18th Century Life at Traquair
Here we let you look into family life at Traquair in the later 18th century, as recorded by Mary Ravenscroft, the wife of Charles Stuart, 7th Earl of Traquair. She was the daughter of George Ravenscroft of Wickham Grange, Spalding, Lincolnshire, and his wife, Mary Slater.
Charles and Mary married in 1773. Their first child, Lady Louisa Stuart, was born in 1776 and their son, Charles Stuart (titled Lord Linton as heir to the Earldom of Traquair), in 1781.
This extract from 1783 serves as a snapshot of life in the house and gives us a fascinating insight into Mary’s daily pursuits. It also lets us observe her as a devoted nurse to her young son as he suffers a reaction to his inoculation against smallpox, a medical procedure then in its infancy.
You will see references to the family possibly going abroad. They did in fact leave Traquair in 1784, with the earl convinced the fortunes of the family could be elevated in Spain. Mary died in Madrid in 1796, never having returned home.
Notes about the Diary
- It is unbound and consists of 55 loose folios.
- It contains many abbreviations. For ease of reading these are expanded wherever possible. Square brackets are used where there is an element of doubt. A colon, used by Mary as an abbreviation, remains where it has not been possible to identify the complete word or name.
- Mary has used the third person throughout, referring to herself as Ly. T., i.e. Lady Traquair. Her husband is referred to as Ld. T.
- As was usual at the time, punctuation is random, capital letters are used indiscriminately, spellings are inconsistent and dashes frequently used in place of full stops. This style has been retained for authenticity. The overall appearance of the script is hurried, with many marginal notes, additions and crossings-out.
- Marginal notes are given as indented text and are placed roughly in line with where they appear on the page, even if this destroys the flow of the narrative.