Thursday, November 13, 2008

Deadlier than the Male...

Bland's Dragoons at Dettingen. Women's work, apparently...

time since I updated any of my blogs. Things have been busy yet again, what with work, other family obligations and until recently "election fever" (in both Canada and the US, and probably sometime soon in Japan- I'm something of a political junkie).

I have also been trying to reduce eyestrain by not spending any more time on the computer than necessary! Still, I have had the opportunity to get in at least a little painting time, so the hobby hasn't been completely dormant for me.

Anyway, Let me atone for the silence with something for Remembrance Day. While surfing through Google Books, I came across Mary Ralphson, redoubtable trooper of dragoons- quite an amazing story actually. We're not looking at a character from a Jane Austen novel here! More like someone who has stepped out from the pages of Sterne's Tristram Shandy or from one of those Rowlandson etchings of 18th C. life.

To have been able to have survived childhood illnesses, poor food and bloody battles, and not to have shuffled off the mortal coil until the age of 110, meant that you just had to have been made of sterner stuff than other mortals!

Read on...


FOR 1809.

Ne quidfalsi dlcere audeat, ne quid veri non audeaí.



Mary Ralphson, whose maiden name was Cameron, was born in the neighbourhood of the old castle of Inverlochy, once a royal residence, near Fort William, in the parish of Kilmanivaig, in the dreary district of Lochaber, Inverness-shire, on the 1st of January 1698, O. S. Early in life she married Ralph Ralphson, a private dragoon*.

On the war breaking out in French Flanders, in 1741, she embarked with her husband, and shared in the toils and vicissitudes of the troops, whom she afterwards accompanied in the battle of Dettingen, June 15, 1743 (OS).

In this engagement (fought by the British and French, the former commanded by George II. and the brave Earl of Stair, and the latter by Marshal Noailles,) being on the field during the heat of the conflict, and surrounded with heaps of slain, she observed a wounded dragoon fall by her side. (She) disguised herself in his clothes, mounted his charger, and regained the retreating army, in which she found her husband.

She was also present at the unfortunate affair of Fontenoy, May 1st, 1745, fought by the British and Austrians, under William, Duke of Cumberland, against the French, under Marshal Count de Saxe.

When the rebellion broke out in Scotland, in September 1745, Mrs Ralphson accompanied her husband to Britain, his regiment being among those sent to the north on that occasion. In this expedition she was present at the skirmish at Clifton, near Penrith, where the highlanders sustained some loss. On the 17th of January 1740, she was present at the defeat of the royal army at Falklrk, under Gen. Hawiey. In April, same year, she was present at the defeat of the highland army, by the Duke of Cumberland, at Culloden, near Inverness.

When the rebellion was quelled at home, Mrs Ralphson again went to the continent with the British army, and was present at the battle of La Val**. Sometime after this she lost her husband, in which period she bid adieu to the fatigues of the army, and settled in Liverpool, where she subsisted for seven of the latter years of her life, by the assistance of some benevolent characters, chiefly female, who contributes every thing to her comfort and accommodation.

She died on Monday, June 27, 1809, having arrived at the very advanced age of 110 years and 6 months, and was interred in the burying ground of the Scotch kirk, Oldhara Street, where a stone with a suitable inscription points out the resting place of the remains of this venerable person.


* Apparently in Bland's (3rd) Regt. of Dragoons.
** AKA the Battle of Lauffeldt