1821 Info 1: Caleb Crompton, a free settler
His letter of 1845 from Spring Dale, Lake River, Van Diemen's Land

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My family has long treasured an original letter, sent from Van Diemen's Land, in which my ancestor, Caleb Crompton, extols the virtue of his Garden of Eden and announces the birth of his first daughter, named Maralena Louisa in his letter but Madalena in all other census data.

Caleb's punctuation hindered early attempts to locate his 'paradise' in modern Tasmania. Launceston Library that narrowed the location to the Longford/Lyttleton (now Cressy) area of Lake River south of Launceston. The settlement, perhaps once a police post, is no longer recorded on the map. Lake River joins the Macquarie River before flowing to the sea at  Launceston.

From this single letter, and with thanks to the Internet, much of Caleb's life has unfolded.


(Folded paper date stamped 7 MAY 1846 by a receiving Post Office)

Mrs Richardson Crompton
Nafferton Near
Driffield Yorkshire
England

Spring Dale Lake River
Sunday afternoon
November 30th 1845

Dear Mother
It is with pleasure that I now take the opportunity of writing to you informing you a little about Vandieman‘s Lang. as Fanny my Wife as had a present of a Daughter She was born 6th of July 1845 and came in to the world without much expense as for Doctor we had none there was to Old female species came in after the Childe was born and bare a hand wich the one that driped the Childe I gave to Busheals of Wheat the outher bystander two dozen of Eggs thay are boath doing well the Childe has grown a verry fine Girl as she is verry quite and sleeps to thirds of her time her name is Maralena Louisa Crompton.

We have had a verry fine season there as been rain‘s all summer we shall have harvest in to months more and are likely to reap a plentyfull harvest. My Crops are verry good but the price is so verry low that we get verry little by them Old wheat is worth no more than from a pound to twenty five shillings per quarter.
I have got about 100 Busheals by me we cannot make much monny for everything is so low but we have a fine Colony and want for nothing as we can injoy more riches than you can at home it is a fine country for a poor man with a large family for he can get thare Belles fill with the best of species as for sheep heads and plucks thay are not heat but by dogs for meat is to pence per lb and wheat 2s..6d per Busheal and potatoes 2 Shillings per 100lbs greene peas six pence per peck fruit you can have it given a man may start one a large Farm with 100 pounds

I made more money with sheep and Cattle feeding on turnips
last year but there is more trying that plan this year and these rain‘s is good for turnips my
Macquarie River area  64Kb-jpg

Macquarie River area - 1874-76. Edward Paxman 1819-1898

turnips are looking well I have 30 acres in this year and I have bought large Bullocks at £2.10s each and when fat thay will fetch from 8 to 12 pounds each we have 200 acres of corn 50 of turnips 2 of Potatoes three of Tobacco and better than 1/2 acre of Onons thare is nothing but what I try I shall plant a bed of Licorice and a bed of Hops
1821info1 sheet 2
we think of sowing 60 acres down with English grass for to keep Cow to make butter for the Winter as its to shillings per lb. we heard Mr and Mrs Carns geting home and wish we made more money with sheep and Cattle feeding on turnips last year but there is more trying that plan this year and these rain‘s is good for turnips my turnips are looking well I have 30 acres in this year and I have bought large Bullocks at £2.10s each and when fat thay will fetch from 8 to 12 pounds each we have 200 acres of corn 50 of turnips 2 of Potatoes three of Tobacco and better than 1/2 acre of Onons thare is nothing but what I try I shall plant a bed of Licorice and a bed of Hops we think of sowing 60 acres down with English grass for to keep Cow to make butter for the Winter as its to shillings per lb. we heard Mr and Mrs Carns geting home and wish we ____ with them but I think we are better her for we can get a good living easeher than in England. but we should like to pay you a visit some morning to Breakfast and take some hot cakes An image of Caleb's settlement  20Kb-jpg

Above:' Their Little Home' - JA Turner, 1894, painting at the time of the Heidelberg School, perhaps of a settlement in Gippsland, NSW, which creates images of Caleb's Spring Dale.

and butter and Beef stake‘s and Ham and some Eggs muled in Coffe or Coco and then back to dinner you must some day take a trip over to Dinner you shall have roast pig Ducks and a Goose plum puding and anything else you wish with fruit of all Description.
Fanny has good look with her Poultry she as 82 chicks with 6 hen‘s Turkes Guinea Hens Geese Ducks Moscovy Ducks and all species of Poultry

I now think I have informed you of all as I Fanny and the Childe are well and we are out of det and ____ you all well and comfortable blef (bless) God for it and hope these fue lines will find you all in good health and happy you will please to remember me to Father Brothers and Sisters and all inquiring Friends. Fanny joins with me in kind Love to all so no more at present

from your ever
Longford and Norfolk Plain area,  74Kb-jpg

Longford and Norfolk Plain - 1844. John Skinner 1805-76




If Bill that was my Overseer calls to see you give him my respects to and tell him I paid Towse the money when due and I have much wanted him since he left.

Note: There are Towse buried in Nafferton Churchyard and many examples in the census.
         The first part of Crompton, on Caleb's signature, is missing through wear.


Source of prints:
Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania
JA Turner printed in the Dalesman July 2003


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This page was created by Richard Crompton
and maintained by Chris Glass
Version A4
Updated 12 August 2003