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Catherine Ann Carey (nee McKnight)




Helen Harris writes:
I have a copy of a letter, which I treasure, from my Great Grandmother CATHARINE ANN CAREY (nee MCKNIGHT) written to her brother GEORGE MCKNIGHT just three months before she died after giving birth to twins. It is written from Hoxton Park which is in a part of Sydney which was an early settlement.

Hoxton Park
1st July 1853

Dear Brother
When I received your letter I was not able to sit up in bed to read it. I cried with vexation. I now am sitting propped with pillows striving to write you a few lines. I have had no health this last eight months. I had twins three weeks and have not able to leave my bed since. I have now seven children four boys and three girls. The last is a pidgin pair.

There is two called after you and James and two after them that is gone. They are strong and healthy. You wished to know how I am circumstanced. We rent 400 acres of ground for which we pay ten pounds a year. The land is not good. We had not one hundred bushels of wheat off thirteen acres ofground last year. We have a team of bullocks and a dray, plough and harrow. We have about forty head of cattle, a mare and might have been able to put by forty pounds but for my want of health. We could not get a woman if we gave thirty shillings a week to mind me and the children so Thomas has to be cook, milk maid, children's maid and to wait on the sick heifers. His hands full he happened a sad accident about eighteen months ago. He was riding after cattle through the bush and the horse threw him and he lost the use of his arm for six months. He can use it underhand and your namesake and him put in the crop themselves about twenty acres and four to put in.

I have never seen any hawthorn in the country. The prunings and fruit trees he would send you but for my bad health he cannot leave the place but if I get any better he will go to Sydney and put them on board.

I am very sorry to hear of your bad health but I hope it will recruit. I would wish you were down with us as the change of air would be of use to you. William sent me down your letters to read. He received your last and I am very glad to hear you are doing so well. I could not make you (?) in Ireland to write to you. I wrote twice for Annie but got no answer so I expected no person would answer me. I have your letter written ten years ago and have dropped some tears on it. I am very sorry to hear of the death of James two children but hope this one will be spared.

Mary might recollect me when she came over with her Mother. I am thankful to her Mother for her opinion. Oh what would I give to see you and James and wife but I fear I will never see you as I think my days are numbered.

We did intend to sell what we had and purchase land near Uncle Irvine. I have been going to write everyday but could not. When I could take the pen I could not write. Remember me to James and partner.

I remain your affectionate sister. Catherine Cairy

Note this letter is signed Cairy and not Carey. As the letter has been copied by hand from the original there could be a few small errors but the general feeling is transmitted through the years so powerfully, to this present time. This has been my most significant and poignant link with my ancestors so far in my search.

I hope that Catherine will speak to many people now and I would be thrilled if this could be the means of tracing some more of her family. She arrived on the ship "Helen" in 1841 in the company of Armstrongs. She could read and write, was from Irvinstown and her parents were George and Isabella Mcknight. Her occupation was Farmhouse Servant. Her first child, George was born in 1843 and her husband was Thomas Carey whose Father was James Carey and Mother Barbara McKnight of Derryvullan. My Grandfather was Thomas Joseph, born in 1851.

Sincerely Helen Harris (nee Carey)
PS:  I will be travelling to Fermanagh in March of this year so am anxious to do as much preparation before then as I am able to do.


Contributed by Helen Harris

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