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Journal of a Lady of Quality
Appendices: - IX. The Rutherfurd Children


ACCOMPANYING Miss Schaw to America were the three children of John Rutherfurd—Frances or Fanny, John, Jr., and William Gordon. Their father, as we know, was of the Scottish family of Rutherfurd of "Bowland," and their mother, Frances (see Appendix VIII), was the widow of Governor Gabriel Johnston of North Carolina, whom Rutherfurd had married in 1754. They were all born in North Carolina and lived there, probably at Rutherfurd's plantation, "Bowland," at Rocky Point on the Northeast branch, until after the death of their mother in 1768, when their father sent them back to Scotland to be educated. As Rutherfurd was unable to leave the colony on account of his official duties (since except for one visit in the years from 1758 to 1761 he never saw Scotland after he left it sometime before 1735), he was obliged to entrust the children to the care of friends, and apparently placed them in charge of Alexander Duncan, a partner of his in business at Wilmington, who crossed the ocean at this time. Duncan was an intimate friend of both the Rutherfurds and the Schaws, was a Scotsman from Edinburgh, and in his will, made just before he sailed, left money to both Rutherfurd and his daughter, to the latter "in case she returns to this province and marries here." Duncan probably took the children, at that time aged ten, five, and two, respectively, with him to Edinburgh and placed them in the hands either of Rutherfurd's relatives or of Miss Schaw, wherever she may have been living. The Rutherfurds and Schaws were closely connected by marriage, for Janet's father had married Rutherfurd's aunt, and her brother, Robert, had married his eldest sister, Anne, so that it would have been natural enough for Duncan to have done either, though the probabilities are in favor of Miss Schaw. Rutherfurd's father had died in 1747, and his family was scattered: Thomas and James, his brothers, and Anne and Barbara, his sisters, were in North Carolina, and "Bowland," the Rutherfurd estate in Scotland, had passed out of the hands of the family. The children of John Rutherfurd remained in Scotland until the voyage of 1774,—Fanny at boarding school, probably in Edinburgh, —when Rutherfurd, having decided to stay in North Carolina, and with the aid of his children's money having acquired a new plantation, "Hunthill," some thirty miles from Wilmington, wished them to return to the province.

Owing to unexpected circumstances connected with the outbreak of the Revolution in North Carolina, the children, instead of remaining with their father, returned to Scotland with Miss Schaw. Soon after, the boys, at this time thirteen and ten years old, were placed in a free school in England under the protection of Lord Townshend, an arrangement having been entered into in 1768, according to which the profits from the negroes left by the father and mother were to be used during the father's lifetime to provide for their education. But in the sequel this arrangement was found to be inoperative, and the money actually used for the boys' education was £700 from the Corbin estate (originally from Mrs. Corbin's first husband, Colonel James Innes), which had been for many years in the hands of Governor Dinwiddie, an intimate friend of Innes's and lieutenant governor of Virginia from 1751 to 1758.

When the war of the Revolution came on, Rutherfurd incurred considerable ill-will in North Carolina by entering both boys in the British service, one in the army and the other in the navy. John joined the corps of engineers, became a practitioner engineer and second lieutenant in 1781, a first lieutenant in 1790, a captain in 1795, an assistant quartermaster general at Plymouth Dock in 1799, a major commandant of a corps attached to the quartermaster general's department in 1800, and in 1805 a lieutenant colonel. For a time he was stationed at Gibraltar, later at New Brunswick and Jamaica, and in 1805 was surveyor-general of the island of Trinidad. Soon after that date he was placed on the half pay list as of the Royal Staff Corps, was secretary at Gibraltar in 1810, and died sometime between February, i8iô, and March, 1817. After the close of the Revolutionary War, he several times obtained leave of absence from the army, and crossed the Atlantic in an effort to obtain a restitution of the family property in North Carolina. He visited Charleston, made three trips to Wilmington, and lived for a while in New York, where he may have been entertained by his relative, Walter Rutherfurd, with whom he had financial dealings, either at his New York house, next St. Paul's Church, or at his estate at Boiling Springs, now Rutherford, New Jersey, which he had called "Edgerston" after his old home in Scotland.` For more than twenty-five years John labored to secure, for himself and his brother and sister, the value of the land and the negroes. He was probably never married.

"Little Billie" had a more distinguished career. In 1778 he became a "Boy A B" and midshipman on H. M. S. Suffolk, stationed in the Channel, and there served until the end of the war. According to his brother's account, he was turned adrift in 1783, entered the merchant marine, and served as fourth mate of an Indiaman from 1783 to 1789. In 1787 he was in the East in Indian waters, but in 1789 was back in London, living at Cornhill. Soon after, he entered the royal navy again, finished his time as midshipman on various guardships, and in 1794 became acting lieutenant on the Boyne, in the West Indies with Sir John Jervis, afterwards Admiral Earl St. Vincent.-:- He rose rapidly in rank. In July of the same year he was commissioned commander, first of the Nautilus, and then of the Adventure, and in November was appointed post captain of the Dictator. In 1799 he was transferred to the Brunswick, then to the Decade, remaining with the latter in the West Indies, the Channel, and the Mediterranean as senior frigate captain under Admiral Lord Nelson, until May, 1805. At that time he became acting captain of the Swiftsure, a new third- rate seventy-four, and at Nelson's express wish was given permanent command in July. In charge of this vessel he took part in Nelson's famous pursuit of Villeneuve's fleet—the Toulon fleet—which had sailed for the West Indies in the summer of 1805, in order to draw the British admiral from the neighborhood of the Channel, to cross which for the invasion of England Napoleon was waiting at Boulogne. While on his return from the West Indies, Captain Rutherfurd wrote the following letter.

Swiftsure at Sea, August 4th, 1805

My dear John:
I write this at sea to go to you when an opportunity offers. When we go into harbour we are so much hurried that I have no time to write to anybody except Lilly [his wife]. Young Millikin came to me at Gibraltar last month. The boy has had a long hunt after me, as he left Dublin in December last. Fifty pounds a year will be too much for him for some time to come: he says he is to draw for money upon Mr. John Batchelor, 27 William's Street, Dublin, when he wants small sums. I will approve his drafts upon that gentleman, of which I will thank you to apprise him. I am sorry that I could do but little with Allan [not the young Millikin mentioned above]. I therefore thought it best for him to leave him in the frigate [the Decade] with Capt. Stewart. A stranger to him and his connections may perhaps make him do better than I could. I believe the frigate is left in the Mediterranean. We are now at sea with Lord Nelson, and from the course he steers I think we are going to England, at least I hope so; but he had not given us a hint of where we are going; all we can judge is by the course. Perhaps you and your friends may think it strange my leaving the frigate for a seventy-four, but circumstances and times must be taken into account. When the ship became vacant, I was senior frigate captain with Lord Nelson. He offered me this ship when he was in hot pursuit of the Toulon fleet [January-August, 1805]. It was impossible to refuse a fine new seventy-four when we expected to be in action with the French fleet every day. If the admiralty will allow me to keep this ship—and I see no reason why they should not—the post is certainly a more honourable one than a frigate; and I think prize-money times are almost passed, £500 a year in this ship is better than Loo in the frigate. What a chase we have had after those Toulon fellows. We have been in the West Indies; had troops embarked at Barbadoes, making certain the French were attacking Tobago or Trinidad. We went there, but no French were there. We anchored at 6 in the evening at Trinidad, and sailed at 7 next morning. I saw nothing of my brother John. We made sure they were attacking Grenada, but when we got there no French fleet was there. We then went to Antigua, where we heard the French fleet had passed that island steering to the northward five days before. We landed the troops immediately, and steered back for the Mediterranean. When we arrived at Gibraltar we heard no account of the French fleet, but we knew they had not passed that way. We got stores and water as fast as possible and the fifth day we were out of the Straits again, and I now hope steering for England. Lord Nelson, I believe, is generally thought to be merely a fighting man; but he is a man of amazing resource and abilities, more so, I think, than even Lord Vincent. I am afraid the constant anxiety he has undergone has much hurt his health. The privations this little fleet of eleven sail has gone through has been great; but it has been with cheerfulness, because Lord Nelson commanded them. All our ships have now a great many men down with the scurvy, which makes me think we must go to England. If you do not know Lord Nelson, he is the most gentlemanlike, mild, pleasant creature that was ever seen. Coming from the \Vest Indies, I was upon salt beef and three quarts of water for a month. We had no communication from the islands to get anything either to eat or drink. Lord James is my mess-mate, and well and strong and good; his time as mid[shipman] will be out in October. Tell my sister [Fanny] George Burt [sic] is a good boy. I thought you would like to hear the history of this fleet; therefore I must put you to the expense of postage. Love to all at home.

Yours very truly,

WM. G. RUTHERFURD.

J. C. Beresford, Esq. Beresford Place, Dublin.
[Has been posted at] Brixham 208, August 30, 1805.

From this interesting letter—interesting not only for the light it throws on "little Billie's" career but also as a commentary on Nelson and the West Indian expedition of 1805—we learn several important facts that open up a new phase of our story. John was stationed at Trinidad, Billie was married and his wife was living in Dublin, and Fanny and her husband had removed from Plymouth and had taken up their residence in the same city. We are introduced to a number of new characters—J. C. Beresford, young Millikin (William Frederick), and Lord James, of whom Beresford is the only one that calls for further mention and something will be said of him later on. The preservation of this letter, amongst the flotsam and jetsam of a genealogist's notes—a letter the author of which was entirely unknown to the writer of the volume in which it is printed—is a curious documentary accident.

From the letter we learn that Captain Rutherfurd was married. This event took place, August 27, 1795, at St. Margaret's, Westminster, and the bride was Lilias or Lillias Richardson, eldest daughter of the late Sir George Richardson, Ban,, of Queen Street (Gentleman's Magazine, 1795, p. 789). The marriage settlement is dated August 27th of that year. Lilias died sometime before 1833 without issue, but there appears to have been an adopted son, John Henry Defou, of whom Rutherfurd speaks in his will, "commonly called Henry Rutherfurd, of the age of 12 years, usually residing with me except when at school" (P. C. C. 431 Creswell). Of this child we know nothing more.

Captain Rutherfurd's later career is a noteworthy one. As captain of the Swifisure he took part in the battle of Trafalgar, October 21, i8o, contributing his share to the winning of the great victory and escaping with but little loss—nine men killed and eight wounded. In the official list of the battle his name is given as "William George Rutherford" and identification would have been difficult had it not been for the discovery of his letter, his will, and the notice of his death. He remained in command of the Swiftsure until his discharge in November, 1807, when he was placed on half pay; but for some reason, ten days after his discharge, he was appointed captain of the Sea Fencibles, a position that he retained until February, i8io, when he was again placed on half pay. In 181 he was made a Companion of the Bath (on the enlargement of that order) and the next year was appointed one of the four captains of Greenwich Hospital, a position that made him an officer of the house in residence, at a salary of £200 a year with table money. Evidently the hardships which he had undergone told upon his health,* for he died at the hospital in 1817 at the age of fifty-two. Thus "little Billie," born in North Carolina, stands in history as one of the "heroes of Trafalgar." In his will he leaves his Trafalgar sword and medal to his nephew, his Sister's son, and these interesting relics, the outward marks of a notable career, may still be somewhere in existence. That Captain Rutherfurd should have been promoted by Nelson himself to be a captain of a ship of the line was a rare distinction. Such an advancement must have come as a reward for services rendered, probably for good seamanship and personal bravery. North Carolina should take pride in being the birthplace of so noteworthy a man.

Fanny, who in some ways is the heroine of Miss Schaw's narrative, seems to have been an attractive girl and the frequent references to her arouse our interest and curiosity. She evidently made a strong appeal to those with whom she Caine into contact and at least one love affair arose during her residence on the Cape Fear (above, p. 183). But she returned to Edinburgh in February, 1776, heart free, only to find a husband within five months after her arrival. In September, 1776, she was married at Edinburgh to Archibald Menzies of Culdairs, one of the commissioners of the customs of Scotland. What romance or tragedy lies behind the bare announcement of this marriage, we do not know. Whether it was a love match or a manage de convenance is equally concealed. Menzies held an important official Post to which he had been appointed in 1774, and his salary of £600 a year may have been an attraction to the family. Fanny was certainly "well married," as a contemporary correspondent wrote. Whether Menzies was an elderly man or an invalid or both, we cannot say, but the fact remains that Fanny's happiness was short-lived, for her husband died at Inveresk in October, 1777, after a married life of but little more than a year. A daughter was born of this marriage, Elizabeth McKenzie Menzies, who afterwards became the wife of the John Claudius Beresford, to whom Captain Rutherfurd wrote the letter cited above. Where Fanny, with her daughter, spent the days of her young widowhood we do not know, but she eventually found solace, for sometime in 1787—the marriage settlement is dated April 28th of that year-.--she was married again, and this time to her companion on the voyage to America, Janet's brother, Alexander Schaw, storekeeper of ordnance on the gun wharf at Plymouth, serving under the War Office at £140 a year.

Alexander Schaw was a younger brother of Janet's and at the time of the journal may have been thirty years old. We are told that he had been a writer in Edinburgh, who, having got into difficulties, the nature of which we do not know, decided to go to America and applied for a post in the customs service. By commission of March 31, 1774, he received the office of searcher of customs at St. Christopher. After leaving Antigua in January, 1775, he went to St. Kitts with his sister and the children, but did not remain, having obtained permission to go with the party to North Carolina, on the understanding that he would return as soon as possible. That lie intended to do this is clear, and at one time in the summer of 1775 it looked as if he would take his sister and the children back from North Carolina to St. Kitts; but events over which he had no control brought about a complete change of plan, and in the summer of 1775 he was entrusted by Governor Martin, at that time on board the Cruizer in the Cape Fear River, with despatches for Lord Dartmouth. He consequently returned to England by way of Boston, and remained there during the winter, living in London. On March 6, 1776, he obtained formal leave of absence from his post in St. Christopher, and there is reason to believe that he never saw the West Indies again. As an Alexander Schaw was in Canada from 1778 to 1781, employed in surveying stores and paying corvées, it is likely that he went to Canada, remaining there until his return to England to fill the more important position of storekeeper at Plymouth.

At Plymouth Alexander married Fanny, his erstwhile companion, who had called him "uncle" on the voyage, and there they lived until in May or June, i8oi, they removed to Dublin, where Alexander had secured, by appointment of the Board of Ordnance (April 28, 1801), the post of storekeeper, an office which with the additional duties of paymaster of salaries and allowances brought him in more than £500 a year with house rent and candles. From the Ordnance records we learn that in preparing for removal Alexander objected to the sloop at first provided, on the ground that it was too small, and asked for a brig, which was granted. After his arrival in Dublin (.June 30), he wrote the board that his furniture and packages had amounted to sixteen tons, and as they entirely filled the vessel, he and his wife were obliged to obtain accommodation from one Canforth of the Britannia yacht tender, at a fee of ten guineas (War Office, Ordnance Book, 45: 56 and following volumes). By the middle of the summer of i8oi he and his wife, servants, and furniture were satisfactorily established in a house in Dublin, and there they remained until sometime after 180. On August 5, 1803, Alexander was pensioned as "superannuated" by the board, and retired on an allowance of £677 a year (Irish money), but continued to live in Dublin, until sometime before i8io, when he removed to Inveresk, Scotland. In Ireland he was one of the members of the Dublin Society, but his name does not appear in the list for 1810, and his will, which was made at Inveresk, November 22, 1810, shows that he was residing there at that time. When or where Fanny died we do not certainly know but it was probably in Scotland. From her brother's letter we learn that she was alive and living in Dublin in 1805, but in i8io, in Alexander's will, she is referred to as "my late wife." She probably died at Inveresk shortly before, aged about fifty-two or fifty-three. Alexander died in 1818.

By her marriage with Alexander Schaw, Fanny had at least one child and probably more. Alexander in his will speaks of this child, John Sauchie Schaw, as "my son and only surviving child of the said marriage." When this son was born is not quite certain, but it must have been some years after the marriage in 1787, as he was not of age in 1810 and was not married until 1828. In 1819 he was a lieutenant of artillery in Dublin, and on March 14, 1828, entered into a marriage license bond of £1000 on the occasion of his marriage with Catherine Louisa Sirr, of Dublin Castle, daughter of the Rev. Joseph Darcv Sirr. He was living at the time at Cullenswood, Dublin county. With his later career we are not concerned.


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