18th January 1917


Dear Mrs Whiteside[1]

                 I deeply sympathise with you in your sad bereavement of a very dear Husband & [????] Christian brother minister[2].

    I am a native of Ballybay, Co. Monaghan, Ireland.  Succeeded my Grandfather in 2nd. Clontibrit for 8 years, and left for Belfast, & was called to Birmingham, England.  Came back after 2 years and left Larne for Queensland[3] in 1867. 10th June.  I preached in Derryvalley & 2nd Dy. was my Father's family church 1 mile out of Ballybay.  The Rev. I.G. Smith & I stopped together at College in Belfast & he married a relative of mine a Miss Ross of Drummaine.

    I knew the McMurray's, McCullagh's, and nearly all the members of both Derryvalleys & Ballibay Presbyterian Church, & Crieve where a fellow school boy William Horner was the last minister - a native of Ballibay.  The McClatchey's out of town a mile also - and I would have been so delighted to meet your dear Husband!!!  Oh if I had had but one hour with him.  If you could give me in your great sorrow a little sketch of these surroundings I would esteem it a very great favor indeed.  (But if it taxes you too much why do not take the trouble)

    I left Ballybay to go to College in Belfast  in about 1845 or six, & was Ordained by the Presbytery of Monaghan in 1857. to 2nd Clontibrit.  I am now in my 90th year was born in 1827, & am the oldest ordained minister in Victorian Church - Minister Eremitus of Eaglehawk near Bendigo.

    I shall be delighted to hear from you

                                 Yours respectfully

                                          Robert Lewers[4]


[1] Sarah (née McCullagh) Whiteside (1852-1939). This letter is on the occasion of her husband’s death. I have not chased down all the references.

[2] Rev. William Sherlock WHITESIDE (1860-1916), husband of Sarah McCULLAGH

[3] Queensland, Australia, where he worked as a missionary (see p. 120 “At the Ford of the Birches”.

[4] Robert LEWERS – likely no family connection, but rooted in the area.