These letters survived untouched in a small wooden box for more than 100 years. They were rescued from that silence by one of Donald McGilp's great-great grandchildren.
Angus McGilp (Donald's brother) wrote this letter from Balure, a farm just north of Castle Sween, in North Knapdale Parish. His wife was Catherine Shaw.
When this gentleman refers to "my worthy Brother", he is most probably referring to a fellow member of the Free Church of Scotland.
Alphabetical listing of People mentioned in letters
Letter 03: from Angus McGilp, March 1854
Balure, March 1854
I ought to have written you long before this time; the delay was not owing to ... of esteem towards you. I came through severe trials since I wrote you last. My beloved spouse departed this life September 23, 1853. She was only a week confined to bed. It was a fever that carried her away. The rest of the family were seized with the same dangerous malady with the exception of myself. Medical skill was procured with heavy expense, having been different times in attendance on them. People could not be got to take up the crop. It did not matter what wages I would give them, so although that we would be all dead there, there was none that would come near us.
I had to sell the most of the crop that was not shorn before we were laid under the contagious affliction. It only brought me nominal price for I had to give it away for their offer rather than let it rot on the ground; however, after all the calamity that befall me if my wife had been to the .... I would forget all the hardship that came in my way, but my bereavement of her left an indelible wound in my heart which cannot be effaced.
I am extremely sorry to hear of the death of my worthy Brother, and commiserate with his widow; if I had not come through the same condition myself, I could not have the same feelings towards her. It was reported that he was not right in the mind before he died. Let me know in your next letter what was the nature of his trouble and who of the family was steping(?) with the widow.
I was informed that her family was making for Australia and that you were of the same mind yourself. America is nothing thought of here besides Australia. Dugald Gillies, Duntaynish, is making for the latter place next month and John McFaden that was in Ardbeg,. I hear of no other persons that are going this year but themselves. Carsaig Church will lose a good prop the day that D. G. goes away. They have not got a Minister there yet. I understand that they have given a call last month to Minister, the name of Mr. Ritchie from the North who has been labouring among them nearly a twelve month now.
Alexander is getting better, but he is not able anything at his trade yet. Widow Smith and her family are all well. She’s had a hard struggle trying to retain the possessions she had before he died for to maintain her family until they get a little stronger without letting them come to be a burden to others. Times at present are very much in her favour for the agricultural class of people s?... obtaining remunerating prices for anything they sell.
You will let me know if you are getting any word from my beloved Sister and family in Canada East. John Leitch that was in Ellary and his son Hugh, him that (was) learning to be a Minister, departed this Life; also Archibald McKellar that was in Stronfield & Duncan McMillan that was in Fernoch Knap (the Wright).
There was never have such good times for .... in this Country within the member of this present Generation, but the poor people does not feel it so, owing to the high price of food. This teaches all us all found here in the enjoyment of good health for which we ought to magnify the name of the Lord for his munificent mercy towards us. We ... Is earnestly hoping that the ... of this may find all friends there partaking of the same blessings. Tender my warmest compliments to my Brother’s widows and their family, also to your beloved wife and accept the same yourself.