James William Rose (III) b 1860 d 1952
Will as James William was known was educated in Dublin in the home of his uncle, Maurice Brooks who became an MP and Lord Mayor of Dublin. Will returned home to Shropshire as he was the only son and his parents wanted him to work the family farm. However when he learned that a group of local young people were intending going to Australia to work he decided to join them to see a little of the world, before he and Emma Morris, who became his wife, settled down. Here is a letter he sent to Emma.
on board SS Roma,
in the Red Sea off Aden
November 24 1884
I must plead the old excuse for not writing a very long letter,“it is nearly post time.” But as I have written to Father by this mail I am afraid you will be jealous if I don’t send you a few lines as well, just to tell you some of the strange sights I have seen in “farrin parts”, so here goes.
In the Suez canal we saw a flock of wild Egyptian geese, (the same sort as your four babies) there were many a thousand of them, quite a cloud, and they made an awful row, the officers tried to shoot some but were hardly close enough. We also saw a lot of wild dogs in the desert, they are most of them the same colour as a fox, only larger, tell John they look just like that dog of Wards the timber hauliers, but they are not savage as a whole pack of them will run away from a man, except when they are mad, and then you have to look out. Tom Brown is writing to his sister by this mail so when you see her you had better swap letters, as you learn more news that way.
The weather is dreadful hot, something awful. One fellow had a sunstroke today, but he is got better. I have felt queer for the last day or two, but am getting allright again now. In the Red Sea we saw plenty of flying fish, they are about the size of a good trout and fly about two yards off the water from one to two hundred yards at a time,
I have only seen Eliza Pope three or four times since we came on board and then it has been at church or at some concert, we never see her to speak to. We have met with a very nice fellow on board. He is a Scotchman of the name of George F Simpson and he is coming with us to Wando Vale to try and get work with us, he is a fine, big young fellow, and looks something like Charlie Partridge. I shall not be able to write again for some time as after we leave Aden we shall not see any land again for three weeks. We had a Christy Minstrel entertainment last Saturday night. I was centre man and Tom Brown sang “Dem golden slippers” capital, we shall have three or four more concerts before the end of the voyage.
I have written to Sergeant Major Dobbs by this mail and resigned the Yeomanry so you need not trouble yourself any more about that. Some of my tackle is at your place, some is at home and some at Coleham Head. If Dobbs wants my address please give it to him. I have also written to the insurance agent about the mare and told him she is going to stay at Harpfields so you tell him the same if he writes. Please give my love to Mr and Mrs Morris, Jennie, John and George. I am sorry I have got nothing to send them in this letter. Remember me to Mr Nott, Mr Barrett and all friends,
and now with best love to yourself,
believe me to remain dear Em,
J W Rose
PS Remember me to Uncle Thomas.
This letter was given to me by Molly Morgan, whose father Maurice was Will’s eldest son. Morrie as the family called him died when his daughters were very young, and Molly spent many childhood summers at Harpfields. She related the following story to Sue and Jack Robinson in 2004.
THE TALE OF HARPFIELDS
When Will wrote he was on board the SS Roma with some other local farmers’ sons, including Tom Brown. They were bound for Australia and were hoping to find work in Wando Vale. Will wrote of an acquaintance they had made on the boat, “He is a Scotchman of the name of George F Simpson and he is coming with us to Wando Vale to try and get work with us.”
Will arrived safely and made his way to Wando Vale, which is in South-Western Australia, where he was soon working on a large station. Within a few days of starting his boss told him to get ready to go on a long ride to a station some distance away. He told Will to prepare some food and water for himself and the horse and to take a blanket, as he might be a day or two on the road. Will set off and rode for a day without seeing any sign of his destination. After sleeping in the bush he rode on again and still found no sign of the station. He knew he must be on the right road as there was only one track! On the second day he passed a farm with the name Harpfields, which struck him as an amazing co-incidence. However it was not his destination so he rode resolutely on, but the name kept niggling him, and after he had gone on for another hour, he felt impelled to turn back and find out more about the other Harpfields.
He rode up to the farmhouse and knocked on the door. When it was opened he introduced himself, “I am Will Rose, and I come from Harpfields in the Old Country.”
A frail old man was sitting in a chair and when he heard Will, he said, “Canna be, canna be.” He then told the following story,
Near the farm of Harpfields, Burford on the Shropshire/Herefordshire border, was a small cottage in which a widowed woman lived with her small son. She was extremely poor and made a little money by working on the surrounding farms, carrying her child with her. One day there was a tremendous fall of snow, and the farm hands who lived in at Harpfields commented that they had seen no smoke from the widow’s chimney all day. When they finished work they took some logs and food and went down to the cottage. They could hear her dog barking but could see no other sign of life.
When they pushed the door open they saw the woman lying dead on the floor, with her child and the dog cuddled up together for warmth by the body. They wrapped the little boy up in a blanket and took him up to the farmhouse, and placed him in front of the fire with a bowl of warm bread and milk to help him thaw out. Once he was warm he was taken up to the bed of one of the labourers, and put into a big feather bed after it had been warmed with a warming pan. The labourer slept with him to keep him warm, and he stayed at Harpfields for several days, or even weeks until the roads were passable and news could be got to the widow’s family.
Eventually a family member arrived to take the child away, but he never forgot the warmth and kindness shown to him at Harpfields and resolved if he ever had a home of his own to call it Harpfields. He did not stay long with his relations, but was put into a children’s home. At the time, which I estimate would be between 1810 and 1830 many orphans were shipped out from orphanages and workhouses to the colonies to make their fortunes, or at least provide cheap labour. He was one of these children, who had eventually been able to acquire a house and some land of his own. He had fulfilled his childhood dream by calling the property HARPFIELDS. It was probably Will’s grandfather who was 77 when Will was born who was living at Harpfields at the time of the widow’s death.
I'd love to know more about this story.
Mrs Susan Fleetwood
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