Here is another book I read while writing SCOUT.
There was one letter in particular that influenced one of the characters in SCOUT. It was written by Richard Bowler on 1 January 1841 to his brother John in Brill. Richard Bowler was transported from Brill in Buckinghamshire to Tasmania at the age of 16 or 17 and received his pardon in 1840. I don’t think he ever married and I don’t think he made it back to England.
Dear Mother Brother, Sisters to your Husbands Wife & children all likewise to all Relations & Inquiring friends I address these few lines to you hoping to find you all well as it leaves me at present I think it very Strange I have not received a single letter from any of you this last three years I have wrote to you John three letters you expected according to my information to you I should have been in England two years ago but the regulations of the Government often alter and that was the only reason But I am happy to inform you that I have now received my free pardon in this Colony but I have now to wait for her Majesty’s pleasure which I expect about next Christmas Then I shall be my own Master once more which (h)as not been the like this twenty years Dear Brother I expect if I should hear from you I shall hear you are Married but I am Single yet and likely to remain so Dear Brother I hope you will answer this letter and inform me all particulars Give my love to My Mother if she is living and if she his Dead I hope the Lord will rest her Soul I should much like to see the old lady once more and if living should God spare my life I will My love to you Brother & your children & if a wife to her likewise although perhaps a stranger Likewise to my Sister Ann Newton & her Husband Likewise to My Sister Elizabeth her husband & family Likewise to My Uncle Aunt & all my cousins Likewise to Wm. & Grace Burgess & all their family and their familys to them that are married and good luck may attend them that are single and every one of you and not forgetting myself at the same time Brother should I not get any answer to this you will not hear from me any more till you see me Not forgetting My poor Sister Mary husband & children So I must conclude with saying I remain your affectionate Son & Brother & Uncles to many faces I never seen.
All those faces he longed to see. Relatives who were strangers to him. Why didn’t anyone write back? Did they cut him off because he was sent out as a convict? How did things turn out for him? I want to know but there’s no way to find out. It’s so frustrating. But then I imagine how frustrating it must have been for Richard. All these questions that can never be answered.
Niall, Brenda and John Thompson, ed. The Oxford Book of Australian Letters. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998.