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Letter from a Tynemouth Emigrant

From William Robinson II to his daughter Mary Ann (later Mrs. John Dunn), on arrival in New York in 1853.

New York, September the 2, 1853.

Dear Daughter,

This comes with our kind love to you hoping to find you in good health as this leaves us at present - thank God for the same.

We arrived here all well after a passage of 7 weeks and 3 days. Your mother and all the children except Williamson and Mary Ann were seasick for a few days - we had some hard gales from the Westward but the ship, being in good trim, we did not feel them much.

I have had a few days work but have not fixed upon any settled job yet. There is plenty of employment here and good wages - all kinds of provisions cheap. You can tell James Ferguson that I can get a glass of brandy for three ha'pence and a sheep's head for the same. Beer is cheap and middling good and tobacco you can either take it for nothing or buy it whichever you like.

The worst thing here at present is the mosquito, and hot weather. We have abundance of fruits of all kinds and some that you never see in England. Thomas Hornsby would do well in this place. We intend to stop here this winter - house rent is rather high here. There are plenty of places for Isabella and Elizabeth and good schools for the children.

We were sorry to think that the shawls the children had were taken to sea with us - we did not expect to get to sea that tide and being in such confusion and seasick - it was five days before we found out that we had them. But if I am spared to next fall I intend to come over and satisfy them for their shawls. Our ship struck twice on the bar when we came to sea but did not make any water.

Dear daughter, I am sorry you did not come with us - you could have your choice of places and good wage and best of eatables and drink. If you have any inclination to come, send us word when you write. Give our respects to John Hutchison and his wife and I hope he has made his money of the things I left him.

Give our love to Spanes and tell William that I will come over or send next summer or at the fall. Remember us to Edward Cavener and all our acquaintances and if you should go to Newcastle be sure and call on Mr. Henry and James Seat and tell him that the master of the John Westley behaved as a gentleman to us - showing every kindness and gave us employment after we arrived - and thank them for their kindness. Be sure to look after the brass lamp that Robert Armstrong got the lend of from me for I would like to have it if possible and the Spy Glass would be very useful. Jane is living in the same house as us, each having one room and bedroom. Do not neglect to remember us to Edward Thomas Feguson, Thomas and Jane Hudson, and Thomas Hornsby. We have often wondered how the old man is and whether he is getting his health again or not. Do not forget Mr. Sorter Rollo, Bruce Whitefield McCall and all our old acquaintances and tell them that I think that I have come to the right side of the water at last, for anyone that can work can get employment and fair wage. I intend to shift up the lakes next Spring or to New Brunswick.

I have not written to my ... yet because I had not a fixed place till now for him to write to. Dear Mary Ann, you must write to me and tell us all the news you can. The two girls went to a friend's the day after our arrival here.

Direct for me our love to you so I conclude with saying I am your affectionate father,

William Robinson.

Direct for me at 173 First Avenue, between 11 and 12 Street, New York, America.

Addressed to Miss Mary Ann Robinson, Care of Mr. and Mrs. Spanes, Confectioners, Tynemouth, Northumberland, England.

Text suppplied by Ronald Branscombe