Andrew Clunie | State Library of New South Wales

Andrew Clunie

Englishman Andrew Clunie wrote diligently to his mother and sister back home in London between 1856 and 1865. His nineteen letters tell of the experiences of one immigrant who intended to go gold mining, but diversified into other businesses such as shoemaking and operating a ferry to supplement his income from gold digging. All these ventures met with little success, likewise his search for an appropriate wife:

'there is nothing suitable here - such a rowdy lot of Women, I would not get married in this country for fear I should never get out of it.' 

In his last letter, dated 1864, he announces he has booked his passage home.

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Transcript: Clunie Family - letters from Andrew Clunie, 1856-1865, Manuscript ML MSS 7263

[Page 1]

Adelong Diggings
July 11th 58

My Dear Mother
I received your letter a week or two back but have been too unsettled to reply till this present time. I am pleased at your writing I value it highly. I am now at Adelong Quartz reef Murrumbidgee 300 miles from Sydney and about 200 from where I wrote you last it took me a month to get here. I am doing nothing very grand, many doing better many worse, but I am still in hopes

[Page 2]

of fortune. I have been here four months, I have just completed my building, a calico affair, it consists of a frame work in the shape of a dog kennel covered with calico and a large fly at top and forms a verandah, in front is a chimney built of sods at bottom, then bark with an old gunpowder barrel for a chimney pot, it is a comfortable affair and much admired.
Dear Sister I should have liked a few lines from you in reply to mine but I suppose you thought dear Mothers' sufficient. I am in first rate

[Page 3]

health, I have just spent what I had in the undertaking, it is coming back in dribs and drabs. I have had no opportunity of sending what you requested but I wont forget it Dear Mother I have no opportunity of sending you a present just now there being no post from here but rely on it my poor dear Mother is always uppermost in my thoughts, try and be tranquil and dear Mother don't worry and fret if you don't hear from me so quick as you would wish, I am

[Page 4]

in strong health and live like a fighting cock and doing very well. I hoped to have returned by this time but I cant return empty handed, things are getting very bad in the colony, large meetings of unemployed at Sydney and Port Phillip in fact the country's overdone. I hope this will find you all in good health your letters being so scant has left me nothing to reply to. My kind love to all

I remain your affectionate son
Andrew Clunie
Love to all at Brompton

[Page 5]

South Gundagai NSW
Jan 17th 62

My Dear Sister
I received your letter of May 13th this morning and as the Mail for England leaves tomorrow the 18th I have just time to write you a few lines. I have not sufficient time to get the necessary papers from the Bankers for a remittance I have to send you, but the first of the series shall come by the next Mail but I could not let another Mail depart without writing to you, Dear Sister your news is indeed disturbing. I dare not ask how you have lived but it does seem strange to me that you should delay writing so long after what I told you in my letter. I am so glad to hear my poor Mother is well, you ask do I ever see an English paper! very seldom but the extracts are generally in the Colonial

[Page 6]

papers, sometime I get hold of a Lloyds and it amuses me greatly to go through the columns of advertisements and read how a sure fortune is to be made by taking a fried fish or Beer shop & coming in about 20£ particularly when I know the locality so well, or some rubbish about Australia but if you can send a cheap paper occasionally do but I did not like to ask you when you have so much trouble at Home. Dear Sister you ask am I married, I am not that is what I intend coming home for to get a wife, there is nothing suitable here - such a rowdy lot of Women, I would not get married in this country for fear I should never get out of it. I am in good hearth in the same situation. I have a comfortable little hut on ground (I have that Priviledge on account of the ferry) there is plenty of game and no game laws and my dogs and gun I find an excellent substitute for a wife. I could be very happy

[Page 7]

if you were so, however I send you a small sum it will be on the way long before you receive this and in the meantime I will think well what can be done, when you write direct as usual but of course you need not write until you receive the next I hope this will find you all in good health and Charles quite recovered. Dear Sister so sure and unexpected as I came to this country so surely will I return providing the Almighty spares me but I will not come in poverty to work for a bob a day and grub. Give my kind love to my poor dear Mother Aunt Sarah and all at Brompton accept the same for yourself, so no more at present from –

Your affectionate Brother
Andrew Clunie

[Page 8]

South Gundagai Nov. 16th 1864

My dear Sister
I have received your letter. I am so glad, I have been in the most dreadful suspense not knowing whether you have received my letter or not, and the time draws near for my departure. I have not received the paper yet the letter have just arrived and the down Mail starts at 9am. Tomorrow they don't bring the papers with the letters, they wait a convenient opportunity to send the papers. I shall get them no doubt, I send you a paper by this mail.

[Page 9]

Dear Sister it is my fixed determination to come and if possible to remain but we will talk that over by and by, this country is now in a frightful state, the harvest fail'd last year and appears likely to fail this year, the roads are infested by bands of armed Bushrangers that people are afraid to travel, the Mail was robb'd twice last week, again yesterday Friday and this day was sent down by a guard and the news has just arrived that the Sergeant in command is shot dead.  O this will

[Page 10]

be a fine country when it is fenced in. I take from the papers occasionally the case of emigrants newly arrived, who after walking about for some time unable to get employment commit suicide from sheer despair. I shall leave in January for Sydney or Melbourne. I shall take a good Ship and a fast one. I shall be like Old Wellers stage coach carry very little luggage. Dear Sister you need not reply to this there will be no time, and rest assured that if the Almighty

[Page 11]

spares me I will be with you in the spring. I leave this Colony without regret. I hope God will spare my Poor Mother yet a little longer and that he will bless and protect you and your family. I shall write again shortly. I have much more to say but for the Present I must conclude with my kind and lasting love to you all

Your Affectionate Brother
Andrew Clunie