Letters from Marageret MacDonald in Glasgow, to her brother Roderick MacDonald in Melbourne, Australia

Please note whereas I try to ensure that what I publish is correct, and to differentiate between what is supported by documentation etc, and what is, in my opinion, a reasonable assumption, everything should be treated with caution. If you have come across information that you believe is relevant to your own research please either verify it independently or drop me a line to confirm its validity. Equally if believe something is incorrect, or if you wish to add any details or discuss please get in touch using the Contact Form.

If you have come to this page via a browser, I hope you will find something of interest here or elsewhere in our other Hendry Family History Pages.

HH01580A.gif (1311 bytes)

Contact Form  Click here

Letters from Marageret MacDonald in Glasgow, to her brother Roderick MacDonald in Melbourne, Australia

The following letters have been transcribed by John Macdonald, in June, 2000 from the originals,  Original spelling has been left.

INDEX (Date and Address sent from)

Return to Index

46 Telford Rd, Inverness

April 7th1875

My Dear Roderick,

Father & Mother received your kind and welcome letter and was much pleased to hear from you, they are happy to hear that yourself & Mrs McDonald are well after such a time of trouble and death in Melbourne, and when you have such heat.  We have just passed over the coldest winter that has been in this country for the last sixteen years. You will be sorry to hear that your Father is keeping unwell and I fear that he will not again be able to write you any more  .His hand and his sight is failing, in fact he is weaker than a child. He went off last week in a faint the day before we got your letter and was delirious- and in his weak turn he was still calling for you in his Gaelic Ė but after half an hour Ė he became conscious and I am happy to say that my motherís help and I, he is sitting at the fire side, his legs are much swollen.

Mother has not been keeping quite so well.  My aunt Mary in Dingwell died the 5th of February last.  She was out making provision for the sabbath in a shop and on her return dropped down and expired without any warning, and Mother went to see her body and has not been very well since.  She wished to be kindly remembered to you and will be obliged to you if you would inform my Aunt Isabella of her sisterís sudden death and Father also lost his sister and that is keeping them in very low spirits not knowing when the summons comes to them and Kenneth McDonaldís father died suddenly Ė my  Aunt Annís husband Ė and I am sure you would be surprised about hearing of dear James Findlayís death in his twenty first year and just finished his apprenticeship.  It is a hard trial for poor Thomas, he wishes to be kindly remembered and Roderick his son has turned out a fine boy and all of them are well, but Thomas who had this winter a severe cough Ė I am at home.  My Mother was obliged to send to Glasgow for me and I had to leave and come home as she was so unwell and could not see to Father in his trouble not knowing, being so weak but that he might slip away and none of the family near.

John & Alexander are still in Glasgow & we got a letter from Henry along with yours.  He has got a young son and it is called after you.  It is a wonder that he never sent any assistance to his father at all.  He is now needing all the nourishment we can give him the short time he may be here.  We just had one letter from Robertís wife this year.  Robert seldom writes himself.  He leaves it to her to do.  Father joins me in sending you his Blessing and also Mother joins with kind love to yourself and Johanna hoping that this will find you both in good health.

I remain dear Roderick

Your affectionate sister

Margaret McDonald

Return to Index

96 Telford Road, Inverness

June  1st  1875

Dear Roderick,

We received your last letter and we are all pleased to hear that you are both well, and that you have got a young son, for which we wish that he may be long spared to you and that he may be a comfort and blessing to you both.  We are all pleased that you have called his name Robert Henrey.  Henrey has called his son after you - it seems so strange that he would be calling after you & you calling your son after him.  We hope that you wrote him yourself.  We had no word from him since I wrote to you last.  Father I am happy to say has been attempting to write to you himself, but his mind is wandering & his hand shaking and cannot continue it, so I have to begin myself as you will by the enclosed writing by him he is keeping very unwell, and Mother has not been well for some months, but is rather better.

I wrote you last mail of her sisterís death.  She was very sorry to hear of Isabellaís conduct, but she has a peculiar way and likes to be made of a little; we would like that she knows of her sisterís death.  If we knew her address we could write to her of it.  We received your two newspapers and they are very interesting for us to read and the birth of your dear baby.  I was very sorry to hear of your little girlís death.

Mother is thinking Ness Bank Cottage is your own when it is called after the Ness here.

As you mentioned that you were putting into a building society which she was pleased to hear.

John & Alexander are still in Glasgow.  John did not go to sea for years, and they are always the same.  We had a few lines from Robertís wife and the ways that their little Roderick is thriving fine and is a very good child.  Robert writes but seldom to us, but he is so tired of writing all day at the office.  Alexander McLennan is well and he has his sister Eliza keeping house and he is very kind to her, and now his brother John the youngest is in Glasgow with him and is into a good situation and is staying along with him.  Alexr. McLennan goes often on business to London for his uncle the Hutchisons was seeing him last year and I saw your old sweetheart Mrs Hutchison.

Maggie Dornin is not married yet.  Her mother has still the hope in Kelvinhaugh.

Thomas Findlay is well and his family.  He wishes to be kindly remembered to you.  His sisterís son trades to Melbourne and is just off to the Loch Tay.  Mother gave him your address - he asked for it.  He is a sturdy young man.  He may call on you.  We did not like to refuse your address of your warehouse.  He has a friend of your fatherís there.  We have cold weather until now.  My Dear Father has not been out to put his garden in order yet and it is all over with weeds.  It must stand useless this year.

It is pleasing to know that when his death comes he will not have his Saviour to seek.  I am still at home, but I must go to work for my support soon - I do not know how to leave home.

My Dear Father and Mother unites with our kind love to yourself and Johanna hoping that this will find her and the baby well and strong by this time.

I remain Dear Roderick your affectionate sister

Margaret McDonald

Our address is changed to 96 Telford Road, Inverness  May 30 1875

Dear Fatherís writing:  ďDear Roderick, I received your letter of the 24th of March last enclosing order for 2 pounds & notice of young son of yours named Robert Henry, for which I return to you many thanks which you can hardly ?Ē

P.S. My Father thanks you kindly for to call your son Robert after him.  Be sure to write to him as often as you can as they will be thinking the time so long.  I intend leaving home soon.  I was four years in my last place.  The master died and the house has been shut up.  Mother sent for me to come home.  No one is looking after them here I cannot stay here in this damp house.

Return to Index



14 Princes Square,

Buchanan Sth


April 1876

My Dear Roderick,

I am sure that you will be thinking long to hear from me, I received your letter some time ago and I was much pleased to hear from you, and that you and your dear wife and child are well.  When you last wrote I am still with Alexr. McLennan but I am sorry to have to say that there is a great necessity for me being at home.  Your dear Mother is near quite done up, your dear Father is keeping so frail and weak that she is not getting rest at night.

He is restless getting.  He is taking sadly to heart your withdrawing the assistance you used so mindfully to send the years wages.  My late Master left me which was only the small sum of ten pounds so much taken of her for law expenses which I received in November last, has all been laid out this winter or they would starve at home.

I only get a mere trifle from A. McLennan for my services here.  He has a hard struggle to get on.  He has set up business for himself and is in great fear of meeting with losses,  his brother John is along with him in the office.  I told Alexander your message.  He is very much troubled with stomach complaint since his wife died.  His sister Elisse was keeping his house but left so I was sent for.  Elisse is in a titled family in London.  His youngest sister is at home and his brother Robert is learning to be a joiner.

Thomas Findlayís son Thomie is in Glasgow learning to be an engineer Ė clever young man I mentioned in my last letter to you that your cousin was not expected to live.  She died aged 27 and her brother Kenneth McDonald, a strong powerful man aged 31 was killed a month afterwards in October last.  He was sent to Woolwich near London to put up a gasometer  and fell down 72 feet and never spoke.  His young wife returned to Glasgow so that is 3 out of that family in one year, the father, the daughter and the son.  Another of your cousinís son from Sutherland was here in an office Ė a clerk- a fine looking fellow.

The poor fellow is of home to Sutherland having burst a blood vessel Ė a splendid scholar.  I had  a letter from Robertís wife.  They are all well.  Robert never writes.

No word from Henry for more than a year.  We do not know whether he is dead or living.

There was a dreadful storm in Galveston for twenty miles around in November last.  No word from him, and the carpenterís trade was not for years so dull on the Clyde.  John has often been idle and so was Alexander.  He had to go home or starve here.  He got work for a short time at home and has returned to Glasgow two weeks ago.  John is still idle, but Alexr. got a job in port Glasgow for a short time.  All trades have been in a very depressed state all this winter.

Dear Roderick I enclose my card.  I do not know what you will think of this one.  I suppose it is looking better than the last.  You will think I am much stouter than I was.  I enclose John McLennanís card with his best respects.  This is the brother that is in the office with Alexr..  He is like your cousinís son that went home ill.

Now Dear Roderick I must draw to a close.  I do not know where you may write.  It will likely be to home.

With my kind love to Mrs McDonald and accept the same from your ever affectionate sister

Margaret McDonald

Return to Index

30 Wells Street, Inverness

May 30th  1876

My Dear Brother,

I hope that you received my last letter from Glasgow with my card and also John McLennans.    It was first after being posted when I received notice to go immediately home to Inverness as My Dear Father was keeping so unwell which I did, and was about a month at home when all the time he was getting worse he departed this life on the 11th of this month he died most peacefully as if he fell asleep he was the most patient man I ever saw in all his trouble he never complained the last words I heard him say was now he was going home to his Father in Heaven.  Shortly before his death he was asking if Roderick left us altogether when he was not sending anything to help him in his trouble

I may say the he is burried in the high church Burring Ground beside Elizabeth and James Findlay.  His three sons came to pay the last tribute of respect to their Dear Father.  Robert came from London and his wife, and John and Alexander came from Glasgow.  I had to pay their way back the two from Glasgow and none of them assisted to lift the burden of me it is a shame it was all they had to do was to follow their Fatherís remains to his last resting place.  I paid for a handsome coffin covered with fine cloth, and all the other things connected with it and all the nourishment he took in his trouble.

I got the minister to pray beside him before he died.  The funeral was most respectable.

I got notices printed and sent them off to the rich and poor to attend which all came.  There were two ministers officiating and two city missionaries - so many of his scholars.  There were ten of our friends in mourning from Dingwell and Thomas Findlay and his sons and John McLennan and his and I inserted in all the newspapers.  I sent you one and all was done well and in order before any brother arrived here by me.  Thomas Findlay, he was from home for a month, only returned home the night before he was interred.  He got all the men in the Canal works to attend also some old lady, a Mrs Noble, her son is a professor in Africa was coming every morning to see Father up to his death.  She was much attached to him and prayed fervently at his bed side.

Many of his books and writings are here left by him which his sons here are not valueing or prizing as they ought.  Poor Mother is now very dull on it and is far from looking well. As all your Brothers was on the eve of departing from their home here to their respective homes, I may say that a letter from you addressed to your brother Alexander came in our midst on such a sorrowful occasion that all was surprised as if you yourself stood in our midst to speak among us as we were talking before taking leave of their now poor widowed Mother.  Robert shed tears and so did your Dear Mother till one and all wept.  I hope that all will take their Dear Fathers death seriously to heart and follow in their Fatherís footsteps.  He was very much respected here .  There was some one person wishing to get his sermon to Asses printer.  I cannot remain here.  I do not know what will now be done to Dear Mother.  We cannot keep on this house.  I do not where you are next to address a letter to any of us, unless it is to the care of Thomas Findlay. This is my last sixpence posting this when all was done in decency.  Your Mother what will be done.  I really do not know.  I think that she may be in this house to August if you write by return.

Wrote by your dear departed father Ė

I have striven hard and long

In the worldís unequal fight

Always to resist the wrong

Always to maintain the right

Always with a stubborn heart

Taking, giving blow for blow

Brother, I have played my part

I am weary let me go -

Stern the world and bitter cold

Irksome, painful to endure

Everywhere mistrust and disguise

Pride, hypocrisy and show

Draw the curtain, close my eyes

I am weary let me go Ė


God may quicken some true soul

Here to take my place below

I have drained the mortal cup

To the finish dregs and all

When our work is done tis best

Brother best that we should go

I am weary let me rest

I am weary lay me low  

I cannot find the original but I have so much of this by memory.  It has been mislaid coming here.  I will make every effort to find it soon.

P.S.  We received the paper with thanks to you for the same.  The likeness of yours I have here is one I received from you.  It was taken in London shortly after you went there.  You had no whiskers then.  It is not the one Georgina had.  It was sent to you, but you did not get it.  If you wish this one, I will send it another time and with love to you all of you.

I remain ever your loving sister,

Margaret McDonald


Return to Index

50 Wells St., Inverness 

May 30th 1876

My Dear Brother,

I expect some of your Brothers has wrote you before this but I thought that you would be interested and would like to hear more, particularly about your Father as I was more beside him previous to his death.  He will now not need any thing.  I hope that he is now in Glory and it is a great consolation that when death came that he was fully prepared to go, which is a source of comfort to all of us.  Oh may we be prepared to meet death.  His pleasant face even in death I cannot ever forget.  We had not to close his eyes.  They closed themselves by Him who opened them and he then fell asleep in Jesus without one struggle or complaint.

Do you think that Mother should go to Glasgow?  She likes to be here best.  I do not know how to leave her here.  No one will take care of her if I go away, and her unwell here.  I do not like to stay here now and work.  Dear Roderick, Mother sends her kind love to you.  She wishes you to remember her when you can and give her love to Mrs McDonald and hopes that Mrs Urquhart is keeping stronger and that this will find all well and hope Dear Henry is thriving well and we hope to hear from you soon.  I enclose a little of Dear Fatherís hair so you will see it is not very grey even at death.  I enclose some of yours kept by him since you were a child.  Try to keep his as long.

I now conclude with my love to yourself and Mrs McDonald, hoping that you will receive this notice.  I hope that you will excuse all errors and remain Dear Roderick ever your affectionate sister Margaret McDonald

No word from our Henry since one year- farewell

2 hair samples included, labelled:            ďFatherís hair before death May 1876Ē

                                                            ďRoderickís hair  June 22nd  1843Ē


The letter is addressed to:                Mr Roderick McDonald

                                                            Messrs Robertson & Moffat,

                                                            No.11 Bourke Street,

                                                            Melbourne,  Victoria,  Australia

Return to Index

4 West Hosier St., Partick, Glasgow.

January 12th,  1881

Dear Roderick,

I received your letter and I was so happy to hear from you again.  I hope that you received my letter letting you know that I got your former letter with the money all right and I thank you very much and for the newspapers also with the very pretty pictures and the fine picture of Melbourne.  John is to get it framed, and the other paper containing the execution of Ned Kelly.

It is good he was at last got hold of at last and was all pleased to get such interesting news

And above all we were so pleased to get the four cards of your dear children.  They just came in time to be with their cousins, at the Christmas and the New Year.  Maggey Findlay and her brother Thomas is in Glasgow and we had a visit of John McLennan, Alexís brother and he let Alexander see them and also Georgina and she seemed so pleased, she I am sorry to say is confirmed to bed for three months, and I sent the cards to London and got them sent back alright and I let Mrs Kean and Mrs Gordon see them, and at present they are at Inverness until Thom Findlay and all friends at Inverness would see them, and Mr & Mrs Hale that is your cousin Christina McDonald who is married to a seafaring man and all of us was happy to see that you had such a nice family and we hope that they will get on and be a blessing to their parents.  They seem all so happy and not the least put about.  It is so difficult to take children.  I cannot think how they have done so well, and I prize them very much.  I am to get them returned in a day or two from Inverness.  I have your own likeness still on the wall above my fireplace in my room that you sent me when you was in London, in a frame to adorn my little house in Kelvinhaugh.  It is as fresh as ever and you had no whiskers or beard then.  You was only sixteen and when I look at your children and their likeness of you sent my dear father and mother which we have of your dear wife and yourself.  How changed time makes us all.  If you would see John you would be sorry to see him now.  He is quite unfit for work any more.  The accident has given him such a shock that he I am afraid will never get over it and his memory quite gone and seems as if his brain is affected.

He does not speak to us and he will not get work.  They are afraid to put him on a stage to work, and some tell us that we may not be surprized if he would drop off suddenly and it is still very hard for me after all the trouble I have had to be this afflicted although all the friends here are seeing him such an object they do not give me a helping hand, although they have the means.

Robertís wife only sent ten shillings since motherís death and five shillings Alec McLennan sent by John his brother and a half pound of tea from Inverness,  It would not do much and Georginaís daughter Georgie and her husband came from Edinburgh.  She is married to a compositor.  She was the baby when I went to London first when Harry Robertís boy was a baby and she has got a nice little boy.  She called on us, and is for taking her mother to Edinburgh to live there with her, Robert Findlay has got on top be a foreman  in kind.  The architectís place of business in Inverness and  their family are getting on well and they seem interested to hear about you.  Robert seems quite a gentleman and so stout, and Maggey is like her mother taller than I am and fashionable, dressed up to the mark.  Lizzy and herself are always at home keeping their fatherís house Ė so I had so many of my nieces and nephews seeing me this New Year it made me think I am now getting old to see them grow up to be men and women and that I am sorely tried and I may say no one to look up to only God above sees all.  Alec, my brother is breaking my health through his intemperance and I am losing all heart through him.  I cannot tell you such a man is he so violent under the influence of drink that drunkards are afraid of him and John is not the better of him. He shakes our nervous system with his violent ways and amidst all my happy New Year with my friends he puts a damper on all happiness and it is the same always.  When he gets paid it is like a second nature to him, but take no notice of it when you write, only it is a relief of mine to tell you.  I do hope by this time you have had a letter from our brother Henry.  I hope he is well.  He never wrote us although you told our address.  I hope that he is well and I hope when you write again you will let us know if you got any word from him, and I am very sorry to hear about my Aunt Isabella.  Do you really mean to say in truth that she is dead.  If so I would write to her sister in Canada.  I had no letter since the one I sent.  I think Gilbert is ill, if you have not done so yourself it is right to let your sister know and I fear it is true as they get seldom well from that disease.  I wish I had some of her old things, I have got nothing since I left service and I am not very strong yet to go back to it or I would be too happy to go.  What will John do, he must go to some home before long until the Lord sees fit to remove him from this earth and I do hope he will take him to Himself.  He might by this time have plenty saved where now he has not a penny Ė owe to be wise for time and eternity.  Its what caused Maggey Dorrinís husbandís death taking the charge of her motherís business got into intemperate habits, a young man taken away so suddenly cursed drink I may well say from my heart.  What has thou done amongst us all, when I might have been comfortably situated without this sore evil.  We have a very cold winter and the snow is falling fast while I write and my hands are cold while I write.  I wish I was where they keep good fires.  It is cold in every way here.  Georgy McLennan sees my Aunt Maryís son in Edinburgh.  He is a plumber and is married there and has six children.  He has a brother at Portabella - a butler.

Robertís family are all well.  She never mentions Robertís name in any letter.  I sent him a Christmas card with the picture of Inverness I got sent by  Elvira Findlay with heather all around it and although she wrote a few scrapes at the New Year, she took no notice of it nor mentioned she had got it.  I thought it might cause him to write at this happy time of the year to his sisters and brothers, so now I have given you all the news about all friends.

William McLauchlin sends his respects to you and Mrs Gordon and her sister and all your nieces and nephews join John Alexander and  myself in wishing yourself and Mrs McDonald and Mrs Urquart and your dear children a very happy New Year and hope that this might find you all in good health

Hoping to hear from you soon with all news.

I remain dear Roderick your affectionate sister


P.S. We have sent a paper.

Return to Index

26 Crawford St,  Partick

June 2, 1881

My Dear Brother,

I am longing very much to hear from you.  I hope that yourself and dear wife and family are in good health.  I hope that you are not displeased as to what troubles have come into our family and it is very heavily laid on me these few years back and I only need help and you will I am sure have a letter from Louisa, Robertís wife by this mail intimating the death of your dear brother Robert.

 He died on the 25th May aged 49 years of heart disease.  He had been complaining for some time that he was ill.  I laid out all I had and spent 10pounds or more when your dear father was burried.

So now our family are getting few in number, and Georgina is still unwell and in a very low state of mind.  I feel quite friendless and alone.  I see none of the McLennans but Tomie Finlay now and again.  I have no more news.  Alec is keeping better.  He got his arm hurt and was out of work for a long time.  Tom Findlay sends his kind regards to you and Alec. Your brother wrote to Henrey all your news.  I hope you hear from him, be sure to write me first mail .  I long to hear from you again under all this trial.

With love to yourself, wife and family,

I remain your affectionate sister,

Margaret McDonald


Inside this letter is another which reads:-

Dear Roderick,

John, your brother is very ill and it is most likely the next letter I will send to you will tell you of his death.  I have had him to four doctors and I feel very sorry to tell you that they all tell me he will never get well.  He has taken gradual paralysis.  His speech is gone and his mind and body are gradually giving way since his fall down the hold of a ship a year past the seventh of March last and I have much of great trial and troubles here without one penny saved for the day of trouble.  Its the shock by the fall to the nervous system.  He has to be watched, so I can tell you no more, but I am almost laid up myself.  I removed to another house last month, but it is the same address, but the rent is a little cheaper. 

I gave John and Alec three pounds of the money you sent.  They payed part of the rent which cost more then 10 pounds a year with the taxes, the other two pounds I borrowed and had to pay it back when dear Mother........

The end of this letter is missing.

Return to Index

40 Crawford Street,  Partick,  Glasgow

My Dear Brother,

I am wondering that you never wrote me since John died.  I think Alec told you and he sent a letter telling you of his death which took place August 12th 1982 and he never got a word from you since I am thinking long to hear from you and I hope that yourself and Mrs McDonald are in good health as also your family.  There have been many changes in our family, and I am still in the same house.

I have not been keeping strong for a long time back.  Alec has all along kept on the house with me.

Shipbuilding has for the last year been very bad on the Clyde and thousands are at this time idle and Alexander had to go to a place out from Liverpool to work at railway trucks as no work could be got here.  I just got one letter from him since he went away and I am left alone, and no friend of all my friends to be a friend to me but God above knows all and the sore time I have had contending with Aleck and with trouble and death, as I am not well off.  All my relations have deserted me and I am left here alone.

You might write oftener although so many of our number has removed by death and I am thinking very long to hear from you, and if you heard any word of my brother Henrey.

We never hear from him now.  Robertís wife in one letter wondered you did not write her.  She was ill and her mother also.

Eliza Findlay got married to an Englishman, and your namesake Roderick Findlay is in Montreal and his brother Thomas is out in Java.

I hear Charles Connel the shipbuilder and his wife Ė one of the Campbells, you knew them, well both himself and his wife died this year.  She left seven of a family but they are all provided for as he left an immense money.

Willie McLauchlin is staying in Partick and wishes to be kindly remembered to you.  He has two of a family.  His mother is still in life.

Maggie Dornin is married again to a widower with four of a family and one of the sons are married double her age.

Mother died last year.  Did you see her uncle, he was to call on you, he went to Australia , his wife died and he married the wifeís sister, and she died then he left his children here and went out there.  The McLennans are still in Glasgow .  I have not seen Alec for years.  I believe he named one of his sons after you.  He lives out at a place in the country and his sister Eliza and John kept house together out there and come to business in Glasgow for they have a small warehouse his rich partner left and I believe is not so well off.  His wife, father and mother died.

Now I think I gave you all my news.  Georgina is with her daughter living in Edinburgh and Mrs McLeod and Alec and John has to support her there.  She is not at all strong and John McLennan is still in Inverness in the old way, but failing fast.

I am writing this with spectacles and I hope that you will excuse me and mind to write me if you get this letter.

Wishing you a happy new year and with love to yourself and Mrs McDonald and family.

I remain Dear Roderick your affectionate sister Margaret McDonald.  Mind you write your sister.

Return to Index

Crawford Street, Partick, Glasgow

Nov. 11th , 1885

My Dear Roderick,

I now write you these few lines hoping that this may find Mrs McDonald yourself and your family all in good health.  I delayed writing to you as our Alexander wrote you last, and we received all  the newspapers and this week I received the paper named The Argus.  Many thanks for the same its so mindful of you sending them and I am overjoyed even to get a paper from you -ĖRoderick Findlay is well and back to his office and he is overjoyed at his 320 acres of splendid farming land and it was presented by the Canadian government and a medal for helping to put down the rebellion in Canada.  Robert, his brother is still in Montreal and got a handsome prize for plans of an Institution to be built in that city of Montreal.  He is an architect.

The small pox is very bad out there, and both of them had to be vaccinated over again.

I always get a few lines from Inverness now and again.  Your sister Georgina her husband and family are well.  Georgina has a daughter married to a compositor the name of McLeod.  Her little boy died lately one year and 2 months old.  I met Alexander accidentally and he was enquiring for you.  I told him you would be so glad to hear from him.  John , his brother called to see us and we was letting him see all your likenesses and also the last one named after yourself and our Alexander oh such a darling boy.  You may well be proud of him.  Alexander got it handsomely framed and all the others as well and he has his room all round with pictures of friends in frames and small ships made by dear John.

How I miss all my dear friends now gone.  Alexander has been out of employment for 5 months with the exception of two weeks Ė he got to help a ship to be launched.

I was in a mist since more than a year through the great depression in all the shipbuilding yards here.  He cannot get even any kind of work to do, such multitudes of men and many of them with families.  I have appealed over and over again to Thomas Findlay thinking he might get him into the Canal but he only tells me they are paying off men and I told A.McLennan they cannot do anything.  Everyone has the same tale here, but all I can say its telling very hard on us and feel it fearful.  I would be very thankful if you could send me the slightest assistance at present to help my rent as I am so behind.  Alec so long out of work they expect it will be busy in the spring but it is long to wait after being out 5 months already.  The frames are only getting up of ships, so much form work first and other yards are closed.  I am afraid that they may arrest al that I have in the house all you so very kindly sent me since my dear Father died was payed for rent, and it was such a help to me I cannot tell you all.  Alec I am so happy to tell you is for a year near quite a temperate and is quite a new man.  Oh I am so thankful for this great change.  I cannot tell, good may come out of evil yet.  Alec joins me in sending our love to you and Mrs McDonald and love to the children.

I remain Dear Roderick your affectionate sister Margaret McDonald

P.S.  I hear no word from Robertís wife since two months she was ill when she wrote last after her mother died.  Did you hear any word from Henrey.  Mind to write soon.  I am afraid of the coming winter.

Return to Index

1072 Oswald place,  White Inch,  Glasgow

Sept. 15th   1886

My Dear Brother,

I write these few lines to let you know that we removed about the middle of March of this year to a village a half a mile from where I was in Partick, as there used to be more work in shipbuilding carried on, but after removing, three of the yards are now closed, and there is just one and very little work on hand.   I removed also on account of a cheaper rent as I could not any longer keep the house in Crawford Street on account of  my brother being out of employment for so many months last year and he had little or no work this year and he is at present out of work since the second day of June and this is the 15th of September, and no prospects of any trade this winter.  Every one says that this is far worse than the last one, and it was bad enough, and we have been struggling so hard with poverty such as we never experienced before.

I have been expecting to hear from you in February last and many a weary hour have I been longing to hear the post come with a letter from you.  I was afraid to go out before I might not get it until my household effects was arrested and I had to appeal to A. McLennan.  He, I am happy to say relieved me a little so that I  would get out of the house and I am not out of debt as yet as our Alec is idle a year and having to keep a shelter of any kind of a house it is about nine pounds a year and I have to pay it quarterly and with food it is no joke and a strong able man like our Alexander is it would cost something and we had not even the common necessarys of life.  It is months since we had a dinner of animal food nor a bit of butter but dry bread.  The revival of trade can not come soon enough.  All the work on hand is just a drop in the bucket in comparison to numbers of men out of work.  Although we left Partick we was receiving newspapers regularly from you and we thank you very much for them, and in one or two of them I noticed you had an addition to your family and that of another son which we was very happy to hear, and we wish you much joy of him and we trust that Mrs McDonald and the baby are doing well and I also received a paper with the names of so many of your dear children getting prizes at school.  I could not help having a hearty laugh when I saw Maggie McDonaldís name for a prize.

Oh dear me how I felt, and also a prize for dancing to your oldest son and heir.  You do not know how very pleased I was to see so many of your familyís name in the papers.  I sent them on to other friends to see them, and many thanks for the picture paper and the enclosed picture at the grave of poor Jack.  Alexander is going to make a frame for it.  The Caledonia Ball, there is some life out there while we here are keeping our nose to the grindstone hard.  I was going to write long ago but to tell the truth I could hardly spare what to post a letter with, and three time this year I suffered with strong inflammation in one of my eyes just from weakness.  I do not know how I put past the time, my legs are swelling with poor watery diet.  Oh dear I wish I was stronger so that I might be able to help but now in my 57th year need you wonder how ever the Lord will provide.

A.McLennan has five of a family and has to keep his father and mother.  His father does no work. We had a visit of Robertís wife and her son Robert this summer and Thomas Findlays two sons came to see their father from America.  Roderick and Robert they returned to their places in Canada.  We sent our address out by a carpenter who carries the mails from London R.M.S Tiberia.  His father lives beside us in White Inch.  Mrs Jerrard is quite well, is in Kent.  3 of her husbandís family is abroad for 2 years on foreign commission.  Her father is well.  I wrote often to see if he could get work for our Alec but he could not.  It seems two of my Aunt Maryís family died, both son and daughter grown up.  The daughter left four or five children, the son 28 years.  Robertís son Harrey is to get married to a Miss Snow in London.  She is just the same old thing as she used to be, an insolent shallow whithering as Professor Blackie says the Londoners are.

Robertís daughter Eliza is to get married so she has 3 sons more, yet 2 daughters now.

I think this is all my news at present.  Alec will write to you himself.  Now dear Roderick do try to send a little help if it is in your power.  The Lord will make it up to you.  Our case is so urgent With love to Mrs McDonald,

I remain ever your affectionate sister Margaret McDonald.

Do mind to write soon Ė the cold winter and no work to be got

Return to Index

1072 Oswald Place, White Inch, Glasgow.

January 5th,  1887.

My Dear Brother,

I now sit down to write you, to let you know that I received your very welcome and Kind letter, and we are happy to hear that yourself and Mrs McDonald and all your family are all well.

I also received the money all right at the General Post Office Glasgow.  Oh dear Roderick I cannot tell you in this letter all, and how very grateful and thankful we were to receive it.  It was so good and kind of dear Mrs McDonald to send to us what she had of her own savings.  I do send her my heartfelt thanks.  I do hope the Lord may make it up to her yet tenfold.  My quarterís rent was past due and I had over one pound of taxes for the year ending, so that after paying up for arrears, I had little over, what a burden is lifted of my mind to get this all cleared for the past year.  I do trust that I may never feel the like of it again.  It was much worse here than the last year.  Alexander being so long out of work, and having to keep a shelter over our heads and rents are fearfull high.  I only wish I was in Greenland.  I could get a house like them made of snow.  Alexander had a little work on short time, going out after breakfast and returning home at four in the afternoon, but all men was all paid off when the vessel was launched and he has no work at present to go to.  Orders are coming in slowly Ė but it will be a month or two before they will be ready for carpenters. The ironworkers get most work and almost all vessels are made of iron and still that the carpenters get the least share of work to do.  They keep a lot of apprentices and they do the work along with the foremen as the work on hand was not in a hurry, wanted to get the work cheaper done.

Dear Roderick I must now thank you very much for the newspapers and the fine views of Melbourne which I received quite safe.  What Ė two fine pictures was enclosed in the newspaper.  I was quite proud of them.  If I had them all framed my little room would be crammed with pictures from Australia as a remembrance of my dear brother Roderick.  The views are splendid, the buildings are much better than Glasgow.  It was very kind of you to send them.  I sent the picture newspaper to Thomas Findlay but I kept the pictures.  I pinned a new years card inside wishing them all a happy new year.  Mr Thomas Findlay was very ill and the doctor attending him he is keeping a little better the last word I heard, and his son Thomas returned from Java and was to be home at the New Year seeing his father.  The steamer he was on as an engineer was ordered home to Liverpool, so he did not come to Glasgow, went direct home.

Roderick and Robert are still in Montreal and doing well, and their son John is a ship broker  in Newcastle.  He was at home seeing the father in his illness.

I had a letter from Robertís wife, her son Harrey is to get married to a Miss Snow the 22 of this month.  The country all round here is covered today with a depth of snow while you have summer weather.  The skaters are thick on a large pond behind our home.  They have sweepers taking off the snow to get skating.

None of your nephews are drapers.  I am told Robertís son Alec had charge of the Chinese stand at the Colonial Exhibition in London.  It is now closed.  The McLennans here we see little of them.  I am told by good authority that Alexander is indulging in intemperance very much and often a week in the house off business and things are fearful bad with them and worse on that account.  I pity his poor wife.  He was too soon getting up a gentleman and would not look near his old relatives in Glasgow.  He did not call to see our dear John all the long time he was ill for two years and a half when he died and was burried and he did not come.  The same to Grandmother and in the same city the brother John do most and is steady, keeps aloof also.  I would not mind them.

John gave me this enclosed circular, can send out goods on commission.  Take no notice of them.  Our Alec returns thanks for the newspaper Argus just received and he is reading all about the Cadet Corps.  I am very pleased to hear about your oldest son being in them and being such a good musician and dancer and a good scholar and all the rest having got prizes last year.  It is encouraging for you.  I do also pray the Lord to prosper you in your new place and I do pray that it may succeed so that yourself and your dear wife and family may be provided for.  It must be a very great concern to clear one way and pay all hands honestly .  I do trust that you may prosper in your new shop.  It takes time and much trouble to get settled to oneís mind.  I am sure dear Johanna must have so much to do among her dear children having no servant.  I do wish I was near if only got food this is a poor place not like the good old times when you was here.

Willie McLaughlin is in Stevens still.  His old mother is still alive.  No word about Henrey since he is very thoughtless about us all.  Robert Findlay had a letter from him last year.  They said he had a bad foot then. That is the last time I heard about him.  I am happy to say that I felt better than I was all last summer.  I felt stronger in winter.  The smell of the Clyde is dreadful.  Here all summer I had Alexr. confined to bed for 3 weeks and I had a doctor attending him during that time.  The doctor says it was caused by a chill.  His trouble was he was four weeks indoors, but I am happy to say that he is now fully recovered.  If only he could get employment now we would get on all right after this.  I do hope and trust that trade may quickly revive with us all over in Melbourne.

Also mind to send us your new address when you get time.  Tomorrow morning is my birthday.  Oh dear I will be 58 years.  Try to mind me once a year if you are at all able.  My years are increasing swiftly along.  Mrs Jerrard I heard from her lately.  Her husband will be in Hong Kong. She lives in Kent Sandwich.  Did a friend of her husbandís call on you.  He was in London with exhibits to the Colonial Exhibition.  She lives in a small covered cottage with roses near her husbandís mother.  Although her husband is an officer, they get very poor pay in the navy.  My aunt Mareyís oldest daughter died.  A gardenerís wife, Mrs Chisholm left 5 children I think.  I told you that a brother died also a few years ago.  Georgina and husband are well.  She did not visit us since she came to Glasgow two years ago.  Fancy that, we had her husband call once.  We expected some of them at new years time, but none of them came our way, and Alec and I felt it very deeply as we felt so very lonely.  Now having no friends in Glasgow save themselves, if we had plenty of florins we would get plenty of cousins.  The poor have few friends.  The business is not now in his hands, it is in the hands of another not trustworthy.  I was told how they assisted me by another with the sum of one pound sterling.  They gave it as if it was from themselves, but it was not.  However it was very acceptable at the time.  Now I think I have told you all the news I have in the meantime and I hope to have more in the next letter and more cheering news of better times than I had for the past number of years, with trouble and death of so many of my relations and the great depression of trade on the Clyde and every place did not know which hand to turn to.  Everything so gloomy and dark before me, I nearly fainted how I not seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living and in the midst of the years to remember Mercy and let me once morer thank you greatly for your kindness at this very needful time and it is the very hardest time I have experienced in all the past from hunger and having Alec an able strong man so long our  of employment so long.  Alec joins me in thanking you and Mrs McDonald for the greatest assistance sent at this time and we both wish you all a very happy new year and with love to you both from your affectionate sister Margaret McDonald.

P.S.  I hope you will excuse this scribble, snowing  its hardest and my fingers are so cold.  Goodbye and may God bless you all.

Return to Index

No. 6 Meadow Road, Partick, Glasgow

July 20 1887

My dear Brother,

We are longing very much to hear from you, and we hope that you are all in good health.

I wrote you some months ago that I was to remove from White Inch to Partick again as trade was quite at a standstill there.  We removed from White Inch about the beginning of March last, and returned to Partick.  My brother Alexander sent newspapers and wrote the address inside which I hope you received all right, but last week I and Alec received papers addressed to White Inch and we was surprised and was sure you did not know we left their long ago.  We are both together as usual.  Trade is not much improved as yet.  My brother being half of the time idle.  He got a little work at a dredging machine for Melbourne at Renfrew three miles off and comes home every night.  He leaves here at half past four in the morning.  It will be finished in another fortnight.  They are slack in all shipyards here but one of the yards got two gunboats for government.  It will be long before they are ready for carpenters.  No trade for the half of the men here out of work here. 

I do trust that you are doing well in your new place of business and that you got it all to your mind.  I return your many thanks for the nice newspapers you sent.  We received them all right although sent to White Inch.  They are so interesting for us to read coming such a distance.

I may tell you that Thomas Findlay has had a serious illness and it is thought he will never recover from the effects of it.  I sent him word often to see if he would get some work for our brother.  He could do nothing for him so we had to do the best we could.  His son Tommie passed his chief engineerís exam, and his son Robert the architect got married at Ontario, Canada, the twenty ninth of June last.

I may tell you that our dear sister Mrs McLennan went to live with her son Robert.  He is married and has four of a family.  He resides in Liverpool so she is away there.  John her son sold off his furniture, and his Sister Eliza went to London to a situation.  Alexander his brother has got into difficulties through the long continued depression of trade, while I have had a hard time, they did nothing to assist me, when they were in a better position they kept for years out of the way.  The tables are turned with them as with me, the father is in Glasgow and as yet I do not know what may be.  I had a letter sometime ago from Robertís wife.  She said she was to give up the shop because it did not pay.  I do not know where she is.  Her son Harrey got married, I think this is all my new at present.  Mind to write by return.  I find this house very damp.  I may leave it in November early.  I could never pass the winter.  I took it as it was a little cheaper rent, but it is too dear and I have swelled feet.  The doctor told me I must remove again as it is uninhabitable to live in Ė one doe not know what to do for the best.  Alec joins me in sending our love to Mrs McDonald and yourself and love to all your dear children.  Hoping to hear from you soon.

I remain dear Roderick

Your affectionate sister

Margaret McDonald

I enclose a leaf written , you will know the handwriting of our dear mother

Goodbye. (Leaf not attached to this letter)

Return to Index

6 Meadow Rd, Partick, Glasgow

January 5th 1889

My dear brother,

I now write you this letter to let you know that I received your very welcome letter and the enclosed money all right, they only ask the senderís name at the post Office and I return you my grateful thanks for the same at this time and it is winter time with us when you have such a hot summer in Australia it must be something awful when the cattle are dying in such a way.  We have a milder winter than last year and today it is like spring.  We also received the illustrated beautiful paper all right.  It is the first we have had since you sent the fine picture of the Melbourne Exhibition for which we return you many thanks, it arrived here without a mark.  I do not know how Alec proposes to frame it for it is such a size.  We also received all the other papers sent from time to time and one especially with the intimation that you have another addition to your family and we were very happy to hear the news, and I was to have written when I received that paper at that time, but I was suffering from rheumatism for three months and the time passed and months passed away, and we were despairing from hearing from you until Johnny McLennan told us that he heard from you and I was so happy to hear then that you and Mrs McDonald and the family were all in good health.

John McLennan set up in a small way himself.  I think his brother is not doing so well.  He is indulging in intemperance.  I believe it is a pity his poor wife will suffer and family, our brother Alexander is turned a sober steady man and this is the fourth year, he is now settled down quite an old bachelor but looks quite smart and works hard for the time he was so long out of employment.  I cannot tell how we pulled through and he has been idle now since a year, but I am happy to say that there are better prospects this spring than there have been for several years past.  Trade is improving like Melbourne.  I was so glad to here it was getting better with you each time.  I was myself getting quite despondent.  I may say that last sabbath day was the anniversary of my 6oth birthday.  Would you believe it.  It gave me solemn thought that day, you see I am so much older than you and be sure to keep and cheer me up for all the time I may be spared.  I feel that I am getting old but the young may go but the old must go.  I have had a letter from Robertís wife.  I think I told you that her son and daughter got married.  She is not keeping well.  She is going to send me in her next letter your namesake likeness and also her son Robertís.  I saw him and oh dear he is so like his late father you would think it was him.  He came to see us three years ago, and we had a visit from Mr Thomas Findlay from Clachnaberry.  He was here seeing this great exhibition.  It was half an hours walk from us.  It was a grand affair and the town was full of visitors from all parts.  I saw the Queen of England, the Prince of Wales, the city procession was on a grand turnout.

We had quite a  new year, Johney McLennan called.  He said that some gentleman was to call on you from Scotland.  I may tell you that Tom Findlayís son got married the one Tom and his son Robert got married in Montreal Canada. ?  He is partner to an architect and my sisters son Roderick he lives with his brother Robert and is a clerk in the Pacific Railway now.  He was in the Grand Trunk Railway, but got a good appointment.  Eliza Findlay is married to an officer of the channel fleet.  He is expected home from China, he has been abroad since four years. She sent me a likeness of the mariners rowing him ashore from his large ship in a small boat with him sitting up in the front of the boat.  She stays in Kent.  Her sister Maggie went to see her and visited Robertís wife and family.  The son Robert was once at Inverness and Tomie Findlay is an engineer on the Liverpool boat.  He went to see my sister Georgina and she is keeping better and looks quite stout.  The father is with his son John and lives with his daughter Georgina.  She lost three of her children, one fine boy in November last, another died two years ago, a son, and a girl before. Two of my cousinís daughters died after their father who died a year ago,  my aunt Maryís son.  One by one of our friends depart.  I have a nice little house and I see all the steamers pass by the window which is very cheery.  I sent some of your papers to other friends and the one with the picture of your fine shop, what a fine one.  I was so very pleased and delighted to see it and it was so nice to see your childrenís names also printed and having so many of them got prizes, they must be so good and clever scholars.  What a large family.  No wonder you worry with such a charge and the shop on your shoulders.  Mrs McDonald must have a great battle to keep them all straight.  It is well that she is spared in the head of her dear children and that you and them are in good health.  I will be delighted to get a letter from the children.  Fancy Eliza Findlayís daughter wrote me a letter and she is not five years yet.  Who would think you would be bringing up your family in Australia and she in Kent.  Now dear Roderick this is all my news at present as I am in a hurry to catch the post.

With kind love to Mrs McDonald, yourself and family and may God bless you all and we wish you all a happy new year and hope that times will be most prosperous to us all and in which Alec joins.

I hope you write as often as convenient.  We will be so happy to hear.  

I remain dear Roderick in haste your affectionate sister Margaret McDonald

Goodbye and accept my best thanks for what you very kindly sent to me.  I get not much here.

I see you have an interest in church music

A letter to her neice, Mary Ann.  (Return to Index)

6 Meadow Road, Partick, Glasgow

Sept. 18th  1889

My Dear Marey Ann,

I received your very welcome letter and I was so happy to hear from yourself & Robert and from Papa.  We was so delighted to have such nice and kind letters from you all.  Papa had no wife nor children when he left Scotland and it was such a wonder for us to have letters from our dear brother and his family. 

Many thanks for your letters and now that you can write such a nice letter I will be delighted to hear from you again.  We was longing very much to hear from Papa and our Alec is in a good mood since he got Papaís letter, and that we are not forgotten although we are so far away in old Scotland.

We also received in splendid condition the unveiling of  Wallaceís monument at Ballarat.  It is a good likeness of Papa among the Scotchmen abroad.  We received a newspaper with the interesting speeches on that occasion and I observe Papaís name among the Scotchmen.

What a fine holiday you had along with Mama and Papa on that happy occasion, and we received the very beautiful picture of Papaís shop Ė what a handsome building.  We are so delighted to have it and I prize it very much as Papa was a mere boy when he came to live with me in Glasgow after leaving his fatherís home in Islay as he was a teacher their for many years and what changes has taken place in our family.  I have got the shop in a gold guilt frame with glass on it, also Wallaceís Monument and they both look splendid in the frame in our little room which is covered with pictures and photos from Australia.  We received the papers sent by the same mail all right and we return many thanks for Papaís kindness in sending them all.  He is very mindful of us.  Alexander is glad you received his photos all right.  He will write himself and is to send some views of Glasgow.  He is employed at present but it is at a distance from his home and he is always late of getting home and up at 5 oclock in the morning.

I was very happy to hear that you are all well with the exception of Dear Grandma.  We do trust that she is better by this time.  I am also glad to hear of the dear children having recovered from the Hooping Cough.  It is such a troublesome disease.  It is well that they got over it all right.  Your dear mother will have a great deal of care and anxiety among so many.  I did not know that you had a little sister Flora McDonald until I heard from you.  What a number of little sisters and brothers you have.  We was delighted to hear that your dear brother Robert got into his fatherís old place of business.  I have doubt but he will get on well there.  It is such a good place of business, and I wish him every success and that he may swiftly learn his business so that he may be able to assist his Papa in his way of business.

All our friends are well.  My sister is still in Liverpool.  You have an aunt and two cousins Robert and Eliza McLennan and Robert has five children.  Eliza is unmarried, and three cousins in Glasgow, two married with families.  Tomie Findlay his wife has a little girl.  The father is away, engineer of a steamer to China.  His wife and child is home to reside at his fatherís in Inverness.

Robertís wife in London was this summer in Inverness.  Her only sister died in Edinburgh in May last.  Your cousin's husband in Kent  , the officer, is home from China and he is at Sheerness on board a gunboat this time.  Will be out next summer.  He will have a pension. I got a letter from my sisterís daughter, the officerís daughter letting me know that their Papa arrived safe at home.  One move he was away over four years.

I heard that the boys out in Montreal are doing well.  Roderick he is in the office of the Pacific Railway company out in America and Robert is married and is an architect planning buildings in Montreal. and his brother John is in Leith near Edinburgh as a shipís broker.  I have not seen hom for many years.  I cannot afford to correspond with so many, in fact I have almost given up writing to all of them.  Tell Papa that Mrs Dorrnin died 4 years ago and her daughter Maggie is married to an old man the second time and has the old shop in .Kelvinhaugh.  Mrs Dorninís sister is a widower and keeps a shop in Partick  Hinckler ? the man that sailed for Melbourne is a warehouse man .  We donít know him.  Please tell your Papa A. McLennan removed his dwelling to a smaller house nearer Glasgow.  His brother and himself are in business together.  John is in lodgings.  I did not see them since last New Year.  They are so busy and seem to have no time as we are out in the suburbs of Glasgow a long way from them.  We have a fine view of the ships up and down past our window and we are in a nice place, but it is very damp and I am ill with influenza in one of my eyes.  I trust I may soon get better.  I hope that you will excuse my bad written letter but I wish to catch this mail and Alec will write soon.

Please give my kind love to your dear mother and Papa and dear Grandma and all the family and dear Robert and that Alec will write.  I had Robertís son in London, his photo sent to me.  He is the very image of his late father.  Now with my kind love to yourself and trust you will write our Auntie Maggie again.

I remain Dear Mary Ann your affectionate Aunt Margaret McDonald.

Goodbye and farewell

Return to Index

6 Meadow Road, Partick, January 29. 1890

My dear Brother,

I now sit down to write you instead of Alexander as he is at present not very well and is suffering from influenza which has been so very prevalent of late here and elsewhere.  He had been ill last year, but recovered, indeed I thought he would never get over that illness.

I wish to be kindly remembered to one and all of you and to thank you very much for the beautiful photos of all your family, such group of fine boys and girls and dear little Flora Ė what a little beauty.  I do admire them all.  You may well be proud of them and also their dear Mama.  She has them all so neatly and correctly dressed which is greatly admired by all who saw them.  I am so delighted to have them all in a group.  I do not know how they got them taken so well, and them all so young.  I have them all carefully kept as sent before, and we have Mrs McDonald and your own in the kilt or highland costume of your family.  One with her dolls at the foot, but I never saw Flora before.  What a dear.  If I could only take her in my arms and kiss her over and over; and little Alexander, what a brave boy with his trousers on.  I do wish we had him here to keep his uncle company.  He is very lonely and quiet on it.  The next to the oldest is so like yourself, and the oldest what a nice young man.  I and Alec think it is no joke to provide for all such a family.  Many thanks for all the papers you so kindly sent.  I sent the sketcher newspaper to Tom Findlay at Clachnaherrey.  His son Tommie is home from China the engineer and his brother Robert and Roderick in Montreal.  Robert was successful in getting the architect building out of eleven who applied.  He was the best and will have 5000 dollars clear cash over after paying cost.  He has a wife and two children.

Your namesake Roderick Findlay, he is chief clerk in the foreign freight office of the Canadian and Pacific Railway out there.  I had a letter from Kent.  Eliza Findlay wishes to be kindly remembered to you.  Her husband is home from China and is now aboard the Unicorn warship stationed at Dundee.  He is to be there until June, he is to have 40 pounds per year of a pension after and will likely join again I am not sure.  She has three children one boy and two girls.  I had a letter from our Robertís wife from London.  Her son Robert wanted your address, he is so like our dear brother Harrey, his little son died you know.  He has a wife and two of a family.  He was just a boy when we was in London, what changes since then.  We never hear of our brother Henry at all.  I do not know what has come of him, Alec wrote to you some time ago.  You would have received his letter by this time.  Old John McLennan is better. the two brothers are in business still.  Their sister Eliza is in Manchester and Bob and his wife and family are in Liverpool and Georgina my sister is with Bobby.  She is better I believe than she was.

 Dear Roderick we was very sorry to hear that you intend to give up the shop.  What a pity.  I was on the belief that you was doing well in it and that you would have it paid all up by this time.  Could you not take in outdoor workers as they do here, it will be best known to yourself, the good Lord directs you to do what is best.  It is no easy task to please the public.  now be sure to write how you will be settled.  I do hope all will turn out for the best and most profitable.  Hoping that this will find you all in good health.  Give my love to Mrs McDonald and accept the same yourself and to Robert Henrey and Mary Ann and to all the rest of your dear children.

Now be sure to write us.  Alec joins in thanking you for the likenesses you so kindly sent him and your letter and papers.  I must now draw to a close, I will wish you all a happy New Year.

Your affectionate sister

Margaret McDonald

Write soon

Return to Index

6 Meadow Road,  Partick,  Glasgow,

December 13th 1892

My Dear Roderick,

I write this to let you know that I received your welcome letter and we was happy to hear that yourself and your wife and family are all well.

I thank you for your sympathising letter about the sudden death of my sister.  I have now to let you know that her husband John McLennan died the month after his dear wife.  He took her death so much to heart he did not long live after her.  He died in October last.

And with sorrow I write that Alexander McLennan died on the sixth of December last.  Oh dear this is so hard to bear Ė his Dear Wife and five children, one girl and four boys.  His Dear wifeís parents died some time ago.  I do not know what is to be done.  My sisterís daughter, that is Georgina her husbandís only sister here in Glasgow died in November last leaving nine of a family, so my sisterís daughter has to take some of them as the man has no friends to see to them nor has the wife that died any, so A. McLennanís sister who has to see to do many of her husbandís sisterís children of the mother and child that and was burried together.

I am very sorry to hear of bad times in Melbourne and with you especially when you cannot send the smallest aid.  May be it is the last time I may solicit any -  Alexander is out of work and is idle since August last and as yet unable to find  any.  I am now attending the eye hospital with one of my eyes so weak the doctor tells me its from the weakness of my system, having been so long ill.

You should not forget to write your brother often.  He is getting disappointed when his friends are so thoughtless about him.  There is every now and again a lull in the shipbuilding trade and this is one of them .  Although he has worn his boots of his feet, he cannot find employment.  The place is full of idle people, starving families fed by the town, soup kitchens to feed them.

I have no more news and may God bless you all.

Margaret McDonald

I thank you for your kindness to your poor sister.  Goodbye.

Return to Index

6 Meadow Road,  Partick, Glasgow,

February 8th  1893

My Dear Brother,

Many thanks for your lovely cards to Alexander and I which I received on the 17th of January all right.  It was very good of you to remember us at this New Year and many thanks for your good wishes at this time.

I observed on the envelope that you was going to write the next mail, and two or three mails has arrived but no letter from you as yet.  It may be next mail we will be happy to hear from you.

You would be thunder struck to hear Alexander McLennans, and his fatherís death.  You will I am sure by this time receive my last letter letting you know how many of our friends are away home. This last year will be always remembered by us.  It was the worst I ever had, and the loneliest year I have ever had.

Alex is still idle.  He got three days work at a repair and he is idle again and he is now six months out of work so you know how I am, and having a rent of ten pounds in all and myself ill from January last year until August last.  Alec was off on the 20 of August and got no work in a yard since.  Everything of motherís must go, and where am I to go with my weak leg.  It is far from being strong and I cannot work with it.  I cannot stand long on it at a time.  Fancy in my 64 year and I was dutiful to all my friends when I was able to work for them when I was young.

I hear no word of A. MClennanís wife or family since they are far from us.  I heard he left her in some Society where she will get some aid to maintain herself and her family.  His oldest boy is in an office.  He has a son named after you Roderick.  I never saw him.  John his brother is keeping on the business and has to help also to maintain his brotherís family.

The young man you saw in Melbourne the name of James Leitch died last year out there.  He only was married 18 months when he died.  He was Tom Findlayís sisterís son.  Tom himself is so frail.  It is likely that his days are about over in the Canal.

All friends I hear are well that we hear about.

We will be in this house until 28 of May as that is the term for removal.  What is to be done I do not know as yet.  I only wish I had my Dear Fatherís books.  They give nothing for them here and my motherís writings I have kept all along.

I have no more news at present.  I write to say we got no letters since you sent the cards and Alexander and I wish you and your dear wife and family many happy and bright New Year of health and comfort hoping that this will find you all well and with love from Alexander and myself.

I remain

Dear Roderick

Your affectionate sister

Margaret McDonald

Mind to write soon.

Return to Index

6 Meadow Road, Partick,  Glasgow

August 3,  1893

My Dear Roderick,

I received your welcome letter I am sorry I could not answer it before this.  I have since my last illness been an outdoor patient at the Eye Infirmary and I am still attending twice a week.  The professor tells me that its from the weakness of my system not getting up my strength after my long and serious illness, but I am happy I am a little better and Alec had no will to write.  He has been seven months of this year idle.  He is working I am glad to say the fortnight at Dumbarton and I am alone in the same house.  I could remove and we both had no home to go to now but Alec is in lodgings at present.  He does not expect the work to last long so he will be home again idle.  The carpenterís trade is the worst.  My rent is past due, but nothing to pay for it, as we get no assistance from any one.

Tom Findlay is to retire and going to live with his married daughter in Kent near London.  His 50 years is up in the Canal.  His daughter, that is Eliza has five of a family.  The boys in Montreal are well Ė both married.  I sent Robertís address to you long ago but you never said you received it or that your heard from him.

I am happy to tell you that our Alec found out our Henrey at long last.  He is in Texas still, but was out of it for ten years.  Alec found him out by the Weekly Mail, we had a letter from him and a paper.  I did not know my brotherís handwriting.  We sent him your address.  I expect you would have heard from him by this time, we never expected to hear from him again and that he is still in life.  The last we got it is more than 16 years ago.  His wifeís mother died and her brother.

Dear Brother I am sorry to hear of the bad times in Melbourne, of so many banks failing, and it must be very hard on you with such a large family.  I hope things are improving now.  My mother had eleven of a family and only a bit and a ben.  I often wonder how she brought up so many of us on so little salary.  Johnnie McLennan has his brother Alexanderís business.  He has to help his family as best he can even however so small.  John is married 3 years ago.  Three of Robertís family are married and have families.  I had a letter from Robertís wife and they are all well.  I have had no letter since Christmas until now.  Her son Alecís wife had a young son in February last and your namesake is a photographer.  He took his sisterís card and she sent it to me.  It is very good.  I do not know what they all do.  I am very happy to hear of you all being in good health and that your son Robert is getting on well in his business.  Your oldest daughter will be able now to assist her mother, I am sure she will be 15 years now.  She must have a lot to do amongst so many of you.  I would work hard but the bad leg has weakened me, so that I cannot stand on it but for a short time, if ever it gets stronger with me and I have one of my eyes so weak.  Please remember me very kindly to your dear wife and family.  Hoping that this will find you all well, Alec says that you have forgotten him.  You did not send him a paper since Dening ? was executed and our address is the same.  I hope that you will write soon again.  I hope that you will excuse my bad writing and spelling.  I think this is all my news at this time.

I remain Dear Brother

Your affectionate sister


These items were also included:

ďAbout Flora McDonaldĒ

There is a descendent of Flora McDonald living near me.  She is a Christian.  I will let her see your Flora.  Her husband died lately.  A son of hers was for years supposed to be lost at sea.  He suddenly appeared with no notice of his coming, some few hours before his dear father expired, and was at his bedside when he died and followed his remains to the grave.

The people of Partick carried the body through the street, as he was held in great respect and a Christian.  This only son returned in answer to many prayers.