Drake Letters Index 84. Drake to John Drake 24 November 1855 ◄ ● ► 86. Royal Cornwall Gazette 7 December 1855
The Drake Letters
Louisa Drake (Balaklava) - Maria Drake (London), 7 December 1855
Decemr 7th [1855] 1
My dear Mrs. Drake,
        I fear you will be sadly disappointed, at not receiving a letter from Henry, by this mail, 2 he is off again, for ten days or a fortnight, he left us rather in a hurry on Wednesday, the 5th, for Sisopolis [sic] 3 in Burgos [sic] Bay, and Balsheik [sic],  the place from which the Crimean Expedition started last year, near Varna. Sir George 4 has given him long letters of Instructions and he will have plenty to do at the latter place inspecting Stores, enquiring about the resources of the Country, &c., &c., most of our Cattle for the Army comes from there now I think, it is 30 hours by Steamer from this, just as far as Constantinople, when he found he had to go, he made up his mind to start at once, as a fine Cattle Steamer the Cormorant was going; had he waited, he might have been obliged to have gone in a small uncomfortable one, which would not be pleasant at this season, for the Black Sea is anything but an agreeable place to travel in the middle of December, however I suppose business must be attended to, in spite of winds and weather. We have had abundance of rain lately, and the mud is thicker than ever, Lou 5 and I are prisoners in our own dominions, for it does not keep us in the house, 6 we put on our rubbers, and go out among the Poultry as usual, it is not in the least cold, I never think of putting on a bonnet or shawl, and am wearing mostly the same clothes as I did in the middle of Summer, I think it a lovely climate, rather different from your English weather, but it sometimes blows fearfully here, and the wind is very cold –
I believe there is very little sickness now some complain of colds and Rheumatism, poor Mr. Midwood 7 has been laid up, with ulcerated sore throat and jaundice, he has had his share of illness since he arrived, we certainly have been much favored in not having had a day’s serious illness since we left England; Mrs. Barnett, wife of an Officer of the Army Works, 8 has been laid up sick a bad attack of Influenza, and her husband had six weeks’ illness, & was given over at one time, they have arrived since we did, she is a West Indian. We have parted with many old friends lately, every one is creeping home for Christmas if they can. Mr. Russell 9 goes tomorrow, will not return till after the 29th Feby, I suppose he will be dinnered and feasted in London, our Special: “What speeches he will make;” Mr. Blackwood 10 goes with him, a fine gentlemanly young man, “very handsome”, he is a clerk in the Treasury, but has acted as a D.A.C.G. here, he now returns by his own request to his former duties, he is a great favorite, & will be much [written across the page] regretted, he told me he had just finished his hut for the Winter, driven the last nail, when he heard he was to go, I am going to see it some day “it is impossible to do so while he is here,” it is the pattern hut of the Crimea, quite perfect they tell us, papered, Carpeted &c. Colonel McMurdo, 11 went home this week, his wife 12 and three eldest children came out to stay the Winter, she arrived the day he was taken ill, just in time to nurse him through a dangerous brain fever, (I conclude his work has been too much for him), but he talks of returning in the Spring, it was not thought he would remain at one time, their eldest child is ten, there are seven younger I believe.
Louisa 13 was delighted with your last long letters, and I have to thank you for a kind one since I last wrote to you “what should we do, without this constant correspondence” it is our greatest comfort now we are wishing for the Mail due yesterday, not yet arrived. We are glad to hear Grandpapa 14 is so well and able to enjoy his walks in the Park, 15 I sincerely hope his toes will not trouble him this winter, for he had his share of suffering last year I am sure, 16 by way of exercise, I am proposing to Louisa to get a rope and skip with me, for we can neither walk or ride in the mud. Henry took a saddle & bridle, and his Interpreter with him, but has left Jack 17 to my tender mercies with the others, poor things when I send them out for exercise, they return with their legs & sides up to their necks in mud, so you can fancy what the riders are. I have not seen Colonel Atherley, 18 Capt. Haines 19 or Mr. Reid [sic] 20 since this pleasant weather set in, prevented by the mud of course, but I shall remember your message when I see them, I think I said in my last I felt anxious how Mr. Campbell 21 got home that night: 22 the young Highlander came down to see us again yesterday, walking, and left before dark, he was an immense time getting home that night, got wet through, too dark to find the turning to the heights, & had to trust to his pony finding the bridges in the plain, which I am thankful he did very well, it is 7 miles by the plain & more than four by the heights, a pleasant walk, but what will not young people do for a little change, you cannot wonder at the Colonel not visiting Balaklava if he can help it.
I am amused at Mrs. John’s 23 arrangement, but do not think Charlotte 24 will be anxious to take charge of a nursery, she has had her share of the Governess part of the business I think. With love to all at Kew 25 and Coram Street, 26 Believe me ever

Your Affect. Daughter
Louisa Drake 27

1. Private family manuscript (Judith Hall and Sally Mac, Auckland, New Zealand).
2. Maria Drake would probably have been disappointed not receiving a letter from her son, Henry, written on 7 December 1855, it being her 50th wedding anniversary.
3. Henry gives the spelling as Sizopolis in his Journal, 5 December 1855. Now Sozopolol, on the east coast of Bulgaria, on the Black Sea.
4. CG Sir George Maclean.
5. Louisa’s eldest daughter, Louisa Maria Drake, who had come out to the Crimea with her.
6. This seems to be a contradiction in terms – they are prisoners, but yet they are not kept in the house. Maybe she meant to say that they were “not prisoners”.
7. ACG Thomas Wroot Midwood was employed in the examination and local audit of the expenditure of the Home Government in the Office of the Commissariat Department, Battery Point, Hobart, in 1849 when Henry Drake was also stationed there. [J. Wood (comp.), The Tasmanian royal kalendar, colonial register and almanack 1849, (Hobart Town, 1849), p. 96.]
8. Possibly the wife of Samuel Boyd Barnett.
9. William Howard Russell, who was The Times’ correspondent during the Crimean War.
10. Acting DACG Stevenson Arthur Blackwood.
11. Colonel William Montague Scott McMurdo. In a previous letter, William Henry Drake (Balaklava) #52 – Louisa Drake (London) (2 March 1855), Henry wrote about Col. McMurdo arriving to take charge of Transport.
12. Colonel McMurdo married Susan Sarah Napier in 1844.
13. Louisa’s eldest daughter, Louisa Maria Drake.
14. Henry’s father, retired CG John Drake.
15. This would probably have been Regent’s Park, London (NW1), as John and Maria Drake lived at 27 Park Village East (NW1), close by.
16. In various letters Henry referred to his father’s gout.
17. Presumably Henry’s horse.
18. Colonel Mark Kerr Atherley, 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot.
19. Captain Edward Eldridge Haines, 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot.
20. Probably Dr. Constantine Caridi Read.
21. There were two Campbells who were officers in the 92nd (Highland) Regiment of Foot in 1856, Captain Donald Patrick Campbell, and Ensign Rod. McDonald Campbell, so I am not sure who Louisa is referring to here.
22. I can’t find reference in Henry’s Journal to which night this was. Maybe Campbell visited the ladies after Henry had left for Sozopol.
23. Mrs. John would be Margaret Maclean Drake, wife of Henry’s brother, John Minshull Drake, who was serving in the Indian Army. John had at least 7 children (with probably 4 surviving – Alice Lucy, Dennys and Reginald) by his first wife, Caroline, who had died in 1848. In a letter Henry’s daughter, Charlotte Augusta Dring Drake, wrote to her aunt, Charlotte Augusta Drake, while they were living in Canada, she said, “I hope Alice and Dennys have got rid of the Measles and that Lucy and Reggie have not had them.” So it seems that Charlotte Augusta Drake was already looking after her brother’s children while he was in India. It is possible that John Minshull Drake’s second wife had had a baby, whom she also wanted to be cared for in London. John Minshull Drake married Margaret on 21 March 1850, at Lahore. I know they had at least one daughter, Emlyn Augusta, but I am not sure when she was born – see, accessed 30 April 2015.
24. Henry’s unmarried sister, Charlotte Augusta Drake, also took care of Henry and Louisa’s two other daughters, Charlotte and Laura, while their parents were in the Crimea with their daughter Louisa.
25. I presume Henry’s sister Caroline Browne lived at Kew.
26. Henry’s sister, Maria Harriet White, lived in Coram St. [1856/02/18 LD Balaklava MD London, p. 3.] Coram St. is not far from Regent’s Park in London.
27. Louisa Drake (née Purkis) (1814-1862).

Drake Letters Index 84. Drake to John Drake 24 November 1855 ◄ ● ► 86. Royal Cornwall Gazette 7 December 1855