A couple of my extended rellies are genealogy fanatics and have spent a good deal of time compiling family trees and histories. I’ve never been hugely interested in my ancestry (even my living family is hard-pressed to get my attention sometimes), but they’ve been kind enough to pass on any bits of literature they thought I’d find interesting.
One of these is the journal of Edward, my great-great-grandfather’s youngest brother. He wrote it in 1882, when he was a 26 year old Christian minister attending his ‘circuit’ in country New South Wales. It seems clergymen of the late 1800’s didn’t lead an action packed life – there was an awful lot of letter writing, visiting and ‘staying to tea’. He also frequently lost his horse, which I found odd – it’s hard to imagine a solemn young minister having a “dude, where’s my horse?” moment.
He was quite ill with a persistent cough and ‘biliousness’ for the entire year. Travelling through rain and cold by horse and buggy to reach remote parishes didn’t seem to improve the condition. At one point he visited a doctor that ‘blistered’ his chest – he didn’t record how it was done, but he did describe draining the fluid from them one morning. Cheers for that visual, Edward. He also tried a mustard poultice, and some concoction of “rum, vinegar, sugar candy, currants and liquorice”, which frankly sounds like my kinda remedy. Sadly, I think all the poor guy needed was some antibiotics. Eventually he became too sick to continue preaching, and returned home to his sister and mother in Coghills Creek to recover.
He was terribly devout (as a minister should be I guess), and was frequently distressed that his illness hindered his services to his Adorable Master. The whole narrative is peppered with exhortations to God to heal him if it be His will, my favourite being “May God grant me speedy restoration so that I may win Souls only for this do I wish to live.”
At one point Edward mentions dinner with a gentleman who was possibly my great-great-grandfather from the other side of the family. Sixty years down the track this bloke’s granddaughter married into Edward’s family, they had a little baby GOF and a few decades later I turned up. It’s funny to think these families were conducting business together, never knowing their offspring would tie their family trees together for good.
Towards the end of the year, Edward’s 28 year old sister sickened and died from an unknown ailment. Edward’s entry on the occurrence is somewhat chilling: “there seems to be a quietly growing impression on my own mind – altho’ I do not mention it to others – that I shall not be long in following my dear sister: I feel there is surely something in my system…that is surely bearing me on to the grave.”
He died 18 months later. Rest in peace, Edward. I’ve enjoyed spending a sunny Sunday afternoon curled up on the couch in your company.