WOMAN SCOTS GREY.LORD JOHN HAY AND HIS "PRETTY DRAGOON.” 'A ROMANCE OF THE FAMOUS REGIMENT. Who has not heard of Christian Davies, the woman trooper of the Scots Greys ? When the threatened removal of the Greys from Scotland is evoking such an outburst of national sentiment the story of her daring masquerade and dashing exploits must recur to all familiar with the brilliant record of the famous regiment. The daughter of a Dublin maltster and brewer, she had the advantage of a splendid education, but from her earliest years she had a thorough dislike to all sedentary occupations. A child of nature, she preferred the free and open life of the fields about the farm, which her father left to be managed by her mother. In the use of the plough, rake, flair, and pitchfork she showed as much strength and skill as many of the servants. To ride bare-backed horses about the fields, leaping hedges with the dash and daring of an accomplished huntter was unalloyed joy to her. After the death of her father she .went to stay with an aunt in Dublin, who, on her decease, left Christian her sole heiress to her property and business. Following this stroke of fortune she married a young man named Richard Welsh, who had been a waiter to her aunt. With him she passed four happy years, during .which two boys were born. One day her HUSBAND MYSTERIOUSLY DISAPPEARED, and this formed the prelude to all the adventures that followed. Despite all inquiries, she could find no clue to the whereabouts of her husband. A year had lessened the poignancy of her grief, when one morning to her great surprise arid joy a latter came from him, and in this he related how he had been inveigled and carried, wthile intoxicated, on board a vessel, with recruits to join the army in Flanders. She immediately conceived the idea of going out to seek him, and having placed her children in charge of a nurse, she presented herself in an old suit of her husband’s clothes to an officer beating up recruits, and enlisted with him under the name of Christopher Welsh. Shortly afterwards, along with some other recruits, she embarked, and landing at Williamstadt, Holland, immediately proceeded to join the grand army, then encamped at Landen on the eve of a general engagement. Here our heroine received her first baptism of fire, being wounded a little above the ankle. For two months thereafter she lay in hospital. The following summer she was taken prisoner with a foraging party by the French, and carried to St. Germain, in Sayo, but was very soon exchanged. In the winter of 1694, being in quarters at Gorcum, she made love to the daughter of a burg-' her of that place, whose affections she had gained as much by her spirit as the passion she pretended for her. >A sergeant had insulted the girl, -and our heroine challenged and
DANGEROUSLY WOUNDED HIM. ; In consequence. Christian was imprisoned as the aggressor. The burgher, whose daughter had been indirectly the cause of the imprisonment procured her release. On the conclusion of the peace at Ryswick, the army was disbanded, and our heroine repaired to her native land, where she found means to sec her mother, children, and friends, without, however, revealing her identity. Having tasted something of the horrors of war, as well as a little of its glories prior to the outbreak of the war of the Spanish Succession, her martial spirit once more prevailed, and she joined Lord John Hay's regiment, which repaired to the former scene of operations. During the memorable campaigns of 1702 and 1703, under the brave Marlborough, she participated in all the engagements, and displayed remarkable courage. At the battle of Donawert she was wounded. Carried to the hospital she was put under the care of three surgeons, and narrowly escaped being discovered. The battle of Hochetott was one of the bloodiest of the campaign, but through it all, though plunged in the thickest of the fight, our heroine came out unscr a tched. Strange to relate, amid the 'deafening din of the fray, she recognised her husband. The discovery came in the nature of , a revelation to this modern amazon. Twelve years had passed since ho had seen her last. She procured an interview with him, and satisfied herself of his continued affection for her. At length he learned that the
INQUISITIVE DRAGOON was none other than his wife. Notwithstanding the hardships she had experienced, she informed him that she had such a liking for the. service that she was resolved to continue in it, and that she would pass as his brother. He tried hard to dissuade her, but in vain, and under the strange romantic agreement they enjoyed each other’s company every day. But the secret of sex was at last revealed under tragic circumstances. At the battle of Ramillies a shell came whizzing through the air. and fractured her skull. Whilst being trepanned the surgeon discovered her sex. The agony of mind occasioned by the discovery was almost equal to the torture of her wound, which was ten weeks in healing.
"No sooner had they made this discovery," she observes, in her curious narrative, "but they acquainted Brigadier Preston that his pretty dragoon (for so I was always called) was a woman. The news spread far and neaL and reaching my Lord John Hay’s cars, colonel of the Scots Greys, he came to see mo, as did my former comrades, and my Lord called my husband. He gave a full and satisfactory account of our first acquaintance, marriage, and situation, and my Lord seemed very well entertained with my history." The brave amazon continued with the army until the conclusion of the war, but resumed the dress appropriate to her sex, and instead of handling a musket, dispensed wine, brandy and other necessaries to the troops. She returned to England after the Treaty of Utrecht, where, by the advice of the Duke of Argyle, under whom she had served, she had a petition drawn up and presented to Queen Anne, who received her very
graciously, and ordered her a bounty of £SO.
It was not long before she repaired to Dublin to inquire after her family and affairs. There she met her mother, then upwards of a hundred years of age, who had long CONCLUDED HER TO BE DEAD, and of her two children, the elder, as she had been informed, had died at the age of eighteen years, and the younger was in the workhouse. Those to whom she had entrusted the care of her house and property had converted them to their own use, and not having money to defray the expenses of an attempt to recover them by legal methods, she was obliged to be contented with the loss.
At Dublin she married for her third husband a soldier named Davies, -who had served in the' Low Countries, and with him repaired to London, where she obtained from the Queen, in addition to her former bounty of £SO, an order of a shilling a day for life.
She now settled at Ohelsea, and found means to get her husband into the college with the rank of sergeant. She died at Chelsea Hospital in 1739, and was buried with military honours, throe full volleys being fired above her grave.
Permanent link to this item
MILITARY., Southern Cross, Volume 14, Issue 52, 30 March 1907
MILITARY. Southern Cross, Volume 14, Issue 52, 30 March 1907
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.