18930221 See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/sxxp-md37


Pernambuco          21st/25th Feby.    1893


My dear Mother,

I wrote you the other day by “Sorata”. Since then the “Clyde” has come in with a large mail, which is not yet all sorted in the post-office though it is now twenty-four hours since the steamer landed the letter bags – a fair sample of Brazilian official despatch. But I have received two letters from you, 30th Jan. & 6th Feby., two from the Pater, & one each from Julie & Annie, the last from London.

Many thanks for all birthday wishes. Last night we were speaking of birthdays & abt. mine being 29th Feby & not coming for eight years after 1896 – a fact very few people are aware of. Mrs Latham expressed her astonishment & then said thoughtfully “So you’ll celebrate your real birthday again in 2004”. I said I should if I lived so long but I did not expect to, at which she looked as startled & distressed as if I had told her that I had only a few days to live. Curiously I made the same mistake myself not long ago quite overlooking the fact that the next century is 1900 & not 2000. I like Mrs Latham very much. She is such a sympathetic motherly woman, & gives me little bits of kind advice; – not to walk in the sun without keeping my umbrella up, not to get wet, not to smoke too much, & so on.

Everybody is much concerned now about the English parson, Mr Ding, who is dangerously ill. His wife & two children came out by “Clyde” y’day, & they knew nothing of it till their arrival. It must have been a great shock for the poor woman.[1]

In my last I told you about my going to the ball in borrowed plumes & meeting Mrs Williams & her sister Miss Boxwell.[2] I forgot to mention that Miss Boxwell was at school with Miss Violet Dunlop[3] & was over on a visit to the Dunlops last year. – It must have been the week before Sissy Weinberg’s visit[4] for Miss Boxwell left the week before Dixons’ dance.

Mrs Williams is living with her uncle Mr John Boxwell[5] & she asked me to call, so I went up on Monday evg. Mr B. asked me for dinner the following evg. – they were having some people. I accepted but early next morning I remembered I had already made an engagement for that evg. so I at once sent a note of apology. I was very sorry for the Boxwells are nice people, as well as being in a way the magnates of the English Colony here, so I should have had a good dinner & likely met some other nice people.

The other engagement was to the Tucknisses. Keiller lives there & both he & young Tuckniss had asked me some days before for that evg. Tuesday being their at-home night.

Mrs Tuckniss is a pleasant, dignified, middle-aged lady, whose heart I won by listening with interest to her account of the different ages at which her children had had measles. Miss Tuckniss is really a nice girl, rather pretty, pleasant, graceful & musical. Confound that adjective “nice”! But there are no other words to convey the same meaning, so I may as well plunge at it “right away” & say that Harold Tuckniss, the son, is one of the nicest fellows here, & the whole family among the nicest in Pernambuco.[6]

I dined one evg. at Mr Guimarães.[7] Both Mr & Mrs G. are English. Mrs G. is young, pretty, & lively. She was very amusing about her own name. In England she is called Mrs Jimmyrags or Mrs Jimmyrash. Here when she goes shopping the people ask “What name please?” – “Mrs Guimarães.” – “I beg pardon?” – “Mrs Guimmer-rangs” (very distinctly) – “Excuse me, would you mind writing it” – “Certainly, so!” – “Ah! – you mean Gueemaraingsch!”         And then she feels so small at being told how to pronounce her own name.

I was at a pleasant little tennis-party given by Mr Guimarães, & we had afternoon tea &cake, rather a treat out here. I was asked to call on some people called Rawlinson, whose at-home is this evg. but the parson lives near, & his illness has upset the arrangement.

To-morrow is a half-holiday & I have been asked to go out by four o’c. train & visit & dine with the Gatises, – former fellow-passengers.[8]

Glad to hear all your chatty news about people. Lots of engagements & marriages, but I don’t hear of any of the numerous heiresses “going off”. Perhaps they are all too difficult to please.

Mr Jim Ferguson is a promising youth. What’s he going to do in New York.

Annie is in luck, “doing” London; – very kind of Derenbergs.[9]

I congratulate you on the new carpet. It was certainly about time to replace the dining-room one. When you took it up to clean it you must lately have had some difficulty in knowing which side to turn up.

By the “Clyde” Mrs Adamson & her little daughter also came out from England. Mrs A. is a daughter of Mrs Tuckniss & is married to the Commander of the cable-ship “Viking”. We were fellow-passengers on the “Clyde” last year. The little girl is a dear little child, with blue eyes, & always laughing.


25th Feb.

The parson, Mr Ding, died y’day morning at 10 o’c. & was buried same afternoon at five.[10] It is fearfully sad. His wife only arrived three days ago, & she returns to England to-morrow by “Thames”. The occurrence has cast a gloom over the whole English community. Mr Ding was very popular. Only a week ago I was present while he conducted a glee practice at Mrs Latham’s house. He had been seedy for some time & was not strong, & instead of taking care of himself he worked too much, imprudently exposed himself & got a chill which became serious & he had not strength to rally.

I went to Olinda y’day afternoon to the Gatises.[11] Olinda is a bathing-resort about half an hour from here, an old town with lots of old Dutch houses built before those early colonists were driven out by the Portuguese. Mr & Mrs Gatis, the governess, Miss Browning, & another guest, Mr Fletcher, all came out with me last year on the “Thames”.[12] We had a pleasant quiet dinner & a walk on the beach afterwards.

I was rather busy y’day forenoon – took three orders – small ones – for Belfast, & now I must write them out. I think I shall go on board the old “Thames” tomorrow, Sunday, morning. Keiller has offered to take me in his launch. A boat costs £1, – big surf-boats with six men to row & one to steer, so that luxury is better avoided.

Best love. I hope there will be another mail in a few days to send you “many happy returns” of the 17th March.[13]


  1. Rev William Ding, the British Consular Chaplain (b 20th November 1854 in Papworth St Everard, Cambridgeshire). His wife Elizabeth was on board ship with their children en route to Brazil when he became ill. Their children William Rowland (b 1885) and Doris Mary (b 1890) were age 8 and 3. See Index to People
  2. Mrs Williams: Edith Ann née Boxwell, b~1862l. Miss Boxwell: Ada Boxwell, b 1870. Both daughters of William James Boxwell, "Cotton Broker", b~1833 in Co Wexford. See Index to People.
  3. Violet Madoline Dunlop b 1872 in Belfast. See Index to People.
  4. Sissy: Zerlina Adele Weinberg,  Isaac and Agnes’ daughter, b 2nd November 1872 in Dundee. See Index to People
  5. John Havey Boxwell, "Brazilian Merchant", b~1845 Co Wexford, brother of William James Boxwell. See Index to People.
  6. “Harold Tuckniss” = (Benjamin) Howard Tuckniss (b 1863, d 1927 Pernambuco), railway manager. He was the son of Benjamin Tuckniss (b 1826 Yorkshire, d 25th June 1896 Pernambuco) and Leonora Eliza Tuckniss (b Taylor 1842 in Camberwell, d 13th January 1931).   They are Keiller’s best friends. See Index to People.
  7. Alfred Lopes Guimarães (b 1855) . See Index to People
  8. Mr and Mrs G Gatis. See Index to People.
  9. Presumably  Edward Derenberg and his wife Anna Henriette (née Karpeles) whom he married in Hamburg in 1885. They lived in London at 67 Evelyn Gardens, SW. Edward was Elsa Iklé’s uncle (his sister Clara Derenberg was Elsa’s mother) and his mother Louise Derenberg was born Samson in Hanover in ~1810. Julius’ mother Minna was born Samson in Hanover in 1803. They are presumed to have been sisters, making JMcC and Elsa second cousins and Edward and JMcC and his sister first cousins once removed.
  10. He was 38. His death was due to "Yellow fever contracted while taking Holy Communion with a sick parishioner". His wife Elizabeth was 36.
  11. Mr G C Gatis and Mrs Mary Fredina Gatis (b 1854) had seven children. See Index to People.
  12. Clara Annette Browning (b 1st August 1864 New Brompton, Kent). She immigrated to the USA in 1904 and married William Wright Wesley in New York in April 1927. She became a naturalized US citizen in 1940. See Index to People.
  13. Jane's 57th birthday.


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John McCaldin Loewenthal: Letters Home from a Victorian Commercial Traveller, 1889 - 1895 Copyright © 2022 by Michelle Fink, Robert Boyd, Sarah Watkinson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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