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The Shakespeare Family History Site




A British Railwayman in Rancagua, Chile.

In 1998 at a sale in the Norfolk village of Santon Downham UK, Anna Scott found a small brown leather notebook in a box of old books. It looked intriguing and so she bought it for just a few pence. Inside she discovered a unique diary written in copperplate script and inscribed on the flyleaf with this name and address

THOMAS SHAKESPEAR. 163 Iotabella Santiago. Rancagua. Diciembra 27 del 98

The diary records the daily life of an English railway engineer in Chile between 1899 and 1902 when it ends abruptly. Notes written in another hand suggest that he died suddenly, a fact borne out by recently found burial records.

Thomas worked on the Santiago to Puerto Montt railroad as manager of RANCAGUA station just down the line from Santiago, on a section of railroad originally inaugurated in 1859. He records details of track and train maintenance and the management of his workmen.

In this fertile region of Chile he ran a smallholding, growing produce to feed his family and for sale; he keeps notes of his crops and animal husbandry.

He lived at Rancagua with his wife, Kate and their daughters Georgina and Rosa. There are references to his brothers Richard and John  (in the USA),  and to the death of his sister Maria in England.

Information reproduced by permission of Anna Scott

Diary Text, Facsimile Page, Correspondence, Genealogy, Maps, Photographs