This letter from John Dinsmore of Rostrevor, County Down, Ireland to Henry McElroy of Richmond, Upper Canada, dated 1844 May 28 provides an interesting glimpse into the hard life of a servant in 19th century Ireland. The letter is transcribed as written.
John Dinsmore of Rostrevor, County Down, Ireland
Henry McElroy of Richmond, Upper Canada
1844 May 28
Portion of letter from John Dinsmore of Rostrevore, County Down, Ireland to Henry McElroy of Richmond, Upper Canada, 1844.
The letter is addressed to:
Mr. Henry McElroy
It is postmarked Rostrevor, May 29, 1844 and in Richmond on 26 June/44.
My dear Uncle
I take the liberty of Wrigting to you to make my self nowen to you the more that you never seen mee I think that you herd of mee my uncle john in Letram often told mee about you and told mee to wright to you to make my self nowen to you and hoping that you will not bee angery with mee. I am a sun of your sister Maryanns that was married to William Dinsmore their was onley me and my sister Margaret left at their death Wee wer left very yong but thanks bee to god wee had friends that kept us till wee wer abel till doe for our selves that was Mrs Henry and Her daughter of Balleymoney. Wee Air both servants in gentelmans houses. She is living in dublin and is married and has one child hir husband is a servant and hir and him is living in the one house hee is a butler and she is maid to the young ladies dear friend is your country good for servants in our way if it is you will bee plaised let us now as the wages hear is low. I am butler and my wages is only 14 guines per year and cloathes I am married and has 4 children. I am living in Rosstevor nearly 13 years and I am only in the third situation. My famely is rising on mee fast and if I thought that I could doe better in your country than in Ireland dear Uncle I hope you will excuse mee for making so free with you but if you could doe any thing for mee I would bee very thankful to you My wife is a very good laundress and very industress and came of respectful people my eldest boy is going in 8 years old Ireland is going to the ? very fast there is a grait adgetation here at present with G Canell about repail of the Union hee has been tried and found guilty for conspericy and it is expected that hee will get his sentence the later end of this week dear Uncle I heard from my Uncle John from Letram about ten days ago and hee is quite well and all the family I also had word from my aunt nancy from Kilany and she is quite well but hir husband is not well hee has been bad this long time in a decline and the last time that I saw him that was about a month back she told mee that hee was given up by the doctor for death I expect my Uncle John up to see me this summer hee has been often with mee since I was married the pattersons is all in south America the air all dead but ? --- Mrs. Lawson is living yet I am --- aquaint with them the air a ? --- the Wether hear is very dry Wee have had no rane hear that signified this 2 --- dear Uncle if you can due any thing --- please to let mee now and if not I would be very glad to hear from you and your famely and when you wright direct to John Dinsmore Rosstevor County down Ireland if it would not bee to mutch trouble I wish you to wright soon perhaps you will think that this is not true but if you doo you may refer to the minestr of the parish that I lived with 6 years and 3 months his name is the Rev Edward John Evans Rosstrevor the name of the Lady that I live with at present is Mrs. Sanderson I am living with her nearly 4 years I hope you will not bee angry with mee for making so free as to Wright to you dear Uncle I hope tis will find you and your famely in good health as it lavs mee and mine all Well thanks bee to god I have not aney thing more to say at present but my love to you and all my cusens in the kindest manner and may the Lord bless you and take care of you and your famely is the prayr of your ever and loving nephew till death John Dinsmore
May 28 1844
Notes: To the extent possible, I have transcribed this exactly as written. Capitalization is erratic whereas punctuation is largely nonexistent. The spelling is different from current conventions, but quite consistent.
A "?" indicates an undecipherable word whereas "---" that a word (or words) is physically missing due to a hole or tear in the letter.
the air == they are
The letter refers to several people that John Dinsmore assumes that Henry McElroy would be familiar with: "my aunt nancy from Kilany", "the pattersons ", and "Mrs. Lawson". It would be interesting to determine who these people are. It is conceivable that nancy is another sister of Henry's, but probably not.
I have recently learned that while John never made it to Canada, four of his sons did and his descendants are well represented in Canada, today. Some of his descendants are listed here: Descendants of John Dinsmore and Mary Anne Jackson of Rostrevor, County Down, Ireland.
I am indebted to Kelly Dinsmore for informing me of the family of John Dinsmore and of their emigration to Canada.