For the descendents of Richard Dearie and his son John Russell

Jack's letters to his children in England 1893-1897

1. 9 September 1893 to Archie and Don

2. 6 October 1893 to Archie

3. 15 December 1893 to Archie

4. 20 February 1894 to Archie

5. March 1894 to Archie

6. June 13 1894 to Archie

7. 10 August 1894 to Archie

8. 17 November 1894 to Archie Phil, Don and Bob.

9. 16 April 1895 to Archie

10. 8 June 1895 to Archie

11. 1 September 1895 to Archie

12. 5 November 1895 to Archie

13. 12 November 1895 to Archie

14. 14 May 1896 to Boys

15. 11 October 1897 to Don

Kuala Lumpur

16th. April, ‘95

My Dear Archie, As I have just come across a few more stamps, I thought I would take advantage of it to let you have them and a letter at the same time.

Ever since I heard that your aunt and uncle had been ill with influenza I meant to write to you, because you being the eldest you can do so much to help your aunt, and I am sure, what with feeling ill, and the beastly weather, and a lot of little boys to look after, your aunt must want someone to assist her in keeping things ship-shape.

The best way to start is making up your mind, and I am sure Phil will do the same, that so far as you are concerned you will not be the least cause of worry or trouble to your aunt: by doing this, you see, your aunt is at once relieved of the care of two boys, that is you and Phil, and not only that, but if you both help in looking after Don and Bob, and never teasing them or making them cry, and it doesn’t take much to make little boys cry, especially if they are not very well or happen to be peevish, you will then be doing just as I would wish. I was thinking the other day that you are now over twelve, in fact twelve and a half when you get this, and that little Bob is not yet six: so that you must always be on the look-out to do what you can for Bob, and look after him. Besides, what is of equal importance, is the good example you will set them all.

What made me think of this more especially now was that Mrs Crompton and her little boys have come back, and I can hear them! I thought, good heavens, what must poor Aunt Nell’s feelings be if my boys go on yelling like that; and I can assure you I felt very uncomfortable. I resolved to write you, my dear Archie, and to ask you to do all that you could to prevent your brothers being a nuisance to your aunt. And I am sure you and Phil will do so.

Remember, that it is by taking care that you yourself do not cause any worry that you will be rendering the most assistance.

I am very grieved to say that poor little Dolly is dying: whether it is the result of the bite I wrote about, I cannot say. It seems a kind of lockjaw, and inability to use her tongue and mouth. She has neither eaten nor drunk for some days. Since I wrote the above, Dolly has died, and I have just buried her. Poor Dolly, she was as sensible as a human being. I shall never get another little dog like Dolly.

Love to you all, Yr. affectionate


15th. Dec 1893

Mr. Dear Archie,

I hope you have had an enjoyable Christmas, and a happy New Year, & that you and your brothers are all in first class condition. In a parcel I have sent home are some views of Kuala Lumpur, you will be able to tell your Uncle and Aunt all about the places and people, and explain to them what I have written on the back of them.

You remember how the Sikhs used to drill and march with the band on Wednesday evenings: well they have not done for a long time, but Mr. Maxwell came to Kuala Lumpur yesterday, and so the Sikhs had a parade outside the Selangor Club, and the band played all the same marches that they used to play when you were all here, its a long time since I heard these tunes, and it made me think of all my dear little boys in England. It was a very hot afternoon, quite broiling, and I thought how pleased you would all be if I could only lift you out of the cold and fog of an English December and pop you down in the brilliant sunshine of Kuala Lumpur; to run about the Parade Ground and then go into the Club for lemonade. There is a little boy here, named Gibson, whom I often give a lemonade to, because I think how often you used to have it given to you.

George is going to stop at some Estate in Singapore for the Christmas holidays, so I don’t suppose I shall see him until the Chinese New Year, early in February: you must tell your cousins all about the Chinese New Year, what a high time the coolies have, & how all the children are dressed up, and what a terrible noise the Chinese make with their musical instruments and crackers.

I hope you have got George’s photograph all right, I was very glad to have the one that Katie sent me, and hope one day to get a group of my four boys in one picture.

Tell Phil he is, I think, very clever in drawing, and tell Don I shall be glad when he can write to me like you and Phil do: as for my dear little Bob you must all give him a kiss from dada, and all look after him. I expect he is almost as tall as Donald now: in fact, I expect you will all be grown out of knowledge when I see you again.

You must tell in your next letter about the people you met in Malden, and when you went to see Regie Montague and his brother.

Give my love to Aunt and Uncle and to your cousins, and read this letter to Phil and Donald and Bobbie, and give them all kisses for me: & you must write to me often. Good-bye, my dear old Archie, with love & best wishes, Your affectionate


Kuala Lumpur 9th. Sept 1893

My Dear Archie,

I was very glad to hear of your safe arrival in England, and I hope to get a letter from you telling me all about the voyage, and how you are getting on at school. You have plenty to do, of course, because I am sure you help your Auntie in looking after your brothers, and I am sure also that you try to give her as little trouble as you can. You are the eldest at home, you know, so Auntie naturally looks to you for assistance.

When I heard that you were going to school, I wondered whether you had astonished your teacher with geography, or if you had forgotten it.

I saw your old teacher, Mrs. Hurth, the other day & she enquired very kindly about you all, and wondered when she would again see you.

George came to K. Lumpur for his holidays, and so did the little Leaches and little Kemp: you remember them?.

I am now living at Mr. Paxon’s house, you know where they were building it, just behind the Residency. It is the highest house in Kuala Lumpur, and we have had the jungle cleared and can see all over the country.

The additions and alterations to my office are nearly completed, and I am now writing this letter in my new room, and a very nice one it is, it looks right into the garden of our old house; sometimes, when I look out of the window at the house and the garden, I feel very sad indeed; but when I think of my little boys in England, and think how proud and happy I shall be as they grow up good boys, I cheer up.

Good-by, dear Archie, for the present

Your loving father.

My Dear Don,

I was very glad to get your letter, and it took me some time to get through all the kisses you sent. To do this I went out into the jungle: when Mr. Paxon, to my great astonishment, said, “Go away to that tree, you will die, you will die!”. I thought I had heard something like this before, but not quite certain: Perhaps you had better ask Phil if ever he heard anything like this.

I saw Jennie & George Smart the other day, & they both asked me “Wherever Airchee & Donald ?” I told them that they were both in England; and then they said “Eh, noo, air they.”

I was very glad to hear that my Don was going to school, and I hope he will be as good a boy in England as he was in Kuala Lumpur: and do all that Auntie tells him: and above all look after his little brother Bob.

Now you must get someone to give you a number of kisses and hugs & to take them as coming from

Your loving Father.

Mr. Paxon sends his love.

20th. February 1894

My Dear Archie,

I should be very glad to get a letter from you every week: but then I ought to write you one each week, too, & that is where I find a difficulty. Your last one was very amusing, indeed: I hope you all had a good time at the Concert, Katie scored a distinct success; and you all clapped away until your hands were sore: Bobbie louder than anyone.

I am very sorry to hear that Auntie is not quite well, and hope, dear Archie, you do all in your power to assist her in looking after your brothers, & causing as little trouble as possible.

I think I told you that Kitchil had gone to China, to spend his new year with his mother and father: I hope to have him back soon, as the “boy” (or rather old man) he has put in his place is a duffer. I told you that Booky was lost, but Mr Paxon has four black cats, & Dolly has four little puppies: one all black, except a little white on its breast; one all white on its breast; one all white, except two black spots on the head, & the other like Dolly herself: she is very proud, indeed: but thinks that anybody who looks at them or walks near her box, wants to steal them; the consequence is that occasionally there is a little row for she “goes for” the syce, the gardener, etc. I have a little monkey, very little, monkey: it had a very long tail, but that has been cut off. When you say “Minta ampun” (ask pardon) she puts up both hands, and if you say “Tumboh”, and smack the ground she turns head over heels. I wish I could send her to you in a letter! but I am afraid that, no matter how she was sent, the cold week in England would kill her.

Mr Dalglish, who used to be at Ampang with Mr Paxon, has now gone to Petaling with Mr Hone (The gentleman who used to call Mr Paxon “Horationes”), so two of your friends are together. Young Mr Maynard is at Kuala Kubu, right up country: he wants me to go on a visit, but I can’t manage it at present.

Phil asked me to send him some stamps with the tiger-head on: so I enclose some for you both: if Ernest does not happen to have them among his you must please let him take some. Give my love & kisses to Phil & Don & Bob, to cousins and Aunts and Uncles, and believe me, my dear, Your loving

Father, J.R.

March 1894

My Dear Arch,

What a splendid letter-writer you are becoming to be sure; I shall have to get you to write some articles for the Journal.

Fortunately none of your friends have met with the sad fate you speak about in your last letter; although I am very grieved to tell you that Dr. Little died suddenly last week. You remember Dr. Little, he put you under chloroform when your toe-nail was cut out.

Mr Hone was staying with us a short time ago, & Mr Dalglish is now working with him, and Mr Paxon, who is very well, is away in Sungei Ujong for the Holidays.

I am very sorry to tell you that George has had fever, I enclose the letter Mr Barker sent me. I have written to Singapore, saying he had better come here for a change as soon as he is able.

Last week I went to Kuala Kubu, on a visit to young Maynard. It is a very pretty place in Ulu Selangor, you will find it on the map I sent. We went for a walk along the Pahang track: the prettiest scenery in the place: it put me in mind of Killiekrankie in Scotland: in fact, it was strikingly like it.

Mr & Mrs Crompton are going on leave, so Percy will no longer be seen about Kuala Lumpur in his red combinations; quite a loss to its picturesqueness.

I am addressing this letter to you, and you must please be my postman with the enclosures.

Tell Auntie, I will sit down to a long letter to her to-morrow; as I am not sure if the mail goes out to-day & don’t want to lose it if it does.

Give my love to Auntie and Uncle and all your cousins, & I hope you have a good time with Aunt Sarah.

Your loving father J.R.

Kuala Lumpur

10th. August, 1894.

Mr Dear Archie,

You will begin to think that you are not any more to have a letter from me: but I must ell you that, of late, I have been very busy in my office as well as out of it, and have had little or no time to spare – a poor excuse, but it must answer.

You ask me if I am well – I am glad to say I am fairly “so so”. You also enquire after George, Mr Paxon, Ah Chow, “Dolly” and the new monkey. You will have heard that George is now living with Mr Paxon and I in Kuala Lumpur and is attending the Victoria Institution, of which you will have read in the “Selangor Journal”. (I hope, although you never mention it, that you always do read the “Selangor Journal”, as well as look through the “Gazettes”, I always send them.)

Georgie is very well, altho’ he does not look very strong, and much prefers living here to living in Singapore. He tells me he wrote you last week and sent some rare stamps. (I am sending some in this letter.) He is getting on well at school: does Euclid, Algebra, Latin & goodness only knows what: I hope you are trying all you know to catch up to him. He was doing a map of South America the other evening, and it made me think of you, because you used to be so fond of geography. He has also been doing some pictures, I enclose one or two.

Mr Paxon is very well, except that he has been hit on his big toe with a cricket ball: it is very painful, I am sure, but we make fun of it, so in your next letter you must express a hope that Mr Paxon’s toe is nearly well.

Ah Chow has, I am glad to say been back from China for some time, & is now looking after, not only me, but Georgie. He was not at all well when he returned, but is all right now, and is as good as ever he was. He was very much interested in the portraits of your class and Phil’s class, & it was very kind of you to send them.

Dolly, who is lying down beside me now, is getting very fat, and, I am afraid, a little snappish in her old age (5 years); she objects sometimes to strangers patting her, and emits a low growl if they take the liberty of touching her. She, however, takes the same keen interest in printing as she used to do, and is never so happy as when she is coming to office with me; a little drawback to this is that she sometimes take an insane objection to some person or other who comes to see me or visits the office, on business.

At night time she sleeps in my bedroom, & often makes the mosquito curtain very dirty – by lying on it: she also dreams that burglars have broken into the house occasionally, and not only makes a dreadful din & nearly bursts herself in barking, but also makes me nearly burst with rage at being woken up. She is possessed with the idiotic idea that every sound she hears is made by someone who is attempting to thieve; and, even in the day time, regards everyone who approaches the house as a robber. Still, with all these faults, or rather excess of zeal, she is a very nice little doggie, & I am very fond of her.

As for the monkey, the last on your list of enquiries, she is now looked after by Georgie, who makes her “tabek” (put her hand to her head, you remember: “Tabek, Tuan!”) and turn head over heels before she gets her “pisang” (banana). Do you recollect how our old monkey sat in the butter, once?

Do you remember tasting durians out here? We have had a good season for durians, & have had plenty up here: Georgie does not like them !!! It is true that they smell like very bad drains (worse, in fact), but one gets used to that, & enjoys eating them. They have been very cheap, ten or twelve cents each in Kuala Lumpur, and less than that in the country districts, before now I’ve only been able to get three for a dollar, but that is usually at the beginning of the season. I don’t think they can be sent home, they go bad: I expect people would think they were bad to start with.

You must tell Phil that I am very glad to get his letters, and when he gets a new overcoat to take great care of it. Poor old Don & Bob have had measles: but are now, I hope, all right again. What a time poor Auntie must have had, and Kate, too. Don and Bob are getting on well at school, I see, and will soon be able to send nice long letters: still I am very glad to get even short letters from my dear little boys – I expect that by the time I see them they will be my dear big boys. Mind you read this letter to your three brothers, all together.

I have not heard for some time from Uncle Arthur; just you tell him so. I am also anxious to know how Uncle George is: he had a very bad turn: that accounts for me not hearing from him. I don’t know what I should hear if it were not for Auntie Nell. I expect you have seen Mr. Sanderson before this, and very likely Auntie Cluffe from America, and Auntie Fox. But there, I must stop, George wants his dinner, & I have to get up very early to-morrow, and won’t feel much like writing after “makan”; so I must close with love to my dear boys, to Katie & Ernest, and Aunt and Uncle. Your loving and affectionate Father,





17th. November 1894

My Dear Archie, Phil, Don & Bob

First of all, let me wish you “A Very Merry Christmas,” and then let me tell you how very glad I was to get a letter from each of you. I can see by them that Arch & Phil are progressing famously, and that Don & Bob are coming along well; Don, I see is quite an artist. Archie hopes that I am quite well and George, and Mr. Paxon and everybody else – Well, thank you, we are all pretty fair and so-so. Mr. Sanderson told me that you had had a visit from his mother and sisters, and I was very glad to hear it.

The disturbances in Pahang which Archie enquires about, are quite a “fresh lot”, & have just recently been settled again – for a time.

George, at present, is not collecting stamps, I think that numismatology is occupying his attention now – if you know what this is: when in doubt try the dictionary. George is glad you liked the pictures, and begs me to tell you that when at Raffles he was in the “Special”, but now, in Kuala Lumpur, he works with the 7th.

Dear old Philosopher starts his letter “Dear George” and winds up “loving son”, so it is evident that he was in a bit of a fog, but he has got on splendidly, and writes very well, George & I were very sorry to hear of his mishap in the mud, I quite feel for – his clothes! We also rejoiced to hear that he was doing long division, and have put his picture on the wall.

As for Donald, his writing is nice and round as he was, or rather as his new hoop is: and as for his subtraction and division sums – why, he is quite an accountant.

Then there is a letter which, I think, must be from my dear little Bob, it has all sorts of funny things on it, and is just as interesting in its way as the others.

I mustn’t forget that Auntie puts in a half sheet of paper, and says “Just a few lines to fill up”. Just a few lines to fill up, indeed! Why it was just a few lines to make the letter overweight, and I had to give the postman 16 cents. Just think of that. Almost as bad as poor Arthur Stutter having to pay 10d. for a letter from me, once.

Now, I have gone over all the letters you sent, and we’ll talk of – what? Well let’s talk about my new house & house-hold. Ah Chew is now my cook, &, as I told you, I am living in the house where Mr. Steve Harper used to live. I have got a little China boy, such a smart little fellow, you should see him bustling around, and see him when he waits at table. I have a very high dinner wagon, and I always make a point of asking Billy, - his name is Ah Kong, but I always call him “Billy” – to hand me down something which happens to be on the top shelf, just to see him tiptoe to reach it. Then to see Billy when he is cleaning up the house in the morning: the way in which he dashes the rugs and mats over the verandah railing, sweeps the rooms and goes round dusting, all in the twinkling of an eye, is simply splendid. Then he is very fond of the monkey. He was quite surprised when he found out what an intelligent monkey it was. How it would “Tabek” for anything & turn “Tumbok”, that is – head over heels. But in addition to Billy, I have another new member of the household, who is a good deal smaller, a great deal noisier, & just as sharp: that is a fluffy little white dog. Poor Dolly, who is now getting old and staid, is nearly worried out of her life with the little beast. He doesn’t mind a bit for her growls, and wouldn’t even stop when she took him up and shook him. Occasionally a stray bullock or some cows come into my compound, & then is the time to see the puppy – you would think he was going to eat them. I must admit that he is a fearful nuisance in the way of barking, and I shouldn’t be a bit surprised if he, one of these days, were to burst. His proper name is Toby Waggles, but we call him “Chibby-wibby-wibby” for short. Just now while I am writing he is trying to make a supper off one of George’s socks; George has gone to bed, and incautiously thrown his socks on the floor, I suppose. At any rate Chibby has brought one out of his bedroom, and there won’t be much of it left, unless I stop him.

Another member of the family, and one that Archie would have liked, has now left us, and taken up his permanent abode in the Selangor museum: and that was a frog: not one of your ordinary frogs, but a kind of mammoth frog. When he was stretched out he measured 15 inches from his nose to his hind foot, his head was 3 inches across, his body proper was 9 inches long. As for his thighs, well, I was going to say they were as large as yours, but I won’t say that because I hear you have all got very fat since I saw you; but, anyhow, he was a monster – and jump! My, he could jump. Ah Chew found him just near the house. We tied a rope – well, a piece of thick string round his loins, and fastened him to a tree; we gave him a tub to swim in, and tempted him with all kinds of dainties. But he wouldn’t make friends; was perverse enough to die. So I packed him off to the museum, where they have one or two similar specimens, but none of them so big as this one. If ever you come out again you’ll see him. It makes me shudder to think how I should have felt had I stepped upon him one night in the dark in the bathroom.

When we lived at Malden, sometimes there would be a lot of little frogs out at night on the path, and I always had a horror of treading upon one – but to tread on one of these gigantic ones with a bare foot; and feel it squirm away- oh loh, oh lor! I am sure I should expire.

There is only one thing, & that occasionally comes into the house, that I have a greater dread of, & that is a bat. Sometimes, at night; when a bat has been circling round my head, I have felt inclined to get under the table. But, there, I could enumerate a whole host of things, flying and creeping, whose room I would rather have than company.

If you were back in Kuala Lumpur now, there are a great many things to see which did not exist when you were here. There is a large new Church near the Club, all brick and tile; then in the Damansara Road – Mrs. Crompton used to call it “Batu Lima Blas” – is a large new building, the Masonic Hall; in High Street, a pile of buildings called the Victoria Institution, that’s where George goes to school; down the Brickfields Road is a large State Factory; Mr Prentice’s workshop is four times its former size; my office is twice its former size; all those Chinese houses opposite the Club are pulled down and the new Government Offices are being built there; but what is the good of me telling you all this, and you have read all about it in the Journal, eh?

I had better tell about Mr Paxon. Well, he is in first-rate condition, & going along splendidly with the waterworks. I have not been out to Ampang for a very long time, but I mean to go one of these days to see how Mr. P. is getting on there. The Reservoir in Kuala Lumpur, where Arch & Phil with Dr Dalglish and I had a walk one Sunday evening is almost finished, and we shall soon, I hope, be getting water. And what will the Tukang Ayer do then, poor thing?

Mr Hone is frequently in Kuala Lumpur now, and tells me that next February he hopes to go to London: if he does, he is sure to come to see you. Archie’s friend, Mr Dalglish is still in Kuala Lumpur, but times have been rather hard with him. He often asks after you all. Dr Travers, I hear has arrived in Singapore, and will be in Kuala Lumpur next Sunday. Let me see, who else? oh, Roderick Pereira is at The Victoria Institution, & Georgie and Jennie Smart are still to be seen near the Club of an evening. Yes, and Pat Birch, with his father and mother and sisters is in England; no, in Scotland; and so are Mr & Mrs Syers and their two little girls. Any more? No, can’t think of any more at present. Shall go to bed, and finish this to-morrow. Oh, by –the-bye, I have got to be at office to-morrow, Sunday, as I am so very busy.

(Part of letter missing).

I’ll try to finish this “Christmas letter” later.’

My dear Boys, Only fancy, been so busy, couldn’t write any more. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all. Your loving


Kuala Lumpur, Selangor

June, 13, 1894

My Dear Archie,

What a good boy you are & your brothers, too, to send me such nice letters. I am very sorry indeed to hear about the mumps and the measles, and also how you suffer from colds. And now I hear that poor Uncle George has been very ill: poor Auntie Nell must indeed have her hands full: and cousin Kate, too, quite enough to do.

I was very pleased with the account you gave me of your visit to Malden, & should dearly liked to have been with you when you were paying your visits in the village; and looking at our old cottage, and sitting out in Aunt Sarah’s garden. I suppose you saw Archie Rough & Mrs. Archie Rough?

I expect Mr. Sanderson will call on you soon, you remember him. He is only going to stay in London a short time. Mr Paxon has come back from Hong Kong: he was sitting on the verandah when your letter came, and although I did not run out and fall upon his neck (there happened to be a visitor there) yet I gave him your letter to read. He was very much amused, and laughed a great deal. Mr Dalglish, who is in Kuala Lumpur, often asks after you. Mr Hone was staying here for a few days last week.

George is all right again, and I expect him here at the end of this month. It is just a year since I saw him.

Give my love to my dear little Bob & Don, and tell old Phillibubs, how much I want to see him, in fact to see you all, & that they are all to be good boys and wait patiently until Father comes home. Give my love to Uncles and Aunts & cousins, & believe me your loving.



Kuala Lumpur, Selangor.

1st. Sept. 1895


My Dear Archie, I was glad to get your letter, and must congratulate you on the improvements in your handwriting and spelling, the latter of course is the more important of the two. Now that you can write so nicely you must get a stock of stationery & write me a letter each week, enclosing any that your brothers may write: address the envelope, and do it all yourself. This will be good practice for you, and get you into the habit of correspondence.

On my part, I will endeavour to send you a letter each week – every Sunday.

The photos came to hand all right – but I can’t say that I liked them. Poor Phil looked so very far from jolly, and Don had so altered in the face, that I was lost for a moment. Your Aunt told me in her letter that you were all going to Southend; and I hope you all had a real good time: and good bright weather.

Do you play cricket or football: I suppose you have a club in connection with the school. Exercise of some sort is very necessary for you. No doubt a lot of your time is taken up with “preparation” for school: which, of course, the higher you get becomes the more difficult.

In your next letter you must let me know the subjects you learn, and how far you have reached in them. Don’t forget this.

With love, Your affectionate father


Government Printing Office,

Kuala Lumpur, 5th. Novr. 1895.

Mr. Dear Archie,

Guy Fawkes Day, out here, as you know, is never thought of, unless it is to contrast it with the day at home from a weather point of view. I suppose you hardly remember Mr. McCullock’s fireworks at New Malden on Guy Fawke’s Night; I was walking round the Lake Club grounds this evening and thinking of it all: and it seemed such a long, long time ago since we were all living there; yet this day, six years ago, I had no idea of coming out here to the East, although Mr. Dishman had previously written to me about it. However, time flies; and the six years which at first seemed so far off have almost ended.

I have been very glad to get such nice long letters from you. George, by now, should be on his way back from Australia, much improved in health I hope. I shall send him your letters and ask him to write to you about his trip.

Mr. Paxon has managed to let us have some water in Kuala Lumpur, although the supply is not yet regularly installed. It will be in working order by the end of the year. You ask if Mr. Paxon will be coming home when the waterworks are finished. That I cannot tell you. His engagement as regards the waterworks will be ended, but he may stay on with some other department. About this I shall be able to let you know later on.

You did not know Mr. Hanrott, who has been engaged with Mr. Paxon for some time past. George knows him very well; and I shall be very glad for you to know him. He is an exceeding nice gentleman, and as he has promised to call to see you, I hope you will make friends with him. Mr. W.H. Treacher, the British Resident, who is in England just now, has written to me to say that if I will send your address he will call and see you all. Tell Auntie I have not written to him, but if I do, I will write and let her know. Mr. Huttenbach had returned to Kuala Lumpur, you remember him.

Mr. Paxon’s Mother died a short time back; perhaps Aunt Sarah wrote to tell you. Now I must close.

With love from your affectionate father


Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, 11th Oct 1897

My dear Don,

It certainly is a long time since I wrote a letter to you, all for yourself, and, unless I am very much mistaken, it is some little time now since I had a letter from you. However, perhaps there is one on the way to me now, and our letters may cross. I think my chief item of news is that I am very likely about to shift my gardeners for about the fifth time since I have been here. I am now living in what used to be Mr. Steve Harper's house, near the Sikh Barracks, & the house is wanted for some of the officers of the regiment ( Malay States Guides): so it is more than likely that I shall move along to quite close to where we used to live in the house near the Public Gardens: our first house. The house is occupied by Mr. Ridges, who has just lost his wife, and who is at present in England, and with whom, when he returns, I shall live.

I don't think you would recognise the Parade Ground and its surroundings now, if you returned, everything is so altered. And as for the number of little children, of all shades and colour, who play with their ayahs each evening, it is something wonderful: and very pretty to watch. I pass most of my evenings on the Club verandah.

I have still two dogs; and the same monkey that "Tabeks" ( that is, touches his head = pulls his forelock), but as the monkey is always getting loose, and has a great inclination to bite strangers, I am disposed to giver her away.

The present “Kabun”(i.e. gardener) is a very clever fellow, and he manages to get quite a prize collection of pot plants. I only wish I could hand them over to Emily, they would make a rare show, but I am afraid the greater numbers of them would not stand the climate, leave alone the voyage home. I am sending by this letter what stamps I have by me: to add to the collection or for purposes of exchange. Well, now, my dear Don, I must write “au revoir” and hope that I shall hear from you soon Your loving father JR

Kuala Lumpur,

8th. June ’95.

My Dear Archie,

I am very glad to hear you are getting along at school, nothing could please me better. The more you can do at school the more easy will it be for me to get you employment out here; and the quicker you learn, the sooner will you be able to come out. You must take great care with your spelling, your handwriting will improve as you have more practice & you must do your best at arithmetic. Also read good books of travel, and others that Uncle George can tell you of.

Do you play cricket? You ought to do a little for exercise, & to learn the game.

And now good-bye with love from Your affectionate father, J.R.

My Dear Archie,

6th. October, 1893

As you are the eldest, I will give you the first letter; and next week I will write to Phil and so on.

If you were in Kuala Lumpur just now you would think it was the Chinese New Year again, but it is a festival which is celebrated every seven years; each night the town is illuminated with strings of Chinese lanterns, and each day a procession marches thro’ the town; you will read a short description of it in the Journal of to-day. There is plenty of Chinese music, you know what that is like, and plenty of cracker firing, and to-night outside the Club, there will be a grand display of fire-works. I expect you will receive this letter just about the time that fireworks are plentiful in London, that is, the 5th. of November.

You will be glad to hear that Mr. Hone is back again in Kuala Lumpur; and, in the “Journal” you will get this week, another friend of yours is mentioned in an article “Tiger Shooting of a Sort”’ the “Mr D”, being Mr. Dalglish. The Messrs. Harper are quite well. Mr. Paxon send his love to all of you. Mr. Paxon has taken a photo of our house, and when he developed it he will give me one to send to Auntie Nell; I have also bought some views of Kuala Lumpur, and George is going to have his photo taken. One of these days Auntie will have a group taken of you all at Home, that will be grand. I hear that Georgie is up for his examination for passing to the highest standard, I hope he will be successful; perhaps I shall be able to say in my next letter.

You must read this letter to your brothers and be careful that little Bobbie and Donald understand it all; Phil is sure to.

Give my love to Ernie and Katie and to my dear little boys, and tell them I am very glad to get their letters.

Your loving Father.

Kuala Lumpur,

Novr. 12/95.

My Dear Archie,

Your letter of the 17th. Oct. reached me on Saturday, the 9th. inst., the Prince of Wales’s Birthday and Lord Mayor’s Show Day: however, we haven’t a Lord Mayor out here (the nearest approach is Mr. Venning, Chairman of the Sanitary Board) & the P. of W. Birthday was observed on the Monday. There was nothing in K. Lumpur, & it was a wet day throughout. There was a fancy dress dance at the Selangor Club on Friday night, which was very successful. I did not go myself, as lately, I have not been up to the mark. On Sunday morning I went out to Hawthornden Estate, on the Pahang Road, to luncheon. Dr. Travers and Captain Syers went out early in the morning to shoot, and bagged a fine deer; but I went out later in a rikisha. We spent a very pleasant day, but during the whole of the return journey the rain came down in torrents; as we were homeward bound this did not matter much. In the evening Mr. Paxon came to dinner with me and we had some of the venison killed in the morning, and it was delicious & tender. Mr. Paxon is now living out at Ampang Reservoir again, there is so much to be done out there.

The Survey Dept. are engaged on a new map of the State, and it will be ready in a few months. I will then buy a copy of it and send you; the present map of Selangor is not, I am told, altogether reliable.

Give my love to Phil, whose letter I received, and to Don and Bob, & I hope the cold weather will not be too much for you all.

Give my love to Aunt & Uncle and your cousins, and I hope that you will all have a pleasant Christmas – and a happy new year.

With love, your

affectionate father


Kuala Lumpur,

14th. May, 1896.

My Dear Boys, I am very glad to say that your photos reached me by the last mail, and I felt quite proud of my sons. Arch as an ancient “Brit” looks first class, and Don, with his rather vacant look and half-open mouth, is quite a realistic yokel. I thought how kind auntie must have been to make your costumes: just as if she had not enough to do without that! Phil and Bob, too, are looking well, and have grown fine. Phil puts me in mind of his mother and of George – although, in Singapore, the people say that George is very like me, yet I always fancy he is far more like his mother – as for Bob, I don’t know who he takes after, unless it is his aunt Annie S…… (N.B., I know she won’t regard this as flattery!). Anyhow I am very pleased indeed to get the pictures, and as I had just returned from seeing George in Singapore, about which I’ll tell you presently, it made me feel as if I were again with my family. I have promised to send the photos over to Mr & Mrs Harper to see, and also to give them your address, so that they can pay you a visit when they arrive in England. I expect that they will leave about the end of the month.

I had a letter from Mr. Treacher in which he wrote that he found it impossible to get up to London to see you; but that he had written to you.

Last Tuesday week, the 5th. of the month, I went to Singapore: I left Klang by the Sappho, and after a very rough night in the Straits of Malacca reached the Settlement on Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Paxon, who had gone the week previous, and George were waiting on the pier to meet me. It was eighteen months since I had seen George, so you may imagine how I was looking forward to it. I found him looking the picture of health. He is still very thin, but tall, and wears glasses; he is, however, full of spirits, and takes the greatest possible interest in his work. He was in the shops for some time, and has done a good bit of work on steam launches, but just now he has gone into the drawing office, where I expect he will stay for a year or more. The principals of his firm speak very highly of him, and I think he will do well. We took a gharry and went round to Mrs. Basagoili, where I intended to stay, with George. I saw some of the models of ships he has been making, & he seems to be very clever. He is now “building” a ship: quite an undertaking. He still attends a night class for mathematics, and, in fact, seems to have his time fully occupied.

I had a great deal of business to get through while I was in Singapore, so for the Thursday and Friday I did not see much of George. On the Thursday night, however, we went to a fine concert of the Philharmonic Society at the Town Hall and on the Friday afternoon Mrs. Basagoili drove me out to the Botanical Gardens. On the Saturday, I got George off for the day, and before breakfast we went round to the cemetery, and George, I am glad to say, has taken care that mother’s grave has been kept very nicely. I had been round there by myself the previous day, but I wanted to go with George.

After breakfast we went down town, and as I had several places to go to, George passed most of his time in a gharry. We met Mr. Paxon in the morning, and he bought George the latest edition of Reid’s “Engineering Handbook” and I bought him another watch – he has been rather unfortunate with his watches up to now. We went home to “tiffin” and, after saying “Goodbye to Mrs. Basagoili, George & I went off to go round Singapore before leaving. A friend of mine had promised to take us off from the pier to the Sappho lying in the roads by his steam launch, so at about 4 o’clock George and I met him, and off we went. Mr. Paxon, Mr & Mrs. Watkins and a Mr. Fisher, also of the railway, came back by the Sappho, and we all met on board. After a time George went back with my friend Mr. Hall, and we steamed out of the habour into the Straits. It was a glorious evening, and the coast scenery was lovely, and I having seen George, and also seen that he was getting along well, felt quite inclined to enjoy the beauty of the evening and smoke contentedly. We had a quiet trip back, and on arriving at Kuala Lumpur station found the ever faithful Ah Chow waiting to assist my boy with the luggage, and then rush home to prepare dinner. And this brings me to the end of my paper, so with dearest love to my boys, & to Aunt & Uncle (to whom I am going to write) I am your affectionate Father