Letter From Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks to William Duff – 19 Oct 1846

Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks (1823-1856) was my 3x great-grandmother.  She was born 10 Dec 1823 in Dartmouth, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, one of three daughters born to John Eleazer Fairbanks and his wife Ann “Nancy” Prescott.

Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks c1855, courtesy of Catherine Duff

Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks c1855, courtesy of Catherine Duff

In the Halifax National Archives there is a letter written by Jane to her future husband, the Reverend William Duff.  It was listed as “2007-061/002 #40: Fairbanks letter, Jane E to Wm Duff before their marriage”.  They were married in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia in January of 1847, so it was likely sent in the early to mid 1840’s.

William Duff c1870

William Duff c1870

This letter, a reply to Rev. Duff’s letter of 25 Sept 1846,  is nothing earth-shaking in content, and I’m quite certain the rules of polite Christian society of the time would not have permitted any thoughts that would have been of a too-personal nature between unmarried people.  Nevertheless, it’s written in her hand and it’s remarkable for that alone.  It’s not often one can find writings from a 3x great-grandparent.  I have transcribed it to the best of my ability (others may have better luck with a few of the missing words).  A part of the letter is missing, so some of the content is gone, and she wrote perpendicular text for part of it, which makes transcription more difficult.  My transcription follows the letter itself.

JaneFairbanksLetter_p1 JaneFairbanksLetter_p2

Woodside, October 19

I received your note by the steamer, my dear friend, and felt most surprised to learn from it that my own [letter] had failed to reach its destination. I can hardly imagine what could have become of it, as it was sent with others to the post office, but as it is possible the mistake may have occurred here, I thought I could send a few lines of explanation this time, in case nothing more should be heard of it.   I’m happy to say that we are all quite well, and although expecting to have seen you upon the arrival of the Unicorn, were not very much surprised to hear that you were not among the passengers, as Mr. Robb seemed to think there was a strong probability of your being detained, if it was in the power of a number to do so; I have heard inquiries made frequently about your intentions of exchanging for Newfoundland, but did not get very uneasy about that, although I suppose the want…

[missing part of page]

…has seen occasionally a dreadful storm to add to the distress before existing, I should think the approach would be much dreaded by the inhabitants; we have had remarkably mild and pleasant weather and as yet none of the gales that we frequently get this season. I think it may continue so and that your homeward passage may be accomplished safely.  The voyage will be … cold and unpleasant but I look forward to seeing you… in days, therefore I will not extend … believe me my dear friend.

Yours ever affectionately,

Jane E Fairbanks


About cthomas1967

Seeking to bring my ancestors out of the shadows of history and into the light. I have always been interested in history, and at a few different times I tried to do a family tree, but wasn't able to do it with the technology that was available then. On a business trip I visited the World War I Museum in Kansas City, MO and it was a very impressive establishment. While I was there I remember thinking, "Didn't my great-grandfather father fight in World War I? And wasn't his brother killed alongside him in some famous battle? I wonder if I can find out where he died." That's what started it all. View all posts by cthomas1967

One response to “Letter From Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks to William Duff – 19 Oct 1846

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