Rebecca Sarah Greaves migrated to Melbourne from Buckinghamshire, England in 1849.
She arrived on the Louisa Baillie with her mother and nine brothers and sisters, leaving behind one sister who had married and wished to remain in England. Her father John met them at the wharf and they first resided towards the top end of Collins Street. The family then set up a farm on the Plenty River, near what would become Greensborough. They cleared the property for wheat, potatoes and livestock, and built a family cottage.
Rebecca probably worked as a domestic servant, while three of her brothers headed for the Victorian goldfields. She married in 1854, had one daughter but sadly died in 1856.
This lively and informative letter written by 23-year-old Rebecca to her uncle in England contains a fascinating account of life in the colony.
Her descriptions of the excitement and chaos caused by the gold rush are particularly evocative.
She writes: …everyone has left town to go to the gold diggings, there is not a man or boy to be seen in the town even the gents at the bank are ‘off to the diggings’ such an uproar was never known in the colony before…If I were only a young man would not I go gold digging? And even now I feel half inclined to dress in men’s clothes and go…