Lindsay, Anne (1750–1825)

views updated

Lindsay, Anne (1750–1825)

Scottish poet, author of the popular Scottish ballad "Auld Robin Gray," and diarist who wrote about colonial life on the Cape of Africa. Name variations: Lady Anne Lindsay; Lady Anne Barnard. Born Anne Lindsay at Balcarres House, Lindsay, in Fifeshire, Scotland, on December 12, 1750; died on May 6, 1825, in London; eldest daughter of James Lindsay, 5th earl of Balcarres, and Anne Dalrymple; educated at home; married Andrew Barnard (a son of the bishop of Limerick), in 1793; no children.

Work included in:

(Dorothea Fairbridge, ed.) Lady Anne Barnard at the Cape of Good Hope, 1797–1802 (1924); (A.M. Lewin Robinson, ed.) The Letters of Lady Anne Barnard to Henry Dundas … together with her Journal of a Tour into the Interior (1973).

During a time of contention for the throne of England in the mid-1700s, prophecy held that the firstborn of Robert Lindsay, 5th earl of Balcarres, would return possession of the crown to the Stuart family. Lindsay, age 60, took a 22-year-old bride, Anne Dalrymple , and anxiously awaited the birth of a king. Hopes were quelled when, on December 12, 1750, a girl child, Anne, was born.

Thereafter, the Lindsays lived quietly in Edinburgh where ten more Lindsay children were born and educated at home with a governess and tutor. At age 19, Anne rewrote a popular but "lewd" Scottish ballad, publishing the work anonymously in 1783 as "Auld Robin Gray." Her creation became more popular than its predecessor and was set to music by the Reverend William Leeves (1748–1828).

In the company of her sister Margaret Lindsay , Anne left for London, where the two became the center of a circle of writers and were courted by several influential men. Anne chose the not so influential Andrew Barnard, 12 years her junior. She was 43 years old when they married in 1793.

After her marriage, Lady Anne Barnard obtained from Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, an appointment for her husband Andrew as colonial secretary at the Cape of Good Hope. In March 1797, the couple packed up and moved to South Africa, where they remained until January 1802 when the British Cape colony was returned to its previous Dutch ownership. Along with her journal, Lady Anne's remarkable letters to Lord Dundas, then secretary for war and the colonies, and Lord Macartney, governor of the Cape, were published in 1901, under the title South Africa a Century Ago.

In 1806, on the reconquest of the Cape by the British, Andrew Barnard was reappointed colonial secretary, but Lady Anne preferred to remain in England. She was not with him when he died in 1807. Resuming her salon life with her sister Margaret, who was also newly widowed, Anne spent the rest of her life in London, quietly pursuing her art and writing, until her death on May 6, 1825. In Scotland, she is known more for "Auld Robin Gray" then as a literary figure in South African history. Anne only acknowledged authorship of the lyrics two years before her death, in a letter to Sir Walter Scott. A century later, her voluminous personal writings were collected for the first time in Lady Anne Barnard at the Cape of Good Hope, 1797–1802.


Blain, Virginia, Pat Clements, and Isobel Grundy, eds. The Feminist Companion to Literature in English. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990.

Buck, Claire, ed. The Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature. NY: Prentice Hall, 1992.

Powell, Anthony, ed. Barnard Letters 1778–1824. London: Duckworth, 1928.

Todd, Janet, ed. British Women Writers. NY: Continuum, 1989.

suggested reading:

Fairbridge, Dorothea, ed. Lady Anne Barnard at the Cape of Good Hope, 1797–1802, 1924.

Robinson, A.M. Lewin, ed. The Letters of Lady Anne Barnard to Henry Dundas … together with her Journal of a Tour into the Interior, 1973.

Crista Martin , freelance writer, Boston, Massachusetts

About this article

Lindsay, Anne (1750–1825)

Updated About content Print Article