Cover

Contents

Page 32

Previous <

Next >

 

 

The Birtwhistles of Craven and Galloway

 

 

 

 

 

discharging to the utmost extent of my abilities so honourable but anxious a duty”. It seems remarkable that a close friend of one of the most prominent republicans should be asked to take charge of the young heir to the throne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 18 Robert Burns and the Dumfries Theatre in which he is

reputed to have sung republican songs

 

 

 

It was largely the fear of invasion after France declared war on Britain in 1793 which stilled the enthusiasm for revolutionary politics in Scotland; even Robert Burns (unwillingly) joined the local volunteers to demonstrate his fealty.            It is said that John Vardill suffered poor health in the last decade of his life, and this may explain why he disappears from our radar after moving  back to London around 1798. The diarist Henry Crabb Robinson, who later became a friend of John Vardill’s daughter, recorded that the American loyalists John Vardill and William Franklin were friends in London.

On his death in 1811, a  short obituary  in the Gentlemans’ Magazine described John Vardill as  “a rare example of splendid talents devoted to the purest philanthropy”, and the European Magazine published an epitaph written by his daughter

 

Could Wit, could Wisdom, eternize their flame/Could Genius life’s immortal spark reclaim/

This mould’ring record had not vainly told/Where Wisdom sleeps, and Eloquence lies cold/

From rent earth the Son of Truth shall rise/Cloth’s in unclouded light, and soar beyond the skies.

 

The British secret service was exceptionally well funded during the period when John Vardill was an agent.  Although the Dumfries Weekly Journal reported that the 1792 budget devoted no less than £0.191M to the secret service, out of a total budget of £5.73M, Lewis Einstein  in  Divided Loyalties, Americans in England during the War of Independence  claimed  that John Vardill was poorly rewarded by the British Government for his services. This may not however have been the case. Probably the most reliable source of information about John Vardill’s  finances  is a note  in the Rowley collection at Skipton Public Library which  suggests that John Vardill was moderately wealthy at the time of his death, leaving £9520, equivalent to saving an average of  around £250 each year since arriving  in England in 1774.

 

 

 

 

 

Cover

Contents

Page 32

Previous <

Next >