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Letter from Edward Conner,
Petty Sessions Clerk,
Ballineen, Ireland
to his sister, 1862

This letter was provided by Mark O'Connor, a descendant of Edward Conner.


West of Bandon
Co. Cork
Thursday, Nov. 27, 1862

My Dear Sister,

We received your two letters, the last has caused us deep sorrow indeed. I guessed that all of William's sons hardly could escape this unfortunate war, but we were quite unprepared for your unwelcome news, that Dear William had to enlist. I feel quite sure that he will never return from that war, if he escape the fatal bullet or the deadly steel I fear that he must fall a victim to disease cold hardship and suffering.

I recollect full well that he was a person who had not the soundest lungs when at home, and that he had some attacks of pleurisy. He was never inured to cold or hardship, what must it be now to a man of his age, with the cold ground for a bed and often the open canopy of heaven for a covering? He was one of the last whom I would expect to be able to endure the hardships of a campaign. What would have bewitched a man who had such a large and helpless family to leave his house and home at his time of life to brave the horrors of a barbarous war? I can't call it civilized.

It is more than surprising that he had to go when his second son went. I find from the daily papers here that the natives are keeping out of it and doing all they can to avoid it or get substitutes. I fear that there must be some screw loose. I request of you that you will write often and give us every particular for I cannot tell you how I feel. As for Mother We dare not tell her of Tom's death and what is as bad William's enlisting. A nice time of life to commence soldiering when he isn't then't father of twelve children but there isn't no help for it now. Where was his unfeeling brother that he did not try to prevent? How well he kept out of it himself.

You gave no account of poor Tom's death.n't I wrote to Damery for a detailed account of his death, how long he was sick of what disease he died, etc, but the fellow never answered my letter. I was expecting to hear from him every day, only for that I would have written to you sooner. You did not tell me how long before his death you heard from him. Let me know, let me know, if you got any detailed account of his illness and death. Write to some friend, if you have any, in St. John's for an account of his death and illness and let' us know every particular as we are in complete mystery about it.

I felt very much indeed at his death among strangers without one friend near him. He may have had his peculiar ways, but he had a kind heart and studied the interest of his family when he commenced life. He did so under unfavourable circumstances, as he was burdened with members of his family, that a brother is born for adversity, was indeed verified in his case, poor fellow he deserved a better fate.

Poor William's enlisting has been a fresh cause of sorrow to us and of course of greater for we are in suspense about him. Write as soon as you get this. I cannot help thinking of him every cold night. We dare not tell Mother of Tom's death or about Wm.. By great care nursing and nourishment she passed the summer pretty well considering her age and disease and was able to go out to church twice, but on the night of 27th of last month she got an awfully severe attack.,

She was taken with a suffocation. I think she would have died only I instantly administered a half a glass of brandy before she lost the power of swallowing. I then called in Dr. Willis (a Dublin man) who is here. He stopt up with her till four in the morning. She lost the power of swallowing and all consciousness for better than an hour but by means of friction mustard plaster and jars of hot water he roused her out of it and then administered to her medicine and brandy punch for a couple of hours. If you saw her you would think that she had not a moment to live. She rallied in a few days again as well as ever you would think.

She was quite cold, her lips and face pale and the rattles in her throat. Dr. Willis understands her disease very well. She says that it is a spasm of the heart, and that she will go off in one of them. She gets beef tea, the beef is slightly broiled then boiled down to jelley, mutton chop, beef steak, porter and brandy . On last Monday night after, going to bed and taking her glass of brandy punch she got another attack, tho she did not lose the power of swallowing or conciousness entirely. Jane and I stopped up with her used the same remedies and succeeded in getting her out of it. She has to be watched closely. She has her senses perfectly. Her sight nearly as good as ever and can read without glasses. If this winter will be severe I greatly fear that she can't survive it but after an attack she rallies very soon.

Old Mr. Faetman is still alive. tho failing fast. He' dined with us last August. He has an astonishing memory, inquires for' each of you by name, and often asks about you Frank Daunt family are well. I told you in' my last that his daughter Mary Ann is married to one Hayes near Clonakilty. She has one child. Maria Connelly (Farr) are still at Castle Bernard. They and their family are well. Bessy Collins is still alive. She lives with Miss Barbara Meade (Mr. Decourseys Meades daughter) the only descendant of old Mr. Meade's now alive. Miss Patty Meade his last child died two or three years ago of parallelisis.

 Dr. Butcher the present rector built a new Glebe house. We live in a house at the east end of the village second next door to the court house a little above the old watery lane, it is in off the road a green about it planted with shrubs and a garden in the rear. The house is covered with ivy. Mrs. Clark's son (she was married to Gibs Ross) was shot in the American war. She is you know Mrs. Daunt's sister, a man from the Parish of Kinnsigh came home lately from America, he was wounded and maimed in this War, he was discharged without a cent.

The Lancashire manufacturers are in great distress as all the mills are closed for want of cotten, collections are making up thro Ireland for them, a charity sermon was preached on last Sunday week for them in Ballymoney Church there is severe in distress here in particular in the west part of this county as we have had three bad harvests and as usual a bad and diseased crop of potatoes and no fuel on account of the wetness of the season but the English deserve some return as they assisted this country in her hour of unparrelled distress. May God in his mercy soon put an end to this fratricidal war. It is sad indeed to see (I may say) brother fighting against brother, sad to see a noble country prostrate, to see such intense hatred between people of the same race, language and faith but whatever way it will end, I think slavery has got its death.

About his own wise and merciful ends for slavery was indeed blot on the escutcheon of America. It is deeply regretted here and no wonder for scarcely a family here but has some member in it. France is suffering from it too as her manufactures can get no cotten. She wanted Russia and England to interfere but the latter refused as they think that the time has not yet arrived as the parties are at present too much embittered against each other. I fear that the North is pandering to Popery.

Hughes, the Romish Archbishop of New York, came over here last summer I suppose to encourage the Irish to enlist. He'll be looking by and by for his reward but I am sure that the bravest of the Northern Army are to be found amoung the ranks of the Irish. It is indeed a frightful scourge.

I saw in the papers the other day that a party of German mercenaries went into the houses of two Southern Planters, shot in cold blood the men and ill used the women. 'I can't but recollect Lord Catham's speech in the British house of Lords when he protested against England employing German mercenaries and the American Indians in the War of the Revolution, what you said in your letter about the South employing the Indians reminded me of it. No wonder that the North have had very little success. A mercenary Army and bad officers has been her ruin.

The most of the young men here who can afford it are emigrating to Queensland (Australia). One thing is certain that the South will loose the market which it had for cotten unless the war is soon ended as England is making strenuous efforts to grow it in her colonies. It was allmost better for the North to let the South go. They would still have a noble territory unpolluted with the touch of Slavery. I got the newspapers. If you ever have any desire to come home recollect that you have a home here before you. I cannot tell you how I felt at poor Thomas death.

(Written crosswise)

I now feel even more acutely on account of poor William. May God guard him and poor Allyn in perils darkest hour and comfort and console them under every affliction. When 'you write to them remember us to them.

I am yours now in sending love to you, to them, to Julia, Allyn, Thomas, and all the children.

Your affectionate brother

Edw. Conner


Some notes sent to me by another researcher on November 21, 2000 provide additional information about some of these people.

Miss Barbara Meade (Mr. De Courseys Meades' daughter) is the only descendant of old Mr. Meade's who is still alive. Miss Patty Meade, his last child died two or three years ago of paralysis.

I found this item in the Clergy of Cloyne and Ross:

Robert Meade, born, 1768; was fourth son of Rev. William Meade, Rector. Rincurran. He was ordained Deacon on 1st August, 1790, at Cloyne, on letters dimissory from Cork, and on 26th Sept., 1790 was ordained priest at Cork. In 1791, he was Curate of Tracton, and in 1796 became Vicar-Choral of Ross, which he held until he was made R. Ballymoney in 1798. He was, also, from 1796 to 1811, Priest. Dunsfort, Down; and from 1812 to 1826, Rector. Templemichael de Duagh.

He married Eliza, daughter of Robert Travers, Esq., and by her had issue, Win. Robert, (Vicar. Kinsale, q. v.) Robert, died unmarried, and two other sons and two daughters, who died unmarried., besides three daughters, of whom the eldest, Barbara, was the wife of Rev. Win. De Courcy Meade, Vicar. Fanlobbus, q. v. Rev.

Robert Meade died 19th March, 1852.