Adelaide in 1839

Adelaide in 1839

This is a copy of a Letter from CC Sandford of Adelaide, to his brother in London.
It was first published by the South Australian Record on Tuesday 4 February 1840.

Caroline Place, Rundle Street, City of Adelaide,
August 18, 1839.
My Dear Brother,

No doubt you expected to hear from me before this, but I have been waiting till I got a little settled, that I might give you a more satisfactory account. We left Liverpool on the 18th of March, and arrived in Holdfast Bay on the 6th of July, after a very fine voyage. We were both very sea-sick, and suffered much for want of nourishment when recovering, as nothing was allowed for sea-sickness; any one coming out ought to bring half a gallon of brandy for each person, that being the best preventative, as Charlotte was sick the whole of the voyage, and was not able to procure but one glass.

I merely mention this for the benefit of those who may come hereafter. We were not able to eat our biscuits; they were so bad; the rest of the provisions were very good. I enjoyed excellent health after my sea-sickness, and still continue to do so. Charlotte is, now in perfect health; but was very much reduced during the voyage, as the medical comforts were not, in our ship, given to any but those who had the greatest stock of impudence, and did not mind begging for them; but this is not the case in all ships.

We were put on shore in Holdfast Bay on the 10th, seven miles from Adelaide; and on the same day we were conveyed to Emigration Square, with our luggage in carts, where we stayed one week and received one week's provisions, and then removed to our present residence with a Mr Jones and wife, who was with us at the depot, for which we pay 15s. a week, which consists of one room of 24 feet by 19, mud walls and broad paling roof, through which the morning sun shines in all its glory.

Shoe-making is the worst trade in this colony, but I am working at it at present, there being a great quantity imported, but I can get a good living. Everything is very dear here; bread has been 14 pence the 4lb loaf, but when we arrived it was 3s. but is now 28 pence. Meat is 1s. per lb. and fresh butter 3s. 6d., and salt 2s. 6d. per lb., potatoes 4d. and candles 3s. everything else is much the same as in England, there is no standing price, as it entirely depends on the importation.

There are auction sales two or three times a week, where things are sold very cheap; everything will be cheap here in time; wages are very high; labouring men get 6s. to 7s. per day, carpenters and bricklayers 13s., and printers, we are told, can get 5 pound per week. We have four printing offices and three newspapers, but I have not been able to ascertain whether printers are wanted; but there is work for everybody here.

It is now winter here, and everything looks green; the weather is very fine, and a shade colder than our summer; the country is very beautiful, it is like living in a park. I have not been far out of Adelaide. At present vegetables are very scarce here and very dear; and no fruit of any description, owing to all parties being engaged in building; and there is only four months that will grow anything.

I have not tasted beer since I have been here, as it is 1s. 6d. per pot, and gin 7d. per glass. Water is 4s. per load, but we fetch it about half a mile. The natives are very ugly, very impudent and very lazy, and very naked; the other day we were at dinner of some beef and pudding, when two came to the window and called "Hallo, puddin me!" In they marched, opened their wide mouths, pointed to their throats and then also at the pudding.

All the town land is sold, and is now let at 21s a foot. We could get a piece of ground out of the city large enough to build a house on for 5 pound a year, on a seven years' lease, but cannot take it as I have not the means of building a house. Charlotte is not earning anything at present, as there are no women's shoes made here. She means to try to go out a nursing, but has not had time to get known at present.

I forgot to say there were seven children born on the voyage and seven died. I intend sending you some of our newspapers, from which you will be able to learn the state of the colony better than I can tell you. We have a Church and a Methodist Chapel. I went there the first Sunday I was here; it is the finest building in Adelaide. We have a Baptist Chapel and a Congregational Chapel; but the Methodists and Quakers carry the sway.

I hope you and Mary and children are quite well. Tell Sarah that dressmaking is a good business here. There is a prime Sunday school at the church and they want teachers; but the pulpit has got no door to it, and the candles are stuck on sticks.

People on coming on shore here are subject to a bowel complaint. Upwards of one hundred have died owing to the change of diet. We have escaped it at present, having eaten very little salt meat while on board. Be sure and send me word if you have heard from Edwin. Tell Tom, if he cannot get constant work, he had better come out here, as he is sure of getting something to do here.

Tell mother this is the country for a poor woman; no stoves to clean or boards to scrub, or cold to contend with; tell father I want him to fetch the water from the river, which is a most romantic walk; one man that came out with us, seventy years of age, is getting 4s. per day for running of errands.

All that come here must give up all foolery. We had fifteen single women, and as many single men on board, upwards of 300 in all. Any single man may come out free if he can find a family coming out that has got a daughter for him to be paired with, and come out under the care of the father and mother; there is no necessity for him to be married.

I am very glad that I have come out, as far as regards the country; but I feel the want of the society of my friends very much. I should be obliged to father if he would take this to Joseph and let him read it, and tell him that I shall write to him next Sunday, and he will let you see his.

I would advise all who intend coming out to leave at the same time that we did, so that they may arrive here in the winter, on account of their health. Those who have friends to come to find everything different to those who have none. If uncle and aunt was out here, they would do well; they could get 50 pounds a year and their board, and live on the best, as some have got that come out with us. Charlotte joins in love with me to all inquiring friends, and believe me your affectionate brother,


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