The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History
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In this remarkable reconstruction of an eighteenth-century woman's extraordinary and turbulent life, historian Linda Colley not only tells the story of Elizabeth Marsh, one of the most distinctive travelers of her time, but also opens a window onto a radically transforming world.Marsh was conceived in Jamaica, lived in London, Gibraltar, and Menorca, visited the Cape of Africa and Rio de Janeiro, explored eastern and southern India, and was held captive at the court of the sultan of Morocco. She was involved in land speculation in Florida and in international smuggling, and was caught up in three different slave systems. She was also a part of far larger histories. Marsh's lifetime saw new connections being forged across nations, continents, and oceans by war, empire, trade, navies, slavery, and print, and these developments shaped and distorted her own progress and the lives of those close to her. Colley brilliantly weaves together the personal and the epic in this compelling story of a woman in world history.
time, see A.H. John, ‘Miles Nightingale – Drysalter’, Economic History Review 18 (1965), pp.152–63. 53. Speech of Edmund Burke, p.34; NA, T1/434, fols 65 and 67. 54. Wilkins, Smuggling Trade Revisited, p.149. 55. NA, T1/453, fol. 302 et seq.; Wilkins, Smuggling Trade, p.149. 56. NA, T1/453, fols 302–4, 310. 57. NA, T1/442, fol. 25. 58. NA, T1/453, fols 302–4. 59. This episode in JC’s career can be followed in detail in NA, SP 79/23 (unfol.), especially in his memorial dated 13 June 1764.
Cadiz, Venice and Leeds.33 Relative openness to dealers from different nations and religions, minimal import and export duties, and resolute neutrality were only part of the Isle of Man’s attractions. Rather like Livorno, the island produced few exports of its own, but it offered invaluable storage for outside goods that were then shipped lucratively elsewhere. Not all of James Crisp’s contraband wine, brandy and silk handkerchiefs transported by way of Manx wherries into Scotland ended up
decade in Ireland and the West Indies; while in 1768 her younger brother, John Marsh, was appointed British Consul at Málaga in Spain. Then there was Milbourne Warren, a son of Milbourne Marsh’s maternal aunt, who worked for the East India Company as a master shipbuilder in Madras, and who also took part in the brief British occupation of Manila in 1762–63. Marguerite Duval, the daughter of Elizabeth’s aunt Mary Duval, was married to a James Morrison who later climbed steadily up the ranks in the
safely married, but he still subscribed that year to four copies of Elizabeth’s book.39 Recalling his attachment, and publishing or refurbishing extracts from his letters (which she must have kept), may have salved her pride at a time when, for all she or anyone else knew, James Crisp was gone forever. Describing how the acting Sultan of Morocco had sought her out and sought her favours was obviously a far more dramatic assertion of her singularity and capacity to fascinate. Sidi Muhammad
time in Indo-Persian and subsequently Hindu science and culture. Hester Johnston, wife of Samuel Johnston, whom Elizabeth Marsh met at Visakhapatnam, employed ‘the most distinguished of the Brahmins in the neighbourhood to collect for her information on Hindu knowledge of mathematics and astronomy’. Again, one notes how the study of mathematics and female high rank – Hester Johnston was the daughter of a Scottish aristocrat – tended to go together in India at this time. When Colin Mackenzie, a