The Letters of Sarah Higgins
Occasionally private papers of individuals who served in the Napoleon Wars will be found. These papers often are passed down from generation to generation as a family heirloom and are destined to never be published. A set of papers were brought to our attention by Brian Forth. These papers include the original Commission of Lieutenant Higgins and several letters written by his wife, Sarah Higgins.
Sarah's letters reveal much about her life as a junior officer's wife and will sound familiar to the modern military wife. They talk of separation from family and friends, gossip, waiting for orders to move to a new duty station, and family news.
In order to give the reader a feel for the style of writing and level of education of the time, I have not changed Mrs. Higgins' spelling, grammar, or punctuation.
Sarah Higgins was born in 1790 and had the maiden name of Simpson. In 1808, at Beverley Yorkshire, she married Thomas Higgins, who was 23 years old, married. When Thomas went to Spain, Sarah and her two boys returned to Beverley to live. Her husband was severely wounded on 21 June 1813 at the battle of Vittoria and died on 15 July 1813. Sarah and the boys moved to Doncaster Yorkshire, where she died in 1822. Both boys probably went to Dublin to live with their aunts, until 1831 they joined army units. The oldest son, Thomas Walker Higgins Jr. joined the Scots Greys and served with them until 1839. The youngest son, William George Higgins, joined the Madras European Volunteer Artillery Company and served with it until the 1860s.
My Dear Catherine
I believe I need not tell you what pleasure your Letter gave me and
believe me I am not angry with you but I hope you will write oftener
than you have done. I am very happy to hear that you have left Glassmevian
for I am shure you must have been Heartily tired of such a stupid place
I suppose by this time you have got all settled in your new Lodgings_____
We have not heard anything of Mrs. Browning so I conclude she has returned
before this time I would have given as great pleasure to have seen her
only I should have been afraid that I could not make her as comfortable
as I could wish in a Barrack room but it would astonish you to see how
comfortable the rooms are they are quite superb to those we use when
in Dublin. You astonish me very much to say that Hanah Higgins is going
to be married after saying so much against an officer and a Barracks
room. I shall tell you what Higgins says. Let Capt Paulson be what kind
of a person he will he thinks he has not much taste. I suppose Miss
Mary Higgins would be glad of the same often. I dont now what will be
come of the wife baby for their Beau to have deserted them in such a
manner. I must now tell that Higgins is getting quite fat and I am nearly
as fat as I was when I left Dublin. I hope the regiment will now remain
at home as they have been out so mcuh Lately There is a report that
the 2nd Battalion is going out I hope it may be true if that was to
be the case we should remain at home The 2nd Battn is 8 hundred strong
and the 1st B is 13 hundred with the volunteers They have got from the
Militia Higgins wishes me to remain at home if they go another expedition
the Ladys suffer so much the last time. Those that went into Spain suffered
a great dear. They had to ride on mules through all the rain and obliged
to sleep in the field at night. Those that remained in Lisbon it was
manely a pleasant excursion for the inhabitants paid them a great deal
of attention. There is some families of our regiment in Portegal now,
Mrs. Capson the Lieut Cank's wife you have heard me speak of and her
three Children and those now. I dont now when her Husband is with her
or not he is in some part of the country we are all wishing him out
of the regiment very much for he is hindering promotions. I think I
have got nothing more to say at present but that I hope you will write
soon and tell if you have got all settled in Your new lodgings remember
me and Higgins to Mr. & Mrs ??? and all friends tell me how the
Tisdells are going inYour next letter and if you intend going to the
???? this summer but above all dont forget to tell me if you intend
to be married. Higgins and me in duty to my Mother and Love to Eliza
and believe me my dear Catherine
My Dear Catherine
I received yours this day and have to inform that we are under ordes for embarkation for Ireland we expect the movmt every day so my dear Catherine you perhaps may see us sooner than you expected. For I hope in god they will not leave Ireland as they did before without you seeing Tom as I hope we shall be sationary you must excuse me writing a long letter as I very busy preparieing for our march as we are ordered to be ready at a moments notice as we shall probably be in Ireland so soon I shall not write until we arrive there I have only to say that we are all well I can ashure I dont intend to wean the Boy until he is a twelvemonth old at the moment Tom united with me in Duty to my Mother and in Love Eliza and believe me my dear Catherine your affectionate sister Sarah Higgins.
My Dear Catherine
I've baened waiting every day to hear our removal as we are in great expectations of being sent to Dublin for certain there will be a move & we hope to come to Dublin. Little Tom is quite recovered and has walked alone for this month past He is such a fine llittle fellow indeed I ought not to call him little for he is the largest Child in the Barracks of his age he sucks yet which I dare say you will be supprised to hear but he has not got all his teeth yet I think it will be such a comfort to Him that I dont like to wean him._____ I am happy to hear that Mrs Knife is likely to be well Married I suppose there is great preparations for the wedding give my love to her and her Mother. I must now take example by you in writing short letters for I have not any news to tell you. Tom writes with me in fealty to my mother and in love to Eliza and believe me my dear Catherine your. . .
Placed on the Napoleon Series: June 2001
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