Letter from William Fea to his brother, Charles 8th March 1876

[Extracts only. - Note that the letter does jump a bit and some annotation has been added]

London 8th March 1876
My Birthday - 60 years old today

My dear Charles:

Your long and interesting letter of 17th January, inst. Reached me in due course and the receipt of it gave me great pleasure. After having read it over and over again and having made an abstract of it for Felix [a son of Charles?], sister Polly [Mary Fea] for perusal and she was much pleased by the cheerful tone in which it is written. It is extremely gratifying to learn that dear Mary Ann's health [one of Charles' thirteen children] is better now than it has been for years past. I often think of the time when I used to trudge down to Doddington with her to do a bit of shopping at old Norrington and of her kindness to me during my stay at Kingstown. Your account of poor Sarah Mary is not so satisfying, but she was never so robust in health as Mary Ann, I believe, nor so capable of battling with the world. I note the new arrival in the balance of a granddaughter, but how many grandchildren of yours that makes I do not know, but they must be numerous. What a populous country that will be in a few hundred years hence!

Our dear sister Polly is now in Clifton near Bristol. She is in a boarding house there and very comfortable, but of late she has not been quite so well as usual. She has had influenza, headaches, etc. but is now pretty well again. I should not wonder if she takes it into her head to go abroad again before very long, she seems not to get tired of a roving life and does not feel inclined to settle down. She is fond of cheerful society of which she gets a very genteel lodging house, a solitary life would not suit her. She has a very cheerful disposition and is herself charming company and so highly in-telligent and clever. She has made a great many friends in her travels, some of them highly connected. You will be glad to know, if you have not already been informed that poor Felix is at home again and in much better health.

On the 8th ultimo I received a communication from Mrs. Felix to say that Felix had been home about a month, they had when she wrote been at Brighton for a fortnight from whence they had just returned much pleased with their trip.

"Entre nous" Mrs. Felix and the family at Yousee do not seem to pull together. I do not think Mr. Edward liked Felix marrying again so soon after the death of poor Jane, which was doubtless owing to the miserable state he was in when deprived of her and he felt that he must have a companion. From all I have seen of Mrs. Felix she is a kind hearted woman and a good manager and certainly devoted to her husband. She is a cheerful companion and has refined tastes.

On Saturday last not having been to any place of amusement for a very long time, chiefly in consequence of ill health, I went to the Princess Theatre to see the American, Jefferson, in "Rip Van Winkle" and I must say he is a first rate actor. I came away much pleased with the performance. Our people very frequently have order for the theatres sometimes for and even six stall tickets sent in by one of our neighbours, the children generally go and sometimes Polly, but I always prefer remaining at home.

Since I last wrote to you I have been laid up again for about a month, I was troubled to get about without assistance, I had such violent pain in the back and the slightest movement was a torture to me. It was, I believe, chiefly owing the pent up matter which had accumulated owing to the orifice of the abscess being contracted. The doctor enlarged the opening and I go some relief. Since then my health has been better and I am enabled to come to the office everyday, but I am in a very weak state. I come to the city late and go home early and am always heartily glad to plunge into my easy chair and put on my slippers. I read a great deal and have now and then a game of chess with the boys and I may add that I have great comfort in an occasional pipe. Do you smoke? I very rarely go out of an evening and then only over the road to smoke a pipe with my neighbor Harris who is a Barrister, in good practice and excellent company. He is a married man, but has no children. His wife is a very pleasant woman and is very fond of Janet who goes over there very often.

We have had a tedious and trying winter and as I write the weather without is cold, wet and disagreeable, how often do I long for a climate like that of Peru. I have been told that the cold in North America is not so trying as it is here although much lower in temperature, I mean of course the northern parts for in that immense and wonderful country y9ou have almost any climate, but I am rally surprised to rad in your last letter that at Christmas time you were dispensing with your good fare with the windows and doors wide open. Oh ye Gods and little fishes how we should have shivered had we done the same that day. Ours was passed very quietly we had only one visitor, Miss Wippert, an old and very esteemed friend who teaches Allan music, for which she charges nothing, but she takes dinner at our house twice a week when she comes to teach in the neighborhood and is always a welcome guest. Her father was the leader of the Wippert Band of which you have heard when we were boys and she taught our present Queen to play on the harp.

I believe that I shall this time get credit for writing a long letter with a great deal of nonsense in it, but before I have finished I will look up some old papers to see if I can find out some of the dottings of our great grandfather in an old book o which you refer in your last. I believe a good many old magazines and stray documents remained in the house where father and mother lodged, but the very memorandum which you refer to I know I have in my possession. Did I ever send you a copy of the following, I think I did but am not certain. I took if from the Mark Lane express of 7th April 1862.

[The actual obituary reproduced in the "Mark Lane Express" of 7th April 1862 is that which appeared in "The Times" on 18th January 1862. Like the one in "The Times", it is attributed to the "Falkirk Herald". The versions in both the "Mark Lane Express" and "The Times" are slightly cut down from that which appeared in the "Falkirk Herald" on 14th January 1862. John Fea died on 12th January 1862. No connection is known between them, William and Charles being descended from the Feas in Birsay, Orkney and John Fea who is reputed, according to the obituary, to be descended from John Fea VII of Clestrain.]


Some years ago I copied from "The Times" an account of an old fellow named Fea, he used to be on one of the bridges of London exhibiting a model ship. He be-longed if I recollect right to the same family I had been for many years a sailor. He died at a great age. I have the memorandum somewhere but I can not find it, when I do I will send you a copy of it.>/p>

There is an old skipper whom I knew when I was in Lima who was from the Orkney's and he told me he knew two highly respectable maiden ladies in Kirkwall. The Misses Fea they possessed land and property and were highly respected by all who knew them. When I was in Scotland some years ago I saw in Fallkirk the name of James Fea, a coach maker.

When Mary was in London a short time ago she lodged in the house of an old lady who was a native of Orkney and she knew well the house in which our grandfather was born.


Robert Fea Sergeant born in the Isles of Orkney in year 1710 August 11th, born in Boardhouse in the parish of Bersey near Kirkwall.

Related to James Fea of Clestron, Esquire
Related to Barlly Fea in Kirkwall, Esquire
Related to Dekin Fea in Kirkwall
and to several others of the above family.


The name of Fea is spread abroad in many parts to serve their King and Country and always to leave something behind them for a memorandum --- a true and generous name.

The Fea's are Courageous

[The following relates to the brother of John Fea VII of Clestrain, James Fea VI of Clestrain who captured the pirate, John Gow, on the Calf of Eday, Orkney in 1725.]

Squire Fea of Clestron in the Orkney's took a pirate and all his ships crew that came near his house in order to rob his house. The priate was John Gowe. with the wise contrivance of the said Squire and my brother William they were all taken without the loss of any blood. The pirate was hanged on the River Thames.

[A brief family history follows of the Birsay Fea line follows.]

The name of my Parents [Parents of William and Charles' grandfather, Robert Sergeant Fea]
James Fea of Boardhouse
Jennet Nisbet

Robert Fea, Sergeant kept his station in the field of Battle at Fontenoy until none of the whole company came out but only himself and nine private men but all were killed or wounded. No Officer or Sergeant came out alive afterwards, what remained of the same regiment of "Young Buffs" were sent to Oudenard when we were beseiged by the French and all of us taken prisoners by the French. At the seige of Oudenard the Regiment being cut off to a small number at the Battle of Fontenoy everyone of us had three fire locks, when one was hot took up a cold one and kept the French out two weeks then we were obliged to surrender and were marched out in a field and stripped of our arms, etc. before the King of France and some of his Generals and others marched into France prisoners for the term of three months.


From the inside of the cover of an old book I copy the following: "Willliam Fea had his first shirt washed by Mrs. Bridglane." It is some satisfaction to know that one of our ancestors at least had such a garment.

-- W. Fea