Letter from Harry Long
This is a fascinating letter dated 5 July 1942, from Harry Long to my own grandfather Jack (John Morrison Torrens). Like many genealogical letters it lists many relatives and other people but (also like many genealogical letters) it is relatively useless on its own!
The original is one long script with no paragraph breaks. That is how it is reproduced here: I have inserted rulers to denote page breaks.
Comments in brackets are either mine (Richard Torrens) or my father's (RGT).
(The address in embossed into the paper.)
My dear Jack
I was thinking that it was time to write you, when I received your welcome letter. Your letter satisfies me that you are not badly off for food - I had a letter from Dick on June 19th. In it he said he had heard that we were short of tea - and went to the Consul General in New York, who confirmed his information and told him he could send a parcel not exceeding 5lb weight. He therefore made up a parcel of 3 lbs of US Septon's tea and posted it on May 28th. His letter came by Air Mail & the parcel may not arrive for some time yet or not at all! He told me to write the Minister for Industry & Commerce Dublin asking to have the parcel delivered duty free. They said the Revenue Commissioners at Dublin Castle were the parties to deal with the case & had handled my letters over to them for reply. On the 2nd July I received a letter from Dublin Castle stating the parcel would be subject to Customs duty at the rate of 2d per lb plus package Duty at the rate of 1d per lb or part of a lb. So I think I will have enough to pay these import charges. We always had enough tea, although we only get 1/2 oz per head per week - and Brooks seems to have a difficulty in sending that small quota always up to date. I got a present of 2lb.from Minnie Pim (?) from Johannesburg, apica (?) for Christmas - and it arrived two months later. So you see my friends are very thoughtful & kind. This has been a curious year. We are now in July and up to this the weather has been very changeable all along. East winds and cold frosty nights early in spring - harsh destructive winds and drought later. A few dry hot days and then continual rain & high winds. Today I could not step out - it looks like a winter's day - all my crops have suffered from the weather. I have peas using them & another lot coming on. I have excellent Duke of York
potatoes - but my main & late potatoes I am afraid will not be good. I have a very promising led of carrots. All the tomatoes I planted outdoors were blown down & broken - but my greenhouse looks promising. I had no oil to heat the house this year - so I got 7 loads stable manure &made a hay & hot bed on floor of greenhouse & this germinated my leeks & heated the house nicely. I had though a little late, the first plants I ever handled & the ??? was my own saving. Poor Dick Thomas who died after going successfully through an operation in the Adelaide Hospital Dublin for appendicitis died suddenly when he expected to be up next day. Supposed to be a lot of blood travelled to the heart or somewhere. Dick persuaded me to put in a big lot of Onion seed this year and while I had 4ozs of seed bought, I bought 12oz from him making a total of £2.6.0 worth of onion seen. Well everything was beautifully completed - but the weather spoiled my crop. The constant rain promoted seeding until the heads were about 1 1/2 high & the onions 1 1/2 inches. The job of hunting for my onions became dreadful & my boy pulled up as many onions as weeds in places. Hence immense blanks. Many people complain of their onions not coming up, so that they may be a short crop.I would have had a valuable crop only for the weather. My lettuce is very fine at present I eat a lot & sell a lot. Rhubarb was a short crop in this district owing to the weather also. There is no sign of life about & Houses unlet no excursions and prices of travel raised to double. We find it hard to Cook practically no gas, no coal, & only allowed 3 units of electricity per day.
I will try to find something of the "Family Tree" for Bob - but I am not much interested in much beyond personal memory. On my mother's side I don't know who her mother was - apparently her mother died early leaving 2 sons and 2 daughters (my aunt Alicia & my mother), The father a very good man & fond of his children died later leaving the 4 young children growing up to the care of the eldest son Jeremiah Merrick who married a Wexford woman & she was so hard on these young people that the two younger brothers went to Australia with two Gyles (?) family, who were going out to the gold fields. One of the Merricks became a clergyman and had his son Jim (?) came over & lived in Youghal for a couple of years to learn the drapery business. The two girls felt they could not get on with Mrs Jeremiah Merrick wife so at an early stage started out and commenced business in the grocery at 111 N. M. St. Youghall - and became so popular that they built up a big business. Then my father married & my aunt never left her sister. Eventually my father built the two houses in South Main Street & moved into No 19 and finally moved to Devonshire Square. The Long family our branch originally came from Kent. Ned Long had the 'Family Tree' but I have forgotten most of it. I have some old silver spoons with the family crest engraved & the initial L - I also have a small seal with the same crest. It is I think a Lion rampant on a Coronet - encircled by the Motto "Fortis et Fidelis" (note inserted by RGT says 'NOT LONG'). My Aunt Bell - whom I think must have been my grand aunt was a sister of Richard Cox. She was very old but a fine intelligent woman. Very fond of gardening, was the widow of Doctor Dartnell - who volunteered to prescribe for the people during the famine. He took over the hospital which was on the boundary of the Church Yard - and as he could not come outside the hospital limits during the plague - and being a wonderful clear man - he had the Tower that now remains in the Church Yard (where the Old Rector afterwards put the old Frenchman's Guns) built for an observatory for astronomy in which he was very interested. He was a wonderful worker in metals. There was a lot of his silver spoons etc made by him & other relics going in the hands of his wife & relatives, He took the plague & died in the Hospital. He had a valuable chronometer & Dr Royson was said to have taken it from the Hospital & pawned or sold it. Old Richard Cox was very old when I was a boy - I believe at one time he had an extensive Cooperative factory opposite the police Barracks - and shipped his goods to England. His eldest son Robert - went to Cork & his other son George. They are both dead. Bob's son Bertie became a doctor in Gibraltar and Bob's daughter Dody lives in London. She writes to me occasionally. I don't know where the Thomas' came in at all. I think Ed Thomas & my father were distant cousins. Mrs Cole was a Miss Anderson & Dick Thomas' mother was her sister. The Coles came over from
from Cork but her history is not known to me - and what I saw of the 3 Brothers Cole would not make one claim relationship even by marriage! Well Jack, I have been very troubled with haemorrhoids lately. Verlin left £400 to the Church Lustentation (?) fund. Pratt (married to Fergus McLean's daughter) bought the property for £1460 & is now living there. He has a Soap Agency from Cream & Co Belfast and made a nice pile of money on his commission during the war when people were stocking heavily on the report of shortage & no oils or fats to be had, I had several letters from Tom (Major) Fuge (name cramped at edge of page!) asking my advice about the Institute in Church Street for which he is trustee. He wants to appoint other trustees as he is really the only one now in existence barring Nelson Cole who is useless. I believe you were a trustee at one time and assigned ? after corresponding with Fuge for some time I asked Westbury (RGT note 'Bought 85' - i.e. 85 Main St, Youghall, JMT's pharmacy) who is Hon Sec to the Institution to write Fuge & ask if he wanted any further information - Westbury promised to do so - and I have written Westbury today asking if he has done so - Lizzie Allen told me, Dick left only £200 in Cork & died owing about £7000 on which he was paying interest. But I believe that Dick had shares which had dropped in value - and then there is stock in Shop & debts due to him and the shop house premises &c. Lizzie has a life interest in the Assets & at her daughter's death they go to Lizzie's daughter. Edie met Lilly in town recently. She told Edie Rickerby had died and his daughter was expecting her first baby. I have not heard from Ernest Walpole for some time. His son & wife & child escaped to Australia from Singapore. (See note 1)
W.M 68 Sheridan, Bank of Ireland, & P M Royal Provinces Bank, Holroyd sony (?) the S.W. Borthusee (?) (Newcastle Ted Coy) I W H Kevin I G Bob Chappel S D Henry Hayes S D Edwards Sec. Clarke Treasurer Westbury organist. Outside members owing to no petrol for motors don't turn up. No new members for long time. Capt. Newel - Welsh seaman - initiated last month, owner of a collier often coming to Youghal. If ever you go to Southsea call & see Mrs Catherine Jeffery - 62 Mayles Road, Milton, Southsea, Hants. She & her mother were tenants of mine lived in Friar Street. She was a daughter of Hugh Moore the Fishery Bailiff or Conservator under Ned Foley. She writes to me at times. She has gone through great tribulation (?) since war began. I had a letter from her in April - She knows you well, and would be delighted to see you. There is universal stealing of Bicycles every day. Justin Condons elder daughter is a doctor in England, his youngest daughter has become a member of the stock exchange & joined her father in the business. Mrs Stephen Drury & George Simkins died some time ago. Michael Colbert late Post Master died recently. The principal traffic on Railway is turf 64/- per ton. Edie has paid 18/6 per st (14lbs) for white flour. It is got from the north I believe by smuggling over the border. Edie is ironing some clothes in the kitchen - just called out to me 'Tell Jack I am busy & send him my love1 - I think I have wound out all news for the time. Give my love to Bob & Maggie. I hope Simon is thriving?
Harry (RGT adds 'Long of Youghal')
Dr. Matthew J. Williamson says:
My grandfather's name was Ernest Walpole and his father (Edward) came from Youghal. I believe that, for some reason, the names have got switched in the letter as my grandfather (Ernest) did indeed escape from Singapore to Australia in 1941 but his wife and daughter did not go with him but returned to this country. My great grandfather (Edward) married, in his eighties, a lady by the name of Long who had been his childhood sweetheart.
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