Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The young Portuguese bride of Sir John Campbell: Dona Maria Brigida

I have mentioned a few things about Sir John Campbell, KB, KCTS, and left off suggesting that the KCTS (Knight Commander of the Tower and the Sword, Portugal) shaped his life.

As far as I can tell, Sir John Campbell stayed in Portugal after the Peninsular Wars, on loan to the Portuguese army until 1820. He left when the constitutionalists started to become too heated. When he returned to England, he lived in Baker Street with his Portuguese wife, Dona Maria Brigida do Faria e Lacerda, and Elizabeth, their daughter, who was born in Lisbon in 1818.

Sir John and Maria Brigida were married in 1816. She was 18 years old. He was 36.

Upon their return to England in 1820, or perhaps shortly before, their son, John David Campbell, was born. Elizabeth and John David are the only children I know of in this family.

Sir John was given what sounds like a reasonably quiet job in England, in command of the 75th Regiment of Foot while they were at home and not off fighting abroad. This is a famous regiment (the Gordon Highlanders) but during Sir John's tenure, I have the impression nothing much happened. (Another avenue for the eager military historian to pursue.)

I wish I could draw the curtain here and say they lived happily ever after. At this point, Portugal was experiencing unrest but not war, and Sir John had a comfortable family life in London, from the sounds of it.


Some day I would like to go to the Parish Church in Marylebone.

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I've seen it from the outside without knowing (nor, at that time, caring) but haven't gone in.

As far as I can tell, there is still a plaque on the east wall, reading as follows.

"To the memory of
Dona Maria Brigida do Faria
E Lacerda
Wife of
Sir John Cambell, K.C.T.S.
Lieut Col in the British, and Maj Gen in the Portuguese Service.
She died much lamented
on the 22nd Jan 1821, in the 24th Year of her age;
Her remains are deposited in a vault of this Church.

Also of
John David Campbell
Son of the above who died 28 May 1824
Aged 3 years and 9 months" e/2up 

Having lost his wife and little boy between 1821 and 1824, Sir John retired from the army and sold his commission by the 1st of October, 1824. Thus he and young Elizabeth (only 6 years old when her brother died; motherless since age 3) were apparently left alone.

There is always the possibility that Sir John married a second time during this period. I have found no mention of such an event, however, and the notes in biographic sources are consistent in saying he had two wives.

At this point my impression of Sir John is that he was living quietly and was enjoying a life of reasonably high social standing. His sisters and brothers appeared to have married well, and he probably had good family connections on his mother's side (the Pitcairns). I would say the same of his father's, but I haven't been able to trace them back with any confidence.

Things were about to change, and the KCTS was going to make a big difference in Sir John's life.

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