The following are transcripts of letters written by Edmund Seamons (1808 - 1899), his wife Mary Seamons, and two of their children, to members of their families in England. The letters were written soon after Edmund, Mary and their children arrived in Adelaide after leaving England on the ship Orator. The letters are held by the Mortlock Library of South Australiana (reference D 6627 (L)).
The transcripts have been punctuated to enable ease of reading.
Walkerville, near Adelaide,
Oct. 26th. 1849.
Dear brothers and relatives,
I am thankfull to the Most High that I permitted to inform you that the Orator anchored safe in port Oct. 2nd.
We rejoiced with weeping; my dear Joseph died at sea on the 8th July, on the coast of Africa near Sierra Leone; supposed to be water on the brain I am afraid brought on by a fall. At the first it was such a trial I thought I never could surmount it, but he lingered three weeks and his sufferings were so great that I was soon brought to be submissive to resign him to a gracious Redeemer. He wanted to return to the farm and to see his cousins; this added to our affliction. He was the finest boy on board. Several of the young men had taken a great liking to him. He was so alive we miss him very much.
Betsy was ill for weeks of consumption; quite given up by the doctor and all the crew, but as we drew into the cold region of the Cape, the worst symptoms ceased. She was scarcely sensible of Joseph's death. My husband and I were wonderfully supported to do for them and the family. The weather was very oppressive and I had no rest for weeks, except on the seats, both wanted so much attention. I am thankful to say she is better now than ever. Sarah is much improved, I think she will be quite cured.
Ed very much enjoyed himself, is grown into a big strong boy, so is Polly. Charles is about the same as at home, rather complaining, though grown. I think Edmund is better in his health. We had a very pleasant voyage to the Cape then very rough most of the way to Adelaide. Two severe storms passed, each time a fearful night, hail, lightning and thunder, a deal of movement and distraction on deck. We had an excellent Captain Tayt. We shall always remember his kindness. Some of our provisions were very poor. When the meat is cooked there is not much of it. It is scarce living. I ought to have had a sack of flour, cheese, herrings and carbonate of soda for cakes, spices. Any persons or family ought to bring a good bit out with them as after you crossed the line you are very hungry. We grew so weak we could hardly stand. I begd of the captain to sell me flour toward last 3 lb, we had a treat of good cakes. You can sell anything you don't want to eat on board but not be in a great hurry at first.
We entered Adelaide on the 4th, rented two rooms for a fortnight: 16/- for rent, water and fireing, the cheapest in town. Rent is awfully dear, frightening people. Situations are rather scarce as Emigrants wont at first go into the bush. but there is Government works, 1 pound a week, always to be had. Edmund has engaged to look after Mr. Peacock' farm, 1 pound a week, and to live in the lodge with plenty of fire, water and garden greens. Little Ed opens a gate for the gentry to pass through the gate. I think he will get about 4d a week. I have two situations in view for Betsy and Sarah where they will be more comfortable than at home. We conclude this will be the best way to proceed at present.
We should be pleased to see brother James but I wish him to use his own discretion. I am confident most people do well here, better than in England, but those that are comfortable at home better abide there unless to provide for a large family. I hear and see there is no complaining of want; it is indeed a land of plenty. I don't regret coming out for a moment; if we are permitted health, we and our children will do well. We shall have not only a living but improve our circumstances. We have a very large orchard close to our old wooden cottage with hundreds of vines, many greengages, peaches and apricots. I suppose we shall have enough fruit. Fig trees are very fine. Really the productions of the country are very fine; the meat, flour as good or the best I ever eat, and very cheap. Vegetables good but very dear as people have very little time to garden about Adelaide. I never Miss T's letter. Please to send me all the family news I will write to sister & Uncle T directly. (Continuation badly damaged)
Mary Elizabeth Seamons (nee Loader)
My dear Cousin,
Please to present my love to relations and acquaintances. I am much better.
S.S. (Sarah Seamons)
Dear Cousins. John.
We have many natives come to wet their hatchets at the grindstone. The river Torrens is close to the orchard.
E.S. (Edmund Seamons)
Please Uncle James to bring me a fishing hook,
My love to you and all
My dear brother and friends,
I am happy to inform you that we are all in good health and begin to feel a little settled and to enjoy ourselves. 1st Climate is very hot when we have the north winds but this never lasts above three days. The glass goes much higher than England but heat is not felt more oppressive than on a hot day in England and the cattle do not sweat so much as in England. This I cannot account for. Horses are good for riding and are known to go from 80 to 100 miles in a day. The price of nags as good as in Thame from £ 10 to £ 12. Good milch cows £ 4 and they can be kept for nothing on the town land. Milch 11 per pint, Butter 1/- per pound very good. a great many horses and oxen kept about here. Hundreds of teams come in to Adelaide daily and oxen looks well and some of them very fat and as good as ever walked the Vale of Aylesbury at £ 3 each. The port is 8 miles from Adelaide. A railroad about to begun up to the sitty rent is awful dear thousands of houses are going up all the while. I am alltogether disappointed in seeing such good shops nowhere such good ones in Thame. The town is laid out four miles square. There is houses nearly all the way to the port which is quite 8 miles. Land as dear in Adelaide as in London. A family here is a Fortin. Men on the road £ 1 to £ 1.4.0 old and young. Good trade is bakers and butchers here is a single butcher that kills a 100 sheep 12 oxen besides piggs and calves. Best mutton 2d per pound. Beef the best 2/6 coffee 1/-. A few little things rather dear. The bank in Adelaide pays 5% but there are other ways to gain a great deal more. Building property makes agreat deal more, the land and house costing sixty will bring in 8 shillings weekly maybe 10/- a week.
(Letter from Edmund Seamons Snr to brother in England).
I little thought I should ever have the pleasure of writing to you again but through mercy I am spared. I had a severe and long illness I often thought of you and our friends at home. The captain was particularly kind and sometimes sent me a piece of fowl for dinner. On my recovery I often cried for food and sometimes dreamed of yours and Miss Staple’s pudding. I could not eat the ships provisions and it often distressed my mother when I asked for food. I had a severe cough and I could attribute my cure in a great measure to rum and preserved mild a little of which I was allowed. The captain ordered the carpenter to make a coffing for my dear brother and we had the burial service read by a methodist local preacher. The passengers sympathised with us very much. It was a very solem time but I insensible most of the time. We will be most happy to hear from you.
Believe me to remain,
Your affectionate niece.
The following is a copy of the letter written by John Seamons, to his wife Anna Maria, during his trek with son James to the Ballarat gold fields in 1852.