Letters of Eleanor Watson (nee Cook), wife of Rev. John Watson DD

Aliwal North

Aug 4th 1879

Dear Mother & Sister

John has left me this to fill up, but he has told you all I had to say. We are all well, Baby is as fat and strong as he can well be. I often wish you could see him. he is so interesting: he claps his hands for Da, warms them at the fire when he is told, and trots about as happy as a king. Miss Richards bought him a horse with a man on, and a sheep and lamb; he went industriously to work and pulled all the wool off the Sheep; a friend said when she came in that it looked as if it had been through the bush. Tell Ellen Kate does not forget her, but I am afraid Baby has forgotten all his old friends. Kate has lost all her Tyneside pronounciation, and is quite a pretty speaker. I wish you would write oftener: we have been here 14 weeks and have only had two short letters from you -- anything is of interest to us here. Remember me very kindly to Mrs. Lewins, Mrs. Brown, Barnsley, Hopper and anyone who enquires after us. I forgot Mrs. Smith; ask her to sometimes remember us in her prayers.

With very dear love to you both; also Phebe, Cuthbert, Annie, &c, when you see them,

I am your loving

["Mother" is John Watson's mother, Jane; "Sister" is John Watson's sister Annie]

Aliwal North

May 3rd, 1880

My dear Mother

I was very much distressed to hear of dear Annie's death, I have often wondered how she would bear another English winter, knowing what a weak state she was in, but I kept hoping as we did not hear of her being worse that she might rally again. You must have had an anxious sorrowful time of it, I can truly sympathize with you and I pray that you may be supported under this painful bereavement. We hope to hear from you soon as every particular of her illness and death is of interest to us who are so far away. I heard from sister this morning, they are all well and comfortable.

With dear love to you and Phebe and all the Shields friends I am

your loving daughter

["Mother" is John Watson's mother, Jane]

[Aliwal North]

[March 1881?]

My dear Mother & Sister

I see by John's letter that he has said very little about the children, so I think I must tell you about them, as I am quite sure you like to hear all about them.

Well, to begin with Kate who, by the way, is growing much but keeps in excellent health. I have just got her rigged out for Autumn: for school a warm dark dress; and for best, a very pretty new shade of green merino trimmed with a darker shade of plush. I made her a turban hat to match; she looks very nice in them.

John is such a big strong boy that I am going to put him into little suits. I have got some good light cloth, and a pattern from one of my friends, and I am going to commence operations tomorrow. He is a great favorite with everybody, he is such a jolly little fellow, and is so little trouble.

Baby Annie is growing famously. She would be quite a pet of yours if you were here; she is such a sweet little thing; she was able to sit alone before she was 6 months. I have been making her some new dresses, one very pretty pink merino and little bonnet to match; she has a pair of pink and white kid boots, a present, so she is quite a little swell. I am always busy making and contriving for them, but I am very happy so long as they continue so healthy and strong.

With very dear love to Phebe and yourself, Annie, Cuthbert, and all the little ones.

I am your loving

["Mother" is John Watson's mother, Jane; "Sister" is John Watson's sister Phebe]

Young Street

Sunday afternoon
July 1st /88

My dear Mother,

I am sorry to hear you have been so poorly, and that Phebe too has not been well: I hope that you are both better by this time. We are all in excellent health, I am thankful to say. I lead a very busy life, but I find I am happiest when I have plenty to do.

This morning at 7.30 John, Kate and I went to the prayer meeting, which is held alternately in our schoolroom and the Baptists (a little further along the street). we had a very refreshing time: these early meetings are a good preparation for the work of the day. When we came home, Annie had laid the cloth for breakfast and cleaned out the grate in the Dining room. I had lighted the fire before going, so we soon had our meal of tea and eggs ready. Then we busied about and got our work done before church time, Our young Minister preached and we had a very nice service, beautiful singing. John was at Mitcham, but came home to dinner (Pot pie, and beetroot, potatoes, and tapioca pudding). we had little Edith Howchin to dinner, she always spends the Sunday with us. This afternoon the girls have gone to school, and John has just gone into the school. He is at our chapel tonight, and at an open air meeting in the market after service.

I often wonder if we shall see you again. I trust if it is God's will to spare you a little longer that we shall. It is a great comfort to think of that time when "there shall be no parting". May the great Comforter be very near to you in these your latter days, and give you sweet anticipations of the rest that remains for the people of God.

With dear love to Phebe and You

Beleive me dear Mother to remain

your loving daughter

[note written by Eleanor's husband John; torn]

[...] told you about the [...]ing I had. The night following I married the son of one our members in our parlour. I got £7-10 for the two. JW

["Mother" is John Watson's mother, Jane]

Wellington Terrace
South Shields

June 21st /89

My dear Mother,

I wish you many happy returns of your birthday. I only wish I could have spent it with you but, as you know, John is to preach at Newcastle that day. I expect him here tonight or tomorrow morning. I have been staying here while he went to Conference, as I felt rather tired of knocking about so much. Kate has been at Mrs. Watson's at Beasham since last Saturday, she joins us at Mr. Wilson's tomorrow. I went up to spend the day at Heaton on Monday, and Sister would not let me bring Annie away, so she has been there since then: one of the girls will bring her to us tomorrow, so we shall be together once more.

Mrs. Robinson is extremely kind, and as they have a large house and two servants I have been made very comfortable. John tells me he has a good home also, and is enjoying his visit to Bradford.

Mrs. Robinson and I had a run up to Gillsland on Wednesday: the country is looking very beautiful. My brother's family are very steady and respectable, and are getting on well.

Mrs. Watson and I had a good look around your neighbourhood, but I did not see anything to suit you at the price you are paying. The most of the houses have three rooms and are about 4/6 a week. We may have a run over while we are at Newcastle, and then we can talk about it.

With love to Phebe and yourself, I am dear Mother

your loving daughter

["Mother" is John Watson's mother, Jane]

P. M. College
Alexandra Rd.

July 25th [1894]

My dear Mrs. Eccles

It seems a long time since I wrote to you, but I daresay you will know from Wilson that we have been having rather a dissipated time lately. I have had four holiday times this year. We all returned from Llandudno yesterday where we have had a splendid time. We all crossed Snowdon one day, and we had some delightful excursions to various places of interest.

Today the Students are returning and we are all alive again. This morning the girls and Miss Marsland and I went shopping, we think we did very well. Kate has got two lovely dresses, one sweetly pretty white one for the important occasion, and the other one a very good brown one with full silk front. I have got a handsome black silk, and for the Bridesmaids dresses we selected this dove coloured crepon, I enclose pattern, In the piece it looks very soft and pretty, it was only 1/3 ½ a yard and 6 yards make a dress. I have not got trimmings yet as the dressmaker could not tell me the exact quantities. She seemed to like a soft white silk trimming and a little white lace. The dressmaker would like one of Hatty's dress bodices, also length of skirt. I will write again soon and report progress. Annie is very much stronger for her outing, and Kate is quite well and looking forward to a good terms work.

With love to all from all yours as ever
E Watson

[Mrs. Eccles is the mother-in-law of Jane's daughter Kate]

[printed letterhead]

The Poplars,

August 29th. [1900?]

My dearest Annie,

I was very glad to have your letter, and to know you were enjoying yourself. The weather is charming here and I am making the most of it. Yesterday Mrs. Champ came and took Kate and me for a lovely drive right round by that high bridge we see in the distance from Lymm (Warburton Bridge), we saw the country for miles around when at that elevation.

Today I am going with Mr. Welford, Miss W. and Miss Barnsley for another drive in another direction and then home with them to tea. So you see I am quite in lucks way. I am feeling much stronger this week and begin to feel the benefit of the rest and change. Kate is nursing me and seeing that I take all my nasty things as well as tempting me by preparing all sorts of good things.

Father came on Monday at dinner time, looking very well and in good spirits. He had a splendid day on Sunday at Wellington St. and had a grand case of conversion at night; a young man Mr. Palin 25 years of age who has recently been engaged to Miss Ferguson came out, found peace and prayed afterwards. They had a glorious time and are expecting this is only the first fruits of a great harvest.

Father was unanimously invited to remain a fourth year and consented. He went to the Endeavour at Openshaw last night and went home to sleep going straight to the College this morning. He is coming here this afternoon and will stay till Friday morning. He will either leave the key at Hibbs' or be in the house when you come on Saturday. He thinks you do not need to come till evening.

Mr. and Mrs. Swinden are here they both look well. We unite in much love to Mr. and Mrs. Adams and the young people, and with love and kisses to you

I am darling
your loving


[early 1901?]

[written in pencil in the margin of a letter from husband John to daughter Kate]

The Dr. seems certain absolute rest will soon make a change in me. At any rate, I shall give it a trial. We are going to get the woman to come as often as possible in the mornings. Annie had a good time at Chester. They want me to go as soon as I am able. Do not worry about me, and take great care of yourself.

your loving

[P. S] Mrs. Perrin was converted last night, and a large number of our young men and women. All Partridge's family.