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Title: O'Brien, George to O'Brien, William, 1843
CollectionThe Transatlantic Letters of an Irish Quaker Family_1818-1877 [B. Jackson]
SenderO'Brien, George
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationlinen worker
Sender ReligionQuaker
OriginDublin, Ireland
DestinationCollins, Lake Erie, NY, USA
RecipientO'Brien, William
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1465
Genrewants to open a correspondence, account of his father's failed business and present situation, work, prospects, wants to emigrate, drapery business, request for advice on emigration
TranscriptDublin 2nd of 4th mo. 1843

My dear Uncle
Thou wilt no doubt be a good deal surprised to receive a letter from one of whom thou hast scarcely heard, to say
nothing of having never seen, yet one who is nearly related, to thee. I imagine a letter from me will not be the less
welcome for not having seen me or heard much of me. It has often been and still continues to be a matter of
regret to me that the correspondence between thee and my father was discontinued, for it must have been a great
pleasure to each to heat how the other was progressing, and more particularly so to thee, to hear something of thy
native land, and the many near and dear connexions and friends, from who to tear thyself away must indeed have
been a severe trial. I believe that it was thou who wrote last, and although I do not think he should have neglected
writing to thee, yet there is some apology to be offered for him, considering the way in which he was harassed about
his business, trying to work through when there was no hope; and when thy letter lay for a year or more
unanswered, like many others he could not bring himself to take up his pen to tell thee of his misfortunes.
I have long been thinking of writing to thee for many reasons, and one great one, that I would be glad again
to open a correspondence direct with our family. For although we invariably hear of you when our friends in the
North receive a letter from you, still it would be pleasanter to hear direct from you. I suppose thou hast ere this
heard of my father having been a second time unfortunate in business: the shop was going on pretty well with him,
had he been satisfied to do with it only, but he still kept on the Deal [timber] Yard which although not making
any thing still cleared itself; and having it a convenient plate and an open offering for it, he opened a gig and
jaunting cat factory, which had he then given up the shop, was paying well, and would no doubt have been able
to support him and the girls in comfort and comparative independence. But he unfortunately thought he would
have been able to carry on all, and continued to do so, untill, on account of his limited capital he got again
involved in difficulties from which he was unable to extricate himself and was a second time made Bankrupt. He
is now carrying on the Coach Factory in my name and for so far it is doing very well, but having to work on a
very small capital it is of course uphill work; indeed I do not know what he would have done if it were not for the
kindness of uncle Joshua [O'Brien], who although in for a large amount, allowed him, when his money was
ordered, to purchase the amount of it at the auction. He, Uncle, is at present in Carlow and has been there since
11th month last. London does not agree with him and for the last 3 or 4 years he has come over for the good of
his health for a month. After father's first failure when he got into business again, I remained at home with him,
until about 15 months ago, when the business began to go back and that I had not employment, and not liking
to remain a burden on the then declining business, I got a situation, the one I am at present in. It is a large retail
drapery concern that was opened just at the time by the Pims; there are about 80 young men here, of whom there
are hut 2 friends beside myself, which [makes?] it very unpleasant for me to live here, and I intend leaving it as soon
as I can get a suitable situation out of it. Most of the young men here, I am sorry to say, are dissipated characters,
which is the principal reason that I do not like living here: for although I have been mercifully preserved from the
many snares and temptations by which I am surrounded, and fervently hope that I may continue to be on the
watch, one will of course be looked upon by the community at large as being of the same character as those among
whom his lot is cast; yet I am happy to say there are a few among us who are endeavouring to walk in the strait
and narrow way.
I have long been thinking of going out to America and for the last twelve months particularly it has been
uppermost in my mind, indeed the only thing that [has kept?] me from going was the want of means; and were it
not that at the time of my father's being made bankrupt that I had to go home to act on the business in my name,
and remained 5 months there, I think I would have as much saved as would take me out. But I must now be
content for a few months longer, and would in the mean time be much obliged to thee if thou would write to me,
and let me know would thou recommend me to go out. The Drapery business which I am now at, I do not at all like, and would much prefer farming though I know the work is a great deal harder, but I am strong and healthy
and both able and willing to work and would at any time prefer working hard with my hands to being behind the
counter I have always when at home been a good deal in the way of handling tools, so that I am pretty handy with
my hands and I think if I were once across I would be able to earn my bread at something. I have no encumbrance,
and if 1 did not succeed very well I would not be bringing hardship on any but myself. I do not intend to attempt
anything on my own account, in the Drapery business; if there were nothing else, the ill success of my father and
brother John would be enough to deter me; besides the state of trade in this country at present is bad in the
extreme, and such as would not induce any one to commence business of any sort. Trade in Dublin is fast falling
to the houses, such as the one I am in, so that the small shopkeepers are now doing but little. There is one house
in town larger than this: it gives employment to 120 to 130 young men and earns[?] about £4000 in the week and
our average receipts are about £2500 and are increasing; and these houses have branches in most of the good
towns in the country, which as in Dublin do nearly all the business. As thou art acquainted with the localities of
Dublin I should tell thee where this house is situated. Thou of course recollects the barrack in George’s Lane, now
called Great Geos Street: well the barrack is now Pim & Co’s establishment, they having taken it, and put in a
new front about 100 feet long of plate glass which is very showy. It is the finest front in the city, and they have
taken in the whole barrack yard in to the shop.

Grandfather has for some time back got but bad health and was for a while confined to his room, but he is now
better. I spent last 1st day evening at Kingstown with my sister Margaret and she had got a letter from aunt
Susanna, the day before, in which she mentioned an improvement in Grandfathers health. Poor old man, one
cannot look to having him long, and though he does not move in a large circle, he would be much missed by his
own immediate connexions. Aunt Susanna would be very lonely without him.
I would be glad at any time to receive a letter from thee, and if thou thought I could do anything better or
indeed as well by going out, I would be glad thou would mention it. I will make up my mind and prepare to go.
As it is probable that I may not be here by the time I might have a letter from thee, if thou writes, the best way
would be for thee [per] my brother John, addressed as at foot [John G. O'Brien, Richardson Brothers & Co.,
Liverpool]. I will now say Farewell! and with dear love to thyself, Aunt and the family, subscribe myself

thy affectionate nephew
Geo O'Brien