The travails of Lady Ann Fanshawe (1625-1680)

Ann Harrison came from a Hertfordshire Royalist family whose lives were turned upside down by the Civil Wars. She married her husband Sir Richard Fanshawe in 1644, and large parts of their married life were spent in travels that she recounted in her memoirs, during which she gave birth to numerous children. As with Alice Thornton, the role of Providence is never far away from the narratives of her sufferings and near escapes from death (or fates worse than death).

Following the outbreak of civil war:

My father commanded my sister and myself to come to him to Oxford, where the Court then was; but we that had till that hour lived in great plenty and great order found ourselves like fishes out of water, and the scene so changed that we knew not at all how to act any part but obedience. For from as good house as any gentleman of England had we come to a baker’s house in an obscure street, and from rooms well furnished to lie in a very bad bed in a garret; to one dish of meat, and that not the best ordered; no money, for we were as poor as Job; nor clothes more than a man or two brought in their cloak bags. We had the perpetual discourse of losing and gaining of towns and men; at the windows the sad spectacle of war, sometimes plague, sometimes sicknesses of other kinds, by reason of so many people being packed together, as I believe there never was before of that quality; always want yet I must needs say that most bore it with a martyr-like cheerfulness. For my own part I begun to think we should all like Abraham live in tents all the days of our lives… But as, in a wrack, the turbulence of the waves disperses the splinters of the rock, so it was my lot; for having buried my dear brother William Harrison, in Exeter College Chapel, I then married your dear father, in 1644, in Wolvercote Church, two miles from Oxford, upon the 18th of May. [Memoirs, pp.24-25]

Caught up in Irish rebellion, 1649:

I landed at Youghall, in Munster, as my husband directed me, in hopes to meet me there. But I had the discomfort of [both] a very hazardous voyage, and the absence of your father, he then being upon business at Cork. So soon as he heard I was landed he came to me, and with mutual joy we discovered those things that were proper to entertain us both. And thus for six months we lived so much to our satisfaction that we began to think of making our abode there during the war; for the country was fertile, and all provisions cheap, and the houses good, and we were placed in Red Abbey, a house of Dean Boyle’s, in Cork; and my Lord of Ormonde had a very good army, and the country seemingly quiet… But what earthly comfort is exempt from change! For here I heard of the death of my second son, Henry; and within a few weeks of the landing of Cromwell, who so hotly marched over Ireland that the fleet with Prince Rupert was forced to set sail…

During this time I had, by a fall of a stumbling horse, being with child, broke my left wrist, which because it was ill set, put me to great and long pain; and I was in my bed when Cork revolted. By chance my husband that day was gone upon business to Kinsale. It was in the beginning of [Octo]ber 16[49], at midnight, I heard the great guns go off, and thereupon I called my family to rise; which they and I did as well as I could in that condition. Hearing lamentable shrieks of men and women and children, I asked at a window the cause. They told me they were all Irish, stripped and wounded, turned out of the town; and that Colonel Jeffries, with some others, had possessed themselves of the town for Cromwell… And then, about three o’clock in the morning, by the light of a taper, and in that pain I was in, I went into the market-place with only a man and maid; and passing through an unruly tumult, with their swords in their hands, searched for their chief commander Jeffries, who whilst he was loyal had received many civilities from your father. I told him that it was necessary that upon that change I should remove, and desired his pass that would be obeyed, or else I must remain there. I hoped he would not deny me that kindness. He instantly wrote me a pass both for myself, family and goods, and said he would never forget the respects he owed your father. With this I came through thousands of naked swords to Red Abbey, and hired the next neighbour’s cart, which carried all that I could remove; and myself, sister, and little girl Nan, with three maids and two men, set forth at five o’clock in [Octojber, having but two horses amongst us all, which we rode on by turns… by little and little, I thank God, we got safe to the garrison, where I found your father the most disconsolate man in the world, for fear of his family, which he had no possibility to assist. But his joys exceeded to see me and his darling daughter, and to hear the wonderful escape we through the assistance of God had made. [Memoirs, pp.52-55]

The Memoirs of Ann, Lady Fanshawe, Internet Archive

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