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Dumbarton Castle 7th Nov

My Dear Brother:

I hope you will excuse my carelessness in not writing to you before this. The first reason was I did not have your address and after D. Annand sent it I thought it was so vague that a letter so addressed would never find you. Moreover, I have been shifting about from place to place, and when one is rather lazy, at any rate very little sufficeth for an excuse. So now, my dear brother, I will make no more apologies, but trusting to your usual good nature begin to give you an account of myself, your brothers and sisters, and our late father’s effects.

With regards to myself you know that I was married in Ireland in ‘48, and I was promoted to Sergeant the following year and to Company Sergeant in February 1854. In April of this year I applied and was transferred to the Fife Militia Artillery, in which I am now stationed in Dumbarton Castle. It is situated on the Clyde about 15 miles west from Glasgow. We have only one boy 2 1/2 years old. I named him after our lost brother William. He is a fine little fellow just like what you were yourself at his age.

I suppose that you are aware that William went to Australia in June ‘52 and landed after a very good passage out in Melbourne where he worked a month. He then wrote the only letter we have ever received, on the eve, he said, of his departure to the Diggings where he purposed staying a month when he would write home again, but from that day to this we have never heard anything of him except that the man he worked with sent home word that he subsequently returned for his tools and left again. He has been advertised and enquired for but we have never got any tidings of him up to this date, nor do I think ever will.

When our father died I was out on an out-command from Devonport in England and besides being at a great distance I could not possibly get away at the time so as to be in time for the funeral. D. Annand wrote to say that they had drawn the money to save the income tax, somewhere about L 100, also that the houses were offered for sale at an upset price of L 200. Subsequently, he wrote to say that the house could not be sold with out the authority from William or some certain word what had become of him. From that time until I joined the Militia I heard no more either of the money or the houses. But soon after my arrival in Cupar (Fife), I took a trip north to see how the land lay. I expected they would have volunteered an account of the whole affair, but no, I came away as wise as I went. I again paid them a visit in a few weeks after, and Isabell told me that they had paid the funeral expenses out of the money and divided the remainder amount them, that is, George, Elizabeth and Isabell. Up to that time I thought the money had been put past until the houses could be sold and then the whole divided according to our father’s will. So between you and me, I think we have not been very well used among them, for they could have written and had an answer back from me in 4 or 5 days at the longest. Bell further told me that her husband D. Annand had the papers in his possession since our father’s death but now they were to put them into Thomas Webster’s hand and let him take charge of the houses. Still the rent must be running on all this time and I suppose they are taking that also. At all events they seem to be taking what they can get and leaving us to look after the remainder.

Now my Dear Brother, I want you to send me word how we ought to proceed and whether I ought in our names, to put it in the hands of a man of business, or not.

George and his family, Elizabeth and her family and Bell and hers are all well and apparently doing well. You must excuse me for not sending you the news about other acquaintances. I have been so long away that I know but very little about them or indeed our nearest relations.

My wife joins me in sending our kind love to you, hoping this will find you in the enjoyment of good health as it leaves us, thank God, and I remain,

Your Affectionate Brother

David Esplin

When you write please address
as under: Co. Sergt. D. Esplin
Fife Militia Artillery
Dumbarton Castle, Scotland