The Autobiography of Anne Halkett

[Anne Murray's childhood and adolescence; her relationship with her mother, pp. 1 - 3]

[p. 1]1 For my parents I need nott say much, since they were well [known], and I need not bee ashamed to owne them by * * . It was mentioned as my reproach that I was of [mean extraction; whereas hee that now succeds to that fa[milly] * * was once, was as good a Gentleman as any. [For that ma[tter] I shall ever be sattisfied with what can [be said to] the advanttage of that familly; but some that [I am akin] to, both by father and mother, would take itt ill not [to be] thought Gentlemen, for my father claimed the honor of being derived from the Earle of Tillibardin's familly, and my mother from the Earle of Perth's.2

Hee was thought a wise King who made choice of my father to bee tutor to the late King of blesed memory; and what that excellent Prince learnt in his youth kept him Stedfast in his relligion, though under all the temptations of Spaine, Temperate in all the exceses that attend a Court, Vertuous and Constant to the only lawfull embraces of the Queene, and unmoveable and undisturbed under all his unparalleld sufferings. For a recompense to my father's care in discharging his duty, hee was made Provost of Eaton [Eton] Colledge; [p. 2] where hee staid not long, but died when I was but three months old, -- yett it seemes the short time he lived amongst those prebends they were so well satisfied, both with him and my mother, that after my father's death they petitioned to have his place continued to my mother a yeare, which was never before granted to any woman; and during her time they all renued their leases, as a testimony of their respect and desire to give her that advantage.

As this may evidence what my father's partes were, so my mother may be best knowne by beeing thought fitt, both by the late King and Queenes Majesty, to be entrusted twice with the charge and honor of beeing Governese to the Duke of Glocester [Gloucester] and the Princese Elizabeth; the first during the time that the Countese of Roxbery [Roxburghe] (who owned my mother for her cousin) went and continued in Holland with the Princese Royall; and then again when my Lady Roxbery died. The first was only by a verball order; butt the last was under the signett, dated (blank), which I have by mee to produce if itt were nesesary.3

By this short account I have given of my parents it will be seen what trust the greatest thought them cap[able of], wherfore they could not butt performe a duty to [their children], butt that care was wholy left (next to God's providence) to my mother, -- my father dying when wee were all very young, -- who spared noe expence in educating all her children in the most suitable way to improve them, and if I made not the advantage I might have done it was my own fault, and not my mother's, who paid masters for teaching my sister and mee to write, speake French, play on the lute and virginalls, and dance, and kept a gentlewoman to teach us all kinds of needleworke, which shews I was not brought up in an idle life.

But my mother's greatest care, and for which I shall ever owne to her memory the highest gratitude, was the great care she tooke that, even from our infancy, wee were instructed never to neglect to begin and end the day with prayer, and orderly every morning to read the Bible, and ever to keepe the church as offten as there was occation to meet there, either for prayers or preaching. So that for many yeares [p. 3] together I was seldome or never absent from divine service, at five a' clocke in the morning in the summer, and sixe a' clocke in the winter, till the usurped power putt a restraint to that puplicke worship so long owned and continued in the Church of England; where, I blese God, I had my education, and the example of a good Mother, who kept constantt to her owne parish church, and had allways a great respect for the ministers under whose charge shee was.

What my childish actions were I thinke I need not give accountt of here, for I hope none will thinke they could bee either vicious or scandalous.4 And from that time till the year 1644 I may truly say all my converse was so inocentt that my owne hart cannott challenge mee with any imodesty, either in thought or behavier, or an act of disobedience to my mother, to whom I was so observant that as long as shee lived I doe nott remember that I made a visitt to the neerest neibour or wentt anywhere withoutt her liberty.

And so scrupulous I was of giving any occation to speake of mee, as I know they did of others, that though I loved well to see plays and to walke in the Spring Garden sometimes (before itt grew something scandalous by the abuse of some), yett I cannott remember 3 times that ever I wentt with any man besides my brothers; and if I did, my sisters or others better than my selfe was with mee.5 And I was the first that proposed and practised itt, for 3 or 4 of us going together withoutt any man, and every one paying for themselves by giving the mony to the footman who waited on us, and he gave itt in the play-howse. And this I did first upon hearing some gentlemen telling what ladys they had waited on to plays, and how much itt had cost them; upon which I resolved none should say the same of mee.

1 Nichols writes "The first leaf of the MS. (pp. 3 and 4) is very much mutilated. After some pious introductory remarks regarding patience under affliction, the writer begins her narrative as above, the words in [ ] being supplied where the paper is either torn or worn." [Loftis' note about the fragments (he says just pp. 1-2 are torn and offers one paragraph from p. 20) and Nichols do not exactly cohere. The opening part of Anne Halkett's book has been savagely censored. L. C. Cummings, "Anne Halkett," Blackwood's Magazine, CCXI (Nov. 1924): 654-76, hereinafter referred as Cummings, AH, writes as follows: "Her father, Thomas Murray . . . went to England with James VI., and became first tutor, and later secretary, to Prince Charles. He was made Master of Sherburne Hospital in Durham, but fell into temporary disgrace, and was imprisoned in the Tower. He was, however, soon, restored to favour, and made the first lay Provost of Eton in 1622, and this office remains in the tenure of his widow for a year after his death in 1623. He was an honest man of Puritan leanings and poetic aspiration ..., p. 655.

To this I'll add: Anne Halkett's tone is very defensive. Who reproached her? When? I suggest Halkett's family. See Edinburgh, 107-9n3. If she told who and how (which Halkett and what was said) in her usual candid way that would go far to explain to us why the opening of her book is so mutilated. Also why Simon Couper is continually pointing out how she worked hard to get rid of her debt and how much virtue she brought to the family in lieu of high lineage, rank, and money. See unpaginated dedication to Janet Murray Halkett, Lady Pitfirrance, wife of James Halkett's oldest son, Sir Charles Halkett. EM]

[2 As indicated in the notes to Nichols' preface, all added notes are put in bracketts. In the case of the text of the Memoir regularized the paragraphing so as to make the text more readable; wherever possible when needed I have followed all names which appear misspelled or not fully written with the correct name of the person or place indicated spelt according to modern conventions. EM]

[3 As indicated in my notes to Nicols' preface, Anne was born January 4, 1623. Her father, Thomas Murray, was first tutor to Charles I, and then Provost at Eton College; he died 9 April 1623, three months after Anne's birth. Her mother was Jane Drummond Murray; she became governess to the Duke of Gloucester and the Princess Elizabeth "during much of 1642, and perhaps part of 1643, and again from June 1645, probably until her death on 28 August 1657" (Loftis, Memoirs, 192n.) So both Anne's parents rose partly through brains and learning. Lady Jean Ker (born Drummond so probably related to Anne's mother), the Countess of Roxburghe mentioned was second wife to the first Earl of Roxburghe (c. 1570-1650): Queen Henrietta Maria went with her daughter, Mary, the Princess Royal (1631-60) to Holland where Mary married William, grandson of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange (d. 1647). The Queen and Princess were accompanied by this Countess (who died October 7, 1643) in 1642. See below when Anne goes to Floors and when she is broke in Edinburgh after Bampfield flees north, for Anne's later use of the reciprocal familial relationship with the Roxburghes she here asserts her mother had, see Bampfield intercepts Anne at Roxburghe, and Anne goes into lodgings, pp. 77-78 and 80-84ns. Cummings, AH, 655, tells us that Anne's mother was "Jane Drummond of Blair" and "came of the Perth family." The Lord Chancellor in 1685 who granted Anne a hundred pound yearly income when she needed it badly was a Perth. See Couper 1701 Life, 45. EM]

[4 Again her dominant tone is an alert defensiveness. Several incidents Couper takes from the documents apparently before any were destroyed are revealing though. We are told that before she was five, "She bit her sister's hand, but being shown what she had done . . . wept most bitterly" and "aggravated her offence." "When she was Five Years of Age, an old worthy Gentleman, who frequented her Mother's house, was usually telling her that She must be his wiife, and She answering that he was too Old, and she too Young, he replyed that the Psalmist said, That Old men and children were to praise the Lord together. Anne went over to a Bible and found the passage, and conceded that the "Scripture says it." See Couper 1701 Life, 4-5. EM]

[5 Anne had one sister, Elizabeth, wife of Sir Henry Newton, and three brothers: Charles and Henry who were Grooms of Charles I's Bedchamber in 1642; William Murray who was one of the attending courtiers at the court of Charles II. She uses the "s" because she also refers to her sister-in-law, Anne, who married Anne's brother Henry (26 November 1635). Cummings says that originally there were five brothers, and that Henry Newton's father was "Sir Adam Newton, a learned Scot, who was tutor and secretary to Henry, Prince of Wales, and after his death treasurer to Prince Charles, and secretary to the Council of the Marches of Wales." Adam Newton was also "given a postioin of some importance hitherto held by a cleric," "Dean of Durham." Cummings, AH, 655-56, also reports that Henry Newton was "in a literary set and a friend of Evelyn," and Thomas Stanley (through Stanley's marriage to Newton's niece) and his literary friends. The kind of literature valued seems to have been translations from the classics and books on the science and philosophy of the era. I think young Anne Murray loved to read plays and knew the Caroline drama well (she quotes the popular play, The Guardian by Cowley when she covers her eyes in an attempt to ignore the literal commands of her mother and likens herself to Fletcher's Celia in The Humorous Lieutenant -- see below); she also read the French women authors of the later 17th century when she grew older, particuarly their romances. EM]

London, 1600

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