Lower York Place
20th March 1891.
Dear Cousin Archie, As you may suppose I was both surprised and pleased to receive a letter from you. It is not often that men who have travelled as you and I have done have an opportunity to communicate after 38 years of separation. It is true I got a little intelligence of you now and again. Father told me of your visit to Shetland and for this last 6 or 7 years we have been corresponding with your sister Ann - now Mrs. Bray - in Australia. Reports like these however connot take the place of a letter and I was indeed glad to receive a note from you.
I see by your note you are in Constantinople and that you are on your way home from the Black Sea. If you remember it was up the Black Sea I made my first trip after leaving Sandness and after drifting about the World for some years I at length stranded on the coast of New Zealand in the year I think of 1863. About 3 months after arrival I got a situation in a Wholesale Drapery House I have stuck in that place ever since. The 'House' consisted of two small rooms it is now one of the largest in the Colony - I have seen the Colony pass from the stage bordering on its infancy when it was comparatively a small body of Europeans barely able to hold their homes against a fierce and warlock savage race until now it has magnificent cities and Harbours along its coast and over 700 miles of State railways running through the land. Dunedin is changed from being an insignificant village to a beautiful and substantially built city, and my family - I bet you - have grown from one to nine - I am not counting Grandchildren. Do you know the reason why? because I have not got any.
Not with standing all these changes my life has rather been a monotonous one and I would give anything to take a six month trip with you just to see something once more outside of Dunedin - I assure you I am quite able for it. I am still in a stage of excellent preservation. A splendid climate and a super abundance of the products of the Colony so far as eating and drinking are concerned have kept me in good form. The same causes have no doubt assisted to keep my father in wonderful good health and strength considering his advanced age - He married, as perhaps you may have heard, for the third time - some years after he came to the colony and is now living about 20 miles from here with his wifes son by a former marriage who happens at the same time to be my wifes brother in law - no I am wrong as I always am when speaking of relationships, he is not her brother in law but half-brother both from the same father but not from the same mother - the mother of George Lawson my wife's half-brother is now married to my father. As I have no wish to grow a headache or give you one I shall now leave this complicated web of relationships alone - The names of my own children are Fred (this is a child of about 30 years of age) Helen, Frank, John, Willie, Issabella, Herbert Spencer Bruce and Roberta Stout - A little girl named after Sir Robert Stout an old Lerwick boy who has been a close friend and neighbour of mine during the whole of my stay in Dunedin. EMPLOYMENT Fred is in the Drapery, Helen at home, Frank in the Government Life Assurance Department, John in the Corporation offices Dunedin, Willie in the Drapery, Isabella just started dressmaking, the others at school.
I have nothing further to add at the present time. Along with this I send you a couple of papers - I need hardly say if the bow of your vessel should happens to come near to a New Zealand rock I shall gladly jump aboard I hope in any case you will not omit writing.
With kind regards to yourself, your wife and family.
W M Bolt