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Immigration and Emigration
pen and diary
Hillbillies in the White House

The diary of James Black

13 January 1840. Nothing yet done at Randalstown.I intend advertising the Flax Spinning Company in a few days, how it may go on is uncertain. T Bushel of Belfast, John Walker, Magherafelt, John Raphael, Ballymena, and John Craig, Randalstown are to be agents for selling the shares. The weather for the last fortnight has been very mild and generally dry with only three days frost. On the 10th the postage of one onepenny a letter of 1/2 oz commenced all over the kingdom.

10 February .Her Majesty Queen Victoria 1st of England was married this day to Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg and Gotha. She is in her 21st year and he is twenty-two past. He is said to be a fine young man with fine taste for music and every way agreeable. I had a few friends for supper on the occasion, Mr. William Wylie, C.J. McAlister, Hugh Stewart, J. Greenfield and Dr. McKittrick and spent a very heavy evening. The weather for the last fortnight has been very wet and stormy. My Joint Stock Company at Randalstown gets on very slowly and is not likely to succeed.

28 February .For ten days past the weather has been dry and cold with smart frost. This day has been very fine and many persons sowing wheat.

9 March .For three weeks we have not had a shower; very cold and frosty. The ploughing and sowing going on well and every prospect of a good crop. Mrs Adam Hudson of Lisnabreen near Belfast had three daughters at a birth, and all likely to live.

17 March .Patrick's day. Dined with Mr Casement in a family way and was very comfortable. The weather has been dry and cold for a month without a shower, and the labour going on briskly. Our dear little clergyman, the Revd Thomas J McAlister has been very ill in fever for a fortnight, but is now thank God recovering; His death would have been a serious loss to Holywood. Received a letter from Margaret today that gave me great pleasure, saying she had a house of her own in Charleston.

31 March .The weather continues fine with a few gentle showers. The farming business goes on briskly and many are planting potatoes here (Holywood) for a general crop. A rumour appears in the papers today of Lord O'Neill's death in England. Francis Casement is at Ballymena about buying a place. Mrs Casement has dined with us twice in his absence and she is an nice creature.

27 April .The weather still continues very fine, not a wet day for two weeks. All the labour and farming has been done in fine order, which has caused a fall in grain. Some of the dealers in it have failed. The lodgings in Holywood are not filling up so fast as last year. Nothing yet done with the cotton mill concern and it is likely to be a total loss. Everything about Randalstown seems to be going to the bad; it is indeed a wretched place and never can be better under the present state of management, and the mills unemployed.

1 June . Went to Randalstown to see how my mill concern stood, and found it in a bad way, and a threatened ejectment against it for 1 1/2 year rent due to Lord O'Neill although I only owe John Thompson one year. Everything there seems to be going wrong, and I think I must give up the property at a sacrifice of £3,500. For three months the weather has been fine and the crops look remarkably well; oatmeal 16 shillings per hundred weight, potatoes 3 shillings per hundred weight.

22 June. My property at Randalstown is still unsettled, and likely to be so for some time. The last fortnight has been very boisterous and showery and has injured the early potatoes; they generally however look well. I have just received a letter from Mr L Banks, Charleston with a draft on B.Smith and Sons, Manchester for £140 saying it was all the funds he had. My present prospects are gloomy, and my family being divided makes it very unpleasant.

2 October .This day William John McClure and his wife and three children, Emily 14, William 11 and Robert 9 years of age sailed for Charleston in the Ship "Margaret Johnson" from Belfast. I wrote to Robert Campbell, Margaret and Robert by them and sent a piece of linen, gave rather an unpleasant account of my affairs generally.

7 October.For eight days past the weather has been very fine and the crop has been generally saved; oats, and potatoes are abundant.

26 October. Got a notice of ejectment by John Whelan, Lord O'Neill's bailiff for the Randalstown mill concern, for non-payment of rent 1 1/2 year due his Lordship at May last. I paid John Thompson half a year that he never paid to Lord O'Neill. It now appears that I am to lose the property after an expenditure of upwards of £3,500. The weather has been remarkably fine for the past month and an abundant crop will be saved.

4 December.John Gaussen and Son stopped payment yesterday. The amount is not yet known, nor what they will pay. The Randalstown mill concern is now under ejectment and I will lose about £3,500 by it.

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