This is a letter I have found from my great grandfather in Colombo to his prospective mother-in-law, Amy Gibson (my great great grandmother), in Croydon, October 18th, 1899.
My dear Mrs Gibson
After leaving it till the very last moment, I have at last made up my mind (after talking it over thoroughly with my sister and Mr Bois*) to ask you to let Mab come out to me at the end of next month, so that we can be married from my sister’s house before she leaves for England which will be on the 18th January. As she will have all her preparations to make before leaving, it will of course be most convenient for her to have Mab before Christmas, necessitating her to leave at the end of November.
I am afraid I have not given you much time in which to finally make up your mind to entrust Mabel to me, and I know what a trial it will be to you to part with her, but I am sure you will be glad that the uncertainty in which I have kept her and all of you for so long is at last at an end. Any slight hitch there may be to Mab’s comfort in our being married now instead of a year or so later when I might have offered her a home in Colombo instead of a dull pit-station, will be counter-balanced I am sure by her being able to be married from my sister’s house, and I know you will be glad to hear from the latter all about our wedding when she comes home in February (Maggie).
And now dear Mrs Gibson, please be quite sure that I shall do my utmost to make Mab’s life out here as happy a one as it is in my power. Things unforeseen may arise which will make our stay in Ceylon longer or shorter but I expect we shall be able to return to England either for a long holiday or for good in three years time.
You know that my indecision has been due to the company proposing to place me in Colombo, but I have since had another letter in which the matter is not again referred to and therefore have concluded that it has been abandoned or is in abeyance and I have written to the managing director of the company announcing my intention of settling at Veyangoda anyhow for a time at the end of the year. I have the assurance of Mr Waldoch, the manager in Ceylon, that I am not likely to be required to live in Colombo on my modest income, and therefore I think the risks of the course I am taking are not of any significance and Mr Bois, with whom I have discussed it, is of the same opinion.
Goodbye now. I have not said anything about the best way for Mab to come out as you will be able to get the necessary information from the different lines better than I can give them to you. Although the time will be short, I don’t think there will be any difficulty in getting a berth for Mab at the end of November.
With love to everyone
Yours affectionately, George Gillespy.
*George’s sister, Maggie, is married to Mr Bois and they also live in Ceylon.