Letter #84

The Britannia, a sugar ship, was saved. She was enclosed with planks – ‘imboarded’ – and towed away for repair. 

In June 1837, African soldiers of the 1st West India Regiment mutinied at St Joseph, Trinidad, setting fire to buildings and raiding an arms store. Their officers, aided by the militia, subdued them, and the ringleaders were executed.

Barbados Monday 7th Aug 1837

You will be weary my dear Kate – the Packets follow each other so rapidly that all interest will subside when the postman passes your gate. We have another mail to sail today in consequence of her having made the passage in 5 days short of the time allowed. Thus I must torment you with more of my steel pen’s scribbling, but the want of your Wickham dispatch of the 1st July rather puzzles me to write with spirit. Moreover so little has occured worthy of writing and forwarding to the other side of the Atlantic. Since our hurricane or gale, I feel the want of excitement, particularly at this moment, to afford you any thing like an entertaining document, & as is the case generally when I wish to be uninterrupted, half a dozen persons walk in, thus my pen was stopped the first ten minutes I had fixed myself at poor Edith’s desk by the Storekeeper, Mr Eaton, on some potter referring to the Resptive officers bringing Sir Samford Wittingham and our board into collision. The old Genl, like all new brooms, is setting all right or claiming all right and setting much wrong, but he is a well meaning old gentleman and will gradually find out the power of the ordnance and their Board of Respve officers. The matter now at issue Capt Tait would understand. The Genl has put Comsy Genl Filder into King’s House, or rather Mr F has persuaded him that it is in his power to do so and has crept in without obtaining the keys & proper authority. Away starts an official from the BM demanding his right &c and immediately following comes a letter to the R Offs from the Military Secretary, Capt Consindine, requesting we will direct the keys to be given over and sanction the proceeding, which we decline without orders from home. This will remind you of old times and difficulties of a similar nature and doubtlessly cause a laugh, but you must understand the Ordnance hire a house at 320£ pr ann for Sir Samford until King’s House is repaired for his reception. In the mean time the good old gent has naught to do with the latter. I fully expect there will ensue some coolness with all parties. L Smith has been twice to interrupt me on his affairs of duty company, of interference on the part of Adjt Generals & other old ladies, but in truth it causes me much amusement & a hearty laugh, for invariably we bring them to book and obtain our own way. In fact our work is so distinctly laid down in black & white that no other than a goose could go wrong. My last letter treated you with a long account of the fire and storm. Since these events we have been more than quiet, actually stupid so far as the society is concerned. For myself I have much to employ me, both in matters of office duty and arranging my quarters. The garden, the grounds & the stock on the farm take up all my leisure time and affords a delightful recreation. Me and mine must as usual be brought forward – the latter increase rapidly & now consist of 2 Milch cows, one calf, giving me loads of milk and butter at breakfast – made in a bottle! it’s a fact – 30 sheep & lambs, a goat & kid, a dog called Lion, 2 cats found astray in the grounds, a monkey, a Macaw, a Parrot, seven land turtle, lots of land crabs, fattening 4 pigs, and three horses – all I think. 3 sheep & three pigs are the remains of Lt Tinling’s stock, rather of the starvation kind, they will soon recover. But I had such quantities of fodder going to waste it was absolutely necessary to stock the place. I forgot to add in addition to the cows in milk 4 head of cattle. Furniture, ornamental & little elegancies from Wickham are now much in request – the House is large and I am rather put to it to make one room habitable to receive visitors. I shall send you sketches of Shot Hall but it is difficult to obtain any of the house being so much shut in with trees, but my bill hook is hard at work now. I wish for a little tool of that kind of the pattern I used to carry about. Lt Tinling’s steamer, after great exertion both on the part of the navy and Military, particularly Capt Whish RN comdg the Gannet, has been got off. I have much pleasure in reporting his vessel was towed by the Echo steamer the day before yesterday to Antigua for repair, and he told me he did not expect to loose more than 20£. All parties rejoiced to find he was afloat again after being more than a week on shore. The Britannia, which was expected would be a wreck, has after considerable loss been imboarded and got into the Carinage. She may possibly be got safe home yet. Still the whole bay is covered with wrecks. No Seringapatam yet, nor do I think she will come here until these blowing months are past. Did I tell you that Mary Fraser sent me such a flourishing remembrance in a letter to her friend Mrs McDonald, whom I wrote of when at Berbice? I would copy it but cannot find Mrs McDonald’s letter at this moment. Poor dear woman, she write of those days past at Fort George as some of her happiest. Since the last Mail I have dined out, but generally stupid work. Sported the new Epaulettes for the first time at the 65th mess to meet the General. I was seated next to him when he told me with great delight that his son had passed at Woolwich for the Engineers, and his wish to have him out here so soon as he had completed the course at Chatham. The trial of the mutineers at Trinidad is at an end, so that his eldest son, ADC, and my friend Harpur, DJ Advocate Genl will soon return & Capt Considine, whose health suffers here, is released; he waited only for this Court Martial. He embarks today for home – I wish it were my turn. Another visitor, the Clergyman of our Garrison, a worthy old gent but pays very long visits for a packet day. I have not had time to try my new net – it looks charmingly gay. Many thanks for trouble you have all taken. The articles were so numerous that I forget to acknowledge them in detail. The handkerchiefs and braces I was particularly in need of, in fact any part of dress is acceptable to an expended wardrobe. I am now well off for shirts, having missed a dozen & ½ in my large trunk not yet put on. Stocking are acceptable, ottomans for my sitting room, sheeting or Duck for trowsers, chince for sophas &c. Some of our officers must be sent out shortly and would gladly take charge of any thing – three will be wanted here. The monkey has just broke loose and all the sert are after him, this and another visit from Leicester Smith. The clock has just struck one, the mail is made up at two, so adieu dear Kate. A letter recd yest from the Ld Chief Justice’s Secretary Mr Ellis Bent at Demerara – it appears the fever is making melancholy havoc & I may fancy I have had an escape. Several that I left hearty strong people are gone. Mrs James, a young woman in health with a young family, wife to the Brigade Maj dead. Mr Fisher Adjt 67 Do, with a young family. Mrs Van Nooten an acquaintance Do. Mr MacDougall, just named Attorney Genl & not long out Do. They said 400 sailors have died, however some vessels were left without hands, in fact it has carried off numbers. Capt Thorndike RA writes that Dr & Mrs White are well & like St Kitts. Regards to my Uncle & all friends & accept my dear Kate & chicks of your afft Fred English.

Have you heard of dear Fred? Remember me to Capt Tait – I will write to him next packet. I am very anxious to learn how Augt is getting on.