Autograph Letter Signed from Henry Murray of Sydney to his wife Mary Abraham's brother, with copy of long letter by him describing the 1859 South Seas shipwreck of his children on the Ellenita, Captain 'Bully' Hayes, and transcript from third letter.

Henry Murray of Sydney [Captain William Henry 'Bully' Hayes (1827 or 1829-1877), American blackbirder and bigamist, 'the last of the Buccaneers'; Ellenita shipwreck, 1859; Mary Abraham (1808-18]
Autograph Letter Signed from Henry Murray of Sydney
Autograph Letter Signed from Henry Murray of Sydney
Publication details: 
Murray's letter to his wife's brother: 20 April 1864; Sydney, New South Wales. Copy of letter by Murray: 21 December 1865; 20 Norton Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales. Transcript: undated, on letterhead of Liverpool Polytechnic Society.
SKU: 11208

From the papers of Alfred Clay Abraham (1853-1942), Liverpool pharmacist, and his daughter Emma Clarke Abraham (1850-1934) of Swarthmoor Hall, Ulverston. All items in fair condition, on aged paper, with texts clear and complete. ONE: Autograph Letter Signed from Henry Murray to his late wife Mary's brother. 8 pp, 12mo. On two bifoliums. Begins: 'Although a Stranger to you I perhaps need not apologise for the obtrusion of this communication upon you, when I inform you that I am the husband - or rather was the husband of your poor Sister Mary. for alas! she has been taken from me by the cold hand of death.' The couple had three children: 'Margaret Fell. who is now aged 22 resident in California, and married to an American Gentleman named Tyson. Cornelia (calld [sic] in honor of the Roman Matron of that name) aged 19, and now resident with me in Sydney; and George Washington, a very comely youth of 15, also now resident with me'. His wife 'possessed many sterling virtues as a wife, a mother and a friend, directed by a strength of understanding not commonly found among the females of this country; but she had a will of her own, which nothing could change'. Her faults 'were those of a diseased mental organization which increased in strength as she increased in years'. He tried years before to communicate with his correspondent through 'Mr Henderson Linen Draper of Church Street', and now wishes to contact his wife's aunt Margaret. His last letter to his daughter 'has been long unanswered', and he fears 'she has removed with her husband to the Atlantic States'. Initialed postscript on reverse of last leaf apologising for 'the within written unmethodical clumsily expressed production'. TWO: Manuscript copy of letter from Murray to his wife's sister Margaret Abraham English (b.1816). 20 pp, 4to; on leaves torn from a ruled notebook. Headed, in the hand of Emma Clarke Abraham, 'Seemingly copy of letter from Murray to Margaret Abraham English'. The copy of the letter is dated '20 Norton Street. Sunnyhills [sic] | Sidney. [sic] New S. Wales | 21 Dec: 1865.' and 'Recd. 15 Feb. | ? 1866'. Begins by describing his family: 'We do not occupy a high status here in point of wealth & position; but it has been my own aim through life to establish a character for probity & the unswerving exercise of those moral qualities [...]'. His daughter Margaret Fell married at the age of fifteen, during his absence '& I am sorry to have to add without the sanction & contrary to the wishes & injunctions of her mother'. Describes over two pages his wife's 'chronic dyspepsia [...] which ultimately reduced her to a state bordering on atrophy', and her attempts to treat herself: 'Her Materia Medica consisted of Oxide & Sulphate of Iron & Carbonate of Soda, of which she was in the habit of taking very large doses daily.' At the time of her death the family were living in San Francisco, while Murray himself was in Sydney, attempting to 'recover by the aid of the law a small freehold property which was in the occupancy of a refractory tenant'. The children went to stay with Murray's brother in Folsom City, 'where they remained until I sent my son by my former marriage to bring them on to Sydney on board a vessel then preparing for the voyage for Sydney called the "Ellenita". of the foundering of which at sea you may have read in the papers in the latter part of 1859'. The last eight pages of the letter carry an account of the shipwreck, and his children's 'terrific ordeal' . The account begins: 'She had been about a month out of San Francisco, & was somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Samoan Islands, a group you will find in recent maps of the Pacific. The passengers had just sat down to breakfast in the cabin one fine morning when the carpenter ran affrighted to the cabin with the alarming intelligence that a plank had started & there was then several feet of water in the hold.' Murray's two sons join twelve others on a raft, and his two daughters are placed with the Captain on the ship's boat, which 'had scarcely room for its living freight. The 2nd. officer & a seaman had forced themselves into this boat in defiance of the Captain, such was their horror of the anticipated hardships of the raft [...] When all the unfortunate men took their places in the raft, it sank to the depth of nine inches, so that they were constantly to that depth in water. The only provisions and water available for this awful emergency was the small quantity which had been brought on deck for the days consumption [...] The denisons of the ill fated ship had but just transferred themselves to the ill fated boat and raft, when, after a few oscillations she settled forward & suddenly went down head foremost, carrying with her all their earthly possessions, a silver breakfast service belonging to one of the cabin passengers still standing on the breakfast table the good things set for breakfast being almost untouched'. They boat arrives at 'the Island of Saoii, one of the Samoan group, where the natives are still in a state of semi-savageness', and its occupants are aided by the 'son of Rev John Williams the great Polynesian missionary' and sent on to Sydney. The occupants of the raft were 'certain that their early doom was settled', but were rescued by the brig HMS Elk (Commander Hubert Campion). THREE: Manuscript transcript of parts of letter from Murray in Sydney, 20 December 1846, to 'Mr


, Port of Spain'. 4 pp, 12mo; on bifolium with letterhead of the Liverpool Polytechnic Society. Giving family details.