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.

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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


  1. Elaine M. FindlayMay 29, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    Posted a long on e and it got lost in the ether! Essence was, have you checked out his mother's family? Pitcairn is an unusual name. It is most associated with a group of islands in Polynesia which is associated with the Mutiny on the Bounty. This is from Wiki: (OK not gospel but there's some truth there...)

    Pitcairn Island was sighted on 3 July 1767 by the crew of the British sloop HMS Swallow, commanded by Captain Philip Carteret. It was named after Midshipman Robert Pitcairn, a fifteen-year-old crew member who was the first to sight the island. Robert Pitcairn was the son of British Marine Officer John Pitcairn.

    I wonder if Mary is related....

  2. Elaine M. FindlayMay 29, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    ETA don't know why I called his mother Mary - total aberration! We don't know her first name at this juncture....

  3. Elaine, you are correct. I have more about Annie Pitcairn to come, but jumping ahead, she is a relative of Robert.

    Her father was Major John Pitcairn who died leading his troops (British) in the Battle of Bunker Hill, 1775. There's relatively lots of info on him.

    The brick wall in this area is to get back further on the Campbell line, perhaps by ascertaining whether the Campbells and Pitcairns crossed paths earlier: intermarriages, coming from the same village, serving in the same military units, that sort of thing. So far I have found Annie and William's wedding noted (1776) in the Gentleman's Magazine. Pitcairns are easier to trace, but Campbells, well, that's one of those confusingly common names.

    If you come across a person with the double name or middle names of Pitcairn Campbell after 1776, they are likely to be a relative. (They crop up in the records and I may include some of them in the story.)

    Thanks as always for your note.


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