Family tree

Remaining Letters from Irwine Binney to Emily Dibblee

See Emily Dibblee (recipient of letter)
Irwine Binney (sender of letter - brother of Emily Dibblee)
Emily Binney (mother of Emily Dibble)
Lucy Binney (or Jacobs) (sister of Emily Dibblee)
William Binney (brother of Emily Dibblee, dead by this time)
Margaret McKenzie (sometimes called Old Margaret, servant of the family)

These letters below were written in 1890 from Irwine Binney to his sister Emily Dibblee. I have put them together as they were written at about the same time and on the same topic. Irwine and Emily's mother had just died. Irwine is executor of the will, and he has sent Emily's share of the bequests to her (and wants a receipt, please!) Each letter is a single sheet folded in half, and usually written in four parts (the middle letter has a blank back page). The front part has a black border, either in memory of their mother, or still using up the paper left over from their father's death. The last letter is written in rather a confused way (Irwine was onbiously not feeling good by this point). The first part is written conventionally, then the middle part is written sidewards, rather than two halves. Finally, the last part is also written sideways, and finally the left-over stuff is cross-written in various places. Hm!

The letters are a mixture of grieving and business. This is quite a common reaction to a death. Irwine is trying to sort out the business side of the money as a conscientious man, and also possibly to help him not think about his mother. The money is quite complicated. The will means that Emily Dibblee is due $1333.33 plus $266.67, which makes $1,600 in all. The will also says that this should be paid out quite quickly. Irwine has already sent Emily $600. He wants to know (increasingly frantically!) whether she got it. In the last letter, he sends another $1,000, which makes up the full amount.

However, in the last letter, he also sends $648.67 which he says is a legacy to Emily Binney from grandfather Pryor, who was her father, William Pryor. His biography in the Dictionary of Canadian Biographies says that "His three daughters, all advantageously married, received small annuities." Irwine's letter shows that it was not an annuity in the conventional sense, but the interest from a sum which was subsequently to be left to her children. This did not show up in Emily Binney's will as it was not money owned outright by her, but determined by a previous will, that of William Pryor.

There is one puzzle about the money matters. In the will, the first amount to be bequeathed is $4000 to be split equally between her children. Irwine describes this as "the original amount dear Mother recd." But from who? She inherited practically the whole of her husband's estate, but the money in that was unlikely to be such a precise amount. It sounds like a previous inheritance which was carefully kept intact, and just the interest used. If that is so, and the $4000 belonged to Emily Binney in her own right, and not her husband, then exactly how much money did Stephen Binney own when he died? We know that he must have been a wealthy business man when he was mayor; he was required to own real estate to the value of £1,000 (see Election of the first Halifax City Council) and that is pounds, not dollars. He did become bankrupt and moved to Halifax, yet it seems to be understood that he became successful there (see Moncton City Council Bank of Names). But when he died, there seems to be only the house and contents, and land. Stephen Binney's letter does mention that he would be leaving his wife the "Homestead clear of any encumbrance", so perhaps he sunk all his money into the house and land. This did mean that his wife and children had somewhere to live.

Irwine's third letter mentions that the $4000 has shrunk because of "paying old Margaret". This is Margaret McKenzie, an elderly servant of the family. We know from the last letter from Emily Binney than Margaret was no longer with the family, and this shows that she was pensioned off, presumably by Emily Binney herself from her own money. She forgot to rewrite her will to take account of this, but Irwine has honorably made sure that everyone is paid correctly, even if he (typically) moans about it. Still, he must have been under a lot of stress emotionally, and he doesn't seem to be very happy about his financial responsibilities.

The other points in the letters: Some abbreviations: stg is sterling, Cy is currency, &c is etc. or 'and so on', recd. is received, viz is 'that is to say'.

Polexiny is William Binney's widow, and so Irwine and Emily Dibblee's sister-in-law. Lucy is Lucy Binney (or Jacobs), widowed, and living with Irwine.

Cousin Charles Parker must be the son of Lucy Parker, daughter of Hon. Hibbert Newton Binney. He would be first cousin to Irwine Binney. He was born in Halifax in 1822, and went into the army, H.M. 69th regiment. Irwine Binney's sister, Lucy, had a middle name of Parker.

Grace Dibblee and her husband Morris Robinson are relatives of Emily Dibblee's husband. Grace is Frederick Dibblee's sister.

Eliza is likely to be a daughter of Rt Rev Binney. She was living in London, and Emily Dibblee was staying with her in 1887.

I am not sure exactly who Uncle James is. He is to be paid "his usual allowance for his monthly board". He must be related to Emily Binney or Stephen Binney. We know that Emily Binney's father was wealthy and that he left most of his money to his sons, and his daughters were well married. But I suppose either a son or the husband of a daughter could have fallen on hard times. We also know that Stephen Binney had many brothers and sisters, and again a brother or sister's wife might need help. It still seems quite generous of Irwine to help.

I have given the transcription of the letter first, and the original after, in case you want to check it.

Transcriptions Second letter - Third letter - Fourth letter
Originals Second letter Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4
Third letter Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3
Fourth letter Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3

Moncton N.B.
6th Feby 1890

Dear Emily

I trust you recd. Lucy letter to you, mailed the day after dear Mother was buried. We are very lonely indeed, everything so quiet about the house when I go home after my office duties, dear Mother and I were so very much together, every day, you may almost say, we saw each other. Now to see the vacant arm chairs, workbox, books, &c standing around, and the things in her bed room, everything arranged in order, it is gloomy and sad. Poor dear Mother gone to her rest. Never to see her dear face again, or hear her Voice, all silent and still. But dear Mother is now with her Lord, she loved so much while on earth. She died happy, in the full hope of a glorious resurrection, the text to be put on her tomb stone, chosen by herself – Waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ 1 Cor 7. V.

I enclose herewith Bill of Exchange at sight on London for £177.17.4 stg equal $600 our money. You will require to endorse same. I shall send you the balance $1000 as soon as I can administer to the estate. It will take perhaps five or six weeks. As I thought you might need some immediate money I have sent first instalment to you.

Lucy and I purpose living along together in a quiet way. We recd. a letter from Polexiny dated 17th Jan at Smyrna addressed to dear Mother but too late for her see.

With much love to you and the dear children,
Your affect brother

Moncton N.B.
14th Feby 1890

Dear Emily

As Lucy is writing to you by this mail and has requested me to mail you two books which belonged to dear Mother I therefore send same to your address. Both books were published in England. One I imported myself for dear Mother therefore you will have no trouble with Customs. By last mail I sent you stg bill for $600 which I trust you recd. all right. Today I am sending copy of will to Finance Dept. in order I may receive authority to draw funds to pay you and Lucy your legacies and shall send you the balance $1000 as soon as possible. Lucy and I feel quite lonely, everything seems so strange and still. Poor Mothers things just as she left them.

With much love the dear children and yourself
Your affect brother
I W Binney

Mrs F L Dibblee

I had a nice letter of sympathy from Cousin Charles Parker.

Moncton N.B.
26 Feb 1890

Dear Emily

We have been anxiously awaiting to receive a letter from you acknowledging Bill of Exchange for $600 sent some time since. I trust it has not gone astray. Lucy recd your letter of 12th inst. it appears you were then expecting the Canadian to arrive that day. I enclose herewith two sight bills of Exchange on London one for $648.67 Canadian Currency & also a receipt for same. This amount is your share of one third of 1946. the legacy left our dear Mother by grandfather Pryor. The other bill of Exchange for $1000. Canadian Cy is the balance due you from dear Mother’s estate viz 1/3 of $4000 is $1333.33 and $266.67 the amount in lieu of land making $1600 – the $600 already sent and the enclosed amount pays you the full amount legacies due you.. I have lost no time in collecting the money and paying you. The will reads to pay the legacies within three months of dear Mothers death and besides I am anxious for you to have the benefit of said moneys as soon as possible. I am investing Lucy’s portion for her as well as I can but do not like the responsibility very much. The original amount dear Mother recd. was not $4000 after paying old Margaret but I added to it, with proceeds of some land we sold to make it $4000 - of course taking so large an amount from my income lessens it very considerably but still I shall endeavor to pay Uncle James his usual allowance for his monthly board and will have to sell some land adjoining our house. We are glad to hear of dear Eliza’s health improving. Lucy expects to write by this Mail, therefore will close this short note. Our house seems dreadful quiet and lonely where I go home after office hours, thoughts of Dear Mother comes up now and then. Grace Dibblee’s husband Morris Robinson died last Saturday and was buried on 25th. He died of cancer of the tongue.

With much love to yourself and family
Your affectionate brother

Please sign receipts in duplicate and return to me.

Second letter from Irwine Binney - page 1
Second letter from Irwine Binney - page 2
Second letter from Irwine Binney - page 3
Second letter from Irwine Binney - page 4
Third letter from Irwine Binney - page 1
Third letter from Irwine Binney - page 2
Third letter from Irwine Binney - page 3
Fourth letter from Irwine Binney - page 1
Fourth letter from Irwine Binney - page 2
Fourth letter from Irwine Binney - page 3