Halkett, Anne (1622–1699)

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Halkett, Anne (1622–1699)

English royalist and author. Name variations: Lady Halkett; Anna Halkett. Born Anne Murray on January 4, 1622 (some sources cite 1623), in London, England; died on April 22, 1699; daughter of Thomas Murray and Jane (Drummond) Murray; married Sir James Halkett, in 1656; children: one survived infancy.

Anne Murray was born into London's high society in 1622. Her father Thomas Murray, a member of Scottish nobility, died when Anne was three years old. Her mother Jane Drummond Murray provided Anne with a scholastic and religious education, teaching her French, dancing, music, and needlework, as well as physic and surgery to facilitate her work with the poor. Her religious education included daily prayers, Bible readings, and church attendance.

Anne was first engaged to Thomas Howard, a suitor of small financial prospects, but her mother forbade the marriage as being below her station. In 1647, Anne became involved with royalist Colonel Joseph Bampfield and assisted him in 1648 with the plan to aid the escape of James, duke of York, second son of Charles I, from prison. When James later became king as James II, he gave her a pension as a reward for her part in the escape. Anne continued her royalist activity by nursing soldiers after the battle of Dunbar in 1650.

Anne's relationship with Bampfield ended after she discovered that he had misrepresented himself as a widower, and that his wife, in fact, was very much alive. In 1656, she married Sir James Halkett, a genuine widower with two young daughters. The couple had four children together, three of whom died in infancy. Before the birth of her first child, Anne wrote "The Mother's Will to her Unborn Child." Her husband died in 1676, and she began teaching children of the nobility.

Anne left several volumes after her death, mostly religious works written between 1644 and 1699. She also wrote an autobiography in 1677–78, which records political events of the time along with her own experiences and her deep religious and political beliefs. The Life of Lady Halkett, published posthumously in 1701, contains various religious works as well as "Instructions for Youth" and "Life" derived from her autobiography.

Judith C. Reveal , freelance writer, Greensboro, Maryland