John Thomas Ewing and Genevieve Gowlland Correspondence.

Letter of 1873 from John Thomas Ewing (Jack) Gowlland to his wife Genevieve Elizabeth Gowlland née Lord


[Note that Jack's punctuation and underlining are very idiosyncratic - no editorial alterations have been made]



John Thomas Ewing Gowlland and Genevieve Gowlland née Lord


London  10th Nov 1873


My dearest darling old pet,

You cannot think how I miss you and how glad I am to get your letter by the last mail. It was dated on the 6th September just two days before I got home to England and I received it on Nov. the 6th - a long time you see; but why will Fred send his letters by Southampton, instead of Brindisi? What a stupid donkey he must be if he knows better (which I really doubt) - the two routes make a difference in the receipt of the letters by about 12 days and in addition I could have ansd. [sic] all your letters by Brindisi the same mail and now I have to wait a month. I'll pitch into Fred when I write to him for being so thoughtless

I am very grieved my darling to hear such bad accounts of your health. Oh! Why don't you go through a course of treatment: you know exactly what will do you good and make you a fat, strong jolly girl again - then my old pet for my sake why don't you do it? It is only to follow the advice of Cox and you would soon be your old self again - how glad I would be to meet you when I return, with rosy cheeks and robust health - I have consulted with several medical men who I know here and they all tell me the same thing that Is the simplest thing to cure, if only attended to properly; I know that this is what is making you ill and thin; and with the prospect of a life of happiness before you, my old pet, it is your duty to do all you can to get better. I shall write to Cox by this mail. and your Mama, and tell them to look after you so you must really make up your mind to take more care of your health. It really is not fair to us (I mean me and the children) that you should so neglect yourself - what should we do without you my old wifey; and what would you think of me, and what would I deserve, did I on my part so neglect my proclivities, as to run all kind of risks, ignore all advice, and do just the things I ought not to do; would It he fair or just to you and all my chicks? Then you think likewise old woman, and recollect how dear you are to your old Jack - (I know you will believe It now) -

And how barren and wretched his life would he without you poor old pet, I am so accustomed to you now that l could not do without you - I never think of your faults or yr imperfections only of your many good qualities and your loving gentle nature when loving!!! And I look forward to many happy days yet with you: I see plainly enough all our squabbles and rows were of my making, and rose from only one cause, please God when that is removed, and will your endeavour to make a good domestic wife, and mine an economical and steady husband, we may yet see the vale of life together and look back I trust without regrets to our long life together - and let us date the commencement of this epoch from our next meeting.

I commenced on the spec; for mail going to Australia on the 14th of this month; someone told me there was a possibility of a steamer going down to run from Melbourne to Sydney in connection with the new Contract, and that she would be starting about the middle of November, so I thought would be prepared with a letter for you, to make up for my short one last mail, when my poor arm would only allow me to scribble you a sheet and that I fear unintelligible — Trot, however who had come up to see me managed to write me a yarn to you saving all I could think of at the time, but there is nothing like hearing from oneself, is there, old pet and now you shall have - one all from myself. Bye the by [sic] before I forget, let me tell you about old Hayter, he has retired from the Service with Commander’s rank, got a good pension, and is coming hack with me to Australia. he has 5 or 6000 pounds besides his commutation 3000 pounds, so he will he very well off - he wants to invest It there, and settle down: I mentioned to him what a good thing it would be to go in partnership with Frank and put 5 or 6000 pnds - in sheep to stock Gunnoo; and he said he would like to do it beyond anything. I have written to Frank on the subject by this mail, but you had better not say anything to anybody about it at present

Hayter told me to ask you to discourage as much as possible any reports or remarks with regard to him coming hack. as bearing on anything in connection with him and Nellie: he has no idea at all of marrying her and would like that to be clearly understood, his coming back to Australia is solely to invest his money advantageously. so old woman you make a point of contradicting all reports for his sake, and you can say that you have authority to do so - he and Nellie quite understand one another, and when the proper time comes they may come together but not yet. He doesn't ever want her to think he is coming out on her acct. and is under no engagement at all; as he says one never knows how circumstances and time and distance may alter one's feelings and ideas. Do you feel this? Do you think you would forget me and get that other husband you have so often threatened me with If I stayed away two or three years. I know not - on my part I don't think that I would ever lose affection for you and my little pets - by the lapse of time & absence.

Now let me see what else I had to tell you of - Hayter's business has quite put it out of my head - Oh! I know - Annie - with regard to bringing her out with me, Trot, Dick and myself have been on Committee over the pros and cons, and we think that if we can induce Celia to come, she will be an improvement on old Annie in all respects, the difficulty with Celia is separating from Dick - this they seem to think she will be adverse to - : there is a strong bond of affection between these two, easily to be seen between brother & sister, it's very natural, he is the only brother she has ever known: we are comparatively strangers to her, and she is loathe to leave those she knows and loves best to go to those who may not care for her: however I have not yet seen her or asked her about it, so perhaps this is premature, she may come when she knows me: if only on a visit (which may be an Inducement): for your sake I wish this much, she would relieve you of great responsibility, be a nice cheerful companion and a good instructress to dear little Maudie She must be a big nice good girl, everybody speaks so highly of her and everyone likes her so much. We wrote to her to tell Mrs Tyler, the lady she is now with that she would leave at Christmas, and they were dreadfully cut up about it and viewed it as a great Calamity, so she must be much liked by them - as soon as I see this little paragon, shall write and tell you what I think of her - She has made some pretty little things for Maudie and I have a lot of little mats and things for your drawing room, which I will send out all together the first opportunity - and about the dresses and other things, my pet, I will not forget them when I return myself - about which I must write as I am very indetermined just at present, as to my future movements. - but I will enter Into an explanation of my meaning of you and you will see the fix I am in, so much depends on circumstances which yet have not taken place, altho’ they may at any moment - You recollect of course the coal mine I went to Lake Macquarie to look at on that very rainy rough night, well a solicitor from Melbourne has been trying to dispose of it in the London market for some time and would have done so long ago had It not been for this great advance in the price of money in London, which has frightened everybody and stopped all kinds of speculation: I have been assisting him very materially with those who are going to buy it and my Interest thereby should be above 1500 Pounds: Just now some Dutch merchants In Amsterdam are considering the matter and I may possibly have to go over to see them. I think It will ultimately be sold and should I get so much as I expect it would materially alter my views about commuting - it’s too dark till I get a candle - and now having got one I will go ahead again - You see, old woman, I am placed in a very awkward predicament all through coming home too soon: they tell me at the Admiralty that I should have started about now & it would still have been alright, so It happens now - but how was I to know it then; and the worst is I find that I have to serve four months longer from the 23rd Nov - or till March - before I am eligible for promotion this would necessitate my remaining in England till that time and I could not possible get hack to Australia until June. And even then to get back so soon, I could not stay to commute, and would have to go hack on half pay, (not even retired) or that I should almost be In a worse position than when I left, for they would not allow me to draw my half pay with the high salary the Colony goes me; and in addition I would be at their beck and call, and might he ordered out to serve at any time, and if I refused to go, be discharged from the Service. So you see old woman what a fix I shall be in if l stay long enough in England for this confounded promotion – which is after all nothing when received, I mean it gives no more pay and only a nominal rank. Now what I think I shall do is this. Ask them to let me retire at once as a Naval Lieut. Then commute and come hack at once - say by the Mail leaving here in January getting hack to my dear old woman In March. Another reason of my wishing to get back soon is of course on your dear old Father’s account. I do not wish to keep him at the expense of maintaining you any longer than I can help, this reason will act stronger than any other inducing me to get back as quickly as possible. As soon as I receive my Funds from the coal mine will send them out to him at once. Oh! Dear don't I wish I could go back by the Mail on Thursday but its no use wishing. I hate this wretched country where one never sees the sun - nothing but fog! Cold: rain & hail, and they tell me snow will he here very soon - now one can appreciate the beautiful climate of Australia. - I would rather live In Sydney on half pay than In England for full, and things arc so awfully expensive, worse than Sydney - except those things that come from England, such as ladies dress etc - you will be glad to hear my dear old woman that I had some good advice about the gout and have been under the hands or the first gout Physician In the world, I suppose who gives me very hopeful accounts of my case. He says it is heredity in the first instance and that I have never been properly treated for It before and the medicines I took in Sydney did me harm instead of good, and were calculated to bring on an attack oftener than expel one, and that I was killing myself with colchicum - he has been a long time at me. and he has so far taken it right out of my system. I never felt so well as I do now - had so much suppleness in my limbs & joints - he tells me by care and attention to diet and exercise, I should keep it off altogether in the future and please God I mean to try - won't it be glorious never to he laid up with that horrid complaint again - he says any attacks I have in the future will be milder and easier to get rid of than the previous one. I am so happy about it and I know you will be: I have anyhow the proper prescription for getting rid of them without injuring myself

Now my dearest I will wind up for tonight, I have written you these four sheets right off without stopping - you know I am very good at writing when I like: kiss my dear little pets for me and don’t let them forget their poor old Pappie.  Hug my wee Maudie for me, and kiss her dear little face [see below]


Genevieve Gowlland née Lord, and, from left to right, John Vancouver, Mary Maude and Percy Hartwell

Nov 11th 1873 This is a cold bright day and everybody says it is going to freeze – I don’t like the cold weather, it does not agree with me, tho I am a great deal better today, and on Thursday next Dick and I are going to the country to Gravesend for a month for change of air. I have done no work at the Admiralty yet, though I ought to have been there some time ago, but have not been able to, however the Hydro is my goal! – I have not yet seen George Living nor delivered the muff to his sister; I am so disgusted with Mr George Living’s conduct in regard to me after my back was turned that I have no wish to see anybody belonging to him: the cringing sneak. He thought by representing me in the worst light to your parents he would be, beside doing me all the harm in his focus, elevate his own priggish conduct by contrast. Never, my dear Gennie, trust that man again or his wife either: in my opinion they are playing a deep underhand game - don’t tell them a word about me, or my prospects, what I am going to do, or anything connected with me: if they come pumping, you can just say: "I am very well, and don’t know when I shall be back", and that’s all you know about my movements. I am sure they lie and distort everything they hear about people’s affairs to aggrandize their immaculateness: don’t tell anybody anything about me except Fred and your Papa, and tell the latter yourself. Don’t let I go through two or three mediums and come to him totally misshapen, you know who I mean, but go to him yourself and read any portions of my letters you think fit, and tell him that I shall strive to do the best I can for your future welfare and to please him, and that I always bear in mind his great kindness to me and you in this dilemma, and will prove to him by my future conduct that he has not altogether thrown away his kindness.

I have been living with Dick got the past five weeks: he has a very nice house in company with a clergyman, a Mr Cooper, a very old friend of his, and as Cooper is away we have it all to ourselves – I cannot tell you much about London or indeed any other part as I have been very little out of the house since I cam home, and as I said before I have seen nothing of Celia, Louisa or Annie: poor old Louie has expected me down to see her every day I came, and as she is expecting a baby soon, which you know waits for no one! It’s possible I may not see her for some considerable time yet. Poor old Annie is very well, she is staying with a friend at Leamington and is very happy, she has a very nice income of her own left to her by an admirer & friend, is up to her eyes in Turkish bonds etc and is altogether a business woman. Trot is a dear good girl – such a good woman, under all her trials with that brute of a husband, it is really marvellous how she manages to support and clothe Lucy and her children, without any help from him. If you could send home the boys and Maudie’s measures, she would get you clothes for them for 1/3 of the price you pay at present for them.

Aunt Black and Reggie are now on the Continent, they are to winter in Naples or Rome – he lugs the poor old girl at Red roadster speed all over the country but she seem to like it, and is certainly a most wonderful old evergreen. Daisy wasn’t admired in London, Dick said she was a little flirt, with nothing to say for herself; he thought Reggie very empty, and liked the old lady the best of all.  Pat Hypings comes to see me occasionally, you recollect him, the poor fellow who lost that fine boy out of the steamer going to Melbourne, we have long chats about the affairs in the Colony and both agree that England is not a patch on Australia.

When you read this my dearest pet Christmas will be near you or perhaps passed, so will take the opportunity of wishing you many happy returns of the happy period of the year. I can picture you all, perhaps at Sarah’s, sitting down to the inevitable "goose" chicken pie and let of mutton – and perhaps a ham! You will I know recollect me, and perhaps you will drink my health if only to yourself . Sarah, I know, doesn’t like me, particularly at a certain period of her life – which for her, poor girl, comes too often. Then I am hated, there’s no doubt, my nose has scarcely recovered yet from the nipping it got the last time I saw her, some weeks before the birth of her last little trouble. Tell her that Trot will be happy to buy her anything she may want in London in the way of clothes or cloth, dresses, linen, boots etc – she (Trot) makes the most wonderful bargains, her friends (and she has many) get her tickets to go to these large wholesale stores in London, houses that supply you. Christopher Newton Bros where you think you get things cheap and she gets silks and all kind of things at cost price. She showed me a 11/6d silk that she gets for 6/4d - really a most magnificent thick board-like piece of stuff – I don’t suppose you could buy it in Sydney. Don’t you buy sheets or stockings or petticoats or anything for yourself, for I intend bringing you out a stock of these things; and if I thought Sarah would not turn up her nose, I would bring her some too, as well as a lot of boots for boys and hats - these are expensive things in Australia, that are so cheap here, and as I can get them wholesale they will be ridiculously reasonable - I shall bring old Hick out a present for he is a thoroughly good fellow and as long as I live I won’t forget his kindness in the matter of the Bank after I left. Such a contrast to that hound John Living - Well, my old darling, I have wandered away from my Christmas subject to the matter of clothes & having done with them, I will return and wish you many, many Happy Xmas & New Year: and that I may never be away from you for another and also my sincere wish - Kiss all my pets for me at this time of the "Glad New Year", and tell them not to forget who drove them home in the buggy the year before – No Buggy now – No Pappa – no nice garden at Burwood – no cow – no "old fury".

Poor Jack, he will miss all these nice things. I wish I had a little pony for him. - as soon as I can afford it he shall have one - You will keep your New Year at home I suppose, and Fred will let off any amount of fireworks from the Boys – I can see it all from where I am in my mind’s eye and follow all your doings, both on Christmas Day and the New Year. By Jove, Gennie, do you see that I have drifted into my seventh sheet of paper and a pretty lot of rubbish I have written, you will get tired of this before you have got so far, so I think I will just wind up for the present and finish this just before the Mail starts. Dick is going to buy some pretty Christmas cards to send you, so I will keep it open until they come. So goodbye for the present my lovely old Madonna faxed pretty old wifey.

Nov 12th 1873 A fine day for London, that is to say there isn’t any fog, and I think we saw the sun once for five minutes! Which is very wonderful – old Hayter has just left me, he spent the whole afternoon with me, he is full of his future, talking about his investments etc – he will, I think, buy a lot of Fred’s Bank shares – he is more than ever anxious that all hopes and anticipations on the part of the husband should be dissipated. I fancy he is not near so hot on the subject as when he left.

Ben frequently pays me a visit and spends all day and is the same kind old fellow he always was – he was apt. [sic] to the "Pearl", the new flagship, but was too ill to go - are you not sorry?


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