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Petworth Emigration, 1832, Letter from John Stedman to His Mother and Father

(Note: the **** are in the original)

From John Stedman, late of Hascomb, Surrey.
August 7th. 1832.

Dear Father and Mother and little John.

* * * * Thank god that I am in a state of health at present, and as happy as any person in the world; and I hope you are all the same. * * * * We landed at Quebec the 28th. Of May; that made our passage 7 weeks. I went on shore there about 6 hours, on purpose to see the Town, and I was glad to step my foot on land again. I had 1 lb. of beef steak and 2 quarts of cider; then come on board of the ship, and sailed to Montreal; which was 160 miles farther. We was towed up by the steam boat called the John Bull: then we left the ship. We laid in the store house 3 days, before we could get boats to take us to Prescot, which was 160 miles further. When we got to Prescot, we took steam boats to take us to York, (which) was 160 miles further still; but I in good spirits all the time. I thought we should get there some time, if it was please God; but when we left Prescot for York, we crossed a lake, we was overtaken by a dreadful tempest: we was within 30 or 40 miles of York: we then was driven back on the shore, about 80 miles from York again: then Matthew and I thought that we would walk to York then, as it was no further than 80 miles: we thought we [should] get there as soon as the boat could. Dear father and mother, and when we got to York, the boat had been there and unloaded all the passengers, which was 250 and all from the same ship as I sailed in, called the ship Eveline from London. We all thought of going by land to any place where they get to when we got [to] York, but all them that was sent out by the parishes, was put into large Canada boats, and sent to Kettle Creek, at St. Talbots settlement, 280 miles further still; and had been gone just two hours [when] we got into York town. We went to the emigrant's office, to know where they was gone to; for they had all our things on board, a long [with] the other luggage, that was altogether all the way over: then we got directions, and steered across the country to Kettle Creek, which is 170 miles by land; but they gave us a letter at the office, to give the tavern keepers along the road, as long as we lost our passage, to get victuals, and a place to lie down in, when night come; and to direct us the best road they could; but we got to our journey's end before the rest of them got, a week. As we was waiting for [our] things to come ashore, a man wanted us to go and cut some grass for him: we then thought we might as well go to work, as to wait about after our chests, as [we] should be getting something in pocket. In a week after we went to work, we heard the boat was come in with our things: then we went [to] get the chests, which was just 8 miles from the place where we was at work. We was mowing 16 days there, and 3 days of harvest; then he give us the chance to go [and] seek for some reaping, as his was not ripe. We went to farmer .......... for reaping; he asked me if I would hire by the year; he said that he would give [me] one hundred dollars, board, lodging, washing [and] mending, for the year; so I thought it wise to hire, as long as I had that chance, as I was a stranger in the country; then I thought, I should be sure of a home in the winter; as they say it was very cold last winter, I thought that the best to do. Thank God, I have got a good master and mistress, and we lives upon the best of every thing. I never wish to have a better home than I got at present. Thank God, I am well and hearty, and hope that I shall remain so.

Dear friends, I will give my opinion of this country, which you call it, America, but [if you] knew so much about it as I do in this short time, you would wish you had America at home: for I can assure you that this [is a] good country for any person: if [he] do not choose [to] go [to] farming, he may always get work in, if [he] choose: but I myself, please God I have health and strength, when my year is out, I have 100 dollars to take, then if [I] have good luck, I think I shall get me 100 acres of land; as I may work for myself at times, and not work for other people any longer than I am forced: for when [I] get a bit of land cleared, and get tired of this country, I (can) sell my land, at any time, for that is [the] best thing that a man can do in this country, is to get land as soon as he can. I can get land, not cleared, at from 1 dollar to 5 dollars: the man that I live with, had nothing when he begun, but 1 dollar, when he (bought) 200 acres for 400 dollars, and 4 years credit for it: now he has 700 acres where I live, and has just bought 1000 acres more. He gave a man [a] job of chopping of land, and gave him so much land for clearing of some for him every year. He (sowed) 70 acres of wheat, and is going to sow as much this fall. Wheat is very dear this fall: it is 60 pence per bushel; peas is 30 pence; and Indian corn is all cut off by the frost; for it is a very cold place in the winter. But I like the country very well, at present, but it is a short time; but I have never wished myself at Hascomb, not as yet, thank God for it. So my dear father and mother, give my love to uncles and aunts, and all enquiring friends, and tell them if [they] lived as [I] can in this country it [would be a] comfort to them; for [I] can get what clothing I want, in about 3 miles where I live; and as cheap as it is in England. You think there is nothing to [be] had, but I can tell you better: there is any thing you want. Tell little John, that he must grow as fast as he can, and come to me, [and] never abide in that country. So no more from (your) loving (son),

John Steadman.

Your are there, and I am here; I live in hopes (to) meet again where the Angels do also.

Direction for John Stedman, at Mr. Fozer's, the Town of Malahide, County of Middlesex, in London District, Upper Canada, North America; which I am about 4000 miles from home.

For Mr. James G. Stedman,
At Hascomb,
Near Godalming,
in the County of Surrey,
Old England.

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