Sisterly concern

Sisterly concern 1739 : Beloved stepmother 1820

This letter is written by Ann Donkin of Penrith age 67 to her sister Jane Davis of Winder age 74. They were daughters of Andrew Hudleston of Hutton John near Penrith.

Ann is obviously very concerned about Jane's health, perhaps with good reason as Jane died later that year. Note the references to home-made wine and the fact that it was being used virtually as a medicine! Note too the difficulties of travel especially in winter weather although Penrith is only a few miles from Winder.

What is remarkable about this letter is the language and particularly the spelling. We could have assumed that a daughter of the Hudlestons would have learnt to spell 'properly'. Perhaps by the age of 67 Ann had forgotten her teaching and relapsed into Cumberland words and speech spelling phonetically.

Desemb (December)
ye 11 1739

My Dear and Kind Sistor is ofenn (often) in my thoates (thoughts) with my harty and Sincear wishes for your recovary I have heard no thing of your hilth since your Servant was hear till you farmar'('s) dootar (daughter) were hear with buttar who could give me but a little account about your hilth. I have ofen been desirous to come to see my Dear Sistar but yt (that) the wedear (weather) and wayes being boath badd and the dayes being Shoart discuridged me but if in any kind I could be servesable to my Dear Sister I would be afraid of No Wadar (weather) neadar (neither) Nite (night) nor day. I have maid small quntedy (quantity) of raising (raisin) wine by your resait (receipt - recipe) only I wanted burchsapp (birch sap) if it be good you shall have 4 botels (bottles) of it beeing truly sensable your Stomack is so bad that you Cannot besported (be supported) without you drink of these small Lickyars (liquors) if you like my Birch wine I have planty (plenty) and you may have 4 bottels of it you will have balm wine for Change I thinke it to be good or if I have any thing Eles (else) or could porcure (procure) it should not beawanting (be wanting) to the outmost of gitt it for my Dear Sistor who(se) favers I must not forgitt being in all Sincerety your truly

Loving Sistar to Coman(d)
Ann Donkin

Beloved stepmother

Mary Ferguson was 12 when she wrote a series of letters from Allonby in 1820. By 1826 she was dead of consumption.

Her father was George Ferguson of Houghton Hall and her mother Frances Addison. After her mother's death, George married Ann Pattinson, the recipient of the letters, in 1812. Reading them you will see clearly how much Mary loved her stepmother.

My Beloved Mama

I take up my pen to write but what can I say but that how very much I love you. I often as I sit at work think what you will be doing perhaps in the wood, perhaps playing on the piano, perhaps in the little room. Ah! I do miss you so in that sometimes I go myself but I know not what to say, Dearest Mama.