430 Hackney Road
9th February 1866
My dear Alexander & Andrea

It is with much pleasure that I once more address you and I trust I feel thankful to almighty God for having spared me a little longer. I pray that his goodness towards me may induce me through the help of his Holy Spirit to live more to his honour and glory than I have ever done.

Since I dispatched my last letter a death has taken place amongst our relatives. Poor Aunt Everitt [Anne Thurtell 1791-1866, James's sister, and author of a diary of her trip to America] is no more here. She died at Hastings a few days before Christmas Day after a few days of unusual illness. She had been suffering under bronchitis for several years [so] that I am thankful to say she was fully prepared both as to temporal and spiritual matters. You will be pleased to hear she thought of your father in her will. And has left him £200. It is very unexpected to us. As it was currently reported her property would be left to her unmarried nieces. She was buried at Caister in Norfolk in the vault with her deceased husband. The greater part of her property goes to Aunt Browne. Her will is considered a very just one, quite like herself.

And now I have to inform you of a death in our own house; vis Mrs. Ransom, an old lady, who had been with us as a lodger for 13 years. She was 8[-?] years of age. This event will, of course, make an alternation here. Her daughter will continue with us until midsummer as the apartments are taken until then.

Mr. Evans [Philip Charles Evans 1820-1905, second husband of eldest daughter Anne] called in on Wednesday evening. He has recently taken a fresh lease of his house and mills and I believe is going on prosperously. But has a large family to provide for [so] that he needs all he has, and I must say deserves all, for he is a dear good husband and father. Walter, his second son, will I believe, leave school soon, when he is to be taken into the business. Philip, the Oldest is already In and is exceedingly useful to his father. He is quite the young man. He is a decided Christian and occasionally preaches to the people in the neighborhood. They have built a room for the purpose. Anne assists him and they and others of the inhabitants are by the help of God bringing the poor people to the knowledge of the Glorious Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. ELIJAH is getting on Very well in his profession: of a dentist. He seems calculated for it. Anne was left a few articles of remembrance by her aunt, so was Fanny.

I have now to record a marriage. Your cousin Jane Auston to a Mr. Parks of Colchester. He is in business in an old established shop in Colchester known as the firm of Tubrin and Parks. He has plenty of money, [so] that of course her father is satisfied with the match. Poor Emily is sadly disappointed as she thought he was intending to offer to her, but he seems to have preferred the younger. They were married in London and went off to spend the honeymoon to Torquay in Devonshire.

This last Christmas has been somewhat trying to your Father. He has had more accounts to get through than he was almost equal to. The Building society is getting very extensive and to get through a whole year's accounts somewhat complicated; he laboured, too, under the difficulty of having two auditors appointed who are clever men but who, I expect, would be but too glad to take your papa's place, so placed difficulties in the way, but I am thankful to say he got through all triumphantly but it was too much brain work for him at his years. He being too, very Forgetful and not so systematic as many, still he is wonderful, when we consider he was not brought up to business. He is now comparatively freed from care and is himself again. The registration is better calculated for him now that he is getting older, it was indeed a Godsend to us and still continues to be so. I am afraid, he will not write to you this time but as the days are lengthening he will do so 'ere long, but he has at all times enough to do [so] that he scarcely gives himself time to dress. You would laugh if you could see him sometimes. He receives your newspapers.

I was glad to receive a photograph of your house; vis. you have not pointed it out distinctly but I presume by what you have said in former letters that the largest house is yours. I sometimes wonder (considering the few inhabitants in San Luis Obispo) how you can make a good a living, but I presume it is the large profits. Your mining speculations did not turn out profitable. I expect altogether you have been very fortunate and have much to be thankful for. How happy it makes me when I think of your and dear Walter's marriages. Had you been unlucky enough to have met with unkind wives, how much less happy you would have been. I thank my God that in this respect he has blessed you and, much do I wish I could have a personal introduction to them both. Present my affectionate love to them; kiss dear Walter's children for me. I am sure he would be very rejoiced to show them to me, and I should be glad to see them.

Miss Joyce was married on the 27th Dec. 1865. Your aunt Everitt left her mother ten pounds, I believe. I have given you a description of her husband. I much fear she will not be the happiest of wives but it possibly may turn out otherwise, but I have no confidence in drunkards. When sober he is [a] very gentlemanly man; he is about 30 years of age. [SH comments: Caroline Joyce m. David Griffiths who came from Aberdare, Glamorgan and was a writing case and jewellery designer/maker. They had a number of children, all apparently perfectly respectable, if a trifle arty, and almost none of the births were registered.]

We have been so much engaged that your uncle and aunt Hopwood have not yet returned our Christmas visit. I intend writing and inviting them [to] come next Thursday or Friday. They always enquire very kindly after you and Walter and seem glad to hear of your well doing. With best love to yourself and Andrea including Walter and his wife and dear children. Believe me
Your ever affectionate mother
My last contained some cards wishing you a happy New Year and acknowledging the receipt of a remittance from you with thanks. Do both you and Walter write soon. We cannot read the letters which are crossed and it is very tantalizing; tell Walter, as we are anxious to decipher all. I will write to Walter soon. You, of course, communicate with each other and tell him all. Contrary to my expectations, but in accordance with my wishes, your papa is writing a few lines to Walter.