Giuseppe Di Salvia – A Love for All Time

Giuseppe (Joseph Snr) & wife Hannah - 1930 approx
Giuseppe (Joseph Snr) & wife Hannah – 1930 approx

Giuseppe was always known as Joseph. 

The family story tells us that Giuseppe lost his mother at an early age. His father, Pietro, remarried, but Giuseppe disliked his stepmother very much, so decided to leave home. He stowed away on a ship at the age of 12 years, and this is supported by the fact that no official record of migration can be found for Giuseppe Di Salvia in England, the United States of America or Canada. When you really think about the logistics of a 12-year-old boy running away from home, stowing away in a boat in 1866 and somehow getting himself into England without being detected, it is simply amazing. These feats are eclipsed when you realise that he would then have had to walk across country to Aberdeen in Scotland, keeping himself fed, dry, and out of trouble. He must have had an amazing strength of character.

At some point between 1866 and 1877 Joseph met Hannah Stevenson Strathdee in Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Scotland. Older members of the family remember Giuseppe telling them that Hannah’s parents disapproved of the match between himself and Hannah. Giuseppe left Aberdeen and moved to Edinburgh where he got work as a Railway Porter. Did he move to lessen the tension created by the developing relationship with Hannah and the friction it was causing with her parents? This is entirely possible.

He wrote to Hannah on 20th March 1878 suggesting that she join him in Edinburgh, enclosing some money to help her do this. This letter is signed as Joseph Di Salvia, not Giuseppe, so we know that he had changed his name prior to March of 1878, but it is unknown if he ever changed his name legally, as official documentation has not been found to date. A copy of this letter is held by numerous family members and is transcribed below and it clearly demonstrates the love Joseph had for Hannah:

My Own Dearest Hannah

I was very happy to receive your ever kind and loving letter and to see that you were well as I am glad to say this leaves me so at present.

My darling Hannah, you say you wish you could have come to Edinburgh with me when I was there.

Oh my love I wish you had come then for I am sure my beloved I have been always sad and weary since that time. Oh I do love to see you again soon.

Dearest Hannah, I don’t think darling that your people are kind to you, but never mind my love, try and be happy the same, Now my dearest Hannah, you must not refuse in my next letter I will send you some money, so if you really like or wish to come to Edinburgh that will help you to come, do not think it hard my love, for I know you have been so long time without a situation so money soon goes away. You will soon get a situation here darling.

Oh forgive me my own dearest Hannah if I speak bad to you but I cannot help it, no one in this world could………….one happy but you, my own darling. I have seen Mrs Ives since last Saturday. I asked her if she had got a letter from you but she had not. I am glad that you have wrote now. Mrs Ironside sends her kind love to you, her little boy is all better now, I am glad to say it. Now I shall conclude with kind regard and loving kisses. I remain, my own love, your ever loving Joseph Di Salvia.

Joseph and Hannah loved each other deeply for all their lives.  Hannah did join Joseph in Edinburgh and they were married on 21 Jun 1878, their one and only child, Joseph (Jnr) arrived 4 years later.  The small family immigrated to Queensland in 1883, and Joseph was naturalised in New South Wales on 13 August 1891.


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