In 1833, a man by the name of Frederick Hasted left his home in Midhurst, Sussex, for Adelaide, Upper Canada. In his former life, Hasted was well-known as a hawker, travelling with his small carriage drawn by dogs through Sussex, Hampshire and their adjacent counties selling books, newspapers, and other printed matter. Agricultural Sussex had been hard hit by the recession of the 1830s and Hasted had been indirectly affected by the crippling poverty in the area. 1 Tired of eking out a living and frustrated by the lack of economic opportunity in the area, he took the passage out with his daughter to make a new life for himself as a labourer in Upper Canada. He initially settled in Adelaide, where there was a sizeable number of emigrants from Sussex. The presence of familiar faces provided him with a ready community in a foreign environment, 2 but Hasted was unwilling to relinquish his former relationships altogether. Despite the fact that the cost of sending letters to England came ‘heavy’ to him, he was an avid letter writer to his friends back home. In the first nine months after he arrived at Quebec, he wrote at least four letters to friends, telling them of the colony and outlining his hopes for the future. ‘[A]s I had forgot something of material consequence to you’, he writes near the beginning of his fourth letter, ‘I thought I would spend 2s. 2d. more for your sake’. Hasted writes specifically to retract an offer of ‘some land for house and garden’ that he had made to his friend. But he envisages another important function for his letter. He ends with the following proposition:
For the good of the poor, and the satisfaction of my friends, and all, whom it may concern, I shall be glad if Mr. Tripp, Mr. Sockett, or some one else, would have this letter printed, either in bills, books, or newspapers; bills I think would be best, as they could be sold at 1d. each, or given away. 3As Hasted knew well, there was a lively market in letters from emigrants at this time, as both sources of information and topical entertainment. ‘Mr Sockett’, referred to here, was the man who designed and oversaw a parish-assisted emigration scheme from Petworth, Sussex with which many of 130Hasted’s neighbours in Adelaide had travelled. Supported by the Earl of Egremont, between the years 1832 and 1837, Thomas Sockett sent eighteen hundred men, women and children to Upper Canada. To encourage participation in this scheme, he published collections of edited emigrants’ letters: the most notable one is Emigration: Letters from Sussex Emigrants (1833). As Hasted did not travel out with the Petworth emigrants, his letter was not included in these particular collections, 4 but nonetheless it was published, and in print, gained a life that Hasted had not imagined. It was reprinted twice: as a pamphlet, bound with another emigrant’s letter, published by William Marchant of Fenchurch Street, London; and in the Brighton Herald. 5 Hasted’s desire to publish his letters continues well after he has settled in Canada. In 1839, six years after he arrived, he ends another letter to his friend writing, ‘I also request you to send this by the Petworth postman, to Mr. Sockett, and I should be obliged, if he would have the kindness to get it printed, and send a copy of it to each of the undermentioned persons […]’. 6 Hasted was evidently keen for his letters to break out of intimate circles and circulate in the more open world of print. Although he posits this as a benevolent gesture, a move that is for ‘the good of the poor’, the ‘satisfaction of [his] friends’, 7 and because he is a ‘welwisher [sic] to the country’, 8 the desire for English fame may also have been a desire to be remembered by being kept in the public eye.