Photographs and Letters






John Collins (1851-1918),
his wife Mary Lovina Denison,
and son William John Collins.

John Collins: b. Dallington, Northants, 26 May 1851,
son of Thomas Collins and Maria Ship of Hardingstone;
d. 23 Jun 1918, Columbus, Chenango Co., NY

Left England 1 Mar 1870; arrived in America, 8 Apr. 1870 Settled in Columbus, Chenango County, New York

Married Mary Lovina Denison (17 Nov 1855 - 1937)








Ann Ship, taken ca. 1891

B. 1822 Hardingstone;
D. 29 Jan 1897, Grafton Regis

[Daughter of Robert Ship (b. 1789, Roade; d. 1859, Hardingstone) and Maria Vials (b. 1793 or 4, Welford; d. 10 Aug 1884, Hardingstone)]

Married (1) George Clayson, 24 Jan 1864, Hardingstone; (2) Henry Blunt, 4 Jul 1869, Hardingstone.






Letters from Maria Ship Collins (1824-1906)
and Ann Collins Adams (1854-1929)
to John Collins (1851-1918)

Letters transcribed by William Collins - email:-

Letters from Maria Ship Collins to her son John Collins (1851-1918)


Postmark: Northampton O A AP18 87



Dear John and Mary,


I daresay you will think the time long before you hear from us. Hoping this will find you all well as I am pleased to say we are well. Alice [1] went to Grafton [2] yesterday to assist her aunt in washing and cleaning. We have had weather very cold and dry. I hope we shall soon get some warmer weather. I hope you are having some good weather by this time and hope you have plenty of work. We think it cold here in the winter but it is not like where you are. We got the papers you sent. You have had some serious accidents in America. They must have been a dreadful sight. Annie and Drusilla [3] are gone to church. Mr. Case is getting the old man now. Do you remember him. Annie does not have the dood luck [4] to meet Alf [5]. She is trying to find out where Alice [6] is but [h]as not succeeded yet but hope she will in time. I am going to take a walk to Delapre [7] in the morning to pay the rent. The seasons soon come round. Your Aunt Ann [8] sends her love to you all. I expect she is coming to pay us a visit soon and then I shall have to go to Grafton for a change. I wish you could come and pay us a visit. I was very please that Annie came to see you before she came home.


[Change of hand, Annie Adams completes the letter] I must finish this for Mother. Drusilla [3] sends her love to you. She is full of life. Her brothers are all married but the youngest one. Dru & him are the only two at home.


From your affect. Mother & Sister


M. Collins & A. Adams


I have sent the Guardian & Weekly Times

[1] Alice Thureza Ship (1867-?), identified in 1881 census as niece of Maria Ship Collins, therefore John Collins' and Ann Collins' cousin.  She was the daughter of John Ship (Maria Ship Collins' brother) and Alice Thirya Wells.

[2] Uncle Blunt and Aunt Ann lived in Grafton. These were Henry Blunt, born 1809 in Grafton Regis, and his wife Ann Ship (1822-1897), Maria Ship Collins' sister.

[3] Drusilla appears to have a special affection for John Collins but her specific relationship to the family is not clarified.

[4] The meaning is unclear but it is obviously written as "dood luck" and not "good luck."

[5] Alfred Adams, Annie's former husband.

[6] Alice Maria Adams (1872-1922), daughter of Alfred Adams and Ann Collins Adams.

[7] Delapre Abbey, to the north of Hardingstone, was the home of the Bouverie family -- the most prominent landowners in town.  Clearly, Maria Collins' cottage was rented from the Bouverie estate.

[8] Ann Ship, wife of Uncle [Henry] Blunt, who lived in Grafton Regis.

Postmark: Northampton R A JA14 89

January [1889]


Dear John and Mary,


As we have not heard from you for so long I thought I would write to you to know how it is you have not written but I suppose you [h]ave been waiting to hear from me. I thought I should get out of writing now Annie is at home. I hope you are all well as I am glad to say we are. I have had a bad finger it gathered [9] so I have not done any washing [10] for 7 weeks but it' s better now. Alice Shipp was at Grafton so we had to send for her home. I hope you are getting on all right. I expect you are having some cold weather now by that storm that we see in the paper. We have had a very mild winter. We had a wet Christmas and a quiet one. We had the weather very cold and frosty last week. We had a little snow this morning for the first time. I must tell you that we have got the gas in the village. There are 9 lamps, there is one down here just against Gray's garden. Old Mr. Kendall is dead and Caroline Johnson she is dead, Joe Johnson's wife. Your aunt Ann is much as usual but your uncle is very middling as he is old. I hope we shall soon see a letter from you when you get this as I shall be very pleased to hear from you to know how you all are getting on.


With kind love from your affect. Mother,


M. Collins

[9] This is Northants for picking up a splinter or other minor injury which becomes infected. She probably had a pus blister.

[10] Maria Ship Collins was a "domestic service laundress" according to the 1881 census. Reference is made in the letter to their work washing and ironing.

[11] Alice Thureza Ship, John Collins' and Ann Collins' first cousin.

Letters from Ann Collins Adams to her brother John Collins (1851-1918)


Postmark: Northampton O A AP18 87


Sunday night April 17


My dear Brother & Sister,


I daresay you are thinking the time long before you hear from us but though we don't write we don' t forget you. Mother has been writing to you this evening. I am glad to say we are having the weather a little warmer now. The sun has been quite hot to day. Drusilla and I went down to Northampton this afternoon for a walk. You can imagine us two "grass widows" out together. We go to town every Saturday evening as brisk and as lively as two bees. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Alf [12] yet, not straight, though I saw him and his wife in Bridge Street a few weeks ago on the opposite side of the street. She had a good look at me and I at her. I had a good laugh too. I daresay Alf wished me at the "devil." He takes good care not to come anywhere near where I am. I daresay he thought I should never turn up again. I guess I have cheated a good many. I wish I could find out where my Alice [13] is. We received the papers with Henry Ward Beecher's death in. He won't criticize our English bread & coffee any more. There seems to have been a lot of accidents in America this winter. How are all the widowers in your neighbourhood and Mr Tuttle's [14] folks. Remember me to them all. Mother laughs at me sometimes for moving the things around and making little alterations. I tell her I am like Mrs. Tuttle - "move every little while."  We have got the garden all planted but it has been to[o] cold for any thing to grow. I hope the weather has broke up so that you are able to work. The winters seem long and dreary. I never felt the cold so much in my life as I have done this winter. I wished my self in New York lots of times, but now I am beginning to enjoy the weather. George Shipp [15] called to see us last Monday and his wife and family. He is in a small way of bussiness [sic] and I don't think so very prosperous. Elizabeth is married and looks a good deal older than I do & has no family but [h]as very poor health. Aunt Phebe [16] looks much as usual. I visit them all occasionally. They all inquire after you, also Uncle Ted [17] & Uncle Bill [18] Collins they all remembers your jovial ways. Uncle Ted does jobbing gardening & Uncle Bill works on the road & begins to look the old man. Now dear John I think I must conclude. Give my love to Mary. I hope her health is better, and to Annie & Charlies and with love to yourself

I remain your affectionate Sister


[12] Alfred Adams, Ann Collins Adams' former husband.

[13] Alice Maria Adams (1872-1922), daughter of Alfred Adams and Ann Collins Adams.

[14] A family in Columbus, Chenango County, NY, where John Collins and his wife Mary Denison Collins lived.

[15] Another cousin to John Collins and Ann Collins Adams, son of Thomas Ship (1826-1872) and Phoebe Labrum (1831-1908).

[16] Phoebe Labrum Ship.

[17] Probably Edward "Ted" Collins (1838-?), a brother of John and Ann’s father Thomas Collins (1824-1856).

[18] William Collins (1828-1891), brother of John & Ann’s father Thomas Collins.


Postmark: Northampton O A JY11 87

July 10th 1887

My dear Brother & Sister,


We received your letter and was very pleased to hear from you. I am glad to say that we are all well considering the heat. The weather has been very hot lately and very dry everthing [sic] is looking parched up for the want of rain. We had a long cold wet spring, and since it changes it has been just as dry. But it is nice for the hay. The farmers are all busy in the hay field. We have had some new potatoes out of our garden to day for dinner. They turn out very fair considering. We shall not have very much fruit this year. Green peas are plentiful just now. We had quite a jolly day here at the Queen's "Jubilee." The old village was all alive. I sent you a "Gaurdian [sic] paper" with all the doings in all of the towns & villages. The men and boys had a very nice dinner and the women & children a tea. There were about sixteen joints of meat "legs of mutton' and joints of beef baked on puddings a boiled round of beef, mashed & baked potatoes and plum puddings. And each man was allowed four pints of beer, one with his dinner & three after. With the tea there was cold boiled ham & beef, bake & bread, butter & tea. Every body enjoyed themselves. There were lots of sports in the afternoon & evening. I and Alice & Drusilla helped to wait at dinner and tea. I am going to send you a graphic book of the "Jubilee." I am glad to hear that you have plenty of work. We were expecting to hear from you for some time but we concluded that you were busy as you did not write. We have had more work lately and we are very short of water. We have to fetch all from the new well. Carrying water is harder work to me than washing or ironing. Alice, she [h]as gone to the paper mills to work for a time, but it is a long walk for her night & morning, but of course she won't go in the winter. Aunt Ann [20] came to see us for a week about a month ago. She is beginning to look quite the old lady. She is grandmother over again. She cannot leave Uncle alone now. She left one of his nieces with him while she came. [Letter ends here, missing at least one page]

[20] Ann Ship, wife of Uncle [Henry] Blunt.

[21] Uncle [Henry] Blunt.


Postmark: Northampton O A JY11 87


[While this letter was in the envelope with the above postmark, there was another letter with the date of July 10th (see above); the letter below may or may not be later]

[On the stationery, crossed out at the top, is the address 16 Bolton Gardens, South Kensington S.W.; indoubtedly the stationery was borrowed]

Dear Mary, I was glad to get a few lines from you. We were thinking the time long. Mother is always anxious to hear from you and John. I am glad that John is working. I daresay you are having it very hot now. It has been very hot here lately, but it is not quite as oppressive here as in America. It is very rare you hear of sunstroke. I daresay it is pleasant now in your neighbourhood to what it was when I was there. I enjoy being in the country after being in New York City so much. I feel the heat very much. People tell me I am getting very thin but you would not wonder at it if you could see our house when we are ironing. I daresay John has a little remembrance of it. There are lots of Hollidays [?] around here now but I cannot spare time to go to them. Mother is going to Grafton [22] for a week for a little change. Mother's health keeps very good considering, but she is like me very thin. Tell Annie & Charlie [23] I should like them to write a few lines to me. I am glad they are getting on so nicely at school. Give our love to them. My kind regards to Mr. & Mrs. Tuttle [24] & family. Ed must have had a boss time running his cutter with the school marm. Now dear Brother & sister I must come to a conclusion. Mother & Alice send their love to you all & with love from me I remain your affect. Sister Annie


Write again as soon as convenient.

[22] To Uncle [Henry] Blunt and Aunt Ann Ship.

[23] John Collins and Mary Denison Collins’s children, Ann Collins and Charles Collins. Their younger brother, William John Collins (my grandfather) was born in 1891.

[24] Ed Tuttle of Columbus, Chenango County, NY.

Postmark: Northampton O OC12 87


October 10th 1887


My dear Brother & Sister,


I hope this will find you all well has [sic] I am glad to say it leaves us. We received you letter dated Aug 7th and was very pleased to hear from you. I expect by this time you have got through with the hot weather. We have had a remarkable hot dry summer for late years. It has been so showery. The farmers have been very fortunate with their harvest and have splendid crops considering the dry season. I am sorry that we have winter so near at hand. I expect I shall be for freezing again. Mother is much as usual. She still keeps on the trot but of course she can't do as she used to. She is like me very thin. I tell her sometimes to eat & get fat. She laughs at me & says why don't I do so.

We have had George Avil [25] to white wash & paint the house and the kitchen walls papered half way down, and it looks quite comfortable now. Johnny Shipp has been paying us a visit. His time was up in May at the Home in London. He is looking now for a situation. His health has been very poor for a time, but now he seems all right again. You would feel sorry if you could see him too [sic] see how deformed he is, but he has met with very good friends so far, Lady Wakes daughter of Pitsford is very good to him, also Mrs. Brown of College St. Chapel. Alice is still working at the paper mills. She lodges down there now, from Monday to Saturday. The nights were so dark for her to come home. There are lots of men and young fellows out of work. People are looking forward to a hard winter.

I should like very much to have had some sweet corn & summer squash. I have had some tomatoes once this summer. I paid threepence a pound. That is the cheapest. All vegetables & fruit are sold by weight. Apples are rather scarce. We have not got our late potatoes dug yet. The old walnut tree [h]as had a good crop on it. I have had two or three rumpuses with the man next door about them. He came in the garden to[o] often for me, takin[g] French leave. Drusilla is quite well. She wishes to be remembered to you. She says she can picture you any time running along the lane with your hands in your pockets "whistling." I went to Grafton Feast in August for a day or two. Aunt Ann is getting very tottering & Uncle to[o]. Neither of them are able to do much. Now I think I must come to a conclusion. Mother sends her love to you all. I hope Mary's health is good. I wish you were all near us. Give my love to Annie & Charlie & with kind love to your self & Mary I remain your affect. Sister


[25] According to 1881 census, aged 39, occupation "estate carpenter."

[26] John Ship (1869-?), cousin, son of Maria Ship Collins’s brother John Ship (1832-1874)?

[27] Alice Thureza Ship, cousin to John Collins, who lives with Ann Collins Adams and Maria Ship Collins, works at the paper mill, and assists at Grafton with Uncle [Henry] Blunt and Aunt Ann Ship.

Postmark: Northampton O A AP16 88


April 15 [1888]


My dear Brother and Sister,


I daresay you think the time long before you get an answer to your letter dated January 3rd. Mother thought the time long before you wrote & I daresay you think the same by us. I am pleased to say that we are all well, considering the cold weather we have had. The weather has been very severe since Christmas, considerable snow & very cold winds. We had heavy falls of snow in February. All the unemployed men were set shoveling the roads. Thank you very much for the papers. I see by them that you have had a big blizzard in New York. It must have been rough on everybody. The people here think the cold severe. I should like some of them to get in an American blizzard. I am glad to say I do not feel the cold as much as last winter. Mother though can face the cold better than I. You know our house is very cold in the winter. Alice has had some very rough walks to the paper mills but she took it well. The cold does not affect her like me. I should like you to see her to see how stout and well she looks. She has been to Grafton for a week. She came home yesterday.


Aunt Ann was glad to have her company & to help her clean up a little. Uncle Blunt is getting very infirm & feeble. Aunt has to help him dress and undress and Aunt is getting very shaky. So the cold weather affects them both a good deal. This has been a hard winter for the labouring class of men in Hardingstone and other villages to[o]. The greater part of the men have been idle all winter. The farmers employ such a very few men now. The seasons being so bad they cannot afford to employ them.


I hope you will have success with your cow. I should think it is quite a useful addition. I don't envy you of your fat-pork. Glad you enjoyed yourselves at Christmas. Remember me to Mr. Tuttle's family, also to Mr. Byrnes [28]. Tell Edd [29] we have had snow deep enough to run a cutter. It was the Northampton races [30] last week Tuesday & Wednesday. It snowed nearly all day on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday the weather was fine but very cold. The Brass Band has started again in the village. They are all fresh hands in it this time. They played through the village last Monday for the first time. I think it will be a wonder if they hold together long for there is no unity with the people here now, dear John. I think I must come to a conclusion. Give my love to Mary. I hope her health is good. Also to the children. I expect they are growing fast. Mother sends kindest love to all, also Alice, and hopes we shall hear from you again soon. Do not take my example in delaying so long.


With kind love I remain your affectionate Sister


[28] Most likely another resident of Columbus, Chenango County, NY.

[29] Ed Tuttle of Columbus, Chenango County, NY.

[30] Northampton had a racecourse in the late 19th century. The park is still called the Racecourse, and flat horse-racing took place several times a year watched by the "nobs" from the roof terrace of the Pavilion (with bar and ballroom below when they got bored) and by the hoi-polloi from the side of the track, running round the outer parts of the park and about 2 miles round. It was and is unfenced except where it joins gardens. It started to lose favour after someone was killed crossing in front of the horses. It still hosts a visiting fairground twice a year.  At other times the Racecourse was (still is) a general recreation area, with swings and roundabouts, and several football pitches where I suffered a weekly afternoon of hockey for five winters. Changing on the benches outside the locked Pavilion with the prospect of nearly two hours in the wet and wind and cold to come is still a nasty memory. It is about the highest part of Northampton Town, and while it is not high in feet above sea level Dad was fond of telling us that any East wind had not met anything higher since the steppes of Russia. It certainly felt like it on Monday. – Heather Cotton, email, 27 February 2000.

Postmark: Northampton R A NO26 88


Nov 25th [1888]


My dear Brother and Sister,


I write hoping this will find you all well. It has been such a long time since we heard from you. We have looked for a letter every week but have been disappointed. Mother wonders how it is you do not write, as I wrote to you last. It is Hardingstone Feast today. We are spending it very quiet. The Feast seems to have quite vanished now in nearly all the villages. It is now two years since I was at your house. It was the last Sunday in November when Jelley Belly [31] paid us a visit. I am sorry to tell you that Mother [h]as got a sore finger come it is gathering. It makes her feel very middling. You will be surprised to hear that I have my oldest daughter Alice living with us, and we find her very useful to us. As you know, Mother is getting older and cannot expect her to do as she has done. Alice Shipp has left the paper mills as the mill has closed so has gone to Grafton for a time. Aunt & Uncle are much as usual. Both are getting very feeble. We have had a dull summer. No hot weather at all but still all crops turned out well considering. The autumn has been very dry and very mild so far. I hope you are well and that no news means good news. I hope you will write as soon as you can and tell us all abnout yourselfs. Mother and Alice join in love to you & Mary & children. Believe me your affectionate sister, Annie. I will write more next time when we have heard from you.

[31] Possibly William Jelley, who married Alice Thureza Ship in 1890.

[32] Clearly Ann Collins Adams found her daughter Alice Maria Adams, and was able to bring Alice into her household.

[33] Ann Ship and Henry Blunt.

Postmark: Northampton R A JA14 89

January 13th [1889]


My dear Brother and Sister,


I hope this will find you all well as I am glad to say it leaves us all. Mother has enclosed you a letter and I hope you will answer it. We are wondering how it is you do not write. I wrote to you a few weeks back and we are disappointed at not getting an answer. I have you a picture of Alice Shipp [34]. It is an excellent likeness of her. She is very much like her mother in looks, but not quite so proud. Alice is quite as tall as I am and very much stouter. Alice Adams [35] sent Annie & Charlie [36] a Christmas card each. I see by the papers what a terrific storm has been in America. Hope it did not affect you. I hope Mary is well. Give my kind love to her and the children. Hope they are well and with kind to your self, I remain your affect. Sister Annie


I will write a longer letter when we hear from you. Give my love to Mr. Tuttle and family.

[34] This picture has not been found in the Collins papers held by descendants of John Collins (1851-1918).

[35] Ann Collins Adams’ daughter?

[36] John Collins and Mary Denison Collins’s first two children, Ann Collins and Charles Collins.

Postmark: Nort... R A MR 24 89

write soon Hardingstone
24 March [1889]

My dear Brother and Sister,


We received your letter and was very pleased to hear from you. We were wondering how it was that you did not write. I am glad to say that we are all well in health. Mother is quite brisk since her finger got well. I dare say you have received the letter we sent enclosed one of Alice Shipp's pictures which is very life like of her. She is now staying at Grafton for a time. Aunt Ann & Uncle are such feeble creatures, Uncle especially. Aunt says she don't know what she would have done without her this winter. Have you received the papers I sent with the account of poor Dave Collins [37] death in. You remember him, Uncle Bill's elder son. It was a sad end for him. It is a great loss to his wife and family. She is now come to live in Mr. Hall's garden. They had a very good home and was very comfortable where he was waggoner. Uncle Bill now looks quite the old man. He works on the road when able. Dave's death was a great blow to them all. I am sending you a Herald paper. There was a great Conservative meeting at Northampton last week. Thought perhaps you would like to read it, though I think you are on the Radical side. I think this Primrose League is a lot of bosh, but there is a lot of the big boys belonging to it, but they don't help the poor working man any.


You would be surprised at how Northampton has improved in its shops & new buildings. They are going to enlarge the town hall and there is a new bank opposite.


I am glad to say that we are having the weather a little brighter this past week. We had some cold weather in February. Had only one fall of snow this winter but it soon melted again. On the whole the season has been more open than last year, so it has been better for the labouring class of men.


Sorry to hear that bussiness [sic] has not been so good with you this last year, but I hope it will improve. You remember Thomas Marriott [38] of Wootton, the miller's oldest son. You know he & his wife went to America before you ever thought of going & they came back again. You know his friends had to send the money to buy them back again. Well, two years this spring they went again, to Canada, but they did not succeed there so are now in Rochester, N.Y. but are making scarcely a living. Mr. Marriott writes to Mrs. Cross [39] some times and she says that last winter they were often short of food and fire. They had a baking bussiness [sic] at Wootton but could not get on. They had to[o] many bad debts. They disappeared one night & no one knew their intentions. Of course, they left several people in debt, too. George Shipp [40] is still in bussiness [sic] but would be better off out of it. He has had no trade much, & what he does he cannot get his money for - and he does not enjoy very good health. He suffers very much with his heart. Old Mrs. Marsh [39] died this morning. She has been failing for some time of course. She is quite an old lady now. I daresay you can picture her in her seat at Chapel. She is the last of the old ladies. Your friend "Juggey" [or "Puggy"?] Hall [41] looks about the same. He assists Miss Funnel's "Aunt" in the shop. Customers say he knows how to weigh his fingers. He is still superintendent at the Chapel, and is so contrary and self-willed in everything as of old. There are very few attend the services. Mother goes sometimes. I go to Church. Dear John, I must now come to a conclusion. Mother sends her love to you all. I hope Mary is feeling better. I should like to get a few lines from her. I expect Annie & Charlie have grown. Give my love to them. Glad to say my Alice is still with us & is very useful to me & Mother. Remember me to Mr. & Mrs. Tuttle & family.


With kind love to you all, I remain your loving sister

A. M. Adams

[37] John and Annie’s first cousin. Dave was son of William Collins, brother of Thomas (John and Annie’s father). Baptismal and census records checked thus far do not show a Dave Collins, but "Dave" may be a nickname for the eldest son, William Collins Adams, born out of wedlock. The stories that Ann reports as being in the newspapers have not yet been found.

[38] Marriotts were a large family in the area at that time.

[39] Not yet identified.

[40] Cousin, son of Maria Ship Collins’ brother Thomas Ship.

[41] The Halls owned several businesses in Hardingstone as grocers, undertakers and builders.


Dec 10th 89

My dear Brother & Sister,


I hope this will find you all well as I am glad to say it leaves us all. We are thinking the time long before we hear from you. We often talk & wonder why you do not write to use. If you receive this I hope you will answer it, has [sic] we have sent you our photos. Do you recognise the old house. It is all very perfect. Mother & Alice Adams are taken well. I spoilt mine trying to keep from laughing. I wanted Mother to look pleasant which she does. In the group we are taken against the flower garden. You can see the top of the door opposite. You will see Mother has aged a little since you saw her last. She was 65 years of age last Friday [42]. I am glad to say she is as well in as can be expected considering all her years of hard work. I often think it is a shame she should work now but of course she does not do like she use to do. She says she hopes you will answer this. It is three years this month since I came home. How the time does fly. I hope Mary is well, also Annie & Charlie. Give my kind love to them. Expect you are having some winter weather. We had it very sharp last week, but as moderated a little this week. Two weeks today is Christmas. It was the Feast a fortnight last Sunday but is a very quick affair now.


Aunt Ann is much as usual. Uncle Blunt is very feeble. Aunt often thinks he can not live long. Alice Shipp lives entirely with them now. Mother went to Grafton in the summer & stayed with them. How is trade with you now. Hope you have had a prosperous summer. How are all Mr. Tuttle's family. Give my love to them all. Tell them I do not feel so cross as I look in my picture. Hardingstone is losing its old inhabitants fast. Old Mr. William Marriott [43] died this summer, also Daniel Harriss [44] and Teddie Cross [45]. Mr. Thindall [45] died last winter. Mr. Simms Bottoms is still alive but very feeble & childish. He is over eighty years of age. There are lots of fresh people in the village but none take the place of the old ones. As all the newcomers are only tradespeople. People with means now prefer living in the town as the houses there are so much nicer & more convenient and not so high rented. Northampton has improved very much late years but the people are so stingy & mean. I must now conclude dear John. Hoping you will write soon. Mother & Alice send their kind love to you all.


I write kind love from my self wishing you all a merry Christmas & a Happy New Year & a prosperous one. I remain your loving & affectionate sister.



[42] Maria Ship Collins was therefore born in December 1824.

[43] Marriotts were a large family in Hardingstone at the time. William Marriott was 72 in the 1881 census, listed as a retired druggist.

[44] Daniel Harris was aged 63 in the 1881 census, listed as a domestic gardener.

[45] Not yet identified.


Postmark: Registered R 5MY 90 Northampton


May 4th [1890]

My dear Brother & Sister


We received you letter in February and were pleased to hear from you but sorry to hear such a poor account of you both in health & trade. I hope you have quite got over your attack. The influenza has been very bad all over England, almost everybody here has had it. It affected some very bad in several cases proved fatal. I think Mother had a slight touch of it - she looked very bad for a few weeks, but she is much as usual again now. Mother had sent you a draft for two pounds as a birthday present to you and she hopes you will write again and oftener. Alice Shipp [46] is to be married at Whitsuntide May 25th. She is still living at Grafton with Aunt Ann [47] and will do so when married. She is going to marry a young man from the next village. Uncle Blunt is still a poor feeble creature so that Aunt could not do without Alice while she lives. We are all going over to the wedding. My Alice is to be bridesmaid. I think she will have a good husband. His occupation is only labouring work (farming) "rather conspicuous looking," as Alice is about head & shoulders taller than he is.


I hope trade will be better with you this summer and that you will have a better season. I thought you would like the pictures especially of the old House [48]. I wish you were near to paint us up a bit (the old knocker wants painting too). We have had some beautiful weather this last week. I hope it is brighter with you. Uncle Bill Collins [49] died at the New Year, of bronchitis. He had been ailing for some time, but was taken off sudden at last. He was 62 years of age, but looked quite the old man late years. Aunt Mary [50] has her three daughters living with her. She always kindly enquires after you. There are lots of changes here all the time. The old faces are all gradually going. Mr. William Marriott is dead. He was eighty. Left a young family. Mr. Sims Bottoms is still alive but quite childish. Mr. Hall [51] still keeps on with his grocery shop & Aunt Sarah [52].


I think I must now conclude. I hope Mary is better. I should like to see you all again & I am sure Mother would. With kind love from Mother & Alice & my self (to you all). I remain your affect. Sister,


[46] John Collins’ and Ann Collins’ first cousin.

[47] Ann Ship, wife of Uncle [Henry] Blunt.

[48] These pictures have not been located in the family papers.

[49] Brother of Thomas Collins (John and Ann’s father).

[50] Wife of Uncle "Bill".

[51] See information and photographs at the following web site:

[52] Mr. Hall was a well-known grocer. Aunt Sarah was probably either a Collins or Ship.

August 23rd [if Blunt has died, it would be 1891]

My dear Brother & Sister,


I daresay you are thinking the time long before you hear from us. We received your letter last January in which you said you was thinking of going to work for Ezra Horton. We have talked about you lots of times if we have not wrote. I was laid up some weeks dangerously ill with influenza and bronchitis and inflammation of the lungs. They did not hardly think I should get over it, but I am glad to say I am well again now. Mother and Alice had a touch of it also. We were all three down together. The influenza has been quite generall all over the country and has proved fatal to a great many. It was much worse than last year. Aunt Ann has sent you one of her pictures [53]. She had them taken about a month ago. It is very life like of her and the expression of the face is perfect. You can just fancy she is talking to you. I daresay you will see an alteration in her from when you last saw her. She does not enjoy very good health. Uncle Blunt died last December [54]. He was 81 years of age. Aunt was 70 last June. When you wish, tell us what you think of the picture. She always inquires very kindly about you. I hope you are having a more properous year. I see by the papers you have had some hot weather. We have had no summer weather at all yet. We have so much rain and so cool and dull the farmers cannot get on with their harvest. I hope Mary's health is better. I expect Annie and Charlie are getting very useful to you now. Mother is much as usual. She sends her love to you all and hopes you will have better news to send next time. Do not wait so long before writing as I have done.


Poor Mr. Simms Bottoms died the other week. You remember him. He was 81 years of age. He had been quite childish this last few years and has been a lot of trouble. He is about the last of the good old stock. The people now do not amount to much. The farmers do not employ half the men they did years ago. The people and the times are very much changed (for the worse). I must now conclude with kind love from Alice and myself,


I remain your affect. Sister



Write soon.

[53] This is most likely the English photo portrait in the family papers of descendants of John Collins (1851-1918) (see at the top of this web page).

[54] 5 Dec 1890.