18940208 See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/g5w3-7×80


Headed notepaper

Coquille II. 9 Kos.                               en 4 Nr. 645

vélin, réglé bâtonné.                          en 8 Nr. 690


Pernambuco     8th Feby.     1894


My dear Mother,

Mr Just[1] owes me thanks for the obliging readiness with which I use up his old samples. The other day I appropriated an ingenious & elegant machine for making cocktails, which formed part of a sample collection of glass-ware thoughtfully sent out by a French firm. To-day, having noticed a block-book with various qualities of writing-paper it struck me that I might spend a leisure half-hour usefully & inexpensively in beginning a letter to you.

Last night I dined with the Tucknisses, a quiet family dinner. They have a small dinner-party to-night & had invited me, but my steamer was posted for to-day so I refused & they asked me to go last night instead. I am sorry now, for the sailing has been postponed a day. I declined another dinner invitation for to-night as well.

I am very sorry to leave this place. Business has been fairly good with me, though others complain very much, & I have had a good time. I have lived in a civilized English house, where my washing was properly looked after, where there was a decent bath, meals served in order & cleanliness, & educated people to talk to. Pará will be different. Dirty hotel, impossible food, insects, no ice, no English ladies & scarcely half a dozen respectable Englishmen. However, as I said before, one must take it as it comes.

As the state of siege still prevails here I must have a permit from the Chief of Police to leave the town. Without that they would not let me go out of the harbour. While I am getting the permit I shall also get some tinned food to eat on the six days’ voyage to Maranhão.

Mrs Tuckniss is a very estimable lady & nothing could exceed her affability to me personally, but “Mr Tuckniss’s family” is the one engrossing subject of conversation. I have a commission from her to look up connexions & find out relationships in Barbados. Her children try to change the conversation or gently to make fun of her but you might as well try to stop Niagara.[2]

“And so, Mr Loewenthal, as I was saying, Mr Tuckniss is second cousin; – no third, – let me see, yes, third cousin to Lord Aberdare. Mr Tuckniss’s grandfather, Hugh Austin, & so on ————- A daughter of Paul Wentworth must have been married in Barbados; if you wd find out for me I shd be so much obliged. Wentworth is the family name, – the Straffords you know, – Jane Seymour was of the family, – it makes it so interesting, you know, Mr Loewenthal, to read English history, – don’t you think certain features & expressions are hereditary in families – the overhanging brow so marked in Mr Tuckniss’s face – the same as Earl Strafford they say – the great Earl, he was called  – Richard Austin, first bishop of Demerara, was first cousin, the Austins of Barbados, whom you know, must have been the elder branch, Mr Tuckniss’s family came from Barbados”  _______________________there is no end to it.[3]

Keiller leaves abt. the 18th inst. so he will be in England about the time this arrives or soon after.[4]

This morning an English lady Miss Peyton, was married to a Mr Hood, at the British Consulate.[5] The Vice-consul, who performed the ceremony, is about my age. Three days hence the couple will be married again at the Intendencia, where the civil contract, obligatory under Brazilian law, will be signed. After that they will be married in the English Church. When this is all over the knot will surely be so tightly tied that there will be no undoing it.


A postcard image of the Intendencia (town hall) of Recife, Pernambuco, in 1903. Postcard published by Ramiro M. Costa.
A postcard image of the Intendencia (town hall) of Recife, Pernambuco, at the turn of the century. Published by Ramiro M. Costa.

It is still very warm here. While writing this letter I sit mopping myself. Now I must go & have a lemon-squash & continue my preparations for to-morrow.

Best love.


  1. Theo Just, M&W agent in Pernambuco. See Index to People.
  2. "Mrs Tuckniss" was Leonora Eliza Tuckniss née Taylor (b 1842, d 1931), aged 52 at the time of this letter.
  3. Unravelling Mrs Tuckniss's tales about Mr. Tuckniss's family:
    • "Lord Aberdare" = Baron Aberdare of Duffryn, a title created on 23rd August 1873 for the Liberal politician Henry Bruce. He served as Home Secretary from 1868 to 1873. Bruce was born at Duffryn, AberdareGlamorganshire, the son of John Bruce, a Glamorganshire landowner, and his first wife Sarah, daughter of Reverend Hugh Williams Austin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Bruce,_1st_Baron_Aberdare
    • “Wentworth is the family name, - the Straffords you know” = Paul Wentworth (b ca. 1736, d 1793) was a British intelligence agent and politician who sat in the House of Commons briefly in 1780. Wentworth may have been born in Barbados. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Wentworth_(spy). Although Thomas Wentworth was the name of the first Earl of Strafford, he seems to be totally unrelated to Paul Wentworth! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_of_Strafford
    • “Jane Seymour was of the family” = The weakest link in Jane Seymour's royal descent was Mary Clifford, Dame Wentworth: https://royaldescent.blogspot.com/2010/02/weakest-link-in-jane-seymours-royal.html
    • “Richard Austin, first bishop of Demerara" = Richard Austin, a clergyman and slave-owner in Surinam. From a Barbados family, brother of William Austin and Thomas Austin (both British Guiana slave-owners) but by 1832 the owner of 250 enslaved people in Surinam. Father of Wiltshire Stanton Austin, Charles Adye Austin and William Paul Austin. Reported to have died in Surinam in 1851. More information from the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery mentions a connection to Benjamin Fuller Tuckniss, father of Benjamin Tuckniss (b 1826, d 1896) JMcC's friend: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146647831

    The will of Richard Austin was made 14th April 1824 when he was 'about to make a voyage to Europe to arrange various family concerns.' He appointed his two beloved sons, William Paul Austin and Charles Adye Austin, and the husband of his daughter Mary Jane named Benjamin Fuller Tuckniss as his executors to take possession of his rights etc which are now claims on Plantations Kleinhoop, L'Assistance and a third estate which appears to be Appecappe, of which he was in possession not only by virtue of his marriage to Joanna Wentworth niece and co-heir of Paul Wentworth, but also by virtue of a contract between him as attorney to the guardians of the late [i.e. the former] Jane Elizabeth Smith now married to the Rev. Bruce of Belfast in Ireland. He left the estates to his three children, subject to a legacy of £1000 to the Rev. Wilshire Stanton Austin, his son by a former marriage and the transfer of specified enslaved people who had belonged to Sarah Stanton his first wife ('men - Sam. Walker Jos.Tom and a woman named Rose').

  4. John Gibson Keiller. See Index to People.
  5. Ellen Paton (b 1st November 1871 Brazil, d Jan 1920 in Hendon, England) married Thomas Macdonald Hood (b 1865, d 1939) on 10th February 1894 in the British Consulate Chapel in Pernambuco.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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.

Share This Book