The Autobiography of Anne Halkett

[Edinburgh: through her connection to Margaret Howard Boyle, she attempts to help Halkett avoid serving in Cromwell's government, pp. 105 - 107]

When wee came to Edb [Edinburgh], I sentt my excuse for nott beeing fitt then to waite upon my Lady Broghill [Margaret], who was then there with her Lord [Roger Boyle, son of Richard, Earl of Cork], who was Presidentt of the Counsell, butt resolved to come there againe only to pay that respect which I had for them both, nott as they were then imployed, butt as I had long beene intimately aquainted with them before, and knew that what they acted now was more outt of a goode designe than an ill, as was evidentt by the civility they shewed to all the Royallists.1

Affter wee came home, and [p. 106] had receaved a very kind wellcome from all Sir James his friends and neibours, and that wee were a litle setled, hee thought itt convenientt for us to goe over, as I promised, to waite upon my Lady Broghill; and the reason which made Sir James the sooner doe itt was, that severall gentlemen who had ingaged to serve under the English power in puplicke imploymentt as Justices of Peace had presed to have Sir James one of that number, butt hee declining, they made his name bee inserted in the list, with this certification, that whoever refused to act in that station who was nominate should bee sentt to the Castle att Edinburgh.2

This made us hasten our journy; and as soone as wee came there, a gentleman (who I will nott now name, because I hope hee repents what hee then did,) that had beene very urgentt with Sir James to accept the imploymentt, came and importunately presed him againe, and, to make mee the better sattisfied with the proposall, told mee many advantages hee would receave by itt, and was very desirous that hee might goe with mee to make my aquaintance with my Lady Broghill. I excused my going att such times as hee mentioned, only because I would nott have him with mee, nor did I take notice as if I had ever scene her. Butt as soone as I was free of him I wentt presenttly affter dinner.

They lay then in the Earle of Muray howse in the Canon Gate, and just as I came in att the gate my Lord Broghill was going outt, and with him a great attendance, and amongst the rest the gentleman who had beene so forward to have Sir James putt in to bee a Justice of Peace.

Hee was a litle surprisd when he saw my Lord Br. [Roger Boyle, son of Richard, Earl of Cork, Lord Broghill] come with so much freedome and kindnese and bid mee wellcome, and bringing mee to the staires, asked if I had any service for him.

I said, "My Lord, though there hath beene many sad changes since I saw your Lorp [Lordship], yett I still look upon you as the same person you were, and therfore in short I am come to beg your Lorp [Lordship's] faver to Sir James, who I heare is in the list."

"Why! (said hee,) hath hee nott a mind to be a Justice?"

"Noe, my Lord, so farre from itt, that hee will goe to the Castle first."

Well, my word for it, (replied [p. 107] hee,) you shall never heere of itt more."

Beeing then in hast, going up to some committee, hee left mee with his Lady [her friend or connection, Margaret], and ingaged me to dine with them the next day; which I did, and had all the assurance I could desire that Sir James should bee free from having any thing imposed upon him that was contrary to the duty and Loyalty that became a faithfull subject.

Affter two or three days stay in Edb [Edinburgh] wee returned home, and presently affter came the order to Sir James either to joyne with the other Justices of Peace or goe to the Castle. When I saw itt I confese I was much disordred, and the more because I had such confidence of my Ld B. [Broghill's] word. I desired Sir James to tell the mesenger that the next weeke hee would doe one of them if desired, and imediately I writt a letter to my Lord B. [Broghill] telling how much I was surprised with that order, affter I had his Lorp [Lordships'] promise to have ...

(Caetera desunt.) [The last part of the manuscript has been destroyed] 3

1 Jenny Wormald, "Confidence and Perplexity: The Seventeenth Century," Scotland: A History, ed. Jenny Wormald (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005): 162, writes: "After the rising of the earl of Glencairn in 1653-4, a new Scottish council was established, under the Presidency of the Irishman Lord Broghill. JPs were introduced in 1656." Anne immediately moves to use her earlier connections to help her husband. Margaret Howard Boyle, Lady Broghill, was Theophilis Howard, second Earl of Suffolk's daughter, and yet another woman friend Anne could call upon who was related to the Howards. See She goes to live with Anne Howard. Roger Boyle (1621-79), son of Richard, Earl of Cork, was prominent in Cromwell's government but was later created Earl of Orrery (and thus still powerful and influential when the Stuarts were restored (Loftis, Memoirs, 207n). EM ]

[2 The castle was used as a prison, so the Cromwell people are attempting to force cooperation. EM]

[3 We can have no idea exactly how long the autobiography was. The destruction of the manuscript suggests what Anne Halkett detailed her troubles and problems in the way of her earlier sections and this displeased the person who mutilated the manuscript. S. C. in his earlier redaction omitted all reference to Anne's love affairs beyond the most general reference, omitted the troubles she experienced which led to her ejection from Naworth Castle, and generalized much to avoid naming anything that could offend anyone. He did the same for the the rest of the manuscript and diaries (now all gone) which he had access to.

Simon Couper lists the four children who were born to Anne as follows: "Elizabeth, born November 26th, 1656"; "Henry, born June 13th, 1658"; "Robert, born February 1d, 1660"; and "Jean, born, October 11th, 1661." She gave birth nine months after marrying Halkett; he kept her pregnant continually. Her first child was born when she was 33. Couper tells us the only child to survive to adulthood was Robert, 1701 Life, 30; he died "21 of October [1693]", a date apparently recorded (with the circumstances of Robert's death fully explained) in the diaries Couper was working from, paraphrasing, elaborating upon, and copying out, 1701 Life, p. 49. Suzanne Trill has delved into Halkett's Meditations and discovered that Anne also had "at least one miscarriage (of twins, recorded as occurring 7 March 1658/9, Ms 6490:1-9)," and from [Anne's] comments on the death of "my dearest Child Betty," that Anne suffered "further miscarriages" (Ms 6491:1-18); see Suzanne Trill, "Lady Anne Halkett," The Literary Encyclopedia. 15 Nov. 2004 (p. 2 of 4).

Anne appears to have been very "disquieted" (to use her word), frightened at the prospect of childbirth. She really believed God might punish her at the time of the first: "Whenever She knew Herself to be with Child, She usually devoted the Fruit of her Womb to God; when big of her first Child, being so apprehensive, that she might die in Child-Birth, She wrote that, which she calls "The Mother's Will," Couper 1701 Life, 30.

Cumming ends as one might expect from the point of view of her memoir: Anne Halkett is now "cheerful," and as a "masterful bride" she has taken Halkett's problems in hand. Cumming never mentions Anne's episodes of sickness, her guilt and shame, and, while evading the question of whether Anne and Bampfield married, and if they lived together sexually, for how long, appears to regard their relationshiop as high romance pleasing to her readership. Although she has no evidence to go on, unlike just about everyone who wrote about Bampfield before the publication of Loftis's biographical supplement, Cummings is inclined to present Bampfield sympathetically. She suggests that it's "unlikely" his "strangely lengthy devotion to Anne Murray was more than policy," and is attracted to the idea of his "roving life," showing that she has hardly understood the man at all. Of his dignified and informative, moving apology, Cumming writes "it disappoints all reasonable hopes of lively reminiscences." See Cumming, AH, 673-74.

In his notes to his edition of Anne's Memoirs, Loftis says Anne Halkett's intense committment to the Stuarts would have made the later events of 1688 intensely distressing. He writes that the 1701 biographer "describes the emotional turmoil the Revolution of 1688 caused her, though -- writing as he was during the reign of William III -- he discreetly refrained from stating her final conclusions about the event." The biographer also refers to the Jacobitism of the one son Anne had who survived to adulthood: Robert Halkett served under James II in Ireland against William; he was then captured and imprisoned. This "militant Jacobitism" contrasts to the his older half-brother, Sir Charles Halkett's support of the Revolution. "In 1689 Sir Charles, then a member of the Scottish parliament for Dunfermline, was on the Parliamentary committee that resolved James had forfeited his crown" (Loftis 201n.) This reminds me of how in Anne Finch's case, she and her husband remained at first confused and fervent Jacobites and then quietly lived outside politics while the rest of the Finch family went over to William's side. See At the Court of St. James and the Debcle

What I am impressed by is her poverty and debt-ridden state in her last years. She was genuinely harassed and without enough funds. She also was influenced by the intense anti-Catholicism around her, and as quoted by Couper, persuaded herself that it has possibly been understandable that the English parliamentary leaders at the time had chosen to ask William III and Mary to take the throne as a move to stop the spread of Catholicism. This long section of Couper's 1701 Life, pp. 34-59, which begins at the death of Sir James Halkett in 1670 and offers many details of Anne's life through the next nearly 30 years and is clearly based on a lengthy close to Anne's memoirs and her diaries has never been sufficiently described or discussed in print.

It may well be that Halkett's oldest son, Charles, felt he should keep his distance from the intensely pro-Stuart woman (though in Couper's 1701 Life Couper quotes Anne as agreeing that something had to be done to stamp out Catholicism, p. 46). It seems to me more likely the son was never reconciled fully to the marriage and resented his father's choice of a woman without title or property (and that's why Couper keeps saying how hard she worked to get her inheritance and pay off the debts). After all, Halkett's first wife had been related to Argyle (an "earl's niece" no less, to allude to Woolf's famous sketch). EM]

Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 10 October 2006