Letter #116

Barbados 3d Jany 1839

My dear Kate: In consequence of the Packet having made an excellent passage and reaching Carlisle Bay on the 27th or 28th Decr whereas she was only due today, you must be content to receive two of my stupid letters dated within I think a week of each other. No doubt you will exclaim at the postage and substance herein, but truly I have little more to add to my last red ink ...     Read more

Letter #117

The Lady Charlotte, a Liverpool merchantman homeward bound from Peru, was driven ashore and wrecked on the south-west coast of Ireland with the loss of nine lives on 23 October 1838. 

‘Buckeen’ is an Irish word meaning a social climber. 

The earthquake of 11 January 1839 was centred on Martinique, where the French naval base at Fort Royal, now Fort Saint Louis, was largely destroyed with ...     Read more

Letter #118

Sir Edward Cust was a veteran of the Peninsula and a former Member of Parliament. He was at this time Master of the Household to King Leopold of the Belgians. 

‘I never quized Kate’: see letters 102 and 103.

 Barbados 13 Feby 1839

How is this my dear Kate? No letter from you by the last Packet of the 15th Jany which arrived after a short passage of 21 or 22 days. That you have written I do not doubt, and ...     Read more

Letter #119

Barbados 16th Feby 1839

This will be somewhat like master Fred’s hasty scrawls, but you must not be severe my dear Kate, for ski-he is the order of the day. I was only released from the Genl Court Martial last evening about 3 oclock, and have with Capt Rutherfurd who was also on the Court, been working away to prevent our office affairs getting in arrear by this interuption. Our award has been confirmed – the young ...     Read more

Letter #120

‘The poor man and his donkey’ refers to Aesop’s fable, The Man, the Boy and the Donkey’, the moral of which is ‘please all and you will please none’. 

Admiral Edward Hawker, a member of the Plymouth Hawker family, was a retired officer whose comments on naval and military matters were published from time to time in The Times over the pseudonym ‘A Flag Officer’. He crops ...     Read more

Letter #121

The Bocas strait separates Trinidad from the coast of Venezuela. English spells it ‘Boags’. 

The Governor of Trinidad, Sir George Fitzgerald Hill, had died on 8 March. 

Trinidad had been ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Paris in 1814, having been previously colonised by the Dutch, Spanish and French. Following a disastrous fire, the first British Governor, Sir Ralfe Woodford, employed ...     Read more

Letter #122

The Governor of Grenada was Colonel Carlo Joseph Doyle.

On Board Her Majesty’s Steamer Spitfire
11th April 1839 off Guadeloupe

Your charming letter my dear Kate dated 1st March reached its destination last night as all our party assembled on board preparatory to quitting Antigua having completed our business at that station, and we left the Island this morning about seven, but I have been so employed this morning and feel so fearful that a letter will not ...     Read more

Letter #123

Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s latest engineering triumph, the first transatlantic steamship SS Great Western, powered both by steam paddles and sails, had made her maiden voyage just a year ago. She could complete the eastbound voyage in 14 days.

Barbados 22 April 1839

Well my dear Kate, have you got that slow coach under weigh yet? I sincerely trust you have and that he is on the wide sea with the prospect of a glorious ...     Read more

Letter #124

Sir Francis Bond Head, a Royal Engineer, was probably personally known to English as both had served in the Waterloo campaign and the occupation following it. He had just retired as Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, and published A Narrative about his administration there.

The General’s breakfast over his maps of India reflects his close interest in northern India where he had served from ...     Read more

Letter #125

Not dated, but written on 18 May 1839.

Your letter of the 15th April signed your ‘miserable and wretched wife Catherine English’ wherein you state my dear Kate that you had such a wretched dream about me is now under my left hand. Your worthy maid Janet will solve the said dream, as always going by contraries. Thus some good luck attends us, it is to be hoped. Altogether your letter ...     Read more