Monday, March 26, 2012

Routledge letter from George Routledge to Archibald Armstrong 16 Jan 1837 (London, Ontario, Canada to Parknook, Bewcastle, Cumberland, England

I discovered after searching my labels that I have never posted the letter which George Routledge (my 3x great uncle and brother to my 2x great grandmother Mary Routledge married to Robert Gray) wrote to Archibald Armstrong who still lived in the Brampton, Cumberland, UK area in 1837. This rather interesting and name filled document added to my knowledge of the emigrant families and gave me a glimpse into the life of these early Talbot settlers in southwestern Ontario which included my 3x great grandparents and their family - Thomas Routledge and Elizabeth Routledge with their nine children, son in law and two grandsons.

I published the letter in Families several years ago and now include a copy of the article in my blog:

Archibald Armstrong, letter recipient on 5 April 1837, remains a mystery at the time of writing but he was addressed at Parknook , Bewcastle . It was sent in care of the Inn Keeper, Bush Inn, Brampton, Cumberland, England. 

London [Ontario}, Jan 16th 1837
Mr. Archibald Armstrong

I take this opportunity of writing to you a few lines to let you know how we are all going on in this part of America, I wrote to you once or twice before but I never got any answer. we are all in good health at present thanks be to God for that blessing, hoping that these few lines will find you and your family all in the same state.

First I shall give an assessment of the times, our markets and the price of farming stock and all kinds of produce and the price of land also take notice. what I shall name to you in value shall all be sterling money and meashures the old Carlisle bushel [a Carlisle bushel is equal to 2.98 Imperial bushels] that was when we left the country.

land within 6 or 7 miles of the town of London can be bought for about 24 shillings per acre uncleared all the timber thereon, and a cleared up farm of 100 acres with 50 acres of that cleared off fit for cultivation can be bought for about 350 pounds so any man that can come here with a little money he can see how he may be suited.  

there is not the chance now to get land that there was when we came to this country, land has got to be more valueable on account of the great advancement of the population in this part. my old companion, I am sorry to inform you how unfortunate you were in not coming to this country when you were in the notion of coming at the time when we came. you might have had today as much property as I have and perhaps more.
the general price of good horses is from 20 to 30 pounds. Last spring I sold a horse two years old for 20 pounds. about the same time my brother Tho[ma]s [fourth son of Thomas and Elizabeth Routledge]  sold a horse three years old, likely for the saddle, for upwards of 30 pounds. the price of a yoke of oxen is about 17 pounds, milke cows from 5 to 7 pounds a peice, and sheep will average about 12 shillings a peice, beef 3d per pounds, Mutton about the same,, pork 4d – 6d per stone [a stone is an English unit of weight equal to 6.35 kilograms],   butter 9 cents per pound, tallow 8d, wheat 16s per bushel, barly 10s, rye 13s, peas 12s, Indian corn 12s, oats 5s, potatoes 5s per bushel, apples 4s – 6s per bushel, whisky 2s, Brandy 7s, Rum 5s, [and] Wine 7s per gallon.

We live about 6 miles from the town of London which is the county town and city of London. I have 400 Acres of land 300 Acres of it lies all adjoining and about 70 acres of it well cleared and in a good state of cultivation. [O]ne hundred acres lyes within 4 miles of the town and a good clearing upon it which I have a farmer lives upon it. [A]ny man that comes here that is not of ability to buy land there are farms to be let for 7 to 10s per acre yearly for the cleared land that is fit for cultivation.
I have a pair of good draught horses and a yoke of oxen which I keep for working the place I
live on. I keep 6 milk cows and 14 head of young cattle, a flock of sheep and a good brood mare, and the taxes I pay for all I pocess land and stock is only 13s6d yearly. we can feed the best of beef and summer our milk cows in the woods clear of all costs. we have great privileges here that you have not in Bewcastle or no other part in England and we understand that times is always getting worse in England.

I now shall tell you the alterations of Families that was from Bewcastle – Deaths, weddings, etc. Roby Summers [George (b 1792)’s father in law (George was married to Jane Summers)] died three years ago last a[u]gust, my mother died two years ago last sept. My brother Allan died one year ago last October. I expect you have heard of myself being married to Jane Summers 15 years past last July and we have 6 children living and one dead, all boys but
One. my sister Margaret  and Mary both married to men from Yorkshire. there [are] none of the lads [George’s brothers - Henry, William, Thomas Junior, and Joseph (Allan is noted as having died)] married but myself. they all have a great deal of land and other property, my father has a handsome Estate of land he lives on within 3 miles of the town. 
    Geo[rge] Kennedy [George Kennedy, husband of Grace Routledge b.1789]  has 200 acres of land and is doing very well. we all got 100 acres of land a piece and what any of has more we have bought since from government.

James Nixon is doing well, he has plenty of land, stock and chickens. Roby Summers  family has a good deal of land and other property. old Peggy [Margaret (Peggy) Bell wife of Robert (Robby) Summers (and mother in law to George Routledge b 1792)], John, Tho[ma]s,  and Mary  lives together [John Summers and Thomas Summers did not marry, Mary Summers was married to Eli Trowbridge]. Robert  and Betty  [are] married and live at their own homes [Robert Summers married Isabella Robson]. Mary is a widow.

and in short I can safely say that all the old neighbours from Bewcastle and other parts are doing well and has great plenty of almost everything and is all well contented in coming to this country. they can bring up their familys with great plenty and live well. much better than they
could have done in England. times has been a great deal better this last 18 months than they were some time back. Farming stock and produce ha[ve] brought good prices and money has been more plentifully.
you may judge from this, 4 years ago John Elliot and Sibby came to this part and when they came here they had nothing. they borrowed the money to buy a yoke of oxen to work the farm which they rented. now they have great plenty both German stock 6 cows, 2 yoke of oxen and 10 or 12 head of young cattle and a good mare. they have 9 children..

 Henery’s  [Henry Routledge, eldest son of Thomas and Elizabeth Routledge]  best respects to you and your wife and so do we all. remember us to your brothers Wm. and Robt. I have often lamented that Wm. did not come to this country. he would have done well no doubt but he would have got rich. y]ou will show this with all our respects to our friends John and Richd. Routledge [Richard and John Routledge (brothers) are the sons of William Routledge who is cousin (unknown exact relationship) to George Routledge, the father of Elizabeth Routledge, the emigrant to London Township]  likewise to John Dodgson [John Dodgson is married to Ann Routledge. Ann’s father is also a cousin (unknown exact relationship) to George Routledge, b.1729, the father of Elizabeth Routledge, emigrant to London Township] of Roantrees. they may expect two letters in a short time.

we will be glad to hear from you with all the news you can afford us. you shall hear more particulars in those letters that I have not mentioned here. in short, I must conclude I am and still will remain your most affectionate.
Geo. Routledge.
Ad[d]ress: George Routledge, London, county of Middlesex and District of London, Upper Canada

Note added by me to this letter:

 When my Armstrong correspondent (also not related to this Armstrong family) forwarded me a copy of the 1837 letter she included a comment by  Sally Ramshaw which said:   “…The letter was given to me by Mr. Andrew Ewart (a 4th cousin of my father, the late William Harrison Armstrong) in case it was useful with my family research. Unfortunately the Armstrong is not one of my relations as far as I know but the letter contained a number of names that might be ancestors of other Cumbria Family History Society members as well as much fascinating social history that I thought it might be worth printing in the next newsletter.”  

This letter was indeed printed in the Cumbria Family History Society newsletter at some point in the past. I do not know when.

For Routledge researchers trying to sort out their ancestry the above letter may be helpful. If you think you are tracing back to my Routledge lines I may be able to help you with that as Thomas (my 3x great grandfather) had no siblings who lived to adulthood and Elizabeth (my 3x great grandmother) had only half-siblings all of whom appeared to have remained in the Bewcastle area as well one of her half siblings was George Routledge mentioned in the Dodgson Manuscript (his ancestry coming down from Elizabeth's father George's second marriage to Elizabeth Armstrong (her mother was a Routledge)). Since I am starting with such a small base in the early to mid 1700s I can tell you if you are related to my lines.

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