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On May 13, 1796, a dissolution of Parliament was on the horizon. Ban published a letter in the Liverpool newspaper, the Oracle, on that day confirming his wish to be again elected to represent his home. Ban had been tangling with Wilberforce, fiercely blocking the passage of the abolitionist's bill. Liverpool was very happy with its native son, and the election looked like a shoo-in. But there was trouble brewing, and it involved Ban's own brother, John. The third Tarleton son had been Ban's closest brother, the one to whom he wrote first about his wounded hand. What happened to separate them politically is a matter of human nature, but why the bitterness of the upcoming campaign remains a mystery.
John had become a staunch Tory and friend of Pitt. He had entered Parliament through a by-election in Seaford in 1795. Ban had worked to have John elected there in 1790, but the brothers were unsuccessful. Even though they sat on opposite sides in the House of Commons, they seemed tolerant and friendly. John lived with Ban in London at 30 Clarges Street, and Ban proudly took his brother to Brooks's.
Perhaps it was merely the strategical malevolence on the part of Pitt. He made the decision to throw John Tarleton against Ban Tarleton in the upcoming campaign in order to split the Liverpool vote. Ban was furious and rode to Liverpool to begin his campaign. He wrote to the Oracle on May 26th that "The General declared his brother's politics to be ministerial and his opposition not personal." Brothers Thomas and Clayton declined to support either brother. The other potential candidates were weak, so the struggle lay between Ban and John. Under the direction of Pitt's minions, John's campaign Tories issued blast after blast at Ban. They laughed at his military record and inactivity in that arena. McKenzie's Strictures were brought up again and again. They called him a Jacobin because he had traveled unimpeded through France and had taken to wearing his hair -- as did the Revolutionaries -- in the "French Crop." They wrote:
'Tis Bedford's weak party, with Tarleton and
Whot to imitate Frenchmen have cut off their locks;
A Democrat practice which nothing avails:
Old England stands firm against dogs without tails!
They even went so far as to say that if Ban were elected, the French would overrun the country and kill the womenfolk. It was dirty business. Another newspaper wrote:
"Not stolen, but strayed from his Kennel in the Jacobin Society of London, a remarkably Fierce looking animal of the Cur kind, with his tail cut off, answers to the name of Crop, wears a black collar around his neck, and has two claws missing from his right paw. Whosoever will return him to his keeper, Mrs. R_______, in C______ Street, to any of the gaming houses in Covent Garden, or to any of His Grace of B_______'s Grooms, shall be rewarded with a Fraternal embrace for his trouble."
Bass does not record any mud being slung from Ban's campaign headquarters. Instead, Ban urged his constituency to review his record, his loyalty to his city, and how hard he had fought for their interests. On May 31st, Banastre, Thomas and Clayton declined to vote. John voted for Ban. John lost, Ban won. As soon as John struck his colors, Ban issued a somber acceptance of victory. The family had been split apart. As he left for London, a letter to the editor wrote, "Farewell, General Tarleton. You are a brave but not a wise man. Your personal popularity has for once befriended you; but you will find that even among the men who have rejected you, the majority detest your political conduct, and lament your being at the fag end of a contemptible party."
When Ban left Liverpool for London, his conscience was working overtime. Mother Jane had been greatly hurt by the brothers' political battle, and fearing she would not live long, made out her will. In it, she forgave all the advances she had made towards Ban's gambling debts and allotted him £1,500. This generosity, combined with Clayton's refusal to employ his Whig backing for Ban's cause, shook him. He made the attempt to quit gambling -- Bass states that his name never reappeared in the "Betting Book." He also decided to issue a second printing of Campaigns.
In its new preface, Ban praised his generals and defended Clinton. He dismissed Cornwallis. The preface was a literary success, and the second edition of Campaigns was well received. So back to Parliament Ban went. He attacked the way the Tories were handling the war with France. On November 2nd he rose from his seat and gave "the most powerful speech of his career, and it left the Tories on the horns of a dilemma."
Ban was successful and popular, but yet another emotional fracas was brewing. The Prince of Wales, never one to behave well towards women, was being exceptionally unpleasant to his wife, the German Princess Caroline. Upon meeting her, he had almost fainted, and he had been so drunk during the wedding ceremony that his father, the King, had to prop him up from behind and whisper the vows in his ear for him to repeat. The marriage was a disaster of Biblical proportions. He shared Caroline's bed only long enough to begat their daughter, and then vanished for his numerous mistresses. Unfortunately, poor Caroline did not live up to his standards of personal hygiene, and he never got over the initial shock. Now he was being criticized from every corner for his treatment of her. There was no louder critic of His Royal Highness than Mary Robinson.
The royal brothers were close friends of Ban's, and Mary's behavior must have been embarrassing. To his credit, he held to her side, but he must have been chagrined when her letters of condemnation were printed in the newspapers. On November 26th, she published Hubert de Sevrac, another Gothic romance. This novel was not well reviewed but sold well, especially on the Continent.
Then another tragedy struck. Clayton died on December 4th. Later in the winter of 1797, Mother Jane began to sink. As Bass put it, "[Ban knew] that his mother's greatest wish was to see him separated from Mary." Yet Mary had always been there for him, supporting him financially and emotionally. It was truly a matter of loyalty against loyalty. Bass suggests that the relationship had become platonic, and now Mary was becoming a political handicap. She was also £1,200 in debt, and she suggested to Ban that when his mother died, he should help her out with his inheritance. As logical as this idea sounds, it might have hit Ban at the wrong time, and in mid-April he broke the connection. Mary fled to Bath.
Mother Jane died on May 23rd. As Ban mourned for his mother, Mary mourned for Ban. But this time, there would be no making up, no happy responses to eloquent poetry. Throughout the summer, Mary wrote instead about perfidy and deceit. She threw herself into another novel, Walsingham, which brought her financial relief but at a great cost. The Oracle of October 17th stated that "The work which Mrs. Robinson is now finishing will probably be her last. Her health declines rapidly. The sting of ingratitude wound deeply in a sensitive heart." Mary had another few years left, though, in which she exacted some literary revenge against her ungrateful ex.
During 1798, Ban was experiencing much Tory criticism. He arranged for one of his old adversaries, the Polish Kosciusko, to be given a sword. Ban touted Kosciusko's support of the cause of Liberty at a monthly Whig Club meeting. In Tory eyes, this only proved how close he was to the French revolutionaries! They also sniggered at his wish to talk military matters with Napoleon, noting that "talking has ever been seen to be his strongest propensity." But his talking had not been as finely honed as in the past, since he had been "abandoned by the Muse," meaning, of course, Mary. At this point, Mary began revising her manuscripts so that Ban's name would not appear on them. "To a dear friend" was changed to read "To a once dear friend." She took his name from "Ode to Valour."
General misfortune temporarily took another of the once merry band surrounding Tarleton. George Hanger had finally come to the end of his resources. Spending a few months in debtor's prison, he wrote his memoirs, and when he was released, he was "newly accomplished, totally unpenitent, and very well rested." With his last £40, he became the hardest working coal merchant in London. He prospered. One day the Prince rode by Hanger's coal yard and shouted, "Hey, George, how go coals today?" George answered, "Black! Black, your Highness, black as ever."
Late in the summer of 1798, Ban paid Mary a visit. It was possibly the last time they ever saw one another, and it was not overly warm, although he promised to return. After the visit, Mary poured out her heart in a poem titled, "Lines, written on the 9th of September, 1798." In it she cried,
"How can'st thou unconcern'dly give me pain?
Retract, retract, that cruel word again!
Nor suffer thus the dreadful thought to rend,
And wound the bosom of thy tend'rest friend --
Or if (avert it Heaven) the die is cast,
And our approaching meeting be our last,
One parting sigh, one tender tear bestow,
And seem at least unwillingly to go!
So shall that sigh repay me for my fate,
That tear for all my sorrows compensate."
In other words, if you aren't coming back, Ban, at least act a little sad! Tarleton left London for a visit to his friend, Lord Robert Spencer. On September 15th he wrote, "I have retired to Lord Robert Spencer's friendly mansion, to read and subsist free, being very, very poor." After this visit, he returned to London, with his hair grown long again. The newspapers speculated that perhaps he had abandoned his Whig politics. Or was he vying for active military duty? Napoleon was gathering his forces for an attack on Spain, and Portugal was begging for assistance. Ban was called to the Duke of York's headquarters, where he was at last given an active command.
Happier than he had been in a very long time, Ban celebrated with his friends from Brooks's by embarking on a hunting trip to Houghton [see links] in Norfolk. Here lived Susan Priscilla Bertie, who was, according to Lady Shelley, "The most spirituelle and clever person I have ever met." Bass states that Susan was "fascinated by the famous General with the elegant manners and scandalous reputation." Ban was probably vastly intrigued by her considerable inheritance of £20,000. Whatever the motives, when Ban's visit ended, there was an "understanding" between them.
The news for Tarleton grew better and better. It was announced on December 11th that Ban was to command His Majesty's forces in Portugal, and on December 12th he was presented to the King at a levee, after which the King and the General spoke at length with one another. The very next day came another happy story. The engagement of Miss Bertie and General Tarleton was announced, ending with the newspaper's well-wishing that "Forgetful of the General's peccadillos, we hope him all the happiness afforded by youth and £20,000." Ban was again the talk of the social scene. Everyone wanted to know about his little bride to be, and there was much discussion in print. Susan was described universally as being vastly accomplished. Some claimed her extremely pretty while others deemed her to be "not critically handsome." On December 14th another voice weighed in on the discussion. The Morning Post declared that "The Lady to whom General Tarleton is to be married is named Krudener, and not Bertie, as has been stated by mistake." The Morning Post's editor of its poetry page was none other than Mary Robinson. She remembered that little Susan Priscilla was indeed the love child of Robert Bertie, fourth Duke of Ancaster, and one Rebecca Krudener.
Susan had been born in the fall of 1778. Within the next year, her father had died, "after considerably overheating himself in a footrace in Hyde Park ... he was taken ill and drank five bottles of claret and champagne." This finished him off, and his grieving mother was so undone by this calamity that she took her little granddaughter, illegitimate though she might be, under her wing. Susan was raised as a perfect little lady. If she looked anything like her handsome father, she was much prettier than "critically handsome." As a quirk of fate, one of Ban Tarleton's best friends during that happy winter in Philadelphia, 1777, had been Robert Bertie.
Now Bertie's daughter was Banastre's bride. She was twenty, and she spoke several languages, was proficient at drawing and a mistress of geometry and astronomy. Her most developed gift was for music. Beyond describing her intellectual assets, the newspapers were fascinated by how much money this meant for the General who was old enough to be her father. They were married on December 17, 1798 at Lord Gwydyr's home in Whitehall. The Reverend Mr. Western of Canterbury presided over the nuptials.
With the wedding over, the happy newlyweds enjoyed London's nightlife and shopping for the trip to Portugal. The newspapers now mused on how a Radical Whig had won a military posting. Speculations included everything from Ban's political reversal to Lord Cornwallis befriending his dragoon again. It was finally decided that Lord Gwydyr was the benefactor. As they prepared for the trip, Ban was given another appointment as Colonel of the Durham Regiment of Fencible Cavalry. For his aide de camp, Ban selected his nephew, Thomas Tarleton, Jr. who was a graduate of Eton and Oriel College, Oxford.
As a send-off, the royal brothers threw Ban a grand party and presented him with a dress sword. Ban christened it "Sweet Lips."
As Ban and Susan waited for favorable winds to carry them south, Mary began a novel about Banastre called The False Friend. In it, Ban is now named Treville, and he is an evil, manipulative priest. The book was published on February 19th, just in time for the new bride to read before shipping out with her new husband, whom she barely knew. Imagine her reading about her new husband that he was,
"A Being, who lived only for himself, who, wrapped in the flimsy garb of vanity, and considering every woman a creature formed for his amusement, marked each succeeding day with a new crime...." and went on to remark that any woman of character would naturally "admire his exterior attractions ... while her judgement taught her to counteract the magic, the poisonous magic, which lurked beneath the finest work of nature."
Hopefully Susan Priscilla had a sense of humor. By March 5th the Tarletons sailed at last. As they left, Mary sent after them her wishes for their trip in another poetic effort which ended:
"In vain you fly me! on the maddening Main
Sappho shall haunt thee 'mid the whirlwind's roar:
Sappho shall o'er the mountains chaunt her strain,
And Echo bear it to they distant shore!
No scene upon the world's wide space shall be
A scene of rest, ungrateful man, to thee!"
Mary next turned her literary vengeance on Susan Priscilla, but the young girl was not fair game. She had done nothing wrong, and Mary failed to dig up any dirt. She managed to publish The Natural Daughter which brought her little acclaim. She next turned to feminist thoughts with her Thoughts on the Condition of Women and on the Injustice of Mental Subordination. Mary had been befriended by the new writers of the infant Romantic Movement of literature, William Godwin and Mary Woolstonecraft.
Ban and Susan were having little success in Portugal. The area saw little action, and the Portuguese concept of cavalry was woefully wanting. Ban discovered that his cavalry horses were being additionally used as carriage hacks. Evidently, domestic life was also in turmoil. Susan Priscilla was accomplished but highly spoiled by her aunts. She was headstrong and used to getting her way. She was, as Bass states it, "imperious." "She brooked no interference in her plans to ride her black stallion with spurs and blind bridle." She and nephew Tom didn't get along at all. Ban left them to settle their differences themselves.
After a year of foreign duty, in October of 1799 they were recalled to Britain where they enjoyed the social life, Susan being complimented in newspaper reports of the fêtes for her lovely wardrobe. Ban continued to sit on the opposition side in Parliament, regardless of the length of his hair. But he remained very quiet.
The new year of 1800 broke quietly. This was the last year of Mary Robinson's life, and, after so many "declines" and brushes with death, she was obviously sinking quickly. While the Tarletons lived happily and socially, Mary was scrambling to stay out of debt. She was also befriended by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who urged her to try various miracle cures, but to no avail. Her friends raised money for her, to keep her from dying in debtor's prison. She tried to work, and scribbled some poetry.
Her former amour was not suffering at all. Richard Sheridan was having a great laugh at the friend whom he once skewered verbally with the "killed more men and etc." jibe. Sheridan remembered their days of drinking and carousing, and now here was a new Ban, married and respectable. Perhaps out of wit and a sense of joking humor he is reported to have said,
"Well, Tarleton, are you on your high horse still?"
"Oh! Higher than ever! If I was on a horse before, I am on an elephant now."
"No, no, my dear fellow. You were on an ass before, and you are on a mule now!"
Perhaps Susan encouraged the pair to take a long vacation, as the summer and fall of 1800 saw them in Wales. Returning in November, Ban and Susan enjoyed the Christmas season as Mary lay dying. Bass reports that she had dropsy, an ancient term for simple heart failure and the inability of the heart to pump air through the lungs. This results in "water" being accumulated in the chest. However, an autopsy also found vast evidence of gall bladder disease. Whatever the cause, she died in great pain on December 26th, 1800, in the arms of her beloved daughter. Bass reports that two days later, two individuals received a lock of her hair. He believes the two recipients to be a general and a prince. She was buried in the churchyard at Old Windsor, where she had played in her childhood, and where she had brought her general and her prince for so many trysts.
The Tarletons enjoyed life vastly during the first half of 1801. Ban was reformed and respected. He was still a Whig, but as he was in the employ of the Tory government, he kept his mouth shut. He also spent more time with Susan and at the King's levées than at Brooks's. June brought a change of venue. Ban was sent to Ireland as commander of the Southern District. He and Susan settled into an estate called Richmond. Ireland was seen as a potential site for a French invasion, and Ban sent the Duke of York a plan to prevent such a catastrophe. Nothing happened, and the Tarletons found Ireland peaceful until recalled in June of 1802.
Napoleon had been defeated, at least temporarily, and the King dissolved Parliament. That meant another political campaign, so instead of London, the Tarletons traveled from Cork to Liverpool. Ban had what might now be termed "fuzzy" politics. He avoided both Fox and Pitt. Happily, his newfound respectability had healed the family's wounds and the Tarleton clan supported his third election to Parliament.
At this point, one would guess that Ban was a new man. A respectable and respected member of society. However, there must have been a bit of the old Regency Buck left in him. During 1801 the only child he ever had was born to a Russian emigrée named Kolina. He acknowledged the birth, and it was recorded at St. Pancras, London. The little girl was named Banina. Nothing has been found of her mother or what happened to either mother or child except a simple mention of Banina's death seventeen years later.
Amusingly, it is right after this event that Bass, who never mentions Banina, writes of an amusing development in the marriage. Back in the whirl of London's gay society life, Ban was shown to be extremely jealous of his bright young wife. A Lady Lorpeth wrote her sister, "General and Mrs. Tarleton are thought too conjugal as they always sit on the same chair and eat from the same plate." Perhaps young Susan had extracted a bit of revenge on her straying spouse.
Napoleon now reared his head again, and Ban was preparing to depart to Ireland once more, believing he would now have command. Instead it went to Lord Cathcart, who was Ban's junior officer. Ban was ordered to serve in western England, and he was hurt. He said, "I considered myself as sent to Siberia."
The command was not insignificant, however. Napoleon was massing troops and an invasion of southern England was a real possibility. Ban assured Parliament that the defenses were ready. In the zealousness of attending to his war duties, Ban became more and more involved with his old enemy, Pitt. The Prime Minister and the General became friends, and Ban announced his support of the dying leader. In putting the defense of his country before his other loyalties, Ban had become a Tory. His friendship with Pitt was short; the Prime Minister died on January 12, 1806. And although the Whigs castigated Ban for his treason, their leader was dying as well. Fox passed away on September 13th of that year, having not heard from his old disciple again.
In October, Parliament was dissolved and another election called. Tarleton was narrowly defeated by William Roscoe, whose supporters employed all the dirty tricks common to elections of the day. But his victory was short lived. Tarleton wrote a classy letter of defeat, which was widely applauded. Then, after a short period of six months, another election was called. This time he received a letter of invitation from 130 outstanding citizens of Liverpool requesting that he run for election. Roscoe's devices became even dirtier. This campaign, he even raised the specter of poor Mary Robinson to try and defeat the General. But Ban was too popular, and he defeated all others. This was probably the height of his popularity. He received more votes than any candidate ever had in Liverpool.
Ban and Susan settled into the London life. Susan had changed. From the headstrong rider of black stallions, she had grown very religious. She left off the dictates of fashion for more somber dress. Yet they were still among the royal brothers' company, even during the scandal involving the Duke of York and his mistress, Mary Anne Clarke. After he spurned her, Mary Anne had exposed his love letters, and in the shambles it was found that she had been paid for seven military appointments given by the Duke. There was an investigation in Parliament, and Ban voted against his old mentor, the Duke. Principle again won out over friendship. But the debates over the subject made enemies of Ban and General Sir Arthur Wellesley, whom Ban named "the Sepoy General." Ban haunted this man's reputation as his mistakes became known to Parliament. Wellesley countered with his own words. It became the talk of London... general against general.
Meanwhile Ban oversaw western England. Nothing much happened during his watch, so he attended Parliament, arguing against the Peninsular campaign. When General Wellesley became Lord Wellington, his verbal attacks in the house escalated. The Sepoy General was often the target of Ban's disgust at the war with France, which was destroying the commerce in Liverpool. So Ban spent his time. During the verbal barbs that came with such discourse were those hinting that Ban's military posting was a reaping of his own politics: not his abilities, but his political judgment.
Important historical events hurried in rapid succession. Early in 1811, George III lapsed into insanity yet again. On February 5th, the future George IV became Prince Regent. Then Wellington captured Badajoz. Even Tarleton voted his official thanks.
Ban was promoted to Lieutenant General on December 31, 1811. His personal happiness was dampened by the condition of his home. Liverpool had suffered greatly from the effects of the wars with France. He wrote, "For now, whoever goes along the quays, not long since crowded with every Species of Merchandise, will behold the melancholy and mortifying signal of a broom at the masthead of almost every other ship, to notify, alas! That it is to be sold." Riots ensued in the spring and early summer of 1812. Ban was out of touch with his constituency. His days in London had been longer than his attention to home. Although he recognized the conditions, he had not been accessible or appeared to be helpful, and the citizens had turned to another. In a conversation with Lord Grey, who was secretly backing this confidante of the people, Ban stated that of course "he must look in the first place to his own interests." Lord Grey ended his letter to the confidant, Henry Brougham, that Tarleton "Has not behaved well in politics." Brougham replied that, "Respecting Tarleton, I feel exactly as you do, liking the man, and heartily grieved should he be turned out."
But turned out he was. The main reason rested in the last election. There were unpaid bills, of which Tarleton was ignorant. He came forward with a large sum with which to pay them, but it was too late. Besides, he had turned his coat once too often. Forever a Whig, he had become a Tory, and was now trying to come back as a Whig. It didn't work.
In fact, because of the war, all the Tarletons faced bankruptcy. None of the brothers had money with which to support their famous brother's campaign. And so, Ban's political career ended.
In late summer of 1814, Ban and Susan moved into Leintwardine House in Herefordshire.1 This was retirement! The region being one of England's most beautiful, mysterious, and lush places, both were happy. Here Susan could reflect on religious subjects with her four lap dogs in tow, and Ban could hunt and fish. Perhaps he became one of those fly-fishermen of the early 19th century celebrated as "The Compleate Angler."
Ban's family had always been ambitious. They had created (and lost) wealth over the generations, and they were very respected. But, when all was said and done, they were simply "in trade." No titles for them. Ban was the closest they had gotten to the nobility. He had hob-nobbed with royalty for a lifetime. Surely, with his military and political accomplishments behind him, he might expect a Knighthood?
In January of 1815, many of those who helped overthrow Napoleon were rewarded with such, but not a Tarleton. This hurt. Ban had suffered through an unpopular American war which was quickly dismissed from public thought. He had since languished until the political milieu allowed him another military opportunity, and even though his duty in western England had been exemplary, there was little glory there to gain. So, he wrote the Secretary of War, Earl Bathurst, to plead his case.
When Bathurst demurred, Ban went straight to London and "laid his humiliation before the Duke of York." Ban and the Duke were back on good terms after the Marry Anne Clarke episode, and Frederick wanted to help his friend. He managed a Baronetcy, with nephew Thomas Tarleton to serve as heir to this title. This excited the Tarleton family. Were they finally to be repaid for their patience for this prodigal son by becoming a titled family? Nephew Thomas was most excited, and implored his uncle to further the cause. In among their written ramblings on the subject, Ban finally exploded, "do you think me a Goosey Gander?"
Finally, on January 23rd, 1816, Ban was made a Baronet. He was now Sir Banastre Tarleton.
For the interim, Ban and Susan entertained relatives, enjoyed the countryside, and attended few of the social demands of London. Ban was beginning to suffer more intensely from gout and arthritis. They enjoyed the outdoor pursuits of Scotland, but not the weather. Ban's military income, considering his promotions, was beginning to pay off, and they lived in great comfort. It should have been a happy life, but the family's fortunes proved a distraction.
The Tarletons of Liverpool were bankrupted by the war. In 1815 Brother John died, having never reconciled with Ban. [A correspondent has called this date, which is given in Bass p450, into question. See note 2. -- Marg B.] Then in 1818, beloved sister Bridget passed away, followed in 1820 by brother Thomas. Thomas was in severe financial straits, due to his support of Ban's political campaigns and gambling debts. Ban came forward with financial assistance.
Wigmore Church by Tarleton [more information]
George, the Prince Regent, became King in 1820. During his coronation, he made Ban a Grand Cross Knight of the Bath. "In consequence of his infirmities," he was invested at his own house in Grosevenor Street by the Duke of York. But he did make the coronation ceremony, marching "proudly with the Knights Grand Cross" for George's coronation. Ban's relationship with the royal heir had been a long and interesting road, from its beginning point in London when a young lieutenant colonel had come home to meet his sovereign-to-be, a long way from "The Thunderer."
An interesting portrait of the Tarletons is presented by niece Mary Tarleton, in her journal. She says, "Lady Tarleton never referred very much to her husband's early life. His active career in the American War was closed before she knew him, and the very enthusiastic religious views she took up and with which she earnestly sought to imbue him prevented her dwelling with pleasure upon the 'pomps and vanities' which surrounded him in middle life...." One wonders what the worldly Ban made of these efforts, noble as their intentions must have been.
Ban never appeared in public again. He stayed mostly in Leintwardine, where on good weather days he fished. He sent his catches to friends in London who wrote their thanks. When George IV died in 1830 and was succeeded by William, Ban was "too feeble to attend."
Mary's journal records a last glimpse of the Butcher of the Carolinas: "My last recollection of the General is of a day when two of my sisters and I drove over from Broughton or Charlton (I think the later) to see him and my Aunt whilst they were on a visit to Cholmondeley Castle. He was a fine, but rather stern and rugged looking old man, unshorn to a degree, which in those days was peculiar, confined by gout to his chair...."
Ban died on January 16, 1833, a peculiar date. Perhaps he couldn't face another anniversary of Cowpens. Bass states that on January 25th, Lady Tarleton and friends buried him in the churchyard at Leintwardine. "Thomas hastened to London to deliver his uncle's insignia of knighthood to King William." He inherited Ban's sword and trophies. Susan got the cash.
Bass states that Ban's grave was soon neglected and forgotten. This brings several thoughts to mind. First, did Susan Priscilla then travel and stay with other relatives for long periods? This is traditional and understandable. Would any loving widow forget where she planted her husband? Not likely.
Doc M and others have voiced the idea that Ban is buried inside the church, under the floor, as is custom. Perhaps one day some of Ban's admirers will gain entry into the church long enough to find out. On last sighting, this chapel was guarded by a very large and unfriendly woman and a sweet and friendly male ginger cat.
Susan lived to be an ancient old lady, dying in 1864. Before expiring, she raised a monument inside the church to Ban's memory, extolling his virtues.
Near this place are deposited the mortal remains of Sir Banastre Tarleton -- Baronet -- General in the Army -- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Governor of Berwick-on-Tweed, Colonel of the Gallant 8th Hussars -- He represented his native town of Liverpool for seven Sessions and closed his distinguished career in this place Jan. 16, 1833.3
He was a tender-hearted husband, an indulgent master and liberal benefactor to the poor. This monument is raised by his bereaved widow as a testimony of her affection. But he has a more imperishable memory for himself in the annals of his country, and in the hearts of many friends.
He was a hero, his youth's idol, glory,
He courted on the battlefield of war.
England exulted in her valiant son
And stamped his name for ever on her story.
Time's trophy gained and sheathed the warrior's sword,
He turned him sated from the world's renown
To die the humble soldier of his Lord,
And change earth's laurel for a heavenly crown.
In reading it, one can try to compare the sentiments of Mary, the former poet, mistress, and great love, with the proper but sincere thoughts of the wife of later years. If both women meant what they wrote, Ban was a lucky man indeed. Long live his memory.
There are many who will read this biography and believe I succumbed to "Reynold's Portrait Disease." That I am such an incurable Romantic that I fell for a young boy in a pretty uniform. Well, you are partially right and mostly wrong. I am a person who has never watched a soap opera, who abhors romance novels, and am in general cynical about most things. However, I am also a fanatic for justice.
When I found Ban, in the early '60s, I was attracted to the uniform, but mostly for personal reasons. My buddies and I -- intrepid tomboys -- played Swamp Fox in the woods behind our houses, and I always wound up having to play -- you guessed it. So instead of a girlish crush, my affection for Tarleton was also an extension on my own adoration of my budding adolecent self awareness. No, I'm not into reincarnation, and that has nothing to do with my feelings for the RevWar's "baddest boy." Then again, I have a soft shell, and criticism gets to me, so perhaps if I had to PLAY Tarleton, I also took personally the attacks on him.
Fortunately, I began reading and looking at history with a wider view. Although I am a Patriotic American, and my husband and family have served this nation honorably in war, I also love the U.K. It is our best friend in this century, our greatest ally. They have a point of view. During my nine trips to the U.K., I have found nothing but friendship and warmth towards us as a people.
So I began looking at Ban's life through a more balanced eye. What I have deduced is that yes, he had faults. But unlike the boring, marble statues that American propagandist historians have made of our own home-grown heroes, Ban was extremely human. He screwed up. He made mistakes. He had great attributes and messy flaws. That's why he is so endearing to me. His life was fast paced and heady with war, high-born friends, peaks and valleys of ambition.
Instead of finding him an interesting creature, many historians have left him to play the stereotypical villain. I have friends, one particularly intelligent, who refuse to read Green Dragoon except for the battle scenes. No Mary, no later life. People such as this one, who is a lovely person in general, still refuse to admit that instead of an inhuman devil, Ban was real. Very real.
I hope this biography inspires those interested in history and in justice to discover the fun of knowing this rollicking lad from Liverpool. He won't disappoint you.
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1 Robert D. Bass, The Green Dragoon; The Lives of Banastre Tarleton and Mary Robinson (New York: Henry Holt and Company; 1957), p442, states that Leintwardine is in Shropshire, but I am assured that it is in Herefordshire, and has been in Herefordshire since at least the mid-1600s. Thanks to Lytton Jarman for the information, and for a copy of Banastre's will, which does, indeed, say "County of Hereford." -- Marg B. [ back ]
2 A correspondent (Clithering) writes that John may have died September 19, 1841, per the DNB and a site called Leigh Rayment's Peerage Page. (This link goes directly to the subpage listing John's information.) The edition of the DNB to which I have access does not have an entry for John, so I need to clarify the reference. The entry for Ban on the Rayment site contains errors, I notice, so pending clarification, the date remains open to argument. -- Marg B. [ back ]
3 In some references, you will see the date of Tarleton's death given as January 25th. As Holley notes above, this is actually the date of his burial, as it is given in the parish burial records. -- Marg B. [ back ]
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