Corona Diary – Day 59

Wednesday, 13 May

With reference to my previous blog posting

According to “The South Park Street Cemetery Calcutta” (sixth edition, 2016),

“On the 19th October 1774, Lady Anne arrived in Calcutta where her husband Hon. George Monson had now been named as one of the Supreme Council of Bengal. Warren Hastings was Governor-General and had previously known Lady Anne. She gave good dinner parties and was “a very superior whist player.”

In her two short years in India, she made a great impression on those around her, and when she died in 1776, Macrabie wrote remorsefully in his diary “Lady Anne is no more…the loss of such a woman is generally felt by the whole Settlement but we who had the honour of her intimacy are deprived of a comfort which we shall long regret.”

The life expectancy of Europeans in Calcutta at that time was “two monsoons” – “The Monsons were the first to go.” Lady Anne was buried in South Park Street Cemetery where seven months later her husband joined her.

And so ended a remarkable life, one that deserves to be remembered along with her contribution to science. As James Lee’s partner John Kennedy wrote “her enthusiasm knew no bounds and (her) liberal and fostering hand contributed more perhaps than any of her contemporaries, by her encouragement and example to the….study of botany.” Sadly none of her botanical drawings survived.

It was then her first trip to Calcutta and she made her impression on Calcutta “society” in the short period between her arrival and her decease. She must have been among the early burials as the cemetery opened in 1767, nine years previously. I was disappointed to read that none of her drawings survived as I have already been imagining a William Darymple-type excursion to the National Library in Calcuttta to look at drawings by her. Hopefully they have other material about her.

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