Thursday, May 23, 2013

Family letters 1849 - 1937

Streatley Church, Bedfordshire where James & Ann Peck's children were christened and buried.
Graveyard at Streatley Church, Bedfordshire where Ann & James Peck and family were buried. Photo taken 2007.

The following extracts are from "The Family of Charles and Martha Olney" compiled by Keith R.Collyer Pages 61 - 62.

"Ann was the daughter of Charles and Martha Olney (nee Purser), born at Harlington in 1824.

Ann was married to James PECK at Pulloxhill, Bedfordshire on 2 October 1846 and lived at Streatley, midway between Luton and Pulloxhill. This was about 35 miles north of London. They had a daughter, Sarah, when the rest of her family migrated to Geelong in 1849. Ann saved correspondence from her father and brother Charles, who not only wrote but also sent bank drafts for five pounds (sovereigns), which on many occasions were contributions from up to five family members.

Ann died at the end of 1857. Letters to her husband James Peck up to 1861 have been preserved. The International Genealogical Index (IGI) records christenings at Streatley of:

10 October 1847

3 March 1850

5 October 1851

28 August 1853
19 October 1856
28 February 1858


The IGI also records marriages at Streatley of Ann’s daughter Phoebe Peck to John Bradshaw on 15 April 1879, and of James Peck junior to Sarah Ann Roberts on 2 November 1875, and of James Peck senior who re-married. 

Grandmother Martha wrote asking Ann’s daughter Sarah to look after her sister and brothers in 1860. Henry Peck enquired about his uncles and aunts when he discovered the letters after his father died on 3 September 1906. Replies from John Charles Olney and Kezia Jessie Olney are preserved. In 1937 Henry's daughter Lil wrote again to Kezia; her niece Mrs Jessie Lewis replied and corresponded until 1982. Jessie also visited Lil in England.

Twenty letters, mostly written from Victoria 1849-1861, were sent to Jessie after Lil's death on 5 May 1986 aged 97. These were sent by a non-relative, Mr C. Finch, 160 New Bristol Road, Worle Weston-S-Mare BS22 OBG England.

The letters contain enquiries which link together the families in Pulloxhill and overseas, and assist with interpreting the parish records.        

Henry Peck could not identify George Flood who wrote from Toronto dated 12 January 1852.  Mrs Flood was Ann's aunt, Phoebe (daughter of Francis Olney, chr. 5 April 1821). The letter says: "your daughter is growing older and so am I", and refers to "your aged father so near to eternity", which would be Francis Olney (1778-1856).  More particularly, Flood enquires about the families of Francis' children remaining in or near Pulloxhill. The third mentioned was William, the eldest, who was a farmer at Hexton, Herts. His relationship had not been noted, but the 1851 census shows him as aged 48 years and born at Pulloxhill, (and Francis junior having died at Hexton). A. Gordon Keys had already listed John, Joseph and James Olney, Louisa married to James Neal, and Mary Ann married to Richard Gudgin. Both Francis and his father James had five sons with the same names.

George Flood had not heard from his mother or brother Jesse and asked to send a message to his brother John in London. The IGI records the christening of George at Bedford on 19 January 1821 and Jesse at Bedford on 11 September 1831. They were recorded as the sons of John Flood and Sarah (nee Bailey). The 1851 census records Jesse as 20 years of age at Pulloxhill.

George Flood returned to Pulloxhill and died there on 31 December 1854. Three more daughters were born in Toronto: Louisa, Jessica and Rebecca. The 1861 census shows Louisa in the family of John and Mary Olney in Pulloxhill. 

The 1851 census record shows for Gudgin at Pulloxhill, (PUL signifies born in Pulloxhill): 
Richard 38 born Harlington, Mary Anne 39 PUL, Joseph 20 PUL, Hannah 13 PUL, Elizabeth 9 PUL, Frank 3 PUL.

In 1854 Charles Olney wrote, "…tell Richard Gudgin I hope little Francis grows well.".
In 1854 Charles wrote to daughter Ann, “…tell my brothers John and Joseph they might do very well here. Also you never tell us whether your mother's brother Thomas who went to America arrived there safely.”
The census record for 1851 for Silsoe (SIL) near Pulloxhill is: Joseph Olney 31 PUL, Ann 28 SIL, Mary B 5 London, Betsy 3 SIL and Mary Ann 1 SIL.      

Also from Matthew Rutland at Pulloxhill, father of William and George Rutland and their sister Sarah Baker at Greenwich, are letters to Ann Peck.  

The English families have been charted from church records and from census details of 1841 and 1851 for the book "From Codicote to Carievale, The Olney Family" written by A. Gordon Keys in Canada. The relevant extracts have been included by permission from his widow.

Note: The 'devil-devil' mentioned in the first letter is the aboriginal executioner who declared the transgressor dead by pointing a bone".     

The following 21 Family Letters are from "The Family of Charles and Martha Olney" compiled by Keith R.Collyer Page 63 - 78.

Letter 1To Ann Peck from her father Charles Olney, senior, soon after arriving in Geelong, New South Wales in August, 1849.

The beginning of this letter has been lost.

...  also so that you may have the better chance of at least one to assure you that we are safe on firm earth again.  We intend also in no long time to send another, it will be to my father for him to keep in remembrance of us and we trust that as soon as anyone of them finds you out, you will write to us, for although far from you we have not forgot you.  We paid 1/7d for the last to go by the Government Mail by Sydney. This is only 7d to go by Melbourne and the wool ships - please do tell us what they cost you for we are not sure how they do with them on your side.

You must now have some of the odds and ends that we see and hear, beginning with the bush life. You will understand that all the country beyond a mile or two from the town is called the bush.  Those that have bought land are called Farmers and those that occupy it without having purchased it are called squatters.  These pay 8 pounds per annum for a piece perhaps 8 or 10 miles long and sometimes about as broad, but the size I think is regulated by the watering places chiefly, for everyone must have a watering place and these are not at equal distances.  Some stock with sheep and others with cattle and where they cannot manage their work themselves they hire assistants.

..................aborigines have been shot like dogs for stealing the sheep and sometimes for no offence at all. The poor creatures have been tortured and put to death in the most cruel manner by white men who have come out from a Christian country with all the advantages of aliberal education and respectable character before they left home. No doubt the blacks have committed many outrages both on the persons and property of the whites but when one thinks of their complaint against the whites, that they have taken their hunting ground and killed their kangaroos we need not wonder that they should become revengeful.   The blacks are certainly a very curious people. They have no fixed dwellings although each tribe has a district, which they keep within except when they go to war or to seek for a wife.   It is not their custom to marry one of their own tribe.  So when they want wives they go in a company to another tribe and steal away as many as they want. On such occasions terrible battles sometimes ensue for they are not particular whether they take married or single, provided they are pleased with them.  The places they put up for shelter are just a few branches or bark, they never remain long in one place, for they are afraid of the devil-devil take away their (piccaninnies) children.  This devil-devil is the ourang-outang-- a very large animal 6' or 7' high, some of them, and resembling a man.  The blacks have a name for it which the English have translated `devil-devil' - the blacks have a determined aversion to work, they say there are only two fools in this country, the white man and the bullock, for both work. So they prefer hunting and going naked in the fine weather. When they are cold they throw a kangaroo skin around them.  It seems quite impossible to teach them anything respecting religion.  A priest here was 11 years among them but without success except with some of their children that learned the alphabet, but the older ones threatened to kill them if they went any more to the school. The whites have learned them to drink rum and smoke tobacco and swear in broken English and for sixpence they will give white men their wives or daughters for prostitution.  So looking at both sides it is hard to say which is worst - Many white men of the working class here are a disgrace to human nature.  It is no uncommon thing for men to go all the summer season to sheep shearing and reaping, then come to the town and give from 30 to 60 or even 80 pounds for a week or two at hard drinking. This they call knocking down so much- and there is no hope of these chaps getting much better till they have kept money for their work - then poverty will be to them a blessing and to all around them also for they are a dangerous set of men to be near.  Churches. Of these we have five all within a mile, 1st the Church of England, 2 the church of Scotland, 3 the Free Church of Scotland, 4 the Catholic church, 5 the Wesleyan Church, all pretty well filled.  There is also a sect called Israelites, they keep both the law and the gospel except when they fall short.  They wear long beards and observe for their Sunday one-hour on Saturday and another on Sunday - they have no fixed place of worship yet. The graziers have commenced boiling down their fat sheep and cattle.  I was working a few days at the boiling down station. It might very properly be called the knocking down station, the poor creatures are deprived of life in a very cruel manner - about 100 sheep are taken to the killing apartment then two butchers go amongst them each having a hammer in his hand and to work they go just like a man breaking road metal and knock down everyone of them before they bleed one, and it often happens that the stroke is not deadly, then the poor thing goes staggering about till it has its turn again - for the hammer man does not wait to see whether he has done the job properly or not but just hits the next nearest him.  The boilers are big enough to hold 5 or 6 bullocks at once.  The fat is run off by steam then put into casks for shipment.

We are happy to tell you that we did very well on the voyage.  The children were as quiet as if they had been playing about the moors at Pulloxhill.  We are all very well at present except Phoebe who has been taken with the bowel complaint for some time back.  It is very common here to all new comers.  We hope to see her better again soon.  We have had letters from Frederick Taylor & William Arnold.  They are both at Melbourne and well and busy, so that they cannot come to see us yet.  Eliza Mathers we have not heard of so you must mention in your letters where she is and tell her where we are. Mr. Spendelow and family are close by us and all well. Green pease and new potatoes and all garden produce are now in the market.

Please to write to Thomas Purser to say that brick laying is pretty good here and fair demand for farm servants so that if he thinks of coming he will know where to find us.

Address - Charles Olney, care of Mr. Paterson, Brothers Little Scotland, Geelong, Port Phillip, Australia.

Letter 2To Ann Peck from Charles Olney, senior

28 December 1851                            

My Dear Ann,                                                                                                      
I enclose an order for £20 Twenty pounds sterling to be paid to you. I expect you will get it cashed at the bank at Luton or Ampthill or Dunstable.  It is entered here payable to Ann Peck, daughter of Charles Olney. I got three copies of the same order. This you will observe is the FIRST and lest this should be lost I shall send the SECOND in about two months after this but if you get the first all right you will not present the second to the bank for only one is payable, and you see that if the first be lost and you get the second you will get it cashed.  This is the plan the banks have adopted for safety.  Please write immediately when you have received this.  Address to me care of Mr. Hudson, Moorabool St. Geelong, Victoria, Australia.

I suppose you have heard of the Gold fields of Victoria. The money I send you is the price of some of the precious metal.  Many hundreds of people are at work digging and I have had a turn at it too and done very well.  The nearest to this place is 50 miles.  It extends 50 miles beyond that in a northerly direction with rich spots here and there all the way along.  I am just about to start again with three of the boys. We take a dray with four bullocks to carry our bedding, tools, provisions etc. It is hard work but not harder than I have done in Bedfordshire for 9 shillings per week.
We pay 30 shillings per month per licence to dig. Eight feet square is the ground allowed for each man.  He may dig as fast as he likes and take out 20 holes if he can before next month - a body of armed mounted police is stationed on the ground to protect all parties and an escort of the same carries the gold in safety to town.
If you choose to come out here let me know in your answer and I shall send you some more money to help to fit you out, besides I will enter your names here and pay your passage which will ensure you being the first on the list.

Elizabeth is married to William Rutland and in good health and likes the country very well.  She would be happy to see Ann here but she must not come until we have your answer so that we may find you some more money to help you. Your mother is in good health and spirits - likes the country well too, is also desirous that you will come out and share the gold and other good things to be had here, besides giving us your company in the enjoyment of them. The reason why the address is to the care of Mr Hudson this time is because the party you addressed to before is removed to another place.

Postmarked Geelong, 3 January 1852.  Postmarked Luton, 23 April 1852.

Envelope addressed to Mr. James Peck, Streatley, near Luton, Bedfordshire.

Letter 3To Phoebe’s Father (Francis) and her Sisters and Brothers from her husband  George Flood and family

12 January 1852.
Dear Father, Sisters & Brothers,

With much pleasure I received your letter and was glad to hear that you were all in pretty good health, which is a very great blessing, how ought we to love that God who gives unto us these great blessings. From your letter I perceive many of your neighbours have fell a victim to death. O how frail is man Old and Young are gone to their last resting place for us they sicken for us they die how necessary is it my dear Father and all that we stand prepared that we have our lamps burning ready to be welcomed into the presence of our glorious Redeemer - what a terrible event to the sinner. But on the contrary what a glorious event for the Christian he then leaves his tabernacle of clay to moulder in the grave and is put in possession of a spiritual body the very image of our Saviour.
1851 will be remembered by many. It will be remembered by me and your affectionate daughter and grandchildren why because death has taken one of our number that dear little boy is gone whither is he gone to heaven that’s where I expect to meet him glorious thought.
But a daughter has been given us to fill his place so we have same number but not the same.  We have named her partly after her Aunt Gudgin and partly after a young lady now in England one that has visited me and your dear sister in our afflictions. She is now married to a Missionary they left Toronto for Jamaica about 3 months ago but his health being bad instead of going to Jamaica they are now in the North of England.  So her name is Maree Anne Flood.  She is a pretty little dear and is so very quiet. She is admired by all who see her. She has a very bright blue eye and pretty round cheeks.  Our affections are quite placed upon her. I am afraid I shall humour my children too much. I think it is through losing Johny. Caroline is growing a fine healthy strong girl and her little tongue is going from morning to night.  Henry grows tall and slender, Sarah is a great girl. Your daughter is growing older and so am I. O for a look at you all by daylight but that wide ocean is the difficulty. We are all pretty well at the present I have a very comfortable situation as foreman for Messrs Stovel & Baines, 150 New Bond Street, London England.  Mr. Stovel is now on his way to England. I expect he will be in England about the second week in February.  I would like some of you to see him as he can tell you what I cannot write. He will be very glad to see you. He is a very pleasant gentleman and he will bring any little thing you would like to send to your grandchildren.   Your dear sister would like if you could send her some plait for bonnets for the summer and a piece of neat ribbon. She would be obliged to you to send her a bill of them the money shall be sent in the fall the next time he returns. He told me he would feel great pleasure in bringing anything.  I would have wrote before but I have been waiting to hear from my mother but I have not as yet heard from her. I am afraid she is ill.  You will please let my brother Jesse know to send to my brother John in London to call on him and to my mother as she perhaps would have something to send back by him if she is alive. Your sister would be glad if you would send her a handsome neat set of china tea service as those things are very expensive here. You would get them for about one quarter the price we could here. Only they would require to be well packed. The best way would be if one would go to London to get them there and let them pack them up for you. Only be sure to have a bill of them and give it to Mr. Stovel as they would have to pay duty on them and that could not be done without the Bills. There are several other things we would like to get but another time will do and I will send you the money back, by doing it you will much oblige.  There will be an opportunity of sending two or three times in the year and any parcel could come at any time properly directed and sent No 158 New Bond Street, London of Messrs Stovel & Baines (for Geo Flood to the care of Mr Stovel, Toronto)  Anything that you may want from Canada I would be most happy to get for you.  I am glad to say that we are very comfortable, plenty of good beef and turkey or anything else that man could wish for.  I hope if I should have my health & strength in 2 or 3 years to have a 100 acres of good land. I expect to have as soon as Mr. Stovel is back 100 pounds year or more.  If John or Joseph Olney would make up their mind to come I would buy 100 acres directly for him he has to please himself. It will be good times here next summer or rather spring for the Labourer as there are railroads making. I wonder sometimes how you can bury yourselves in Pulloxhill if you knew as much as I do you would take up thy bed and walk.  I am well known now in Toronto and you would have some one to come to but I had no one.  I often think of Joseph Olney when he returned from London so down hearted and if he had come with me he would now have had a good business and would have done well.  But I must come to a close and I wish you all a happy new year.  I hope God will give unto you all that is necessary to make you happy in time and happy in eternity.  We would like to have the news you can send us.  We like to hear of all and all that is going on. Give our kind love to all enquirers. We send our kind love to Father Sisters and brothers Uncles and aunts nephews and nieces. We want to know how James Onley and his wife are getting on. What family they have  in fact we want to know about them all. Mrs Neal and James Neal, Wm Onley and wife and family and John Olney wife and family  Joseph Olney and wife and family  Richard and Mary Ann Gudgin and children. How often we talk you all over. But my dear friends our prayers ascend every morning and evening for you all and particularly for our aged father who is so near Eternity.  I hope you pray for us and yourselves  is the sincere wish of your affectionate friend  Geo Flood.
So no more at this time from yours affectionate Son and Daughter and Grandchildren. G.& P, S.P, H, C & M.A. Flood.

We expect to hear from you by return of Post.

Letter 4 To James Peck from Elizabeth Rutland (nee Olney)
15 January 1852

James Peck will you peles (please) to keep this parcel for my sister til you see her yourself and will you please to check her later to her She is at Greenwich. So no more at present but remain your Brother and sister, Wm Rutland

Come to Port Pilip (Phillip) but don't starve
Gold for ever.

Letter 5To unknown friend from Sarah Baker, daughter of Matthew Rutland and sister of Wm and Geo Rutland who married Olney sisters.

2 August 1852                                                                              

Kind friend,
I received your letter alright and was happy to here from you and to hear that you wear all well.  I should like to come down if I could but I can't make it convenient to come at present so if you will send it by Arnolds waggon I shal be much obliged to you and I will be shoure to meet the waggon and let you know whether I received it all right. Give my love to Ann and I think of going out to William as soon as we get an answer from him. So no more at present from your wellwisher.

Sarah Baker                                                                                  

Ed: Sarah still living in Erith, Kent in 1881 census.

Letters 6 and 6aTo Ann Peck from Elizabeth Rutland

2 August 1852                                                                                                                                                                                                  
We received your letter this morning and I am very glad to hear you have received the money, dear sister.  Father is in the diggings.  I send you this note to let you know that we received your letter.  Sister and Brother come to Victoria. Don't stop and be starved.  Come in to a country where you can get plenty to eat and drink. Come over.

Dear Sister,

We received your letter that you sent the day before Christmas. Father and all our brothers have dun very well. They are worth from 100 pounds to 300 pounds each and so have my husband. Thank God for it. We are all quite well so no more at present but remain your affectionate sister and brother –

Elizabeth and William Rutland.

Letter 7To Ann and James Peck from Charles Olney, senior 

31 January 1854                                                                                                    

Dear Son and Daughter,

I now with great pleasure take this opportunity of writing these few lines to you.  Hoping they find your family and all enquiring friends in good health.  For myself I am rather poorly at present but your mother and the rest of my family are quite well.  I did think of coming to England but if I don't come I will send some money by a Mr. Tyer who is coming to Luton in a short time, and I hope you will come out with him when he comes back.  I have left off digging now but I have four cottages, one I live in and the rest I let which is sufficient to keep me, for a cottage with two rooms here, brings in one pound per week, and if you come I hope we shall be able to make you comfortable.  There is none of our family married at present except Elizabeth.  But we live in expectation of Charles committing matrimony every day. Wm Rutland is gone out about fourteen miles, having bought land there. He is going to set up farming. George West and wife are still at the Diggings and quite well when we heard from them last.  David and Jeffrie Hallsworth are with them.

I hope my father is still hearty and well and tell him I shall send him a piece of gold to make a ring for his wife. Tell my brothers John and Joseph they might do very well here for there is a railway going on here and they are paying labourers fifteen shillings per day. James, John Billington and Richard Sharp would be able to go here - for they could take a days shooting any time and not be frightened of a worker seeing them. I am very sorry you have not heard anything about Flood but I hope you will do by the time this reaches you, and that they are doing well. If he had come out here when I did he might have been worth two or three thousand pounds by this.  You never let your mother know anything about her brother Thomas who went to America whether he arrived there safe or not.  Emma is growing up something like you did and is very much like you. Young Martha gets very much like Anne Purser and talks very much like her too for her tongue is going all day long.  I and your mother wish you would take the trouble to go to Harlington and see my friends for you never let me know anything about them.  Your brother John is at his trade again with me.  Wm Arnold and I am paying him fourteen shillings per day for the first part of his time-bricklayers wages 30 shillings per day, carpenters from one pound to thirty shillings per day.

Give my best respects to Mr. Payne and all old friends and I Wm. Arnold his godson send the same to him. Tell Richard Gudgin I hope little Francis grows well and I hope the suite fitts him well also.  Tell Mary Ann that the Publicans pay about one thousand a year rent here and then make a fortune in two or three years.

Charles sends his best respects to Edward Annewell and says he would never regret the day nor the journey if he had come out with him, nor its not too late now if he likes to come.  He also sends his respects to George and Charles Eavens and would be very happy to see them out here for this is the place were they might do themselves some good if they would but come.  He tells John Parker that this is the place for living and that he would not have to go into a barn here all the week for seven bob per week nor with a dry crust and a halfpennyworth of malt beer but with a good lump of beef and bottle of rum, although meat and other things are rather dear at present. What's the odds, there is plenty of gold to bye it with.

I, William Arnold are living within twenty yards of Charles Onley, and me and wife are quite well.

We must leave the rest of the sheet blank for it is bedtime. Wishing you a hearty good night. We remain your kind father and mother. 
C. and M. Olney.
Address Mr Charles Olney,

C/ James Sharpe, Chilwell

Geelong, Victoria

Please send this to Pulloxhill

Letter 8To Ann Peck from Matthew Rutland, father of William, Sarah and George

22 August 1856
Dear Mrs Peck,

I have received a letter from Australia on the 20th of this month dated May the 23rd from your sister and she wished me to send this small note to you.

I am yours truly,
Matthew Rutland

Dear Sister, you must excuse my writing for I am underneath the ground, always hot work and always water.
Mr.William Rutland, Ballarat, Victoria. 


Letter 9  - To Ann and James Peck from Charles Olney, junior     

19 July 1857                      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My Dear Sister and Brother,
For the first time since I left England I now take my pen to address you. Hoping these few lines will find you all quite well.
We received your letter on the second of July that you sent by Charles Deurke. He arrived in Melbourne bay in February and went from there to Moreton Bay and did not post it until he reached there or else I should have written before. I was very glad to hear that you and the rest of your family were well but was sorry for the loss of your two sons.
Dear sister I must now tell you a little concerning myself. My wife was confined of a daughter on the 19th April and we have named her Ann Martha.  I have two horses and carry to and from Ballarat. One of the horses are worth 100 pounds and the other about 80 pounds.
I have a brick cottage and a garden and are very comfortably situated. Things at present are very dull, trades are slack. Labouring men are getting from 8 to 10 shillings per day and mechanics about 12 shillings.  You would no doubt think it high wages but we think them low being used from one pound to one pound five per day.
Father has been about three months in the country thrashing wheat. He gets tenpence per bushel for thrashing it. He comes in about once a month and he spends what he earns at the public house. He drinks as bad as ever.  Bill is out with him and he gets fifteen shillings per week and rations.
Mother is living alone and not very far from us and takes in washing and plaits for her living. She is quite well. She often says she should like to see you all again.  Martha is living with us, she does not grow very fast but she is an old fashioned thing.  Betsy Emm David and John are all on Ballarat and are all quite well.  Betsy has 3 children, 2 sons and one daughter, her youngest is six weeks younger than mine.
Emma is married to George Rutland and has got a daughter. David has 3 children, 2 sons and one daughter in two years and a half.  Rather sharp work.  William, George and David are sinking on Ballarat and John is at work about nine miles from Ballarat and he gets one pound fifteen shillings per week and rations.
Frances is at work about 18 miles from town but we do not know what wages he gets. The last time we heard from him he was quite well.  We received a letter from James Neal a short time ago, he is living at Adelaide and he was doing very well. Spendelow and his family are quite well and are all married but Eliza. Sarah has 3 children, Ann 2 Fanny 2 and Mary has had 5 but all dead. Betsy is expecting 1 shortly, I think now I have told you all the news so it is time for (me) to draw to a close with our kind love to you all and believe me to remain your affectionate brother.

Charles Olney

PS Write as soon as you received this and for the future direct to me.

Charles Olney, Union Street, off Russell St,

Chilwell, Geelong, Victoria Australia

Letter 10 - unused SECOND Bank Order for Five Pounds Bank of Australasia Geelong, 
12 December, 1857

Letter 11To James Peck from Charles Olney, senior 

14 March 1858
My Dear Son,

I received your letter on the twelth of this month containing the melancholy news concerning the death of my dear daughter Ann.  We have long expected one from you but little thought of learning such sad news. It must, as you say, be a trial to you being left with such a small family but we will assist you as much as we can amongst us but being so far distant it is impossible for us do as we could if you were here.  If you have a wish to come we will do all in our powers to assist you.  That is if you could meet of an elderly woman coming that might look after the dear little children there is not one that can hardly do for itself.  It gave me quite a shock coming so sudden upon one for not hearing of any sickness before I did not expect it but we must resign our selves to his will and his will be done for blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, for he says though ye die yet shall ye live and have everlasting life and I trust that it is the same with my dear girl, hoping her end was peace.
You have doubtless received a letter before this with an order for 5 pounds which we sent to poor Ann and no doubt it came very acceptable at such a time.  If you have received it let us know directly and we will endeavour to send a few pounds more to help support the helpless ones. Thank you for that lock of poor Ann's hair.  I shall ever keep it in remembrance of her.

Having no more to say at present all send their kind love to you and the dear little children hoping the almighty will ever provide and protect them.
We remain your affectionate father and mother.

Charles and Martha Olney

We have sent another order for the money in case you should not have received it.  Please to direct as before.

Letter 12 To James Peck from Charles Olney, junior 

5 September 1858                                                                                                                                                      

My Dear Brother,

We received your long looked for letter about the middle of last August and was very sorry to hear of the sickness you have had in your family but I trust that both you and the dear little children will enjoy better health for the future.  We quite expected to have heard from you before but no doubt the delay was because the direction on the letter we sent to you was wrong and you did not get it so soon as we expected.  I must now tell you a little of all of us in turn. First then I am still carting to and from Ballarat but it is getting rather a dull game and it is likely to be worse instead of better as the train between Geelong and there was commenced last week. Father and Mother are hoeing on a piece of land which he hired about 12 miles from town. It is very good land and I think if he keeps steady in a year or two he will make a very good living off it but of course there is great outlay and no return the first year. The ground requires a great deal of grubbing as it is thickly timbered and Francis and William are at present out there with him and mother. She likes the bush a great deal better than we thought she would.  We have not seen John for some time as he is far in the country on a station but we hear he is quite well.  David with Wm and George Rutland are still on the diggings sinking for gold but am sorry to say without success at present. David has but the three little ones nor more has Elizabeth and poor Emma lost her little girl when she was 12 months old. Both George and herself fretted very much about it but it was the will of the Almighty and his will be done perhaps it was all for the best. Martha is still with us as she does not like the bush. She does not grow much.
I must now tell you poor old Mr Spendelow is dead. He died on the 6th July and was a great sufferer before his death but he gave us every reason to believe  he is gone where the wicked cease from troubles and where the weary are at rest. His wife took it very well and she has only Eliza single so she is without much encumberance to trouble her.  I think now I have told you nearly all the news and will close by saying we have sent you 5 pounds between us and we would have sent you more had it not been for Father taking the land and not seeing John but he will be down I think at Christmas when we will send five more, which doubtless will come acceptable at any time. Perhaps you have made up your mind to come out since you wrote last, if you have received the last letter I sent.
I must now say good bye all join with me in love to you and the dear children and believe us to remain, your affectionate brother and sister,  
C. and A. Olney.

PS   I forgot to say that I made a mistake in spelling my name. I spelt it only instead of Olney but it will not make any difference if you know it. I have enclosed a draft on the bank as before.
Good bye
Direct as before. Write as soon as you receive this.

(This James Spendelow was Best Man at the wedding of Charles and Martha Olney).

Letter 13  - To James Peck from Charles Olney, junior 

9 May 1859                                                  

My Dear Brother,
I once more take my pen to address you and must ask forgiveness for neglecting it so long but we do not always do as we ought or else we should be very different to what we are.  We were all very thankful to hear by your last letter that the dear children were all well and also you received the money safe and if all had been as we anticipated we should have sent some more before now but could not very well spare it amongst us for the produce from father's farm has not realised as much as was anticipated by him.  He has been enabled to get a living and to pay his way thus far and I think if he is spared another year he will get on pretty well. I must now tell you a little of my own concerns.  The week after I sent the last letter I had reached home within 18 miles, when one of my horses killed himself.  He was running through the timber when his head came in contact with a tree and knocked his forehead in and he dropped dead instantly. His value was 50 pounds, too much to lose at once but have since been enabled to replace him again so have 3 fine ones still.
John is in Ballarat and has a nice horse and dray.  He has turned hawker in fruit around the different diggings and is getting a very comfortable living.  He has sent you a little money with father and myself making in all five pounds and mother has sent one pound out of her own earnings for you to get each of the children a trifle with to think of her. They are often on her mind and she sheds many tears on their behalf. She says if her pocket was as large as her heart she would send more than she does for them but we must look to the great searcher of all hearts to provide for them. He has promised and we know he will fulfil in the time of trouble he will be with thee  fear not his grace is all sufficient for thee and when we can say that and feel there is one that cannot fail in what he has promised we need nothing else. William and Frank are still on father's farm, they are both well. Wm and Geo Rutland are still digging but without success.  They are in hopes of getting gold soon.  Emma has another little girl since the death of her first but Elizabeth has but the three and I have only one at present.  David's wife has 4 in 4 1/2 years. They are on the diggings close to the rest. Let us know in your next if any of the Pulloxhill people come to see you.

I think now it is time to draw to a close so must say farewell for the present.  All join in love to you and the children, trusting God's mercy may rest on them all. Believe us to remain your affectionate brother and sister.

C. and A. Olney

PS I should have sent it by the first mail but was too late that is the reason the draft is dated so much before the note.    

Letter 14To James Peck from Charles Olney, junior                                                                                             
23 January 1860                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

My Dear Brother,

We received your letter by the last mail and was sorry to hear of the sickness in your family but hope by this time you are all well again. We began to get uneasy as we had not heard whether you had received the last Order that was sent but found by your letter it reached you safe it set us easy.

Mother and Father are still in the bush, he sticks to his farm firstrate and might make a good living if he would keep steady but doubt if ever he will leave off drinking.  Mother has her health very well and seems contented with bush life. She has been staying with us 2 weeks but is gone home again. Mother with Frank, William, John and myself have sent you five pounds which we hope you will lay out in making the little children comfortable and Father says if his crops turn out well he intends sending 2 or 3 pounds himself but don't expect it till you see it.  We have had distressing weather this last two days.  The heat has been so intensive that it has dried almost everything up to a cinder. The apples and things that hang on the trees are baked quite soft and grapes are dried up to a complete cinder. It looks fearful to see the wreck it has made.  We have not heard much from the country farmers but expect something very bad. The barometer stood at 140 deg so that will tell the intensity of the sun, we may never see the like again and hope we never shall.  Elizabeth and Emma are still on the diggings, their husbands are doing nothing at present and they are in very poor circumstances. They have been very unlucky indeed. Elizabeth has 4 little ones, Emma has 1 and David has 4. They begin to tally up now. I have but the first little girl living, my wife was confined on the 2nd of last November of twin sons, both stillborn, was almost too much of a good thing.  I still cart to the diggings but when the railway is completed the carting will be done so must look out for something else to do. Martha is in a situation, the first she has ever been to, she gets four shillings and four pence per week.  She grows quite a woman.  John wished me to ask you to go to Pulloxhill and enquire his age as mother has lost the certificate of his birth.  He will be much obliged to you.  I must now draw to a close with kind love to you and the children and believe us to remain, yours affectionately

Charles and Ann Olney

PS Send word if all the children are at home with you. I have enclosed a bank order for five pounds.

Letter 15To James Peck from Grandmother Martha Olney

23 August 1860

My Dear Son and Grandchildren,

We received your letter by the last mail and was very glad to heard you were all quite well and hope this will find you so now. Your father and myself have been very poorly with the influenza but we are getting on again first rate.  We have made up another five pounds for you amongst us, which I hope you will get safe. I must now tell you that I expect Elizabeth and her children down from the diggings tomorrow by Charles for change of air for they have all been very ill with a complaint in the throat, they have lost their eldest boy with it. He was a fine little fellow 6 years of age he was taken ill on a Thursday and died on the Monday following.  They both fret very much about him. Their hole has not produced any gold yet they are badly off.

Emma was confined on the 2nd of this month of another daughter, making 3 she has had but there is but 2 living and David's wife has got another girl, which makes five in five years and 3 months.  Charles has but the one girl at present. All the rest are single yet but I cannot tell how long they mean to keep so. There is nothing more I can find to say so must draw to a close hoping Sarah is a good girl to her brothers and sister.

I remain yours truly
Martha and Charles Olney                                                            

I have enclosed a Bank order.

Letter 16To James Peck from Charles Olney, junior

24 June 1861                                                                                                      


Dear Brother,

I just drop a line to say we have sent you another draft for five pounds, which we hope you will get quite safe.  The mail closes this afternoon, a day sooner than we thought it would so that there is not time to tell you anything respecting the family, only they are all well but the next time the mail leaves I will try and tell you all about every one. I hope the next letter you send here will be a little more news in it than there was in the last letter you sent. You never tell us anything about the old folks at home. Hoping you and the children are well. 

I remain yours truly
Charles Olney

Letter 17To Henry Peck, son of Ann and James Peck, from Kezia Jessie Olney

Fyans St,
Chilwell, Geelong.
11 October 1906                        

Mr. Henry Peck,

Dear Sir,

Your letter dated Sept 6th 1906 and addressed to Chas and Mata Olney was delivered to me last Tuesday 9th inst.  My father's name was Francis Olney, he was the fourth eldest child of Martha and Charles Olney of Bedfordshire.  Your mother Ann was the eldest daughter of Charles and Martha Olney, and as far as we know my father's sisters and brothers names ran as follows:

                                   1st   Ann Olney
                                 2nd  Elizabeth Olney (decd)
                                 3rd  Charles Olney (decd)
                                 4th  Francis Olney (my father)
                                 5th  David Olney (living)
                                 6th  Emma Olney
                                 7th  John Olney
                                 8th  William Olney
                                 9th  Martha Olney

Your mother's mother and father (Charles and Martha Olney) died here in Geelong and I am the grand daughter of Charles and Martha Olney they also were your grandmother and grandfather and Ann Olney was my father's sister, therefore your mother was my aunt so we must be cousins.

Francis Olney died in August, 1899 and his wife (my mother) is an invalid and she has given me this information concerning our relatives. The C. and A. Olney you  mentioned was my father's brother and his wife.  Uncle Charles died  in August last. I don't know where the other relatives are at present. But I could find out if you wanted to know particulars. Mother does not know anything about Mr. George Flood that you mentioned in your letter.
Believe me to remain Yours affectionately,

Kezia Jessie Olney

Miss Kezia Olney

Fyans Street, Chilwell, Geelong, Victoria

Letter 18 - To Henry Peck from John Charles Olney 

Mount Moriac,
16 October 1906                                                                                                                       


To Mr. Henry Peck,

Dear Sir,

I am in receipt of your letter dated Sept. 6th received by me Oct 15th and I am pleased to say that you had reached the right Olney for the C. and A Olney that refer to and also Eliz. and Wm Rutland are my uncle and aunts.  My father's name is John brother of C Olney and Elizabeth Rutland both of which have passed from this world.

Aunt Rutland died about five years ago also her husband Wm. Rutland. He died about a year previous and C Olney my uncle Charley died in his 76 year about three months ago in Melbourne and his wife A Olney is still living in Melbourne.. They have a large family of grown up sons and daughters.  The girls all being married and most of boys also the most of which are in good positions in Melbourne and the Martha Olney is now Martha Capp her husband is a brother to the A. Olney referred above.  Her name was formerly Capp.  Both Aunt Martha and Uncle Fred Capp are alive and well living in Ballarat, a city about 50 miles from here.  They also have a large family of grown up children.

There also another brother of father's living in Ballarat named David he is the oldest living at the present he has a extra large family 13 sons and 3 daughters all of the sons are married and away from home.  His wife and two single sisters are home.  Uncle is about 74 and hale and hearty. There was another brother Frank, the oldest of father's brothers, he died several years ago at Chilwell, Geelong.  There is some of his family living there now but I can't tell you anything about them as I never knew them. No doubt the other letters that you addressed to Chilwell would fall into their hands.

There was another sister married to George Rutland a brother of William Rutland.  He also passed away a good many years ago but aunt is still living with her married son.  Her family are all grown up and on there own. I don't know much of them as they always lived a long way from us at a place called Rokewood a mining district also fruit growing.  Mr. William Rutland also was most of his time fruit growing at a place called Warncoort. His family of three sons and four daughters were all in the fruit growing line up and around Uncle's old place about 26 to 30 miles from here.

I think I have told you something about all of fathers's sisters and brothers and will now come back to my own.  My father is still living and am thankful to say in good health. He is living in the north of Victoria about 200 miles from here.  He has his two step sons and a step daughter and my step brother with him.  My mother died about 21 years ago leaving six daughters and one son, myself. Four of my sisters are married and living in different parts of Victoria.

Two sisters and myself (during my) bachelorhood are living together.  I have a general store in a township twelve miles out from Geelong it is only a small place but a good sound district all farming and dairying carried on about here. We have been here since I left school which was about 15 years ago, I am now in my 29th year and my sister is the baby of the first family in her 22nd year and the other is cut out for an old maid as we always tell her is in her 36th year. We are having a busy time here are present, the local Methodist Church having been opened 50 years is holding a Jubilee and several church choirs around the district are joining in with our choir and having a real good turn out. It is to be held the first week in November. The prospects of Victoria are real good, this coming harvest we are having a good spring, which of course, means a heavy yield of all sorts, if nothing out of way happens.

One thing I forgot to say is that I have heard my father speak of a sister he left in England named Ann which I think must be your mother, that being so it will turn out that you are my cousin. Father, his brothers, sisters, father and mother came out here in 1847. Father's father got shot accidentally in about 1867. His mother died up at Uncle Rutland's about 1885. I expect Father down here about November so will ask him all about it and will I hope be able to tell you more of family history in the coming days.

I think I have told you about Father's relations and hope that you will be also trace the relationship, which I think must be as I have already stated. Hoping to hear from you in a short time. I will get my Aunt Annie's address for you and any other that you would like if you will write to them. Hoping this finds you all in good health as it leaves us at present. I will expect to hear from you about Christmas.

I remain,
Yours very faithfully
J.C. Olney

My address - Mount Moriac, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

Letter 19 - To Henry Peck from Kezia Olney 

Fyans Street,
Chilwell, Geelong Sth.
11 April 1907                                                              


My Dear Cousin,

I was very pleased to hear from you again. I am sending one of Father's photos and also one of Mother's as I have one of each to spare. Father's was taken outside many years ago and I have had it copied off since. Mother's was taken about two years ago. It is a good likeness of them. I had mine taken about three weeks ago and I will send you one.  I think you will like it. It is the very image of me.  In your letter you asked me my age and I will be twenty-eight in June. I am glad to hear that the vessel, which had the mail on board did not sink to the bottom of the sea. It was news to me to hear that Cousin Jack is to be married. Although we live so near them they never correspond. They come into town Tuesdays and Thursdays but never find time to call and see us. When father died his two brothers came down, one has since died and the other brother went away.  I have only seen him once since. I think they were afraid we will ask them for help.  They need not be afraid of that for I would not ask help from any of them. For while I have hands to work with and am able to work I will keep my mother as long as she lives. She has been an invalid for eighteen months and the last eight months she has been in bed. Father was an invalid for fifteen years before he died. He has been dead eight years in August so you see Mother has had a hard struggle but we managed to live without any help from father's relatives. All we care about is to keep ourselves honest and respectable, that is all we want in this world. I hope that you will receive the photos all right and let me know if you get them. I would like very much to receive one of your photos. It would give me great pleasure to receive one from the old country. Mother wishes to be remembered to you. Hoping you are all well.

With love
I remain, Your afft. cousin
from us all.
Kezia Olney

Letter 20 - To Henry Peck from Jack C. Olney 

Mount Moriac,
11 December 1907                                                                   

Dear Cousin Henry,

I really feel ashamed almost to write after such a long silence. For a good while I was too busy about the time I was married and then I thought to write when quite settled down and send you a photo and didn't know the address, Ethel and Annie being away, and when I wrote to them I always forgot to get your address. Last week we had Ethel home for a week, she is living with Father, now up in the north of Victoria about 200 miles from here, it is rather a hot part much warmer than here as we are only 10 miles from the Coast. Annie is living in Melbourne now she went back to dressmaking again. We bringing a new cousin of yours into the house made some alterations didn't it, but it’s the way of the world. We are not having a very good season in Victoria this year. It has been altogether too dry. The farmers around here are busy stooking just now it won't take long as the average crops are about 15 to 20 cwt to the acre and other years it generally averages 50 to 60 cwt per acre so you see its rather a bad year but no doubt the ground is like ourselves, it wants a rest some time and when the rains come it will make up for it.

I have just had a change from letter writing, been out in the garden to dig some potatoes for dinner. I have a small fruit garden and grow a few vegetables around the fruit trees just for our own use. As far as business is concerned with me it doesn't vary much from one year to the others. I employ one man to drive the cart and my wife and I manage the shop between us. We are once more drawing near to Xmas and of course before you receive this Christmas will be over and a start will be made into its new year. However, I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year. I am sending you a newspaper also photo. You will see that my better half is standing on a step to bring herself up on a level with me as I a six footer. I hope you receive it all right. No doubt now are wondering what has become of it as Ethel was saying that she told you we sent it but better late than never. I hope to hear from you again soon and also would be glad of a photo of you and any of yours at any time you can spare one and also I will be pleased to correspond regularly and will promise not to be so long in answering in future. We have not made any arrangements for Xmas as a rule we go to the seaside and perhaps will do the same this year if fine weather. There is not much exciting news to relate just now so will draw to close with fondest love to all from your cousins Belle and Jack.

I remain yours sincerely
Jack C. Olney

PS Many thanks for post card, which you sent in March.  We received it the day we were married.   J.C.O. 

Letter 21 - To unknown Cousins (presumed in England) from Jessie Lewis 

13 Woodstock Street,
Chilwell, Geelong, Australia.
26 December 1937                            

Dear Cousins,

Your most welcomed letter received on 20.12.37.

The Miss Kezia Olney you once wrote to died about 12 years ago.  She married a Mr. William Rosser.   He also has died.  There were no children to the marriage.  Kezia Olney was my mother's youngest sister.  My mother's name is Martha Eva. She married William Eldridge.   There were three children to the marriage. My sister, Mrs. Norman Young, aged 44 years, has six children, the eldest 23 years and the youngest 6 years.   Her husband is a foreman at Robert Purnell's carriers.  There was only one brother, his name was Frank. He died in 1919 at the age of 18.5.  Now there is only myself left to be written about.  My name is Jessie.  I am also married, to John Lewis.  I am 31 years of age.  My husband is foreman at the Albion Quarrying Company's Tar Distillerys.  I have one child 13.5 years old.  I live right next to Mother's. Mother is 66 years old and Dad is 72 years on Jan 28th.

It seems real strange writing to you when we have not met or even seen one another.  I wonder if ever we will.  I would very much like to keep up this correspondence you have opened.

There is nothing I like better than receiving letters and writing them.  My son, Frank, is quite thrilled about your letter as he is a keen stamp collector.  My husband's brother's wife came from England, she was a Miss Clara Eden. I will find out what part she came from. The card you got with Ethel signed on might have been my sister, her name is Ethel. We will get some snaps taken and let you see what we are like.  Although you might get too big of a shock when you see our faces. 

Well this is all I can think of at present so will close with kind regards from Mother, Dad and myself.

Your sincere cousin
Jessie Lewis

PS We will be looking forward to hearing from you again soon.

I acknowledge and give credit to the copyright work by Keith R.Collyer (desceased) in his book "The Family of Charles and Martha Olney".  Pages 61 - 78.

Please note:  Ross Olney is the keeper of the Olney family tree.  If you have an information that needs to be corrected or added to please contact Ross by email -

You can order you own hard copy of  "The Family of Charles and Martha Olney" by clicking on -

If you wish to contact the author of these Olney Family Archive blogs with corrections or further information please email Joy Olney -

These blogs  have been written as another way of sharing the Olney family history with those interested.  They do not cover all branches.  My interest primarily is with the "David" Olney branch with parents Charles & Martha Olney. 

Peter and Joy Olney were fortunate enough to visit England in 2007 and visited many of the churches, places, houses and villages written about in the books by Keith Collyer and A.Gordon Keys.  More recent generations in Australia are also included in the Olney Family Archives blogs.

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