The Tathams of County Durham
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Frederick Tatham (1805-1878)

Letter to his brother Robert Bristow Tatham (1824-1881)


45 Oak Village
N.W.London, England
March 31, 1877.

My dear Robert,

      Here you get a letter from your big, fat brother, now in his 72nd year – fresh looking without being red – with no double chin, not quite bald & not quite gray but beard or rather whiskers getting white, weighing just upon 17 stone though not more in height than 5 feet 7. He is still supposed to be an Evangelist to the flock within, having the call of Angel upon him to which he is not yet ordained, said to be a powerful writer, writes racy learned and piquant ministries & is still fiery, animated & extremely cheerful especially when he has got the gout, which seems a1ways to do him good, when he lays in bed and laughs & says very funny things - loves a joke yet writes what is extremely touching & grave - loves poetry - loves Shakespeare & Milton but, much more than them, the Holy Scriptures - eats heartily; a teetotler - the strongest fluid he takes being milk from cows fed on Highgate Hill near which he lives.

      He has got 3 daughters - one of which went to Japan being so fascinated with a friend, a lady after 10 years intimacy, a member of Bishops..... with her husband who was a Captain in the P.N.O. service. Frederica was determined to go with them to Tokio in Japan beyond China & there remains since somewhere about this time last year - quite happy and fond of her friends & they of her, & she intensely fond of children loves these because she loved their mother before they was born & before her friend married this tall manly Captain a Scotchman fervid straightforward & kind who was ordained a Deacon before he went.

      Your big fat old brother has not got yet a wrinkle in his face & is generally taken for 60, walks rather lame from incipient attacks of former gout, has left off dress coats for 8 or 9 years & frock coats about 3 years but wears a large coat that covers him all over which he gets well made rather longer than the common frock coat. He lives in a little 6 roomed house a short way out of Town between Hampstead & Highgate being principally occupied at a Church in Kentish Town - but goes now a good deal to Gordon Square now poor Heath is dead: with whom he never did agree. Your sisters are now elderly women. Your sister Julia has lately been ill & looks older. Harriet who lives with me having lost all her teeth & refusing to have any in looks older than she is but is still active & has taken to lay on fat lately having always been as thin as a needle.

      I was at the monthly meeting at Gordon Square last Tuesday & when I got into our Vestry to unvest who should come to me & after hastily shaking hands looked serious & somewhat cross at me saying How dye do Tatham? I want your brother Roberts address. I said I did not know it but would get it, so I wrote to Julia & she sent to me the address on this saying she would write to you soon.

      So I sha1l aim this shot at you & hope you will get it. It is Mr. Seton who was enquiring after you & murmured that they never got any replies to their kind letters addressed to you at Natal. You ought to answer them, you stand in a bona fide relationship, you put yourself under pastoral charge & they continue their responsibility by taking as much kind care of you as they can do with so many hundred miles lying between you and them. The faithfulness is one thing, the love is one thing to be grateful for & the care taking another. A kind reply from you would quite gladden their hearts as you are always every Sunday of your life represented (?) at that Altar as having a claim upon your Lord & Master who is also your Saviour & Redeemer: nothing can be more beautiful and full of the deepest interest than are the things enacted at that Altar where God is besought continually for you & yours. They claim you to bless you & be a. channell of good to you, that you may be made to be a channel of good to those given to you, namely your wife & children who you represent before God as you are their head. I do ask you as a favour to me to reply pleasantly, graciously & favourably to the letters you receive from your pastor. It is a great responsibility on their part & on yours too. We are called to do our best in every position in which we are placed in this short life - old as I am it appears to be a dream & much as I have passed through.

      I am sitting and writing this in my little parlour at Gospel Oak Village, a village called so because many many years ago the great Wickliffe the preacher came & preached under an oak here before London had come up to it.

      Yours seems to be a life of vicissitudes. I hope you will yet be peaceful and happy. I heard of Mrs Robert & your dear children from some quarter that made the news come fresh & pleasant to me - not from Julia - I think at Walter Williams last year.

      I had a dreadful fit of the gout in 1872 from which I have been gradually recovering ever since. I then went to Bath & took the waters for 2 months but I have now a new recipe which much helps me. Poor Arthur’s death was very sad & his sufferings great.

      And now my dear Robert begging you to present my kindest love to your dear wife & kisses to your nice boys. I wish you every good & all the blessings Almighty God may see it good to put you in possession of that you may seek to your Redeemer & God who has bought you with the price of his inestimable Blood.

      Believe me

            Yr very affectionate brother

                  Frederick Tatham.

Date31 Mar 1877
Linked toFrederick Tatham; Robert Bristow Tatham

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