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NOTE: The back of the envelope that this letter was in was stamped: November 3, 1850, Dundalk. This would have been a Sunday, presumably the day after the letter was written (mails seems to have been taken seriously back then!). The front of the envelope was addressed to Miss Oliver, Cavananore, Dundalk.
Transcription help thanks to Wendy Jack, footnotes by Sharon Oddie Brown.

Saturday night,
My Dear Mary Jane [1]

To hear that you are poorly has added much to my many afflictions. I trust the Lord will restore you soon to your usual health you do not say how your aunt is you have seen this evening the 3 letters I sent had I known your mind I would be guided by it but you know James [2] was not very correct in what he said about your aunt [3] and you, when he came up here to speak to E. J. [4] and me. But whatever your aunt and you agree uppon act for me as for your self. And may the Lord direct the whole matter

We have both been much agitated this day by Mrs. Parker [5] leaving us she has gone to a lady on trial as house maid at 9£ per year Eliza [6] took on so grievous by that I had to send for Mrs. [W. on] [7] who has sent us another person but poor Parker had not her trade learned when she left so that it will be long before the other can be useful. Her bowels and kidneys just as tardy as when you left. She is often tried by a sharp pain her right side was in the drawing room till after Tea and then was brought into her bed, it is now 11 oclock and if I don’t stay with her she will be quite unhappy

I will be hoping to hear from you again on Monday as you perhaps heard from James [8] today. I am very poorly my throat and gums and face all ailing. The Dr. was here today and has sent me a powder that he thinks will be useful I forgot to weigh the breadth of the petticoat do you think you could take my black stuff apron I missed it the day you left you know that was Parkers first night. We may expect such things.. Give my love to your aunt that the Lord may bless you both and guide you through this weary world and at last bring you to His heavenly kingdom is the fervent prayer of your affectionate aunt.

B. Donaldson [9]


Lords day morning My poor child had a quit [?quiet] but sleepless night and as well as can be expected now at 10 oclock. If possible I will have you a line on Wednesday and be sure you have me one as often as you can, and say how you both are about a week ago there came a note for you from S.J [10] . but I can’t find it she seemed much disappointed that you had not written to let her know how we were May the Lord give us all a Sabbath days blessing and grant that much good may be done in the name of his Holy child Jesus this day is the prayer of B. Donaldson.

[1] Mary Jane OLIVER (1821-1875), daughter of Benjamin OLIVER & Elizabeth BRADFORD.
[2] James. There are two distinct possibilities. The first is James Birch GILLMER (1808-1877) - one of the trustees of the will of Andrew Coulter BRADFORD and also executor of the will of Elizabeth BRADFORD née BREAKEY of Cavananore., NOTE: He was described in the will of Elizabeth BREAKEY as a nephew, which could be confusing, but it does apply. He was a descendant of Elizabeth BRADFORD’s mother through her mother’s second husband Alexander GILMORE (who was not Elizabeth BREAKEY’s father). This James Birch GILLMER (aka GILMORE) was the son of Eliezer Birch GILLMER, son of Alexander GILLMER & Elizabeth BIRCH. He married Mary DOAK and had 8 known children. The second, and less likely possibility is James McCULLAGH (-1865). He was involved in a long-time feud within the family over lands at Cavananore, which had to do with bequests that likely came from Elizabeth BRADFORD (1785-1825), the mother of Mary Jane OLIVER (a spinster) and Elizabeth JACKSON, wife of David JACKSON..
[3] “Aunt”   There are many possibilities as to who this may be. It is most likely to be Margaret BRADFORD (1786-1874).
[4] E.J. - most likely Elizabeth JACKSON, sister of Mary Jane OLIVER.
[5] Mrs. Parker
[6] Probably Barbara Donaldson’s daughter, Eliza who never married and who died sometime before 1851. It seems that she was quite ill at the time of this letter.
[7] Fragment of a name unknown
[8] James - most likely James McCULLAGH (-1865). He was involved in a long-time feud within the family over lands at Cavananore.
[9] Barbara DONALDSON, née BRADFORD (1783-1865), widow of William DONALDSON and mother of Eliza DONALDSON (1806-bef 1851). Barabara would be 67 years old at the time of this letter, and her daughter may have been ailing from causes that lead to her death.
[10] S.J. possibly Sarah JACKSON, although she was married to Rev Joseph BARCLAY in 1848.



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