Lady Anne Barnard
(12 December 1750–6 May 1825)
Lady Anne Barnard was born at Balcarres House, Fife, Scotland. She was author of the ballad Auld Robin Gray and an accomplished travel writer, artist and socialite of the period. Her five-year residence in Cape Town, South Africa, although brief, had a significant impact on the cultural and social life of the time.
Anne moved to London where she met and was married in 1793 to Andrew Barnard, twelve years her junior, a son of Thomas Barnard, the Bishop of Limerick, for whom she obtained from Henry Dundas (1st Viscount Melville) an appointment as colonial secretary at the Cape of Good Hope, which was then under British military occupation. The Barnards travelled there in March 1797, Lady Anne remaining at the Cape until January 1802.
Her letters written to Dundas, then secretary for war and the colonies, and her diaries of travels into the interior have become an important source of information about the people, events and social life of the time. She is also retained in popular memory as a socialite, known for entertaining at the Castle of Good Hope as the official hostess of Governor Earl Macartney.
The remarkable series of letters, journals and drawings she produced was published in 1901 under the title South Africa a Century Ago. In 1806, on the reconquest of the Cape by the United Kingdom, Barnard was reappointed Colonial Secretary, but Lady Anne did not accompany him there; he died at the Cape in 1807. The rest of her life was passed in London, where she died on 6 May 1825.
Lady Anne was also an accomplished artist, some of her works being included in her published accounts of life in the 18th and 19th centuries. Her works include oil paintings and drawings.
Rev. William Leeves revealed in 1812 that Auld Robin Gray had been written by her in 1772, and set to music by him. It was published anonymously in 1783, Lady Anne only acknowledging the authorship of the words two years before her death in a letter to Sir Walter Scott (1823), who subsequently edited it for the Bannatyne Club with two continuations.
Lady Anne is commemorated in several ways in Cape Town. A chamber in the Castle of Good Hope is known as "Lady Anne Barnard's Ballroom"; a road in the suburb of Newlands, where the Barnards lived, is named "Lady Anne Avenue" and a carved sculpture of her is displayed in the foyer of the civic centre in the neighbouring suburb of Claremont. The Barnards' country house, The Vineyard, survives as part of a hotel.
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