James and Mary Gowlland correspondence.


Letter of 4th December 1858 from James Gowlland [1843 - 1860], son of Thomas Sankey Gowlland [1805 - 1851] to his mother Mary Gowlland [c 1813 - 1862], written from HMS "Racer" at Gibraltar.


James Gowlland to Mary Gowlland  -  4th December 1858


My dearest Mamma,

Although I have not yet heard from you I will once more send you the important news of this place. 

By way of commencement I must inform you that about a week ago HMS "Euryalus" arrived and anchored at this place - having on board HRH Prince Alfred.  

There has been a great fuss about him of course parading of troops etc.etc. which he does not like at all and calls Fa Fa Fa. But of course (?he has to stay)  through all these formal reviews just by way of keeping up appearances - you would laugh to see him laughing in his sleeve at some of the Generals and Colonels in the Army who are bowing and scraping to him as if he were a god.

The Governor of the island had a Private Dinner Party the other day, last Tuesday I think it was, and to my astonishment there came a messenger from the Governor with a special invitation for the Captain accompanied by one for Mr Gowlland at the request of HRH Prince Alfred - so you see dearest Mother the dear little Prince has not forgotten his playfellow aboard the "Zolla".   I think it is very good of him - well of course I went with the Captain in Full dress in the evening to the Governor’s Mansion.  But it’s more like a Palace than anything else.

We arrived about 8 o’clock  and the First Person I saw was the Prince who rushed out to meet me and really dear Mamma he appeared very glad to see me and made me very welcome.  The company who were invited were all the nobility of the place and it was like a Court in England, only that instead of the Queen Prince Alfred stood as her representative.  The men were mostly officers of the Army.  But no one was invited below the rank of major that evening  - and strange to say Prince Alfred and my honoured self were the only naval officers.  Besides the Post Captains of the ships anchored here –

I was introduced to many ladies of Rank – Lady so and so.  Besides 2 Duchesses residing at the Rock for their health – also to many others.   Lieut. Cowel or rather Major Cowel as he has rec’d his promotion lately, the Prince’s tutor and governor, was very glad to see me.  As the hotels were all rather full the Prince kindly offered me a room next his own which of course I accepted.

Bye the bye I may as well mention that the Prince and I had a long chat in his room before returning to sleep.  He had a nice large fire in his room and around his bed some very elegant mosquito curtains.  In fact there was every accommodation in his room that ingenuity could contrive.  He brought up all our sayings and doings in the "Baltic” and that we should next "Furl the Royals" again together (? later).  We turned in at about 11.30.  He gave me one of his night shirts to sleep in.  In the morning he came in and awoke me at about 8, and then himself and one of his chief valets brought me in a bath.  Fancy, Mother, a Prince carrying in a heavy bath to me.

When I got half through washing and had on only my trousers in the Greenwich Jack,  I heard the Prince singing out "Gowlland, Gowlland, make haste! So I hurried into his room thinking something had happened, when to my astonishment the Prince laughed at me, telling me that he "had some deuced fine porridge and that we must eat it at once or else it will get cold.”  So after we got two chairs, we pitched into 2 bowls of nice hot scotch porridge – real scotch as the Governor is a Scotchman and gets it direct from that Place.  He, the Prince, I must tell you was undressed in the same fashion as myself.

I breakfasted with them and the Governor and then took my departure on board.  In the evening I had another invitation to attend the Governor’s Ball which of course I accepted.  The Prince danced a great deal and the nobility were so anxious to have the honour of drinking wine with him that after a little while he got rather tired and sleepy and had (? drunk) so much that at about 2 o’clock in the morning his tutor coaxed him off to bed.  I could only dance in the Quadrilles. 

Should any delays happen to us I may as well say that I wish you a happy Christmas. I should much like to be with you  –   Maybe, but I won’t anticipate.  How does dear Aunty get on?  Tell the Governor I have some baccy for him. I have a mind to get you a few limes and oranges but fear they will not keep.  The "Meril" started at 2pm she will arrive more than a week before us. 

My dearest dearest Mother my love to all at home.

Your aff[ectionate] son James Gowlland.

PS. The "Euryalus" started this morning [presumably with the Prince on board].


Less than two years later James Gowlland had died from yellow fever.


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