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George Bell’s trip to rural New South Wales, February-March 1834

George Bell (180552) was born in Scotland and migrated to New South Wales on the barque Minerva in 1832, the voyage from Leith to Sydney lasting 5 months and 10 days, including a a stopover of more than three weeks in Hobart Town. Arriving finally in Sydney, he took a job working in the store of his brother David Bell. In February 1834 George Bell decided to see what he could of inland New South Wales before he returned to his native  Scotland. The trip lasted almost a month and included one of the earliest recorded accounts of visiting the Bungonia Caves.

27/2/34. Having arranged with my brother I left Sydney by the afternoon coach to Liverpool. After passing Ireland’s the soil seemed poor & but little of it cleared. What was called Irishtown appeared to be a few miserable looking wooden huts. At Bowlers Bridge I left the coach & found Lennox with his party of convicts of whom he is Superintendent. After having tea with him, he walked with me to Bowler’s inn where were we shewn into a fine newly furnished room & after he left, I went to sleep on one of the sofas. Next morning I walked down to the creek & found L giving instructions to his men who are building Lansdowne Bridge. He provided bfast after which we set off in a boat with a man & boy who rowed us down Prospect Creek to George’s Hall where we landed & walked thro’ the

p.203 garden eating peaches & water melons. Embarking again we reached George’s River on the banks of which we saw cultivated fields at intervals. Landing on the right bank we rested at the house of Rowley a settler. Walking on thro’ the bush we came to a new stone mill of which the dam was broken down & the house deserted. Went thro’ it & on to the freestone quarry where an iron gang were at work preparing stones for the bridge. Many of the convicts had nothing but trousers on, their bare backs being exposed to the hot sun & 3 soldiers watching them. They get their bread & beef under an awning & at night are locked up in strong wood houses, where each one has a blanket & lyes [sic] on the boards, 20 in each house. Here I met a corporal who enlisted in Glasgow & he accompanied me to the river where I bathed. It is here as broad as the Clyde & very deep with numbers of blubber fish in it. After having some beef & damper we set off in the boat on our return, but it was dark for an hour before we reached the bridge L & I taking a pull at the oar to relieve

p.204 the men. Had tea with L who saw me safe in Bowler’s where I went to rest.

1/3/34 After having bfast with my friend I left by coach for Liverpool & was pleased at the neat clean appearance of the town. Here I took my seat in an open breaking carriage & passed thro’ a district but little cleared for some miles after which the houses were more numerous & the most of the land adjoining the road cleared. A hot wind blew & our 2 horses came to a stand still at the foot of every hill, so that it was near 3PM before we reached Campbelltown which is a long straggling village. After resting in the inn I determined to walk to Glenlee about 4 miles. The district is well cleared & when I reached Gl I found the tutor Kerr at home with whom I walked in the garden & got a ripe almond off the tree which I was not aware grew in the colony. I was also shewn thro’ the dairy &c this being the most noted farm in NS Wales for fresh butter. Took tea with Kerr & his pupils, the young Howe’s [sic], whose mother ordered

p.205 that I should be shewn up to one of the best bedrooms where I went to rest. The house was elegantly furnished.

2d Was Sabbath as I then believed, but nevertheless I was up soon after sunrise & having roused Kerr he put me on my road which I pursued thro’ the bush to a cottage of the farm of Eldeslie, the Proprietor of which J Hawdon was not yet out of bed, so I went on until I emerged into a cleared district & got upon the highway opposite Kirkham, Capt Coghill’s farm. The roadside inn I passed, supposing I would come to another soon. By the Cowpasture bridge which is well built of wood I crossed the Nepean which is here a considerable stream. The road led thro’ the bush on to the ascent over Razorback where I made up a stock keeper of Underwood’s with nearly 100 cattle which I assisted to drive over the mountain which is very steep & much labor has been expended in making a road over it. When over the height I went in search of water, the want of which I felt very much, but I found none till I reached

p.206 the foot of the hill where I saw a stockade & some drays on the road, the men of which I accosted & requested water & bread which they gave me & offered to make tea if I would wait. Here I sat in company with the outcasts of the human race, & heard one of them avow that he would steal his father’s shoes if he thought he could make anything of them! They were civil to me & on parting I gave them a fig of tobacco. In a short time I came in sight of Abbotsford which stands in the midst of a fine farm & I found the proprietor Geo Harper at home who introduced me to his wife whom I found very agreeable. After dinner we walked in the garden which is large & well stocked with flowers & fruit trees. In the evening we talked of a deep precipitous ravine called Burragorang which I had a great desire to see but it was 15 miles off & difficult to find without a guide & my kind host was too busy to go with me.

8. I took my departure after bfast & was going in a wrong direction when

p.207 I met a man who set me right on a cleared road thro’ the bush. Crossed Myrtle Creek which is a small stream with a deep rocky bed, & arrived at Lupton’s inn about mid day when I had a second bfast & rested sometime. Starting again I walked 8 miles thro’ forest land to Keighran’s at Little Forest but did not like the appearance of the house, so that I passed on by the old line of road & soon recollected that I was now in Bargo brush, a noted place for bushrangers, which made me walk a little smarter that I might get thro’ it in time. The wood is very close, but after a few miles I entered an extensive flat where the trees were thinly set & I found several drays here laden with wool, the men belonging to which had taken up their quarters for the night. Coming to some cultivated ground with house & a windmill I made my way to Cutter’s inn which I found a clean comfortable house & here I enjoyed my tea, feeling very tired.

p.208 On the 4th I arose soon after sunrise & took my road thro’ the bush in a fine sharp morning, being the coldest I have felt in this country. In about 1½ miles I came upon the new line of road which I pursued for about 3 miles thro’ forest until I found a cart track leading to the right which I followed thro’ the bush & saw some beautiful blue & red Parrots. Passing thro’ a beautiful piece of low open forest land I came to Wm Coghill’s whose dogs frightened me when going to the house which was a common wooden one. Here I found the master laid up & unable to move from rheumatism & the whole house in confusion from their having been obliged to raise the flooring to destroy a snake which had got in beneath. After having bfast & a chat with poor WC I took my leave. Returning to the main road I went on to Berrima where I met with Tasker who was kind & I dined with him in his slab hut. He then made me got on horseback, shewed me the

p.209 site of the intended stone bridge over the river Uinjeecaribee which we forded & proceeded thro’ the bush to the farm of Jn Atkinson whose lady recd us kindly & we had tea with her, her husband being up the country. She told me of a very high waterfall at the Meryla mountain, also of a beautiful plant, the “Burwan” producing nuts which the aborigines eat after soaking them in a running stream for a certain time. Returned to Berrima with Tasker with whom I took up my quarters for the night. The banks of the river are high & there are a few house building on the township.

5th. After having bfast with Tasker I rode on with him until near Oldbury, to which I turned off & walk [sic] nearly a mile to enquire after James Atkinson whom I understood to be very ill, but his wife & Dr Colyer made his illness an excuse for not seeing me, so that I was not even asked to sit down. I turned away with my feelings rather excited, & when I got back to the road

p.210 I found my friend T giving orders to his men who were building a bridge over Medway rivulet. Taking my leave of him I followed the road which led me thro’ bush, with a farm every few miles. I was very thirsty & could find no water for 8 miles until getting to the bottom of a steep & long descent I saw a kangaroo pursued by dogs & found myself close to a roadside inn kept by Beadman. Here I had tea & would have remained for the night but my money was nearly spent, so that I determined to go on to Wingelow altho’ I knew nothing of the Proprietor Campbell. Descending to Paddy’s [sic] river [sic] which seemed a sluggish stream & ascending the opposite bank I soon after came to a road party by whom I was directed to Wingelow. I therefore left the road & followed the fence until I despaired of finding the house so that I thought of sleeping in the bush, but a little farther on I saw the house, crossed the fence, & accosted

p.211 a man who kept the dogs off me so I reached the house & enquired for Campbell. He came out & appeared a genteel looking man not much older than myself. On making him acquainted with my name &c he at once welcomed me, said he knew my brother, shewed me into his parlor [sic] & drew a bottle of wine for me. This was all in such contrast to what passed at Oldbury, that I felt highly pleased. He took me into his garden where we each had a melon, & then we saw his two flocks of sheep folded for the night. On returning to tea he introduced me to his wife, a plain but lady looking woman with two beautiful young daughters. Here I passed a pleasant evening, looking over the Edinr Lity Gazette, chatting of books &c. Heard that I might be able to have a view of the Shoalhaven gullies & spar caves without greatly increasing my tour & this I determined to accomplish if possible. C told me a remarkable occurrence in the life of the old reprobate John Dickson

p.212 of Sydney who imagined at one time that he had seen the devil & he did not swear & blaspheme for 3 mos after.

6th. In the morning I looked at “Littles NS Wales” & to bfast we had hot rolls. The cottage is small but well furnished & on taking leave he walked nearly half a mile with me to shew me the path. After getting on the old line of road a saw a number of very small birds flying in the bush which might almost be taken for butterflies. I easily found Barber’s wooden house which was about ½ mile of the road & is well furnished. I found him at home & stated my wish to see the gullies &c upon which he said he was sorry his sons were from home, who would have gone with me. He gave me a draught of milk & water & invited me to call on my return & so we parted. Walking on a few miles I came up/ with a dray & a flock of sheep, & one of the dogs came quietly behind & catching the skirt of my surtent [?] tore it a little. I walked along with one of the men who informed

p.213 me as to my way, so going on I went up to the next house & accosted a plain looking man who I found was Mitchell whom I was in search of. He took me in & introduced me to his wife whom I found a chatty intelligent woman the daughter of a French emigré [sic]. Feeling tired I thought I had best have a nights [sic] rest before visiting the Gullies, & they offered me a bed but I preferred going on to the township of Inveraray where I went up to the first house & enquired whose it was? “Oh this is the jail sir”! [sic] was the answer I received, but I soon found out Style’s with whom I found Packer, & Roberts the butcher was there also who told us some curious details respecting the Sydney butchers outwitting each other in buying cattle when they were scarce. After leaving tea we sat chatting till about 11PM before we went to bed.

On the morning of the 7th after having bfast Styles supplied me with a mare on which I rode to Mitchell’s when he & his son started on foot

p.214 along with me. We soon reached the limestone country where there are many cavities having holes at the bottom called hoppers. Masses of rich ironstone were also lying at several places. After proceeding 3 or 4 miles we came all at once to the brink of the Shoalhaven gullies which appear as a steep precipitous glen with a stream at the bottom from 12 to 1500 feet below the spectator. The bare perpendicular rocks with the Grass trees on their summits the steep declivities clothed with trees, & the stream at the bottom looking as if a mere rivulet, form altogether a romantic & impressive scene, & shews that the general level of the district must be about 2000 ft above the sea. I could have admired the scene for hours, but our time being limited we took a peep from several points & then retraced our steps to the caves. Descending a large hopper we scrambled down the hole at the bottom & found ourselves

p.215 in a circular cavity of about twenty feet diameter. Scrambling farther down into a dark corner we stood near the brink of a deep pit into which we threw stones. They hissed thro’ the air & I could count 25 before they reached the bottom when the sound was like thunder & sometimes a fragment would fall still further & drop into water. Returning to the surface we went into another Hopper [sic] where about 16 ft deep there was a hole down which I partly went & would have gone altogether had it not been dangerous. I was told it was a very extensive & intricate cavern, full of stalactites, but without lights & a long rope, it was a daring venture to attempt to explore its recesses. Being unprovided we were obliged to desist, so we made our way back to our dinner which we found ready & I was pleased with the conversation of the worthy couple which

p.216 might be said to be both literary & scientific. They told me of a beautiful small quadruped called the sugar squirrel. After sitting sometime I bade them farewell & rode off to Dr Reids [sic] whose wife wished me to remain with them in their bark hut which has been their residence & was shewn a fine stone house nearly finished into which they mean to remove. It was dark when I left, but was shewn the road by a man to Styles where I found Packer still who played on the violin & flute.

8th. After having bfast I took my leave & walked on the road which led thro’ the bush to Grose’s farm & passing a hut now & then I arrived at Palmer’s  where I was informed that to go thro’ the bush to McFarlanes [sic] was only 6 miles but to follow the road 15 miles. I preferred the road, & went on & in a few miles came to a fine flat country with the trees standing wide & flocks of white cockatoos flying about & screeching. I kept the road until near Lake Bathurst, & on to the border

p.217 of a fine green plain clear of trees where I was delighted with the view which was terminated by a distant range of mountains. Here I struck off the road to the right & followed a cart track for 3 or 4 miles until I came to a waterhole & now I found I had lost my road.

Taking notice of the course I was pursuing by the sun I looked about & cooeed repeatedly, but got no answer. Going on I came to the track of wheels & then to a sort of road which I followed at a quick pace until was gladdened with the sight of a flock of lambs. The shepherd led me on a short distance & then told me to make haste & follow the road down a hollow which would lead me to McFarlanes [sic]. I walked on rapidly until near sunset when I came to a dray the man of which told me I was still 4 miles from McF’s, but his master Faithful’s

p.218 was only one mile so I resolved to make for the nearest which I reached just as it was dark. Here I was surprised to find my friends Styles & Packer & they were so also to see me. They were in the company of Faithful a fine looking young man standing 6 ft 3 in & I was glad to find a cup of coffee ready for me as I had nothing to eat since bfast.

9th. Next morning after partaking of bfast with my friends I again bade them farewell & took the road, being cautioned to beware of Ryan’s dogs, so I kept a good lookout & altho’ I saw two large dogs rambling about I gave them a wide berth & reached Inveralacky at last where I found my friend Wm McGarvie along with Jas McFarlane in his new stone house which is still unfinished & the roof low Feeling tired & my feet pained I did not go out much & went to bed early.

10/3/34. Three of the Aborigines came to the

p.219 farm. After dinner McF, McG, & I got mounted & rode thro’ the bush by Coven creek where there was abundance of fine grass & we had a draught of water from a spring. Towards even we got on the plains of Lake George where we saw a pair of wild Turkeys. McF could not find the house he intended to take us to, which caused us to ride over the hills where we had a splendid view of the sun setting across the lake. When nearly dark we reached a stockyard of Lithgow’s of which the overseer asked us into his turf hut where he supplied us with tea in tin dishes & the labor of cutting the damper made me perspire. He provided us with sleeping places for the night, to which we retired after chatting &c.

11th. Next morning I went down to the lake & waded in a good distance the water deepening very slowly with a sandy bottom & I bathed with the water just have my knees. It was slightly brackish with a number of wild ducks swimming in it, & it was evident the water had receded

p.220 to a great extent from its former height. Returning to bfast I found a supply of excellent pancakes fried in fat, having satisfied our appetites with which & at her viands we got our nags ready & rode off. Taking our course thro’ a level stony district in which were flocks of sheep we crossed a high range of hills where the dogs killed a kangaroo rat, but we saw no Kangaroos. We had another range to cross after which we went along grassy flats to Inveralacky passing a tree which had been shivered with lightning. After dinner I had a long walk with Jas McFarlane to whom I mentioned my intention of returning to Scotland.

12th. In the forenoon I rode out with McF into the bush & collected a herd of cattle which he left me to drive a short distance by myself. In doing so I tumbled off the mare & fell on my back without injury & the quiet animal stood until I remounted. We drove the cattle into the stockyard, & in the afnoon the strange cattle were drafted out of the herd.

p.221 On the 13th I felt my back very much fatigued. Mc with 4 or 5 men were hard at work culling & branding the calves &c, & I employed myself in keeping the brands hot. Had a short ride in the af noon.

14th. Was spent strolling about the farm & into the bush a short distance where we saw a large native dog which the dogs of the farm were killing.

15th. In the forenoon I took a long ramble into the bush by myself & noticed that had I not paid attention in regard to my course by the sun I would have pursued a different route in returning to the farm which I arrived at all right. After dinner I again rambled away & met a sawyer Spears with whom I returned. He told me he would be free by the end of this month & he had long been a smuggler in Scotland about Girvan & Straianraer [?]. Saw a bullock killed by being pithed [?]. McF asked me to go with him after tea & keep a look out on the potatoe [sic] field as he suspected they were robbed. We went to the farthest paddock just as the new moon was setting & there we detected

p.222 two of the men among the potatoes. McF ordered the off to their huts, but we did not find any potatoes dug up.

16/3/34. After bfast McG mounted along with McF & I walked to Lake Bathurst where the country looked parched & the lake greatly dried up, leaving a broad level shore on all sides. We stopped at a rocky place where were some trees & which had evidently been an island when the lake was 10 or 12 feet higher. Here McG stopped & I mounted his mare, but in trotting along my foot got out of the stirrup & I soon rolled off, but the ground being soft I was not hurt providentially. McF contrived to stop the animal & I remounted, but could not manage to sit firm in the saddle. Numbers of ducks, &c a pair of Black Swans were swimming on the water which is mot more than about 4 miles long. We rode thro’ a dry swamp & on to Cooper & Levy’s Station where the overseer gave us milk & water to drink. Returning to where we left McG he took the mare & I walked back to dinner. In the evening our host

p.223 produced a Bible in which I read aloud, which lead to conversation in which he remarked that he feared he had more sins to answer for now, than he might have had, had he remained in Scotland.

19th. In the af noon we took the dogs into the scrub, but only started a kangaroo rat which escaped into a hollow tree. In the evening Dun McF arrived from Monaroo [sic] where he had been for 6 or 8 mos with the sheep. He told us of the mineral spring, & also of a large Plain with a Lake in its centre lately discovered to the SW.

20th. Having bfasted & made ready we took leave of Duncan McFarlane & Inveralacky, riding off with his brother James who went along with us to Goulburn Plains where we saw the Bustard. After riding a few miles along with McGarvie & I over the grassy plain, he took farewell of us & kept on to the township of Goulburn while we went more to the right. The plains are about ten miles across & nearly destitute of trees or bushes.

p.224 Passed some flocks of sheep & shepherds’ huts & rode on till we entered the bush & came upon the road to Bong Bong. This led us to a creek near to which were the old huts of a road party, & we allowed our mares to eat & drink for a short time, at same time feeling the want of food ourselves having brot nothing with us to eat. Mounting again we walked our animals taking a short trot now & then, & made our way thro’ rather a thickly wooded district without meeting a human being until we emerged on the banks of the Wollondilly which seemed a large deep stream with steep banks. Made another halt to let the mares feed & then riding on we were glad after a ride of 30 miles to see a farmhouse after  which a few miles brought us to the roadside inn kept by Peters. After seeing our mares fed we were glad to sit down & enjoy our tea being both tired & hungry.

19th. In the night we heard it raining but in the morning we had bfast after which we mounted & set out

p.225 in a fine day. The road led thro’ the bush & was very hilly we came near Paddy’s River when we supposed we had taken the wrong road & turned back till we met Donald who was following us to take back his masters [sic] horses. He put us right & we crossed the river where it was very shallow. Then thro’ bush land & over high hills until we came upon the broad made road where we stopped for our mares to partake of the grass while we ate some damper. A little further we procured some milk & water from a hut & passed several farms, the land being cultivated in part. I was in a laughing humour [sic] & highly amused at our being obliged to keep our lazy beasts going by thumping their hides with sticks. My comrade was also in better spirits than yesterday & would have us stop at the Talbot inn & have some porter to drink. Shortly after we passed the “Ploughed Ground” where there are several settlers & a weather boarded place of worship. We were now in the district of Sutton Forest & had but a few miles farther when we in descending a hill came in sight

p.226 of the flat on which are the few houses of Bong Bong. Crossed the river on a wooden bridge & to the inn kept by Lareby who sent our mares with their foals to Bowman’s Paddock according to our instructions, as we were now done with them. Fining it was only about 4PM we ordered tea in an hour & meantime we washed ourselves & rested. After tea we walked out & saw the coach arrive from Sydney which brought us the newspaper. In paying our bill we found they charged us 2/3 each for bed.

20th Started in an open carriage drawn by 2 horses along with J Berry. We had a very bad & steep road over Mittagong, on the op of which there is an extensive view. The air was cold in the morning & the road all thro’ bush to Cutters [sic] inn. Here we got another passenger, Shepherd lately from Monaroo. The wind was strong & in passing through Bargo Brush, two trees fell about 100 yards behind us. We bfasted at Luptons inn, where we were well served

p.227 There we changed horses, the new pair having to take us 32 miles! At Stonequarry we turned off the Menangle road which led us over a high hill thro’ the summit of which the road is cut, & then thro’ a good deal of cultivated land, passing Buckland’s & D’Arrietta’s farms to the Menangle ford across the Cowpasture river. Here a party were at work forming a road down the sandy banks of the river, of which the water was low. At Campbellton [sic] we stopped at Hurley’s & dined & it was nearly 2° [sic] before we started, when Richards the proprietor went with us, for whose accommodation I sat between J Berry & the driver. Soon after passing Denham Court [sic] a gale with rain came up behind us but we soon reached Liverpool where went to Wood’s Ship Inn. After having tea I went & called on Capt Thompson & was introduced to his wife & daughters, the eldest of whom is rather a good looking girl. Returned to Woods to sleep.

21st. Was a cold morning & when we

p.228 started in the coach, we found in it a Scotchman Stevenson from Cathcart near Glasgow He gave me a strange account of Lady Wyld to whom he was overseer. Altho’ we had 2 sets of 4 horses each to Sydney we travelled at a slow pace to the Royal Hotel where our journey terminated.

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The Bells in Bothwell, Van Diemen’s Land, 1840-41

Sarah Bell, née Danby (1803–85), was born in London, England. After migrating to New South Wales, she married George Bell at Bullhill, near Liverpool, New South Wales, in 1834. The couple had three children—Sarah Jane (1836), Walter Stephen (1837) and Anne Danby (1839)—before relocating in Launceston, Van Diemen’s Land, in 1839 in order to operate a school. Anne Danby Bell died in Launceston in January 1840, but the couple had their youngest child, George Renison Bell, at Bothwell later that year, where George Bell had become postmaster and schoolteacher. However, the position proved unsatisfactory, prompting George to look for a job at a convict probation station.

Book 9: Sarah Bell’s Life History

22 May 1840–27 October 1841

My dear George immediately had an interview with T Wilkinson, who was pleased with the prospect of being soon released, & informed GB that it would be necessary for him to be over at the Post Office by 6 oclock the next morning that he might show him how to sort & arrange the letters &c. As our luggage would not be likely to arrive until the following day, if then, there was no alternative but for us to remain at the Inn. Early in the morning of the 22 my dear George arose, to run over to the

p.369 School house, (the post Office & School house being one) & on looking out of the window expressed much pleasure at seeing the ground all covered with snow for myself I thought it rather a mournful night; such cold weather was anything agreeable to me. On his return to breakfast, he was quite delighted with his moonlight peregrination on the snow, in the early morn; saying that he had not enjoyed such a walk since he left his ‘Father land’. As to his children, they were both astonished & delighted especially when they were allowed to handle as well as look at the snow.

After breakfast my husband again joined TW in the post Office, & they were occupied until dinner time. The news of our arrival having spread, rapidly, many were the enquiries, as to what sort of a School master, &, mistress, we should prove, &, the young folks were very

p.368 [sic: there are two] desirous of getting a look at my husband.

As our goods had not arrived by 4 PM we made arrangements for remaining where we were until after First day, this being 7th day (Saturday so called). I cannot at this time recollect, whether they arrived, on the 7th day evening, or 2nd day morning, but am inclined to think the former.

First day the 23rd. Being fine my dear GB took the children & myself to look at the pretty cottage which was to be our future residence. It was situated in a delightful garden tastefully laid out. The border of all the beds were of sweet vernal grass, casting forth a sweet perfume in the spring & summer. I felt much pleased with the quiet & sweet appearance of the place & that how endeavoring [sic] I was of such a home. On the 24th our luggage having reached its destination, we took possession of our new abode, & commenced unpacking & arranging what little furniture we had; such as beds & bedding. My dear George took a table & a few other necessaries of T Wilkinson, such as he intended

(I find that I have made a mistake in numbering the pages, & have left out 323 & 359. Therefore I have used the two last numbers over again as a corrective.)

p.369 leaving behind him for which he was to pay £5.  When my husband was about paying the Van driver who had managed to bring the things up all night, he had the assurance to demand an extra sum which GB positively refused to give him: saying that he ought rather deduct on account of the extra expences [sic] he had been the cause of putting us to. So after some altercation, the £12 was paid in the presence of witnesses according to the original agreement, & the receipt signed. This ended that miserable affair And with grateful hearts we that night ‘Stretched our tired limbs, & laid our heads, Upon our own delightful beds.

25th. It will be supposed that the Post Office business as commenced by the new master immediately, but not so the School; we were kindly permitted to have a fortnight to get things in order. I could not help feeling uneasy,

p.370 about Margaret, lest something might happen, to prevent here coming up, also after the experience we had of that mode of travelling, it did not appear prudent for a lone female to travel in that way. My dear George & I talked the matter over, & then decided that it would be better for her to proceed to Oatlands by the coach, & as our friends the School master & his wife had offered to do anything in their power to assist us, we doubted not, but that she would be welcome to stay there, until some opportunity occurred of proceeding to Bothwell. I wrote to her accordingly. To my great sorrow I received a letter from her in reply, saying, that her friends in Launceston had persuaded her to remain with them, & carry on the straw bonnet business which she understood. Suspecting this was not the whole truth, I wrote to her again, & then she confessed, that a certain individual, old enough to be her grand father,

p.371 (for she was but 18) had succeeded in gaining her consent to marry him. I was aware of their courtship, & fondly hoped that her removing with us to Bothwell, would have been the means of breaking it off. Poor girl! I felt more for her than myself: for she was in orphan, & had only been about a year in the colony, & excepting those persons with whom she was staying in Launceston, she had not a single friend in this part of the world. But she lived bitterly to repent it. 3 times did she run away from the man, who was her husband; & who ought to have been as a Father unto her. Twice she came to me in Hobart Town, bringing a little daughter with her once, for she had several children very quickly.

But to return to myself, when the time came for opening the School, I had no assistant. Five [?] there were the post Office messengers, who were not on duty, broke wood & did a little gardening.

p.372 All I could do was, to go in to the school I the afternoon, & attend to the girls needle work. Had there been only boys, & no Post Office connected with the school, my dear George felt he could have managed very well; but as it was, he was much harassed with post duties. Some of the mails used to come in, in the night, others about 4 oclock in the morning. Then there was the sorting the letters, &, making up of the mails for other places, twice a week, early in the morning, & twice a week, in the afternoon, interrupting the duties of the school. Beside all the other matters requiring attention, such as the growing & receiving of letters, to numberless individuals. He also remarks in various places the abuse he sometimes had to put up with, because would not open the bag after the letters were all in, & the bag

p.373 sealed, for individuals who were too late, or for others who had made mistakes; all of which had he done so would have been entirely contrary to post office regulations. Then to make the matter worse, there were many who expected letters to be both received, & delivered on First days, which my dear George uniformly refused to do, thereby getting an ill name by the surrounding settlers. These various things all put together, where [sic] considered to be the exciting cause of many epileptic fits. Sometimes the school had to be shut up for two or 3 days altogether. And then I would get a young man, who was police clerk, to do the duties of the post office.

His epileptic attacks, appeared to be quite as frequent as before, seldom passing week without. Once he fell down among the chis [?], sadly wounded himself he would occasionally be seized in the midst of teaching, to the great alarm of the children.

p.374 I used to have a woman to come to wash & clean once a week, but it was not until the 1st of Tenth mo 1840 that my GB notices ‘That Sarah has at last engaged a young person as an assistant’. I was again expecting an addition to our family; & was very thankful of a little help. The young woman was clever & industrious but unfortunately not fond of children; this afterwards proved a serious drawback. Nothing particularly worthy of remark occurred ‘till the 21st of 11/mo when GB remarks that ‘My dear Sarah has been very ill all night & that Dr H was fetched at 1 o’clock AM then the nurse, & that at day break, he sent a note to our dear friend Jane Anderson at Thorpe, begging for her mother to come over, who arrived about 6 accompanied by her daughter Jane, adding that ‘at 7.20 Jane Anderson came running into the post office to tell me that ‘my dear wife was safely delivered of a plump boy, at

p.375 which I felt grateful to the Father of …[?]… as I did not expect it to be so soon over. By 8 I believe I had the first sight of the chubby face of my infant son, whom the Most High has sent unto me, found my dear Sarah very low, but calm & thankful, &, our spirits united at a Throne of Grace, that our heavenly Parent, would enable us to bring him up in His fear.’

‘Immediately after breakfast, Jane Anderson’s mother returned home, accompanied by Gerrard, who carried my dear Sarah Jane’s clothes, & brought back the fine oatmeal. In the afternoon Jane A returned, taking out little SJ with her.’

It appears that the nurse who had been engaged, chose to go away without saying anything to me as far as Jerusalem, so that when she was required she was not to be had. This was exceedingly trying & threw every thing into confusion. The young person whom I engaged chiefly as an assistant in the School knew nothing about infants, & had a great dislike to them [sic]. A person whose name was Colbeck Mother of two of the scholars

p.376 staid with me one night. On the 22nd my kind friend Jane Anderson came & remained that day, & towards evening another person whose name was Lewis came & offered her services, who also had two children that attended. In this way I was mercifully cared for & had reason to be thankful that I was not worse off trying as it was to be thus put about, but He who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb condescended to look with a pitying eye upon my low estate [sic], & brought me safely thro all, & made me once more the happy mother of a sweet & healthy babe, & had my assistant been fond of children as far as I was concerned we might have done very well in the school. But such not being the case she left me at the commencement of the school after the christmas [sic] holidays. I was again sadly harassed as I could not do my duty in school & out of school; & my duty as a mother: I did not neglect, whatever went undone.

p.377 Time rolled on: & complaints were made from different quarters. Finding that we could not give satisfaction, after doing to the best of our ability under the circumstances in which we were placed; my dear George thought it best to resign. On the 3rd of 1st mo 1841 I find we were favoured with a visit from GW Walker & Joseph Benson Mather. It afforded much pleasure to meet with those dear friends especially GWW whom we had not seen for early 4 years. John Sherwin the brother of our old friend Isaac Sherwin took tea with us that afternoon. He tho not professing with Friends, is a dear brother in the Lord & assisted us during our sojourn in Bothwell, with much spiritual help &, consolation. In the evening we all had a solemn sitting together, & after some time JBM & then GWW arose &, expressed what was on their minds. It was a time of deep searching of the heart, & altogether an affecting season. About 9 John Sherwin took his leave. We had hoped to have the company of our other two

p.378 friends for a few days, but they said they had engaged beds at the Inn where they had put up their horses, & that the next day they had visits to perform, but they would be happy to spend as much time with us as they could.

On the 4th my dear husband remarks as follows. ‘The two friends [sic] came 8.30. GW Walker read, & JBM knelt down in prayer & after further sitting GW spoke a little. They then went to call on some persons as before stated: returned about one & dined with us, after which they went out; returning again to tea; & I can truly say that we passed a most agreeable & edifying evening with our two friends. They strongly advise our endeavoring [sic] to remain thro the winter.’

Having taken my final farewell of our kind friends I saw no more of them, but my dear George went to the Inn the next morning, they promised to keep a look out, for some more suitable situation for him in

p.379 Hobart Town, & then bidding them adieu, they started for Skelton Castle the residence of Capt Dixon. We managed to continue the school till the end of the year; when T Wilkinson the former master returned, being dissatisfied with the situation he held in Hobart Town.

My dear George hired a cottage for 3 mos in Bothwell, where he intended to carry on the post Office, hoping & expecting that during that period something would turn up for us in Hobart [sic]. The dear children & I had an invitation to spend a few weeks at Sherwood accordingly we went, but I was taken so very ill, that I was obliged to return to my husband at Bothwell: & was confined for two mos to my bed, with a return of the same complaint, that obliged me to preserve a recumbent position so long, when in Launceston. Still we were favoured to find friends wherever we went, & Mary Ann Wigmore

p.380 the wife of Parson Wigmore (as he used to be called) was particularly kind & affectionate, rendering much assistance to my husband, & helpless children, as well as performing numerous acts of kindness &, tenderness, to myself. May God bless her, wherever she may be, for her goodness to us; & grant that she may never know the want of a friend. It appears that we had entertained the idea, that if the Friends in Hobart Town who had children old enough, would send two or 3 to board with us, it would have encouraged us to try & remain in Bothwell, but there were only two Friends who had, &, they did not like to part with them.

On the 25th of 9 mo my dear husband received an affectionate letter from Francis Cotton of Great Swan Port, wherein he stated having written to Capt Forster, recommending GB to the situation of Superintendent or Assistant Superint of a Probation

p.381 party &c. This very much pleased us, & my dear George determined to start to Hobart Town, without further delay. Having given Richard Wigmore instruction how to manage the Post Office business, &, commanding his dear wife & children to the care of their heavenly Father, he started off the same afternoon.

On the afternoon of the next day he reached Hobart Town, without anything remarkable, having walked the whole way. In the forenoon of the 27th he was introduced to Capt Forster, who said, that Francis Cotton had written to him, & that he had every wish to further FC’s views, but there was an objection in the way, which he could not get over, & he would tell him the plain truth at once. ‘These fellows (prisoners) must take off their hats to me & others; now you don’t, & I think it would be a breach of the established discipline, & have had a bad effect in the gang’. ‘I admitted (said GB) that it was true, we did not act in such ceremonies, as men generally

p.382 do, but it was well known, that it did not proceed from any want of respect, & I believed that even the prisoners, were not ignorant of our motives. Also, that altho I could not ask the men to take their hats off to me, I should not interfere, in their doing so to others. He replied, that it might be so, & he wished for the support of Christian men, to carry out his plans. If they acted on Gospel principles, he cared not what sect they belonged to, & if it were only in his own office, he cared nothing about it, but in the probation parties, he felt that it would be an evil, he could not get over. I then left him, with the understanding, that should he be brought to think differently, he would let me know’.

But Capt F never was brought to think differently, & as far as he was concerned, my dear husband’s journey to Town was useless; altho in some other

p.383 respects such was not the case. He remained in Hobart [sic], until the 31st & then set off to return to Bothwell, unsuccessful in all his attempts, to get a situation. As we could not live upon 30 pounds per annum, it was judged expedient, that GB should give up the post office, & remove with us all into Hobart Town, where he would be more at hand, should any thing offer for him. This at first was a heavy trial to me, but I prayed for grace, to be enabled to give up my will entirely & at length was favored [sic] to resign myself & all my concerns, into the hands of my dear Lord & master, when blessed be His holy name, all anxiety for the future left me. Could I have had my own will, I would rather have remained in the country at any risk, but it was not to be. I should have stated, that my dear George returned all safe, on the 1st of 10th mo. We were happy to meet again, but still it was mixed with sorrow.

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p.389 It may be supposed that the dear children were not a little pleased, to see their dear Father. I believe I have never mentioned dear little George, since his birth, but as I proceed, I find it will not do, to particularize so much, as I did at first, lest time should fail me, to accomplish what I have undertaken. I cannot say, that George was a very robust baby, but thro mercy he usually enjoyed good health, excepting occasional interruptions from teething. I felt that he in some measure, made up for the loss of my dear Anne, & I had a great fear of trusting him in the arms of any girl. So that excepting much assistance, as his Father could occasionally give me I nursed him chiefly myself; preferring to let him crawl about on the floor, or be drawn about at times in a little wooden box with wheels, by SJ & W to trusting him out of sight with any one. He was weaned when about 8 mos old, & immediately after we went to Sherwood. It may be asked, how came G Bell to

p.390 carry on the post office duties after leaving the school? To this I would reply, that the Post Master Gen having no fault to find with GB wrote to him, to know if he meant to give it up? It immediately occurred to dear George, that it might be worth his while, to try & perform its duties, & perhaps he might be able, to connect something close with it: but just at the time, a family arrived in Bothwell & commenced a new store so there was no opening for us. We had little doubt but that it was wisely ordered, as we had no friends to draw upon, & we should most likely, have been involved in many difficulties. After the post office affairs were settled, the business thereof was transferred to the school, under charge of T Wilkinson, as formerly. We then commenced packing, & making arrangements for our journey to Hobart Town. We were very kindly assisted, by James Garret[t] & his wife. What little leisure we could get, we employed in taking leave of persons & places, whom

p.391 perhaps we might never be permitted to see again on earth; or revisit those haunts with which we had become familiar. In a solitary place, the last first day, we were there, my dear George sat down, &, read a few extracts from Isaac Pennington [?], part of which my dear GB copied on his return.

IP thus writes. ‘That the discovery of our having erred from the right path, is a shewing forth of Power, but we must not expect assistance, at the very time, &, in the very manner, we would wish. Our duty is to look to the Lord, to wait on him, & to be thankful, for what little assistance, He may vouchsafe unto us, believing that He will not leave us to be overpowered. The language of, How can I overcome? &c, &c, does not proceed from the true seed. He that would feel strength beforehand, & act in the sense of that strength, from him the power withdraws; but he that is weak, & hath no strength, but as it freely drops into him, from moment, to moment, this is the

p.392 vessel, the power chooseth to manifest itself unto, & to be continually appearing.’

‘It was brought home to my mind, that if I were fighting, I must expect sometimes to be knocked down, &, sometimes severely wounded; but in such case, I must not allow my faith to fail, but arose with what portion of strength I have remaining & carry on the battle in the firm belief, that I shall surely obtain the victory in the end; if I be loyal & true hearted; through the great captain of our salvation. Heavenly Parent: So thou preserve this truth constantly in my mind, & make me humble before thee.’

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The Bells journey from Launceston to Bothwell, Van Diemen’s Land, 1840

Sarah Bell, née Danby (1803–85), was born in London, England. After migrating to New South Wales, she married George Bell at Bullhill, near Liverpool, New South Wales, in 1834. The couple had three children—Sarah Jane (1836), Walter Stephen (1837) and Anne Danby (1839)—before relocating in Launceston, Van Diemen’s Land, in 1839 in order to operate a school. Anne Danby Bell died in Launceston in January 1840, being buried in a garden at Breadalbane. In the following month the Bell family travelled to Bothwell, where George Bell had been appointed postmaster and schoolteacher. The trip was eventful!

Books 8 and 9: Sarah Bell’s Life History 

4 February–21 May 1840 

p.343 My dear George endeavored [sic] to carry on school as usual but found himself more out of place than before. On the 4th of 2nd mo he then writes. ‘My dear Sarah continues so very sick, that I was obliged to give her some brandy. Doctor P says that nothing but time & rest will be of any real benefit to her’. With regard to himself he further remarks, ‘I feel dull & out of my place, which I believe I am, as this kind of life keeps me at the same dull chime, without any advancement. Some minds whose love of children is strong, may feel themselves … [?] … & delighted with the training of infant minds, but I feel to want to be among some beings, to whom I could com –

p.344 municate my thoughts as they arise in my own mind, without being under the necessity of bringing them down to the lowest standard’.

On the 9th he notices that he went out to shut the back gate, & that he fell down in a fit where he says ‘Sarah found me’. On the 10th he kept his bed all day that Dr Grant the partner of Dr Pugh came twice during that day to see him; & that the late Philip Oakden, Isaac Sherwin, J Lawson, & T Wellington, all called upon him, he was hurt by the fall, which made him very ill.

11th. He felt somewhat better, Isaac Sherwin called the next day & kindly offered to lend him a horse that he might take a ride out to Wellington’s & else where, & said that he was welcome to keep it until 7 day (Saturday) this being Wednesday morning. He started about noon, & was kindly welcomed, he felt much better after a nights rest & rose on the morning of the 13th much refreshed, had a comfortable breakfast

p.345 & then rode off thro a very level part of the county to vist a young man residing at Cressy, who kept the Government School there, & who had advised my dear George to apply for a similar situation; saying that the thought GB much better fitted for such a vocation than he was. He returned to T Wellington’s in safety late in the evening, feeling better for his day’s journey.

14. He remained with the Wellingtons, riding about with Thomas, & on the 15th he was permitted to return home all the better of the little excursion he had had.

It appears that GB went to see the School master at Cressy, in consequence of Dr Pugh, & Grant, giving it as their opinion, that G Bell was decidedly out of place among Infant children, & strongly recommending him to make a change as soon as he could; this led him to make enquiry relative to the position of a School master among older children, in one of the Government schools,

p.346  & which ultimately led him, to apply to the Secretary, of the Board of Education in Hobart Town, to enter our names as applicants to, the Committee of the infant school, at Launceston approving of the same, altho not without sorrow at the disappointment they had sustained on our account. On the 18th my dear George thus remarks. ‘I have now entered my 36th year, it appears as if I had a nearer sight of futurity than ever. My late affliction causes me to suppose it likely, that I shall not live much longer. I pray that the Holy Spirit ay sanctify this stroke [?] to me, so as to purify my heart, & make me ready for my final change.’

22. ‘Received a letter from W Ehairn [?] acquainting us, that our names have been placed on the list of candidates.’ But it was not until the 9th of the 5th mo that we were made acquainted with our appointment to the Bothwell School.

p.347 The Bothwell post Office was connected with it so that the School master would be Postmaster too. This arrangement had been made to improve the salary of the School master. It being a hundred a year with a free house, & the Post Master £36 per annum. When my dear George first thought of applying, he meant it only as a situation for himself, but upon enquiry, he found that, girls as well as boys were included in the Government schools & therefore the wife of the Master would be considered as Mistress & expected to teach, unless she could appoint any one else to do the duty for her. Now this became a source of anxiety for us both, for my dear George was quite aware of my physical incapacity as well as myself, & he also felt that if a wife did her duty in that station, & also as a mother to her children, no more ought to be required of her, even if she enjoyed the best of health. To meet the difficulty we con-

p.348 cluded to engage a young unmarried person to go with us, who we believed would be quite efficient to act under my direction, & who would also make herself generally useful, in this matter we were quite successful, indeed I may say even beyond our expectations. The next difficulty was respecting how we were to go? So after much consideration & consultation &c it was deemed best by those who knew that part of the country, for us to hire a Van to take us & our luggage & such goods & chattels as we could stow in. At length a Van was secured, & the driver came &, saw his passengers, made arrangements as to what luggage he could take & took an inventory thereof; promising to be all ready to start on the 18th this being the 16th for the sum of £12. Every thing was all settled by us by 11 AM on the 18th but still the Driver & his Van did not appear. My dear GB was running hither & thither & at last caught sight of him in the Inn where he usually put up, he said he would be at our house in a few minutes

p.349 but he did not make his appearance until nearly 3 oclock. This delay disarranged our plans so, that my husband concluded it would better to send the children &, myself on by the Launceston coach to Perth, where it was intended we should pass that night; thinking it possible, he might not be able to leave that night, the man appeared so drunken, under which circumstances my dear GB could get a bed at a neighbours house, & the young person who had engaged to accompany us, could also remain the night with her friends. Accordingly after taking Farewell of the many kind friends I had met with in Launceston, I took my seat in the coach with Walter on my lap, & SJ by my side about 5.30PM & arrived at Perth between 6 & 7. And it was well that we did so, for it was not until 7 oclock that the Driver managed to get his business with other people finished, & then he begged

p.350 to remain for the night, saying it would put him to a nights extra expence [sic] for the horses, if my husband insisted upon going then; so upon his faithfully promising to start by 5 the next morning, my dear George consented. On the 19th my dear husband remarks as follows. ‘Having gone to bed before ten, I awoke before 12 struck, & the heard one two, 3 & 4, when I arose, got a light & was reading, when my friend Thompson came in to the room, with some cold meat &, bread. He went with me to the Inn &, after some little noise, we awoke the driver by 5. I then went & roused Margaret, & took my farewell of poor Harriett Thompson, whom I am not at all likely to see again on earth, & then of her dear husband. Having seen Margaret & all the light luggage with the Van I started on foot along side of it. As we drew near to Lawsons, I saw them looking out for me, & they insisted upon my taking some breakfast with them. I then took leave of them all, & walked smartly on after the Van into Perth,

p.351 just as they reached the Inn when Sarah & the children were, who I was glad to hear arrived all safe, & that they had passed a comfortable night.

Here Margaret’s boxes were put inside the Van which was now so full, that when Sarah & the children got in they were so crammed that no room could be found for another. Margaret seeing how uncomfortable they would all be, preferred remaining behind, for some other conveyance.

Sarah & I felt grieved at this & endeavored [sic] to persuade the man to make a little alteration, but this he would not do: but he promised he would bring M up in about ten days or a fortnight.’

As Margaret knew a little of the Inn keeper’s wife, she said she would remain there until [sic] the Launceston coach passed, & then she would return to her friends,  & stay there until the carrier called for her. My dear George wished to pay her expences [sic] but this

p.352 she would not allow. So taking farewell of her we parted mutually sorrowful at this unexpected event. We had every reason to think that if the Driver had placed the luggage in a more compact manner there would have been sufficient room for us all, a fact which we proved beyond a doubt, ere half our journey was accomplished. The first night we stayed at Cleveland, nothing particular occurred during that day’s journey.

20th. We started early in the morning & arrived at Campbell Town about 11AM where we stopped for about an hour & partook of some refreshment; the driver being ready to start again, we went to resume our seats, &, found that the double dealing man had chosen to, altho the way in which he had first placed our luggage making room to receive some belonging to a Soldier’s Wife & she occupying my dear husband’s seat. On enquiring the meaning of such conduct the impudent fellow coolly said that

p.353 he had promised the last time, to take the woman to Oatlands &, therefore we must just put up with it. My dear George was much vexed, & charged him with being a double dealing rogue, in causing us to leave the young person behind. Whom he had previously engaged to take, she being one of our family to make room for a woman of his own choosing! Upon this much altercation ensued; GB ordering the woman to come out, which she refused to do. My dear George then appealed to the Inn keeper, telling him how he had hired the whole Van &c: the Inn keeper remonstrated, the Driver was insolent, the woman abusive calling my poor George a proud puppy, & using many other approbrious epithets. As much time had been lot during this uproar, &, no good effected, the driver began to intimidate us by saying that he would drive off without us; so as then

p.354 there was no justice to be had & no time for further delay we were obliged to submit. It was nearly 9 oclock at night when we arrived at our place of destination, I have unfortunately lost the memorando [sic] of the remainder of the journey, so I am entirely dependent upon my memory & I cannot recollect, either the name of the place, or the Inn keeper, but the facts that occurred there are still fresh in my remembrance. Our fellow traveller followed us into the parlor into which we were shown & endeavored [sic] to force her conversation upon us, tea & other refreshments were brought in; when my dear GB seeing that her ladyship intended to make one of our number, withdrew &, had a little private conversation with the landlord explaining to him as briefly as possible how matters stood between us, whereupon the landlord returned with GB & politely asked the woman to walk into another apartment, this at first she

p.355 refused to do. At last the landlord gave her to understand, that if she did not she should walk out altogether. This had the desired effect, she arose in a furious rage cursing us, &, vowing bitter revenge. After she had left the room we felt somewhat relieved, the two dear children seemed completely tired out, & after eating their supper I put them to bed, in a comfortable double bedded room. We two sat some time by the parlor fire talking over the grievances of our journey with our landlord, who appeared to be a sensible man. He said our case was by no means a solitary one &, he supposed it was one of those impositions, to which travellers in these colonies were frequently subjected to. The only thing he could advise my husband to do, would be to write an account to the Proprietor of the Van should we arrive in time & seek redress from him.

p.356 My dear husband felt very tired for he had walked nearly all the way; the only seat he could get, being on a kind of ledge by the driver. In the night he had a fit, brought on most likely by the excitement. I thought him unfit to proceed, but there was no alternative, we intended to have started by 6AM the next morning the 20th but were not ready until nearly 7 & then to our sorrow we found the wicked woman occupying the only seat my dear George could have the same as before. To remonstrate he knew would be utterly useless so he walked silently on by side. After a while we came up to a dirty looking hut by the road side here her ladyship alighted & went in followed by the driver, my husband seized the opportunity, &, took possession of his seat. Presently the man made his appearance, who began swearing at my husband who told the man he had better quiet or it would be the worse for him.

p.357 Shortly after there was a terrible din heard in the hut, which was followed by a forcible ejectment of the lady in question, by a miserable haggard looking creature of a woman, who loaded her with abuse, she hastened up to the Van vowing vengeance on her antagonist; but on seeing the seat she had presumed to claim occupied by my husband, her rage knew no bounds. There was nothing too bad for her to say, she attempted to pull him out, which set the poor children crying; at last having quite exhausted herself, she crawled in, over some of the luggage & rolled over to the back, but not until the driver threatened to leave her behind. A few miles further on, & my husband left the Van, & proceeded to the house of an individual with a recommendation from the Inn keeper, for that person to lend GB a horse, which was to be left for him at the Inn we were

p.358 to remain at for the night at Oatlands. Fortunately the person at home & immediately complied with his friend’s request. In this way my dear husband was enabled to pursue the remainder of the way in comparative ease, & arrived at Oatlands long before us, requesting the mistress of the Inn to make preparations for us. During the interval GB called on the Government School master, whose name was Fife, who received him very hospitably &, introduced him to his wife. My George briefly told them how matters stood, & they gave us all a cordial invitation to tea that evening regretting they could not offer accommodation for the night. As soon as my poor husband had vacated the seat the woman came forward, muttering abuse against GB declaring that she was almost suffocated, & saying she would take care to have the Colonel of the regiment to which her husband belonged informed of the treatment she had received &c. I begged of her not to say

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p.360 anything to me against my husband as I did not suppose she would like to hear her husband spoken against. After that she said no more. We arrived at Oatlands about 3PM as near as I can recollect & found my dear George had left a message for me, with the mistress of the Inn that we were not to wait for him. There was a nice dinner prepared for us, consisting of a boiled leg of mutton, soup & dumplings, which my dear SJ says she well remembers. I told our hostess of our adventure in travelling, she then made a few enquiries, & then told me that our travelling companion was a woman of very doubtful character, but that we need not fear being troubled with her company any further as her journey was at an end. Between 4 & 5 my dear husband came in, with the invitation from Fifes, & then he escorted us there, by each of whom we were kindly welcomed.

Book 9: Sarah Bell’s life history

p.361 The driver having given us to understand, that he would not proceed further, without knowing who his master would send to help him up the hills the last 9 miles of the journey; caused a serious discuss to take place, between GB & our friend Fife, (who was well acquainted with the road, as likewise the tricks that these Van drivers, too often practice upon inexperienced travellers; & as a friend of his happened to call just at the time, the man was forthwith summoned to appear before them. After a great deal of palaver it was at last settled, that we should leave the Van altogether; & proceed by some other conveyance: & the driver was made to sign a document, as the responsible person, for the safe delivery of the goods in Bothwell. There were several reasons for our not travelling any further in the way we had done, but the most important one was, the slow progress that we

p.362 made. Before we left Launceston my dear George was gazetted as Post Master for the district of Bothwell, & T Wilkinson the last Master, was detained beyond his time thro one more arrival; as soon as the man left, our new friends set about seeking some one, who could convey us to our journeys end the following day. After some difficulty, an individual known to be an upright dealing man, & thoroughly acquainted with that part of the country, engaged to take us in his own sociable for £1.10 [sic] declaring that he did it out of respect to Fife, & of compassion for us; not that he should gain anything by it. For this arrangement we felt very thankful, & it being now between 9 & 10 PM we felt it needful to return to the Inn where we were to pass the night: the dear little ones having already fallen asleep. SJ in her Father’s arms, & Walter in mine. So taking our final leave of our kind friends we

p.363 departed, we each lade with our precious burden. On searching the Inn, we were immediately conducted to the apartment we had previously selected; & then divesting the sleepers of their garments, as quietly as we could, & putting on their night gowns; we safely deposited one treasure in one bed, tucked the snugly in, & bending over them, breathed a silent prayer for the unconscious children, that their guileless spirits, might be preserved from all evil, & that in due time, they might show forth the fruits, of being children of the Most High: & then we petitioned for ourselves that we might be enabled to ‘Train them in the way they should go’. & that we also might be kept from all evil, & if consistent with the Divine will, that we might be permitted to arrive at our journeys and in safety, both for Time, & for Eternity, & then with grateful hearts we betook ourselves to rest intending if spared to get as early a break-

p.364 fast as possible, that we might be ready to start by 8 in the morning. But the morning turned out wet, still we were encouraged to hope that it might clear up. We waited about half an hour beyond the time, but finding it still kept on; we felt we must not delay any longer. Being well provided with cloaks & various other necessaries to keep out the rain, We started between 8 & 9 in the midst of it: this being the 21st of 5 mo 1840. We had an excellent driver & a good horse; we kept the children nicely sheltered, & endeavored [sic] to keep up our spirits as well as we could, the rain rather increased than abated, the wind driving it full in our faces. The roads began to get so bad that our progress was much retarded & a fear arose in our minds that we should not be able to proceed to the end. However much to our joy between 11 & 12 it abated a little, & by the time we reached Jericho it ceased altogether which was

p.365 about 11 AM. We were so thoroughly drenched with rain, & benumbed with cold, that when we attempted to alight at the Inn; we had to be assisted out, even the poor children, in spite of all our efforts to keep them dry & warm, cried bitterly with the cold. The kind Inn keepers soon ran off with them & handing them to two pleasing looking young lasses, their daughters, they were quickly seated in their laps by the side of a blazing wood fire; & the kind girls began rubbing their hands & feet, & filling their mouths with cakes & sweet meats. As soon as my dear George & I entered, we saw at once the impropriety, of suddenly taking them from the cold & placing them so near a roaring fire; but the goodnatured people only laughed at us, & bade us come up & get the benefit. Divesting ourselves of our wet garments, we made shift to keep for a time at a respectable distance; & then hot spirits & water were brought in

p.366 this we positively refused to touch, thanking our Host & Hostess at the same time but as we smelt something very savoury in the cooking way, we enquired if dinner would soon be ready, for that we were very hungry, & would just take what they had, they said it was already & should be brought in immediately. By this time were we joined by our kind driver, who we were pleased to see refused the spirits & water upon an empty stomach but he said he would take some after dinner. Our dinner consisted of soup boiled beef & vegetables to which we had ample justice, as to the children, they were quite at home seated beside their young friends, My dear George ordered some porter, but our driver would not partake with us because he said spirits & water agreed with him better, we were very pleased to see that he did not take much.

p.367 The dinner being over & the sun shining out, it was the opinion of all that the rain for the present was over; & that we might safely continue our journey: Our dried garments were then brought in as soon as the two children found they must leave their warm quarters they said they were very sorry, & wished much to remain a little longer. We paid our bill & taking leave of the kind family at the Inn, recommenced our journey. After crossing the Jordan their [sic] was one very steep & rather dangerous place to ascend, but which was accomplished at last without any accident, altho we were very nearly overturned once, down the fearful precipice. I also remember the children & myself getting out & scrambling along as well as we could, while my husband & the driver were doing their best to restrain the horse who had become rather unmanageable. After this, all the rest of the way was very well.

p.368 We proceeded on at a rapid pace, the wind blowing very cold, much colder than ever I had felt it since I left my native land. We passed some beautifully laid out grounds, but nothing particularly worthy of notice & arrived at our journey’s end between 5 & 6 PM & put up at Cockerills Inn Bothwell. Thankful to our heavenly Father, who had indeed been better unto us than our fears.