriage. I am delighted to think that he has got such a nice wife; he wrote to Thorntoun that he meant to write to Archy and to me all about it, but I fear his good intentions have not been performed.

LETTER 2

Wanregarwan

My dear Agnes
I feel quite rebuked when I see three kind letters of your's lying unanswered in my desk, those of June and July which arrived together a week ago, and one which has much longer been a burden on my conscience, but you must forgive me and reflect that in the dull and lonely life we now lead there is so little to write about, that when we have said we are all alive, our news is exhausted; one feels really ashamed to send such dull and stupid sheets, but then you know we the more need many cheering letters from our friends to keep us alive; otherwise we might soon begin to doubt if we still belong to the living world at all! Were I a Catholic I should sometimes be inclined to suspect I had slipt unawares into purgatory, there are such constant small annoyances here, every day increasing from the badness of servants, their Sauciness and independence, or perhaps the want of them altogether, and no Pleasant varieties to counterbalance these every day worries. But why I am giving you such a sermon on troubles I know not, when I have not yet welcomed our Cousin Harriet to this world, nor wished you joy of her; Margaret writes quite in raptures of her from Lamlash — and says she is a “piece of perfection” You must give her an additional Kiss from us to make up for her being so long awaiting. We received a good while ago the Newspaper announcing her birth; I believe I always forget to thank all of you for Newspapers that come from time to time, not that they are not valued, but letters being so much more valuable, drive them from one's thoughts. Your last
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was written from Lamlash, where I could greatly enjoy making one of your party, but I was quite amazed to hear of dear Janet's sudden flight to Germany; I doubt not she enjoyed it much, it was a great pity you could not go too, but I suppose you could neither leave baby nor take her, which was a still greater penalty to pay than the Loss of the Gooseberries though that would be bad enough. We have quite a fine crop of Gooseberries this year which I am watching with great interest, but certainly here they are never equal to those at home, and I believe Scotch are the best of all. Perhaps as soon as this reaches you, you may hear of poor John Macredie's arriving at home;44 I fear it will be a sad return unless he recovers more rapidly at sea, for we hear he is still lame, and one hand almost useless; I should like so much to see him poor fellow, as he is now in Melbourne waiting for a ship, and we have been much pressed also to visit Mr and Mrs Craig before they go, but I do not think we Can go to town at present; it is very provoking to know of so many friends going direct to Ayrshire without our seeing them to send messages, alas! We Can get nothing else to send from this place, I fear poor Mrs Macredie must be much distressed about John, and indeed it was such a strange thing for so young a man to have a stroke of the kind and he has had such a variety of ailments, that I fear he may never be very strong, but the Voyage may do much for him I trust. Our friends the Stevens family have all left Pt Phillip to our great sorrow, for tho’ of late they were far from us, Yet we had a constant exchange of letters, but Mr Stevens is said to be threatened with terrible and prevailing malady, disease of the heart, and is ordered to Europe after Selling his Station here; to sail directly, he finds some affairs on the Sydney side will detain him another year, but they will spend it in Sydney & V.D. Land his wife's native place, so are quite away from us. It is a sad thing all our friends go away, and no nice people come to replace them so we are left quite alone. I wonder when you would see Archy,45 and whether you would think him much changed We received last week no fewer than 12 home letters, of which three were from him and from what he says in them I fear he could have very little time to give either to Ayrshire or Italy. We feel very anxious now to know about Mama's movements, she seems set on being home, — but we greatly dread that neither She nor Helen could now bear the Scotch Climate. Margt is a true Scotch woman and appears so unwilling to go back to Italy that I imagine she is probably amongst you all still at least the last letters lead us to think that likely before, we had fancied her gone back, and ceased to write to her to Scotland, oh! this weary distance! it makes such uncertainties and cross purposes! I wonder if we are really to get this Steam Communication by India; what a Comfort it would be! I am so glad to hear your dear Mama continues as full of spirits as ever and so happy with her grandchildren; how I should like a chat with her! Margt gives us some hints about Joanna's frequent intercourse with Barrachan I wonder if there can be any thing going on with the Laird, what fun it would be! but I fear she has made herself too snug and comfortable at Parkhill and that he has been too long a Bachelor to change now; however there is no saying what may come out of it; they say it is never too late to do well and I should rejoice to hear she had got a New family about her, for however happy she may appear living alone I can't fancy its really a happy way of life. Thank you dearest Nan for your little despatch which I committed to the flames as soon as I read it's contents, they were only a sad confirmation of the many reports we have from various quarters, concerning poor C.S.B. some indeed more hopeful than others, but all very alarming and melancholy. His mother has much much suffering and sorrow to answer for and if she has one latent spark of feeling it will yet turn on her own head; thro’ her means a blight has been thrown over all the lives of two beings who little deserved it from her, and one, her own Son, is I fear, thro’ her hastening to the grave poor fellow! No one more amiable lives; pity he had not more strength! You have not told me of your garden for a long time; ours has been sadly neglected for all this season, we have no one now to help to keep it in order, and are reduced to make use of the Blacks! nice gardners truly; we have a good many new plants this year, amongst others single and double sweet violets, Oleanders Petunias & c They say flowers here do not smell, but I
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wish anyone who says so could only smell the perfume of honeysuckles round our doors in a moonlight night, it is delicious; They grow here most luxuriantly, as do the niouttely[?] roses, forming a hedge which in spring is quite splendid seven feet high & one mass of blooms did we not cut them a good deal every year, I know not what they would grow to. I am writing with such a shocking pen and my knife is so blunt it will scarcely mend one; The time of ships sailing will soon begin now, and as I find myself in arrears to every correspondent I have, I may do nothing else than write, till we next send the dray to town. I sympathize with You in the plague of changing Your servants, and losing those You were accustomed to. Their love of change is most ridiculous, but I hope the new ones do well. I am indeed surprised to hear of Harriet Johnstone going to Edinr to live, as I did not think she at all liked town, yet for a lonely woman it has doubtless many advantages, but perhaps her's was only a temporary plan We expect soon a visit from Neil Kennedy, who has been staying with his Cousin and other friends in the West; I am sorry to hear from himself that his friends at home still consider him too Young to be trusted with much money; now tho’ young, he is not younger than many who have got on well, & he is not imprudent[?] but to send him small sums is in fact to throw them away as they are not enough to settle with, and he can only meantime acquire idle habits, which would be a great pity, for he is a fine creature and a universal favorite. Now my dearest Agnes I must bring to a close this most stupid letter, with all our kind loves to You, best regards to your gudeman and kisses to the bairns I ever am,
Your very affecte Cousin
Christina Cuninghame
Best love to your Mother, Janette and all the Cousins. I shall probably write to Janette, — (whose letter I received with your's) by the same ship as this. Excuse blots, I am ashamed of them.

LETTER 3

Address on outside: Mrs Cochran Patrick
Woodside House
Beith
Ayrshire
Postmark: Bath April 5 1852
Note: Answered 26th Oct 1852
Wanregarwan

My Dearest Nan
As I wrote to you only six weeks ago, I should not so soon have taken up my pen, but I had since a nice letter from dear Janet, and I know not her address to reply so I must enclose my answer to your care; her accounts of her health and happiness are most pleasing, and she was just arrived in London to see the Great Exhibition! for which I certainly much envy her; I do hope you may also get a peep of the wonderful sight, and tell me the impression it makes on you; as to the wonders you would see there, I should never expect you to describe them, as I am sure a large volume would be needful, but I should like much to hear from some one what feelings so wonderful a scene excited; it appears to me that bewilderment would be the first thing. I have not much news since I wrote, except that the weather is now beautiful, and in consequence the gold frenzy has burst forth now in full force, and we are about to be left without either cook or nurse, as all the servants have got their heads perfectly turned, and even those who cannot go to dig for themselves, go off in the idea that they will make fortunes of wages elsewhere, rating their value so high, and getting so insolent that for my part I would rather cook than have them but I am told this state of things will not last long, and by and bye crowds are sure to come to the gold from home & elsewhere and they will find themselves disappointed, at least all who are not fit for very hard work. One man lately was smothered in the hole he was digging, and others narrowly escaped; they have each just 8 feet square, & in these little spaces dig perhaps twenty feet down so imagine the risk but they all get too much excited to mind; many gentlemen are there, others go just for a few days to see the strange scene, which
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they say at the prinicipal diggings is very exciting, one person said he did not think the great Exhibition could be more extraordinary!! Then they have such difficulty in getting all the necessaries of life collected in the bush for such crowds; fancy one man pushing a wheelbarrow with a 200 lb bag of flour 70 miles! This really occurred; others carry their goods & chattels in little carts drawn by dogs and all [?], as they cannot get drays & Bullocks enough to furnish them and the roads have been shocking Baby46 has been very well since I wrote last but I am afraid Sarah will find it one great burden to take the entire charge of him his nurse leaves tomorrow, with her husband who has been cook; they are a Nasty ill tempered, Mischievous pair and he is every way a useless servant but she was very useful to the baby, and Sarah is much annoyed at losing her; for my part I think that if others may [be] got, they would be a good riddance. I shall have to do all the kitchen work with the help of a Black woman the only useful one of her tribe who is fortunately here at present; we still have a washerwoman, but she and her husband also leave in three weeks for the diggings. I do hope we shall get another before that, as I can do nothing about washing. Sarah and her husband went to Kilmore, a township fifty miles off, last week, in search of servants, but without success, and Mr Wrey has had an illness in consequence of the ride; he is however well again. We have had such a houseful of gentlemen for eight days. We have sold 500 head of cattle to a Young Swiss, a Mr Castella[?]47 and he and others are here collecting them; I hope it will be over tomorrow morning for it causes a terrible bustle and stops all other work, it is fortunate it has been before any servants leave Now I must say goodbye as I cannot cross more on this thin paper. With kind regards to your gudeman, and many loves from us all to you and your little chicks
Believe me dearest Agnes,
Your Affecte Cousin

Christina
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*We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Arnott T. Wilson, The Archives, University of Glasgow who gave generously of his time and knowledge during the preparation of these letters for publication. Our thanks also to Marjorie Tipping, whose grandfather, John Macredie, was a cousin of the Macredies and the Cuninghames and came to Australia with George Wrey. Marjorie Tipping is writing a family history of the Cuninghames and the Macredies.

1

See Phyllis Mander-Jones (ed.). Manuscripts in the British Isles relating to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific (Canberra, 1972), pp.574, 577; AJCP microfilm, Reel M (Miscellaneous Series) 584, Scottish Record Office, 5. Cuninghame of Thormoun Muniments.

2

Mitchell Library A3178-A3184, Papers of the Cuninghame Family 1833–1858 [CP].

3

Burke's Landed Gentry [BLG] (1969), Vol. 2, p.492.

4

Burke's Landed Gentry [BLG] (1952), p.2798. There her name is given as ‘Christiana’ but her signatures are clearly ‘Christina’.

5

Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Dec., 1839.

6

Graham Brothers Letter Book, No. 1, 26 Nov. 1839 — 24 Aug. 1844, p.21 (University of Melbourne Archives).

7

CP Vol. 1, Letters 1 Sept., 21 Jan. 1840.

8

Port Phillip Gazette [PPG], 29 July 1840; NSW Government Gazette 1840, p. 247; Original Parish Plan, J16 (Jika Jika), Central Plan Office, Dept. of Crown Lands and Survey. The Merri Creek property stretched eastwards from the creek covering much of the present suburb of Northcote south of Separation Street.

9

PPG, 22 July 1840.

10

Kerr's Melbourne Almanac and Port Phillip Directory (1841) p.240: Archibald Cuninghame, Goulburn River and Lonsdale Street. Kerr's Almanac for 1842 and The Port Phillip Separation Merchants’ and Settlers Almanac (1846) give Archibald's address as William Street.

11

P.L. Brown (ed.), Clyde Company Papers [CCP] (London, 1958), Vol. 3, p.187.

12

Anne Drysdale records in her diary, 28 Feb. 1842 that Christina has written stating that she and Sarah are going to live in the bush. CCP, Vol. 3, p.187.

13

Map showing Pastoral Holdings of the Port Phillip District, 1835–51. Compiled by A.S. Kenyon, 1932. Spelling of run name varies: Warregowan appears in early directories; Billis and Kenyon, Pastoral Pioneers of Port Phillip (Melbourne, 1974, 2nd edn), p.296 lists it as ‘Wanregnan’ to Oct. 1855 and as subdivided into ‘Wanregarwan’ and ‘Riversdale’ from that date, but Christina clearly gives the name in the 1840s as ‘Wanregarwan’. The present parish is ‘Whanregarwen’ — see H. Blanks, The Story of Yea (Melbourne, 1973), end-papers.

14

Letter 1; Port Phillip Herald [PPH], 24, 31 Aug., 3 Sept. 1841.

15

George Mackaness (ed.), The Correspondence of John Cotton, Australian Historical Monographs Vol. XXVI (rpt as Vol. XXVIII, Dubbo, NSW, 1978), Part 1, p.33.

16

BLG (1952), p.2798; Letter 1.

17

BLG (1952), p.2798.

18

Letter from George E.B. Wrey to his aunt, Mrs C.E. Stuart (i.e. Catherine/Kate), dated 2 Oct. 1877. AJCP Microfilm — see n.1; Billis and Kenyon note that the property passed to Hugh Glass in Oct. 1855 and was subdivided but see n.13 re run name and present parish.

19

He is noticed in P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography (London, 1892), p. 112.

20

CP, Vol. 1, Letters, 12 May, 1 Sept. 1840.

21

Letter from Cuninghame to La Trobe, 23 Aug. 1843. AONSW 4/2627, NSW Colonial Secretary Inwards Correspondence, 43/6563.

22

PPH, 13 Apr. 1841.

23

Garryowen, pseud. [Edmund Finn], The Chronicles of Early Melbourne 1835 to 1852 (Melbourne, 1888), Vol. 2, p.868.

24

PPG, 11 May 1843.

25

CP, Vol. 5, Letter to Earl Grey, 31 oct. 1847.

26

PPH, 5 Apr. 1842.

27

PPH, 14 Sept. 1841.

28

PPH, 7 Dec. 1841.

29

PPH, 7 Dec. 1841.

30

PPH, 3 May 1842.

31

PPH, 14, 21, 28 Oct. 1842.

32

PPH, 17 Sept. 1841.

33

PPH, 12 Oct. 1841; PPG, 27 Oct. 1841.

34

PPG, 18, 22 Apr. 1840.

35

PPG, 2 Jan. 1841.

36

PPG, 3 Nov. 1845.

37

PPG, 20, 27 Dec. 1845.

38

Garryowen, Chronicles, Vol. 2, p.868.

39

CP, Vol. 1, Letters 18 June, 17 Nov. 1853.

40

BLG (1952), p.2798

41

Agnes’ sister, Janette Cochran.

42

Charles Snodgrass Buchanan: arrived Dec. 1841: “We are very much better for [his] company; he brought so much Crockery that we are quite fine now, and do not admit quart pots and pannikins into the parlour”. Letter from John to his mother, 29 Dec. 1841, CP, Vol. 1. Either worked with the Cuninghame's or settled nearby — Kerr's Almanac (1842), p.333; PP Patriot Almanac (1847) pp.66, 76.

43

Probably Charles Hamilton MacKnight who arrived in colony 1841 and to May 1841 was with William Campbell at Strathloddon and Bouth Yards near Castlemaine — see Billis and Kenyon, p.41.

44

John Macredie was born 1818, one of six cousins and near neighbours of the Cuninghames in Ayrshire. Son of Robert Macredie of Pierstoun House, Ayrshire, a former Captain in the East India Company, and his wife Elizabeth Cuninghame, he arrived in Melbourne with his brother, Robert, in 1840. He must have recovered from his illness for, following a sojourn in Scotland, he owned a plantation in the West Indies with his brother, Thomas, then, after a period in Madras returned to Melbourne in 1853 where he worked with his brother, William, a partner in the firm of Hastings, Cunningham and Macredie. From 1873–1883 John and Thomas lived at Piangil station on the Murray. He was still alive in 1891 when he attended William's funeral. This information supplied by Marjorie Tipping from family papers in Australia and Scotland.

45

By now Archibald would have been back in Great Britain for nearly ten months.

46

George Edward Bouchier Wrey, b. 9 Mar. 1851 — see Introduction.

47

Name is not clear but if Castella, then probably Paul de Castella, arr. 1849; July 1850 — June 1853 Yering Station, Yarra Valley — see Paul de Serville, Port Phillip Gentlemen (Melbourne, 1980), p. 174.