Sunday, May 29, 2011

Knight Commander of the Tower and Sword, Portugal: the honour that shaped a life

Sir John Campbell's entry in the Index of Wills and Administrations after his death in 1863 identified him as Knight Commander of the Order of the Tower and Sword of Portugal. What did this mean? It certainly did turn out to be handy in tracking him for at least part of his life.

In The Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage, of Great Britain and Ireland, including all the titled classes, by Charles R. Dodd, 1845 (Google e-book copy), at page 70, I found a fairly detailed entry for Sir John.


What a treasure trove!

Here is the new information. It is a repetition of what the clipping says, broken into points for follow-up.

  • Father was William Campbell, Commissioner of the Navy Board.
  • Mother's maiden name was Pitcairn.
  • Mother's father was Major Pitcairn of the Marines, killed at Bunker's [sic] Hill.
  • 1780: Born 1780 (this is a little more precise that the census, which estimated 1781).
  • 1800: Entered the army in 1800.
  • 1806: Became Captain of 7th Hussars in 1806.
  • 1807: Was exchanged into the 10th Foot [I assume that is 10th Regiment of Foot] and was a Brigade Major in 1807 in the expedition under General Crawfurd. 
  • 1808: Military service in 1807 and 1808: Miserere, Buenos Ayres, Roleia, Vimiera.
  • 1808: With cavalry under Lord Anglesey in 1808 at Sahagun and Benevente.
  • 1809: Portuguese army 1809 as a British Major and a Portuguese Lieutenant-Colonel.
  • 1810: In all campaigns in peninsula and Pyrenees before and after 1810.
  • 1810: Around 1810 became Colonel of 4th Cavalry.
  • 1811: In 1811 became Lieutenant-Colonel in British army, but was apparently serving with the Portuguese at the time.
  •  1815: Created Knight Bachelor, his English knighthood, in 1815.
  • 1816: Married a Portuguese lady in 1816, Dona Maria Brigida de Faria e Lacerda, of Lisbon.
  • 1820: Sometime between 1810 and 1820, became a Major-General in Portuguese military.
  • 1820: Stayed a Major-General till 1820, at which point he was Deputy Quarter-Master General of the Portuguese army.
  • 1821: From 1821 to 1824, commanded 75th Foot (British).
  • 1824: In 1824 sold his British commission (as a Lieutenant Colonel).
  • 1820: Date unclear, perhaps 1820, became a Portuguese Lieutenant-General. This rank was given by "Don Miguel, whose cause he espoused."
  • 1820: In 1820, received the order of the Tower and Sword of Portugal.
  • 1842: Married again in 1842, the relict of Major-General Sir Alexander Dickson, K.C.B. (Presumably this wife is Harriet Maria, with Sir John in 1851 and 1861.)
  • 1845: In 1845 (date of the book), he was living at 51 Charles Street.
This painted a different picture.

I had earlier thought of Sir John as a retired military man of 80 growing old with his 80-year-old wife, and assumed they had been together forever. Turns out, both had been married before.

There are connections to Portugal, an earlier wife, high ranks and honours in both British and Portuguese military, lots of action in battles, command of the 75th in England, and a hint of something out of the ordinary "whose cause he espoused".

Order of the Tower and Sword

This Portuguese honour was dormant for some time, though it dates back to 1459 according to a history by Jose Vicente de Braganca.

In 1808, the Prince Regent used this as the only non-religious Portuguese honour the British could accept, to reward those who had helped the Portuguese royal family escape from Napoleon's soldiers, who had invaded Portugal, to Brazil.

It is a high honour, still in use.

Sir John was made K.C.T.S. in 1820. To understand the significance of the dates of various events in Sir John's life requires a quick and superficial romp through Portuguese history. I know I will get some of this wrong. If you'd like to offer an explanation or more information, please do! Use the comments form at the end of the post and you will be my new best friend. This was a complicated time and place and I can only gloss over it.

Portugal and Britain by the Methuen Treaty of 1703 had established a mutually beneficial trading alliance, with port flowing north and textiles coming south. From time to time on Charles Street I have run into Portuguese wine merchants, especially with Thomas March, whose parents (March and Gonne) both came from families trading in wine (port) in Portugal. The British merchant colony at Oporto is what most trails lead back to when looking at Brits in Portugal in the 1700s and the first decades of the 1800s.

The 18th century in Europe was a time of upheaval, when liberals pressured the absolute monarchs for more freedom. The French Revolution is perhaps the best-known example.

In the early 19th century, Portugal was allied with England against France and Spain. The Portuguese royal family, as mentioned earlier, fled to Brazil when Napoleon's forces invaded. So did approximately 10,000 other people, apparently, effectively removing all Portuguese leadership and leaving behind a Portuguese-British protectorate.

Sir John fought on the British-Portuguese side against the French and Spanish in the Peninsular Wars. He was mentioned favourably in the (later) Duke of Wellington's field dispatches more than once. This probably supported the granting of his British knighthood in 1815.

After the Peninsular Wars, when Portugal was quieter, Campbell remained there and helped build up the Portuguese army. He married Dona Brigida of Lisbon in 1816.

The political climate in Portugal began to heat up again around 1820, with anti-absolutist factions gaining power. I sense that it was of his own accord that Sir John decided to leave Portugal. Whether he already held the KCTS at this point I don't know, but it's possible. That fits with his later loyalty to Dom Miguel, loyalty which I suggest shaped the rest of Sir John's life.

The Portuguese royal family was divided in its opinion about how absolutist to remain. This led to the War of the Two Brothers (1828 to 1833), with one brother, Dom Miguel, attempting to push back all reforms and hold on to absolute power. To cut a long story short, Sir John backed the wrong horse, as I will explain in more detail next time.

You can subscribe to this blog and get the new posts by email or in your RSS reader. Be my guest! 

I have not read the books below. The first one is highly regarded but (this is the honest truth) my dog ate it before I could read it. The second and third are texts I would like to have a peek at, especially the last one, a first-hand account of The War of the Two Brothers by a British lady in Oporto. It's out of print but I wanted to make its existence known.

  Siege lady: The adventures of Mrs. Dorothy Procter of Entre Quintas and of divers other notable persons during the siege of Oporto and the War of the Two Brothers in Portugal, 1832-1834

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sir John Campbell, Knight Bachelor, and his wife Harriet Maria: what probate told me

In 1851 and 1861, Sir John Campbell and his wife Harriet Maria were  living at 51 Charles Street, Berkeley Square, London  with four servants in 1851 and two of the same plus two new ones in 1861.

My first impression was that this was a couple who had spent 50 or 60  years together. There was no mention of children in either census, but  as Sir John and Harriet were each born in about 1781, any children they  had may well have been married and gone by 1800 to 1810.

Sir John's presumably self-described occupation changed just a little  over the 10 years. He was a Knight Bachelor and a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Army.

The fact that he was knighted gave me some hope of finding a formal and  detailed biography somewhere, and I wasn't disappointed. Sadly, the name  "John Campbell" is hardly rare. Even "Sir John Campbell" born around  1780 isn't unique. Throughout, I've had to be careful not to get mixed  up with other Sir John Campbells and other army officers of the same time, named Campbell.

Knowing that Sir John and Lady Campbell were each 80 years old in the 1861 census, it made sense to look for information about their respective deaths first. This is following the principle of working from the known to the unknown, a good basic research strategy.

Sir John Campbell: Information from probate

I am quite grateful that the National Probate Calendar for England is available online through This index lists all the grants to people who acted as executors and administrators of estates. It often gives a few good clues about where a person spent the latter part of their life, how much money they had at the end, and often identifies one or more close relatives.

A quick search for Sir John Campbell dying in 1861 or later turned up an entry in the Wills of 1864.

Instantly, I had a positive identification:
Sir John Campbell, Knight, late of 51 Charles Street;
and some new information:
  • He died 19 December 1863 at his home on Charles Street;
  • He was Knight Commander of the Order of the Tower and Sword of Portugal;
  • His effects were originally valued at under £8,000. In March 1865, the value was changed to under £10,000.
  • His executors were Richard Onslow of Wandsworth, Surrey, Esquire, and William Campbell Onslow of 28 Leinster Gardens, Middlesex, Esquire, a retired Lieutenant Colonel of Her Majesty's Indian Army.
This provided me with clues to last a month. Wonderful stuff!

It will be confusing to start into Lady Campbell's details here but don't worry, I did the same for her and will be back with more about her, too.

Sir John Campbell, Knight Bachelor, and many directions for research

 Yes, I know I promised something about Queen Victoria's god-daughter and I will deliver, but not yet.

I found a story that's held my attention for a couple of weeks now, and I hope you will find it interesting too. I'll have to tell it in installments I'm afraid. So far there have been elements of:
  • the history of the English in Portugal in the early 1800s
  • the patterns of marrying and remarrying within a certain social group and class
  • the way military officers stick together
  • the way women are so poorly represented in historical records compared to men
  • charming portraiture from the mid-1800s
  • a family with some notable artists
  • another family with a knack for marrying well
  • the fate of a foreign bride
  • money and how it moves between generations 
  • and lots more.
To begin with, you will probably already know that I have been looking at Charles Street, Berkeley Square, London, as it was in the 1871 census. Since my last post, I decided it would help the research if I looked at the street in every census so I could better understand the transmission of the houses from decade to decade, and also so I could be sure of the numbering, especially in 1841 when the house numbers aren't actually shown on the census.

I've started putting together a spreadsheet from 1841 to 1901, showing the names of the inhabitants, in all 7 censuses, for each house. This has been illuminating and useful even with just half a dozen or so houses completed, so I will keep going.

Today's story introduces Sir John Campbell, a knight and an army veteran.

51 Charles Street, 1851

From the census, reference:
Class HO107
Piece 1476
Folio 364
Page 18
GSU Roll 87799.

On, the page is found in the 1851 English Census at:
Middlesex >St. George Hanover Square >May Fair > District 17 > 18.

John Campbell, Head, married, age 70. Knight Bachelor late Lt Col 75 [indecipherable]. Born Kent, Chatham.

Harriet Maria Campbell, Wife, married, age 70. No occupation shown. Born Middlesex, Aldgate.

Anne Sutton, Servant, unmarried, age 45. Cook. Born Norfolk, Aylsham.
Sarah Loal, Servant, unmarried, age 31. Ladies Maid. Born Northampton, Nassington.
Sarah Calligan, Servant, unmarried, age 35. Housemaid. Born Middlesex, Hackney.
Joseph Attersall, Servant, unmarried, age 22. Footman. Born Lincolnshire, Fiskerton.

The Campbells are at the same place ten years later. Two of the four servants have remained with them. I take this as a sign that someone was a decent employer, when the servants stay for a long time. Of course, there were other reasons to leave a household, even when the employer was good. I make fewer inferences about people leaving than about them staying.

51 Charles Street, 1861

From the census, reference:
Class RG9
Piece 46
Folio 53
Page 39
GSU Roll 542563.

On, the page is found in the 1861 English Census at:
Middlesex >St. George Hanover Square >May Fair > District 15 > 39.

Sir John Campbell, Knt. Head, married, age 80. Formerly Lieut Colonel - Retired from the Army Inf. Knight Bachelor. Born Kent, Chatham.

Harriet Marie Campbell, Wife, married, age 80. No occupation shown. Born Middlesex,City of London, St. Botolphs.

Sarah Loal, Servant, unmarried, age 41. Ladies Maid. Born Northampton, Nassington.
Joseph Attersall, Servant, unmarried, age 30. Butler and Valet. Born Lincolnshire, Fiskerton.
Henrietta Chandler, unmarried, age 32. Cook. Born Norfolk, Northwold.
Ellen Smith, unmarried, age 27. Housemaid. Born Bushy, Hertfordshire.

Given these two fixed points, we can start to explore some dimensions of the Campbells' lives.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Queen Victoria was her godmother

On the one hand, it's exciting to find brushes with royalty here on Charles Street.

On the other, it inevitably means a massive knot of connections to work out!

Stay on the edge of your seat and I will let you know who this fine person was in a little while. (The size of the while has a lot to do with the complexity of the family webs.)

Charles Street, Berkeley Square from 1841 to 1901 and sometimes beyond

I'm still writing about Charles Street and its people. So far I've been presenting the people who lived there in 1871. To make the physical process of doing the research a bit easier (though it may not sound like this is really an improvement), I've recently been looking at each house in each census from 1841 to 1901.

It's a big job but very gratifying, as it shows me relationships and linear strands that I wouldn't have seen otherwise.

I'm going to have more stories!

Heiresses, bankrupts, princes, countesses and pot-scrubbers, they're all here. Gotta love it.
There was an error in this gadget