Life at Weeley Camp and Barracks, 1803 to 1804, from Mary Ann Grant’s Sketches of Life & Manners

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“Little thinks the townsman’s wife,
While at home she tarries,
What must be the lasses life,
Who a soldier marries.”
Letter XLI, December 1803

Mary Ann Grant’s letters, written between 1795 and 1808, were collected together and printed in 1811 as Sketches of Life & Manners1)Or, to give it its full titleSketches of Life and Manners, with Delineation of Scenery, in England, Scotland and Ireland: Interspersed with Moral Tales and Anecdotes, in Original Letters, in Two Volumes. Google Books: volume 1 and volume 2.. It begins just before her family moved from England to Fort George, near Inverness, and details her visits to Brighton and Margate, and her life as an officer’s wife, travelling the British Isles, after her marriage in 1803 to James Grant. Major Grant retired from the Army in 1805, and from then on, he and Mary Ann lived at his father’s property at Sluggan, Strathspey. She writes of the landscapes and people she sees on her travels, and her interest in sublime views, such as her visit to “Sir I. G.’s” seat at Urquehart2)Sketches of Life & Manners, vol. 2, letter XXXIV, pp.24-5. This is probably Sir James Grant of Grant, 8th. Baronet, 1738-1811., is very typical of the Romantic period and the Cult of Sensibility, with its emphasis on the sublime in nature. However, for the purposes of this website, her letters about life at Weeley Camp and Barracks are my focus. I have transcribed the five letters that Mary Ann wrote from Weeley (70KB – PDF), but you can find scans of the original text as a Google eBook.

Weeley Camp, July 1803

Mary Ann’s first letter from Weeley Camp is dated July 1803, which is when Weeley’s baptism and burials register begins to feature the soldiers that lived there; indeed, the 42nd., Grant’s regiment, appears in the register from July 1803. At this point it was an encampment, presumably nothing but tents, and the Grants “have lodgings in the close vicinity.”3)Ibid., letter XXXV, July 1803, p.29 Life at this time around the camp seems quite genteel – she makes visits and the officers and their wives enjoy “agreeable parties, excursions, &c.”4)Ibid., letter XXXVI, July 1803, p.35 She writes to her friend, Miss Mary Ann T.5)Ibid., letter XXXV, July 1803, pp.29-34 about a visit she and her husband made to a dreadful miser called Mr. C. (I have identified him as Mr. Clarkson Cardinal of Tendring6)Clarkson Cardinal (sometimes Cardinall) of Tendring had two children: John (baptised 1770) and Elizabeth (baptised 1776). In 1802, Elizabeth Cardinall married Charles John Cook at Ardleigh, and she was buried at Tendring as Mrs. Elizabeth Cook on 25th March 1803. I have not yet found her child’s baptism, but in his will, written in 1819, Clarkson’s only beneficiaries are his son, John, and his granddaughter, Eliza Cook, daughter of his late daughter, Elizabeth, wife of Charles Cook. Mary Ann’s letter about the miserly Mr. C. was written in July 1803, which was only a few months after Elizabeth Cook’s death – in her letter she says that Mr. C. “had a daughter who married against his consent; he never forgave her, and when she brought a female infant into the world, the pangs of the mother increased by the want of common nourishment, and she expired within a few yards of her unnatural father’s door, oppressed by poverty and misery: the poor babe is now nursed by an indigent woman, who lives in the vicinity of Mr. C’s house; and is supported in a miserable manner.” Mr. C. proudly talked of his military days to Mary Ann and her husband, and Clarkson was a ensign and a lieutenant in the Eastern Battalion of the Essex Militia (ERO ref: D/DSz F1) in the 1750s and 1760s. It may be of course that Mary Ann’s presentation of Mr. C. was somewhat exaggerated. The story about him living in near-darkness to avoid the window tax is amusing, but his treatment of his daughter, if true, is cruel. Clarkson Cardinal died in 1825, at the age of 95, and was buried at Tendring. According to the Essex Standard (25 Feb 1870) and Bernard Berke’s A genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry of Great Britain, John married the daughter of Palmer Fisher – however, she was in fact the daughter of Parish Fisher (Parish died in Wix in 1810. His will mentions Palmer, who was his son, and John Cardinall, his son-in-law, was one of his executors). Her name was Sarah, and she married John Cardinall in Wix in 1808. John died in 1847. He had a son, also called John, who was Lord of the Manor of Tendring and in 1870 became a magistrate. Interestingly, Parish Fisher had a brother called Clarkson Fisher (1752-1760), and his mother was Sarah Cardinal (married Parish Fisher senior in Colchester in 1748) – I would not be surprised, then, if John and Sarah (who was in fact baptised as Sarah Cardinal Fisher) were cousins of some stripe.), and then in her next letter from Weeley Camp, to Miss Fanny W.7)Ibid., letter XXXVI, July 1803, pp.34-8, she writes enthusiastically of the social scene they enjoy there. She is trying to encourage Fanny to join them at Weeley Camp (Fanny is possibly an officer’s wife) and tells her: “I find the officers pleasant and attentive; among the female coterie of the regiment, is my quondam friend, Mrs. F.; we frequently dine together; and sometimes form little musical parties in the evening”8)Ibid., p.35. Looking at Weeley’s parish register, Mrs. F. might be Margalida (presumably Madeline), wife of Captain Simon Fraser of the 42nd. Regt., whose daughter, Louisa, was baptised in May 1804.. She writes at length about a musical picnic in the grounds of Nassau’s St. Osyth Priory: “when we arrived in the park, we found two tents fixed, where we were to dine; the band was placed in different parts of the woods, and had a charming effect, as we wandered over the grounds”.9)Ibid., p.35-6

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Scotland and the journey back to England

Her next letter is written from Edinburgh in August 1803, and the Grants travelled there by ship. The journey took eight days, and Mary Ann “never suffered so much from terror or sickness”10)Ibid., letter XXXVII, p.39 (she was pregnant at the time, which perhaps made the bad journey even more of a trial). It appears part of the 42nd. Regiment had been sent back up to Scotland from Weeley, and “we have just received orders to proceed northwards”11)Ibid., p.47, so this was no holiday visit. Her letter written from Inverness in September 1803 says that she and her husband have a house there.12)Ibid., letter XXXVIII, p.48 She writes of having an indisposition, and “the jolting of the carriage was almost too much for me, and I have suffered a good deal”13)Ibid., pp.47-8 – perhaps her ever-advancing pregnancy was making travel unpleasant. Letter XIL, written again from Inverness, where Mary Ann considered themselves to have become settled, says “a report is circulated that we are very soon to return to England”14)Ibid., letter XIL, p. 59, and her next letter is dated Harwich, November 1803.

Mary Ann considered remaining in Inverness “in consequence of the very indifferent state of my health”15)Ibid., XL, p.61, but became “perfectly miserable at the idea of parting with my dear G.”, so she decided to return with him to England. Presumably her health is a reference to her pregnancy. The journey described in this letter demonstrates the difficult choices faced by soldiers’ wives – the ship was stuck in Cromarty Bay for eight days due to the wind,16)Ibid., p.62 and while Mary Ann was offered a place ashore, rather than be trapped on the ship, she refused to go because she knew that it would leave as soon as the winds were ready; “I was afraid they would go off without me”.17)Ibid., pp.62-3 The ship finally arrived in Harwich, and they rested overnight, which is where Mary Ann wrote her letter.18)Ibid, p.66 They hoped they would have their winter quarters at Colchester,19)Ibid. but due to the threat of invasion by the Napoleonic forces, and because the north-east Essex coast was considered a likely invasion point, Captain Grant wasn’t allowed to leave the barracks.20)Ibid., letter XLI, p.70 There being no lodgings to be had within two miles of the barracks, Mary Ann, not wishing to live apart from her husband, found herself residing on what had been the site of Weeley Camp – she was going to spend the winter at Weeley Barracks.

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Weeley Barracks, winter 1803-4

Letter XLI is worth reading in its entirety, as Mary Ann goes into great detail about just how dreadful conditions were at the barracks. From July, when she had last been there, when it was Weeley Camp, but a few months later it’s now a network of huts, known as Weeley Barracks: “it appeared hardly possible that in so short a space of time, as seven or eight weeks, barracks to contain five thousand men, could have sprung up by the hands of men; yet so it is: the ploughed ground, and green meadows, where the encampment was formed last summer, have disappeared, and these temporary erections supply their place”.21)Ibid., p.67-8

When the Grants arrived, the accommodation was unfinished: the plaster was still damp on the walls, and they were constantly disturbed by workmen arriving to make finishing touches to it. They were beset by horrible damp,22)Ibid., p.69 and because the roads hadn’t been finished, Mary Ann was initially carried to their accommodation.23)Ibid., p.68 It meant she was completely isolated: “From female society I am, for the present, completely debarred, since there is no way for a woman to venture out, but upon men’s shoulders, no very pleasant conveyance you must allow; but I look forward with pleasure to a few months hence, when the barracks will be completed, the roads mended, and our little parties again mix agreeably together”.24)Ibid., p.71 It must have been sorely trying to Mary Ann, pregnant with her first child, to be so entirely stranded.

There is no mention in her letter of the sanitary arrangements at Weeley Barracks – one could quite reasonably (although rather pruriently) ask the question: if Mary Ann couldn’t leave their hut, what on Earth did she do when nature called? She makes no mention of them having servants, but perhaps there were staff at the barracks who serviced the huts, particularly when the women who lived in the huts were unable to leave (one suspects that the lower class wives had no such help and, with no other option, waded through the mud regardless). It’s an unseemly question, I know, but an important one, because poor sanitation posed a huge health problem. Had cholera, or a similar disease, broken out at the Barracks, the home of thousands of people, the death toll would have been enormous. The fact that Weeley was considered such a vital defence point strategically suggests that efforts were made to ensure such problems would not occur, but it’s impossible to know this based on Mary Ann’s letters alone. There are references to fever breaking out at the Barracks, such as when the Cameron Highlanders arrived in 1809 from the Peninsular Campaign : “many men fell victims to its ravages. In a few weeks, however, after its outbreak it began to decline, and in about a month entirely disappeared”,25)Archive.org: Historical Records of the 79th. Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders p. 29 and there are clusters of burials at Weeley church for people from the Barracks which suggest that fever may indeed have spread and carried off some of its inhabitants.

Mary Ann’s next letter, written two months later in February 1804, tells the sad story of the loss of her child. It’s not clear if the child was stillborn, but there is no mention of the Grant’s infant in the Weeley parish register, either for a baptism or a burial. Mary Ann, who nearly died herself, writes, “My spirits are still very low, I grieve much for my loss, though I am well aware how selfish it is for me to mourn, and am sensible that my sweet little angel is happier with her God, than all my anxiety for her welfare could have made her here; I often reflect upon this, yet my heart proves rebellious, and the mother mourns”.26)Ibid., letter XLII, pp.72-3 Her reference to “my anxiety for her welfare” suggests that Mary Ann was concerned about raising her infant at the Barracks, and with the uncertainty of where her husband would next be posted. It isn’t clear what help Mary Ann received from the other people at the Barracks, but I have seen a source which said that so many children were born there that a maternity unit was set up to accommodate them (please don’t quote me on this until I can actually find the source again). Looking at the vast number of baptisms at Weeley parish church for children of soldiers at the Barracks, this would hardly be surprising. It’s worth assuming, too, that the other wives rallied to her aid, and perhaps the company of her husband helped her – had she taken lodgings at a house with strangers, she would have lost her network of support.

harriet

Weeley Barracks, summer 1804

Her last letter from Weeley Barracks was written in June 1804. Her tone is far cheerier than the previous one, and she writes at length about Shakespeare’s history plays. She says that now she enjoys “a little society; our agreeable parties have again commenced”.27)Ibid., XLIII, p.83 She sounds content and perhaps puts a brave face on barracks life: “Our barracks have now assumed an air of comfort […] and you would smile to see the ways and means we fall upon, to make the unpolished furniture allotted us, look neat; the roads are nicely made, and we have the comfort of walking dry”. A vast improvement on the grim scene she was met with on arriving in the depths of winter – but they still have to make do, without luxuries: the invitations that they make to each other “are always accompanied by a desire, that each person will bring their camp-stool, knife, glass, &c.; such is the order among those who occupy barracks”.

And that is the last we see of Weeley Barracks in Mary Ann Grant’s letters. She next writes in September 1804 from Lexden Camp, but it appears that in the intervening months, her husband was able to get leave because she mentions that they have been to London. But she doesn’t describe life at Lexden Camp, and the Grants may have found lodgings nearby, so that they no longer had to endure the deprivations of barracks life in a hut.

Her husband was never posted to mainland Europe, and Mary Ann remained by his side, travelling to Ireland before the end of 1804. He retired from the Army in 1805, and the Grants then resided at Sluggan, Strathspey: “The paternal residence of my dear G. has become ours”.28)Ibid., letter LII, August 1806, p.287 The Grants seem to be settled at last: “I have undergone a complete metamorphosis, and find myself transformed from the officer’s to the farmer’s wife.”29)Ibid., p.286

Conclusion

At Weeley Barracks, Mary Ann’s husband continually urged her to find better accommodation away from the barracks, but “I am unable to persuade myself to leave G.”30)Ibid., letter XLI, p.71 This is perhaps a typical attitude of the wives who found themselves living at Weeley Barracks; as unpleasant and as uncomfortable as the environment was, it presented them with the opportunity to live with their husbands, even for a short while: the women whose husbands were fighting overseas did not have the same opportunity. Many did accompany their husbands, as “camp followers” – they carried out work such as cooking and cleaning. It was done by ballot, so it was not always a given that a wife would be able to travel overseas with her husband (it no doubt being incredibly difficult to arrange transport and accommodation for everyone, especially with the number of children involved as well). However, Mary Ann, as an officer’s wife, would probably not have had to rely on a ballot to travel with her husband. When a soldier was killed in action, his widow was likely to marry again quite quickly, usually to another soldier, or she risked being sent back to England penniless. The life of the officers’ wives was different: a reading of the Waterloo scenes in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, when the women await news of the battle from the apparent safety of the finest hotel in Brussels, is indicative: the wives of the ordinary soldiers were probably nearer the battlefield.

It is interesting, therefore, that Mary Ann roughs it for the sake of being with her husband, and it’s why I’m particularly fascinated by her letters, because they give life to the names in the Weeley parish register. It tells us what conditions were like for the thousands of people living at Weeley Barracks, many of whom were women and children, whose histories are so often forgotten or sidelined, and it also illustrates the ordinary day-to-day lives of the soldiers, away from the battlefields.

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Who was Mary Ann Grant?

Pam Perkins, reviewing The Travels of Elizabeth Isabella Spence, says of Mary Ann Grant that “there is almost no biographical information available on her, and she appears not to have published again after this book”.31)Perkins, P. “The Travels of Elizabeth Isabella Spence”The Bottle Imp, 11, May 2012 Glen Hooper says “Mary Ann Grant appears to be one of the earliest woman travellers to Ireland whose account survives, although it has not been possible to trace any biographical information on the narrator herself”.32)Hopper, G., ed., The Tourist’s Gaze: Travellers to Ireland, 1800-2000, Cork: Cork University Press, 2001. p. 13 I have, however, looked for clues within Sketches of Life and Manners and have been able to find out a little about her.

Her letters begin in 1795, her first being dated from Worthing, just before her step-father, Colonel G., was sent to Inverness, to be stationed at Fort George. She comments about being removed from school in order to move to Fort George with her mother, who accompanied Colonel G., so Mary Ann was probably born around 1780 (when her mother dies in 1801, Mary Ann mentions she is a minor, so a birth date in the early 1780s is likely). I initially thought that Grant was a pseudonym, but so many people called Grant appear in the list of subscribers at the beginning of volume 1 (no less than forty-two), that it is likely actually was writing under her own name. The sudden death of Colonel G. is mentioned in a letter that she wrote in May 1799 from The Hermitage, North End,33)This is in Fulham – it may be a handy clue if we can find out who was living there at the time. The Morning Post, 9th June 1821 carries the death notice for Mrs. Elizabeth Brown, wife of Major Brown, “in her 70th. year”. This is the closest I have got through the newspapers to finding out who lived at The Hermitage when Mary Ann visited. while she was on a visit to friends in England; her family had by then lived at Fort George for about four years. In a letter written from Chelsea in 1800, she mentions a cousin, Mr. H., whose benefice is at Botesdale in Suffolk. Mary Ann and her mother visit him and his wife, her mother at first thinking she would settle there, but she goes to live in Chelsea, but Mary Ann stays for some time in Botesdale. When she decides to go to Chelsea to live with her mother, she takes her cousin Mary Ann with her – presumably a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. In January 1801, Mary Ann writes from Charles Street, Queen’s Elm in Chelsea to say that she and her mother had started to become settled, but her mother has died suddenly. She then stays with various family and friends, writing in July 1801 from Margate, where she has gone to try sea-bathing for her health, which had suffered following her mother’s death (this maybe indicates that Mary Ann helped with the nursing of her mother). By July 1802, she is writing from Inverness, and in March 1803, she first mentions, “a certain gentleman named G.”34)Grant, ibid., Letter XXXIII, vol. 2, p.19 – G. referring to her husband’s surname. Her next letter, also written from Inverness, in April 1803, says that she has married him, and letter XXXV is the first she writes from Weeley, in the July.

Although I looked on Scotland’s People to find the record of the Grant marriage, I was unable to find it. I looked then at the London Gazette, because letter XLIV from Lexden Camp mentions that her husband has received a promotion: “you would, I suppose see his promotion in the gazette”.35)Ibid., letter XLIV, p.85 First of all, I looked for his retirement from the Army, which is mentioned in her letter written from London in December 1805, searching the database for “vice Grant”: I found Captain Robert Macara being promoted to Major, “by purchase, vice Grant, who retires” from the 42nd. Regiment of Foot. This makes sense because the 42nd. first appear in Weeley’s register in July 1803, which is the date of Mary Ann’s first Weeley letter. He may have been in the second battalion: Mike Osborne says that the 2nd were at Weeley Camp and Lexden Camp in 1804,36)Osborne, M. Defending Essex: The Military Landscape from Prehistory to the Present Unknown: The History Press, 2013. Unpaginated. as was Mary Grant. I then looked for Grant’s promotion, and that appears in the London Gazette on 11th September 1804: Captain James Grant to be Major, “by purchase, vice Stewart, who retires”. This ties in with the letter from Lexden Camp, which mentions his promotion, dated the same month.37)James’ military career begins in 1795, when James Grant, gent., becomes ensign in the 1st. or Strathspey Fencible Infantry (this was a regiment of volunteers created by Sir James Grant in 1793). He was promoted to Lieutenant at some point, and in 1798, became Captain-Lieutenant in the same regiment (The London Gazette of 17th July 1798 is interesting on this score – James replaced Allan Grant, who became Major, and James was replaced by Ensign John Grant. And John Grant was replaced by Alexander Grant, gent. – presumably they were all related, or were at least part of the Grant clan. The Strathspey Fencibles were also known as a the Grant Fencibles, named after their creator, rather than the number of Grants in the regiment). In 1800, Capt-Lieut. James Grant became Captain in Colonel Hay’s Regiment of Fencible Infantry, and in 1801, he was promoted to Captain in the 40th Regt. of Foot (The London Gazette: 4th Aug 1795, 17th Jul 1798, 20 May 1800, 3rd Nov 1801). His father may be referenced in The London Gazette of 13th May 1797 when William Grant was to become ensign in the Strathspey Fencibles, vice James Grant senr, who resigned.

Once I had her husband’s name, I tried again to find their marriage on Scotland’s People, and still had no luck, so I tried the newspapers. This time, I found them – the Aberdeen Journal dated 11th May 1803 (consider that she writes about G. for the first time in a letter dated March 1803, and says, in a letter dated April 1803, that she is now married) records the marriage at Inverness of “Captain James Grant, late of the 40th. Regiment, to Miss Mary Ann Nicholson of London.” It doesn’t give a date, but it must be March or April when they married, and a lag of a month or two in the announcement being made in the paper isn’t unusual.

More than that, however, I don’t know. I have not yet identified her step-father, Colonel G., but it’s possible he was also a Grant. Looking at the London Gazette again to see someone replacing a Colonel G., deceased, in 1799, might yield dividends.38)I have tried doing this, without any luck. I have also asked the Highlanders Museum at Fort George, where Colonel G. died, and they were none the wiser, suggesting I look at the burials on Scotland’s People. Alas, nothing. They very kindly sent me a list of all the regiments stationed at Fort George, but, again, even comparing that to the London Gazette’s promotions etc., I came up empty-handed. Maybe one day I will go up to Inverness and see what I can find out…. Neither have I identified Mary Ann’s cousin at Botesdale – the Clergy Database has Morgan Graves as the incumbent of St. Mary Redgrave-cum-Botesdale from 1778 until his death in 1802, but Mary Ann refers to her cousin as Mr. H., so it might not be him.39)Cue enormous footnote: Looking at the marriage register for the signature of the minister who performs the ceremony is a short-cut to finding his name, but I would have to order the microfiche to do so. I have had a quick look at Morgan Graves’ family – in 1778, Morgan married Harriot James Head (22 Nov 1749-Jan 1796). Harriot’s uncle, Sir Thomas Head, married Jane Holt in 1750, so it could be that Mary Ann is, when talking about “Mr. H.”, actually referring to Morgan Graves in a slightly roundabout way. Morgan Graves was 54 when he died in June 1802. That said – Mary Ann refers to “Mr. and Mrs. H.” – if Mr. H is indeed Morgan Graves, then he would have remarried sometime between 1796-1800, but the 1802 abstract of his will says he was a widower. One of the executors was James Hailstone – could he be Mr. H.? However, James Hailstone of Botesdale appears to have been a merchant in the village, so it’s unlikely. Another possible is that Mr. H. might be Mr. Haddock – we know that in 1807, Rev. William Haddock married Rebecca Rogers at Botesdale. I think this is the same William who died in 1851 aged 66, so William is unlikely to be Mr. H., however, he may be one of Mr. H.’s sons – Mary Ann refers to a visit to Diss with Mrs. H., when they are alarmed by two men leaping out of the darkness to take the reins of their horse. It turns out that it is in fact Mr. H. and his son: William would have been 15 at the time this happened. It would appear that William Haddock, born about 1785, was the son of Joseph Haddock and his wife Mary, née Casen. Between 1786 and 1799, they had seven children baptised at Thorndon in Suffolk, which is near Botesdale. They had a daughter in about 1786 called Ann – this might be Mary Ann, who Mary Ann Grant refers to as her cousin, “at the age of improvement” in 1800 – fourteen sounds plausible. Trying to find out more about Joseph Haddock might prove useful.

I’m not sure what happened to the Grants after the close of her last letter from Sluggan in 1808, apart from the fact that Mary Ann did write another book, Tales Founded on Facts (available on Google Books), which was published by Boosey & Sons in London, 1820. The title is somewhat dry and not particularly inviting (though the titles of the individual stories are more enticing, “Mary; or, The Captive” being perfectly of its time), and the stories themselves seem to be Scottish-set historical tales in the vein of Sir Walter Scott. She dedicated her book to Sir William Grant, late Master of the Rolls – he was one of the subscribers to Sketches…. Mary Ann may be the Mrs. Grant of Sluggan who is one of the many people associated with the Grants to be toasted at a (quite possibly, towards the end, rather drunken) occasion, reported in the Inverness Courier on 7th November 1850: “Dinner to William Ogilvie, Esq.” However, at the end of Tales Founded on Fact, there is an advert for “Mrs Grant’s Establishment for the Education of Young Ladies” at Park House, Croyden – is this Mary Ann? Did James die and she turned to teaching? Or is Mrs Grant one of the many members of the Grant clan, who Mary Ann decided to help by advertising her school in her book? Sketches… and Tales… are the only two titles authored by Mary Ann Grant that are held by the British Library. But is James (or perhaps his father) alluded to in Elizabeth Grant’s Memoirs of a Highland Lady? “My father was the Lieutenant-Colonel; Ballindalloch, the major; the captains, lieutenants, and ensigns were all Grants and Maephersons, with the exception of our cousin Captain Cameron. Most of the elders had served in the regular army, and had retired in middle life upon their half-pay to little Highland farms in Strathspey and Badenoch, by the names of which they were familiarly known as Sluggan, Tullochgorm, Ballintomb, Kinchurdy, Bhealiott.”40)Grant, E.Memoirs of a Highland Lady: The Autobiography of Elizabeth Grant, Rothiemurcus, afterwards Mrs. Smith of Baltiboys, 1797-1830. Edited by Lady Strachey. London: John Murray, 1898. Accessed on Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing, 2014.

I have contacted Clan Grant in case they can further help to identify Mary Ann and her husband. If you can help, please do get in touch.

I would also like to say that, without Google’s book-scanning project, I would never have found Mary Ann’s letters about Weeley Camp and Barracks – I know Google are thought of as a rather terrifying organisation these days, but their ebooks provision is of immeasurable importance to researchers, amateur and professional alike; I fall very much within the amateur camp myself.

Helen Barrell, 5th May 2014

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Or, to give it its full titleSketches of Life and Manners, with Delineation of Scenery, in England, Scotland and Ireland: Interspersed with Moral Tales and Anecdotes, in Original Letters, in Two Volumes. Google Books: volume 1 and volume 2.
2. Sketches of Life & Manners, vol. 2, letter XXXIV, pp.24-5. This is probably Sir James Grant of Grant, 8th. Baronet, 1738-1811.
3. Ibid., letter XXXV, July 1803, p.29
4. Ibid., letter XXXVI, July 1803, p.35
5. Ibid., letter XXXV, July 1803, pp.29-34
6. Clarkson Cardinal (sometimes Cardinall) of Tendring had two children: John (baptised 1770) and Elizabeth (baptised 1776). In 1802, Elizabeth Cardinall married Charles John Cook at Ardleigh, and she was buried at Tendring as Mrs. Elizabeth Cook on 25th March 1803. I have not yet found her child’s baptism, but in his will, written in 1819, Clarkson’s only beneficiaries are his son, John, and his granddaughter, Eliza Cook, daughter of his late daughter, Elizabeth, wife of Charles Cook. Mary Ann’s letter about the miserly Mr. C. was written in July 1803, which was only a few months after Elizabeth Cook’s death – in her letter she says that Mr. C. “had a daughter who married against his consent; he never forgave her, and when she brought a female infant into the world, the pangs of the mother increased by the want of common nourishment, and she expired within a few yards of her unnatural father’s door, oppressed by poverty and misery: the poor babe is now nursed by an indigent woman, who lives in the vicinity of Mr. C’s house; and is supported in a miserable manner.” Mr. C. proudly talked of his military days to Mary Ann and her husband, and Clarkson was a ensign and a lieutenant in the Eastern Battalion of the Essex Militia (ERO ref: D/DSz F1) in the 1750s and 1760s. It may be of course that Mary Ann’s presentation of Mr. C. was somewhat exaggerated. The story about him living in near-darkness to avoid the window tax is amusing, but his treatment of his daughter, if true, is cruel. Clarkson Cardinal died in 1825, at the age of 95, and was buried at Tendring. According to the Essex Standard (25 Feb 1870) and Bernard Berke’s A genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry of Great Britain, John married the daughter of Palmer Fisher – however, she was in fact the daughter of Parish Fisher (Parish died in Wix in 1810. His will mentions Palmer, who was his son, and John Cardinall, his son-in-law, was one of his executors). Her name was Sarah, and she married John Cardinall in Wix in 1808. John died in 1847. He had a son, also called John, who was Lord of the Manor of Tendring and in 1870 became a magistrate. Interestingly, Parish Fisher had a brother called Clarkson Fisher (1752-1760), and his mother was Sarah Cardinal (married Parish Fisher senior in Colchester in 1748) – I would not be surprised, then, if John and Sarah (who was in fact baptised as Sarah Cardinal Fisher) were cousins of some stripe.
7. Ibid., letter XXXVI, July 1803, pp.34-8
8. Ibid., p.35. Looking at Weeley’s parish register, Mrs. F. might be Margalida (presumably Madeline), wife of Captain Simon Fraser of the 42nd. Regt., whose daughter, Louisa, was baptised in May 1804.
9. Ibid., p.35-6
10. Ibid., letter XXXVII, p.39
11. Ibid., p.47
12. Ibid., letter XXXVIII, p.48
13. Ibid., pp.47-8
14. Ibid., letter XIL, p. 59
15. Ibid., XL, p.61
16. Ibid., p.62
17. Ibid., pp.62-3
18. Ibid, p.66
19. Ibid.
20. Ibid., letter XLI, p.70
21. Ibid., p.67-8
22. Ibid., p.69
23. Ibid., p.68
24. Ibid., p.71
25. Archive.org: Historical Records of the 79th. Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders p. 29
26. Ibid., letter XLII, pp.72-3
27. Ibid., XLIII, p.83
28. Ibid., letter LII, August 1806, p.287
29. Ibid., p.286
30. Ibid., letter XLI, p.71
31. Perkins, P. “The Travels of Elizabeth Isabella Spence”The Bottle Imp, 11, May 2012
32. Hopper, G., ed., The Tourist’s Gaze: Travellers to Ireland, 1800-2000, Cork: Cork University Press, 2001. p. 13
33. This is in Fulham – it may be a handy clue if we can find out who was living there at the time. The Morning Post, 9th June 1821 carries the death notice for Mrs. Elizabeth Brown, wife of Major Brown, “in her 70th. year”. This is the closest I have got through the newspapers to finding out who lived at The Hermitage when Mary Ann visited.
34. Grant, ibid., Letter XXXIII, vol. 2, p.19
35. Ibid., letter XLIV, p.85
36. Osborne, M. Defending Essex: The Military Landscape from Prehistory to the Present Unknown: The History Press, 2013. Unpaginated.
37. James’ military career begins in 1795, when James Grant, gent., becomes ensign in the 1st. or Strathspey Fencible Infantry (this was a regiment of volunteers created by Sir James Grant in 1793). He was promoted to Lieutenant at some point, and in 1798, became Captain-Lieutenant in the same regiment (The London Gazette of 17th July 1798 is interesting on this score – James replaced Allan Grant, who became Major, and James was replaced by Ensign John Grant. And John Grant was replaced by Alexander Grant, gent. – presumably they were all related, or were at least part of the Grant clan. The Strathspey Fencibles were also known as a the Grant Fencibles, named after their creator, rather than the number of Grants in the regiment). In 1800, Capt-Lieut. James Grant became Captain in Colonel Hay’s Regiment of Fencible Infantry, and in 1801, he was promoted to Captain in the 40th Regt. of Foot (The London Gazette: 4th Aug 1795, 17th Jul 1798, 20 May 1800, 3rd Nov 1801). His father may be referenced in The London Gazette of 13th May 1797 when William Grant was to become ensign in the Strathspey Fencibles, vice James Grant senr, who resigned.
38. I have tried doing this, without any luck. I have also asked the Highlanders Museum at Fort George, where Colonel G. died, and they were none the wiser, suggesting I look at the burials on Scotland’s People. Alas, nothing. They very kindly sent me a list of all the regiments stationed at Fort George, but, again, even comparing that to the London Gazette’s promotions etc., I came up empty-handed. Maybe one day I will go up to Inverness and see what I can find out….
39. Cue enormous footnote: Looking at the marriage register for the signature of the minister who performs the ceremony is a short-cut to finding his name, but I would have to order the microfiche to do so. I have had a quick look at Morgan Graves’ family – in 1778, Morgan married Harriot James Head (22 Nov 1749-Jan 1796). Harriot’s uncle, Sir Thomas Head, married Jane Holt in 1750, so it could be that Mary Ann is, when talking about “Mr. H.”, actually referring to Morgan Graves in a slightly roundabout way. Morgan Graves was 54 when he died in June 1802. That said – Mary Ann refers to “Mr. and Mrs. H.” – if Mr. H is indeed Morgan Graves, then he would have remarried sometime between 1796-1800, but the 1802 abstract of his will says he was a widower. One of the executors was James Hailstone – could he be Mr. H.? However, James Hailstone of Botesdale appears to have been a merchant in the village, so it’s unlikely. Another possible is that Mr. H. might be Mr. Haddock – we know that in 1807, Rev. William Haddock married Rebecca Rogers at Botesdale. I think this is the same William who died in 1851 aged 66, so William is unlikely to be Mr. H., however, he may be one of Mr. H.’s sons – Mary Ann refers to a visit to Diss with Mrs. H., when they are alarmed by two men leaping out of the darkness to take the reins of their horse. It turns out that it is in fact Mr. H. and his son: William would have been 15 at the time this happened. It would appear that William Haddock, born about 1785, was the son of Joseph Haddock and his wife Mary, née Casen. Between 1786 and 1799, they had seven children baptised at Thorndon in Suffolk, which is near Botesdale. They had a daughter in about 1786 called Ann – this might be Mary Ann, who Mary Ann Grant refers to as her cousin, “at the age of improvement” in 1800 – fourteen sounds plausible. Trying to find out more about Joseph Haddock might prove useful.
40. Grant, E.Memoirs of a Highland Lady: The Autobiography of Elizabeth Grant, Rothiemurcus, afterwards Mrs. Smith of Baltiboys, 1797-1830. Edited by Lady Strachey. London: John Murray, 1898. Accessed on Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing, 2014.