# 15423

SILCOCK, Harriet Eleanor; [RELPH, H.B.]

[NEW ZEALAND] Letter to an early Hutt River settler, Dr. Relph, from his sister in England, 1842

$750.00 AUD

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Entire letter, single sheet folding to form [4] sides, quarto, neatly written manuscript in ink on 3 sides (cross written on the last page), headed ‘Enford, near Chippenham, July 10th 1842’, addressed to ‘My dear Brother’; signed at the foot ‘Your only affectionate and sincerely attached Sister, Harriet Eleanor Silcock’; outer side with address panel, to ‘Mr. H.B. Relph, Surgeon &c., Petoni, nr. Wellington, Port Nicholson, New Zealand’, with ‘PAID 15 JY 1842’ in red, ‘CHIPPENHAM JY 15 1842’ in black, ‘SHIP LETTER / LONDON / JULY 16 1842’ in red, and ‘WELLINGTON / NEW ZEALAND FE 1 1843’ in black; remnants of red wax seal with tiny perforation; the letter is complete and in fine condition.

Dr. H.B. (Humphry) Relph, a native of Enford in Wiltshire, arrived at Port Nicholson on 14 November 1840 as a cabin passenger on the Martha Ridgeway. This vessel was only the twelfth emigrant ship to reach Port Nicholson, and it brought out the news that the name of the new settlement was to be changed from Britannia to Wellington. Relph settled at Petoni in the Hutt Valley, and is mentioned in Charles Heaphy’s Narrative of a Residence in Various Parts of New Zealand (London, 1842, p.75) as one of the ‘gentlemen [who] were engaged in clearing land and cultivating’ in ‘the Valley of the Hutt’. An advertisement for his services as ‘Surgeon accoucheur’ (obstetric surgeon) at Petoni was placed in the New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator on 6 March 1841; in the 22 December 1841 edition of the same newspaper, Relph’s witness statements feature prominently in a report on the inquest into the death of Archibald Milne at Petoni.

The letter we offer here was carried on the ship Thomas Sparkes, which arrived at Wellington on January 31 1843. (An account of this voyage by passenger J. Hursthouse is held in the Alexander Turnbull Library, MS HUR 1841-3). It was written by Relph’s sister, Harriet, who had married into a local Wiltshire family, the Silcocks. Their widowed mother had also recently married Harriet’s father-in-law: the close knit Relph and Silcock families jointly owned an iron foundry under the company name Silcock and Relph, at Langley Burrell, near Chippenham, Wiltshire. Reference to the foundry, as well as to their mother’s marriage, is made in Harriet’s letter, which is in reply to Relph’s letter received in March, 1841. Harriet’s missive is full of family and local news. A deeply religious person, she is deeply concerned that no letter has been received from Humphry since March, and she includes her and her husband’s prayers for her brother, also directing him to read certain hymns in the hymn book she had evidently given him before he departed for New Zealand.

Note: A typed transcript of the letter, made by a previous owner, may be viewed in the images in this listing.