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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Mrs Frances Campbell part 1

While corresponding about the problematic author Don Campbell—covered recently here on Bear Alley—another curious name cropped up in conversation, that of Mrs. Frances Campbell, whose single entry in Crime Fiction Bibliography was accompanied by a brief biographical sketch based on a 1905 newspaper report found online. No dates, no further information.

In fact, I have found only two (very brief) newspaper reports relating to Mrs. Campbell's background. In the Biggleswade Chronicle and North Bedfordshire Gazette (23 August 1901), we learn that...
An Irish Author
One of the most striking books of the day, "Love, the Atonement," is written by a woman whose work will be eagerly watched in the future. Mrs. Campbell—Frances Campbell is her full name—is of Irish origin, very nearly related to Mr. Robert Gray, a leading Government official in Queensland, and she has lived for many years in Australia. Her first story was published in Good Words, and since then she has had stories in several of the magazines. A few years ago she was married to a kinsman of the Duke of Argyll, and hence her married name of Campbell.
A few years later, the Australian paper The World’s News (25 November 1905), revealed the following...
A New Writer
Mrs. Frances Campbell is the writer of “A Pillar of Dust,” just published by Arrowsmith, a novel of which great things are prophesied. She is an Irishwoman, and a descendant of Owen Roe O'Neill, the famous rebel chief of Ulster. She married a grandson of the late Admiral Donald Campbell, of Barbreck, and has lived abroad nearly all her married life in Australia, Malaya, and the Pacific Islands. At the suggestion of the present Duke of Argyll, Mrs. Campbell began to write, and published her first story in the Pall Mall Magazine. Since then, she has contributed to most of the leading magazines and reviews, and has, for the past four years, written a signed article weekly for the “Westminster Gazette”—always distinguished by a graceful style. Mrs. Campbell's book, "Two Queenslanders," published last year, has aroused considerable expectations for “A Pillar of Dust.”
It might be expected that with today's bibliographical tools, one might easily discover more about a woman so connected to well-known figures of the day, but the truth is that Mrs. Campbell was rather unsure of her own origins. Living at 6A Bickenhall Mansions, Marylebone, with her daughter and a servant, she gave her age as 37 and her place of birth as "not sure, probably Co. Antrim Causeway". The accuracy of this information has to be questioned as some of the other information on the return is incorrect: her daughter was not 17 (she was born in 1891) and Frances had given birth to three children, not two. An earlier census record gives her age as 30 in 1901 and her birthplace as Ireland.

Her birth remains a mystery. For want of better information, we might consider Co. Antrim in around 1870 as a starting point, but I suspect she may have shaved off a few years, as she had for her daughter.

The next positive sighting of her occurred in October 1888, when the following notice was placed in various Queensland newspapers:
CAMPBELL—DEAN MORGAN.–Howard Douglas Campbell, son of the late Captain Howard Douglas Campbell, 78th Highlanders (Ross-shire Bufffs), and grandson of the late Admiral Donald A. Campbell, of Barbreek, Argyleshire, to Frances, only daughter of Colonel J. F. Dean Morgan, of Ballycross, County Wexford, Ireland.
This opens up a number of possibilities, as the Deane-Morgan (with an additional 'e') was a well-known Wexford family, headed at that time by the Hon. Mrs. Deane-Morgan (1831-1920) of Arkandrisk, who had been involved in a widely-reported case known as "The Muskerry Peerage". A suit was brought in June 1869 by Lord Muskerry in order to establish his rights to the family title and estates. The petitioner was the only son of the eldest son of the late Lord Muskerry. His mother was Elizabeth Geraldine Grogan Morgan and his father Robert Fitzmaurice Tilson Deane, who, on acquiring some property by the will of the late Mr. Samuel Morgan, changed his name to Deane-Morgan. They were married in Trinity Church, Brompton, London, in December 1847, and the petitioner was born in 1854 at Springfield Castle, Co. Limerick. His father died in 1857 and his grandfather, the late Lord Muskerry, in 1868, when the petitioner succeeded to the estate.

Rumours began to circulate that he was a supposititious (a substitute) and that his mother had never had a child. After hearing the evidence, Judge Warren at the Irish Court of Probate legally declared the legitimacy of Lord Muskerry—Hamilton Matthew Tilson Fitzmaurice Deane- Morgan (1854-1929).

Because of the connections to the Peerage of Ireland, the family tree of the various Barons Muskerry is well known and widely researched. Unfortunately, there is no sign of a J. F. Dean Morgan, although Ballycross certainly exists and is nowadays famous as an apple farm. The original Ballycross was a 3-storey, five bay mansion built in 1840 by John Rowe. When Rowe died in around 1875, the house was left to his wife, whose family name was Bolton, and the Furney family lived there in the later 19th century. The original building was demolished in 1948.

I can find no proof to the effect that she was related to Owen Roe O'Neill or was "very nearly" related—by which I assume they mean "closely related"—to Robert Gray (1839-1931), a former soldier who ran a sheep farm at Hughenden, near Mount McConnel in Queensland from the early 1860s. (For more about Gray, see here.)

It has been impossible to prove much of Mrs. Campbell's background. It does appear to be true that she lived for eleven years in Queensland, which would mean she was there approximately 1887-98. Married on 30 October 1888, she had three children who were each registered in Queensland, revealing their mother's full name to be Frances Cyril Vivian Dean Morgan. All three were born in Brisbane, Lorne Douglas Campbell on 19 October 1889, Phillis Frances Campbell on 21 August 1891 and Yorke Douglas Campbell on 14 July 1895. Their first child died on 7 August 1890, aged only 10 months.Thus it was as a family of two adults and two children, accompanied by a maid, that the Campbells made a trip on the steamer Birksgate in 1896.

In the May 1898 number of Good Words, edited by Dr. M'Leod, Frances Campbell made her debut as a writer with "Tommy on the Engine", subsequently described as a "pathetic little story"—that's a story filled with pathos—of the Queensland bush dealing with a startling episode in the shearer's strike. The Marquis of Lorne (John Campbell, who became the 9th Duke of Argyll in 1900), who forwarded the magazine, was said to be very pleased with it and The Brisbane Courier agreed, hoping that it would be "the forerunner of many more sketches from the same pen."

On 15 January 1899, the Campbells boarded the Jumna, accompanied by their children and a nurse, Miss Rutter, and set sail for London, arriving in March. Frances Campbell set about establishing her literary career which was to quickly flourish: by March the following year she was appearing in Pall Mall Magazine ("The Marriage of Thomasina") and her first novel, For Three Moons, was published by Digby, Long & Co.

Reading the following review in The Scotsman (8 March 1900), one could imagine the author was drawing heavily on her recent travels:
A story of a voyage from Australia to London, and its main sum of incident, from the framework of Miss Frances Campbell’s novel, “For Three Moons.” Among the passengers are a very rich lady, Mrs Tredwin, going to the old country under protest to see her daughter and grandchild; a young nun, Sister Winifred, her sister Angela Vivian, and the latter’s husband, Harry Vivian, a worthless, undeserving fellow. There are also James Macdonald, or Captain Macdonald, of the Scots Greys; Miss Tozer, Mr Helliar-Hilton, and a few others, whose characters are played off against each other. Mrs Tredwin warns Macdonald at the outset not to fall in love with Vivian, which he forthwith does. There is a good deal of what may be called bickering in the earlier chapters, not a little of it meaningless and charged with slang. A shocking fatal accident in the engine-room serves to bring out the real character of the women among the group, and Winifred and Angela excel them all. In due time Harry Vivian throws away his worthless life, and but for the heroism of Macdonald would have sacrificed that of his pretty and amiable young wife. The reader may be left to guess how the story ends. The writer has some literary skill, but it is expended on much that is void of the artistic or romantic—the slang and banter of the exceedingly smart and frivolous people to be met on an ocean steamer, the place where the worthiest of our kind may be discovered. But Miss Campbell has a theory, of which a man had better not venture to avow the authorship—“In this world there are all kinds of women, mostly bad”—and this may account for the small number of good ones in her book.
The story takes on a rather more interesting perspective if we consider Angela Vivian to represent Frances Vivian Campbell and Harry to represent Howard. "In due time Harry Vivian throws away his worthless life" is an unconsciously accurate description of what was to happen a year later.

On 27 March 1901, the Daily News carried the following story:
HANSOM CAB TRAGERY.
EXTRAORDINARY SUICIDE.
On the night of the 26th March, about half-past eight o'clock, a gentleman, fashionably dressed, emerged from Frascati's restaurant in Oxford street, entered a hansom cab, and ordered the driver to take him to No. 3 Priory Gardens, Kilburn. When the cab had reach ed Park road, by Regent's Park, the driver heard the report of a firearm, proceeding apparently from inside the vehicle. Pulling up his horse, he got off his seat, and having hailed a policeman, went to the front of the cab. His fare lay huddled in a heap on one side of the seat. The unfortunate man was bleeding profusely from a wound in the temple, and, regarding his condition as serious, the cabman immediately drove him to St. Mary's Hospital, but on arrival there the stranger was reported to be dead. Among the articles found in the deceased's pockets was a card-case, containing cards bearing the name "Howard Douglas Campbell," and he had also upon him a number of letters similarly addressed. In his pocket-book was a further letter, sealed, and addressed "to the Coroner."
    In the course of a statement made to a Press representative. William John Gray, the cabdriver, said:
    "I was standing on the cab-rank opposite Frascati's at twenty minutes past eight when I saw a porter come from the restaurant and whistle for a cab. I drove up, and saw upon the pavement in front of the restaurant a gentleman, apparently about sixty years of age. When I had brought the cab to a standstill, the gentleman, who wore silk hat, grey overcoat, light trousers, black boots and spats, and carried an umbrella with a hook handle, commenced to slouch towards the cab. Thinking he was the worse for drink I told the porter and the waiter who were helping him along that I did not like taking him in my cab, and that they had better get a four-wheeler. The porter, however, said that the gentleman was not the worse for drink, but was paralysed. I said 'All right.' The gentleman then got into the cab, with the assistance of the pair. In doing so. he directed me to drive him to Priory Gardens, Kilburn.
    "When I reached Regent's Park I opened the trap for the purpose of asking him whether the address was Priory Park or Priory road. I then saw that he had something shining in his right hand, which he held to his temple. I thought he was deaf, and that what he held in his hand was an ear-trumpet. He dropped his hand suddenly. Having obtained from him an answer to my question I drove on.
    "Going from Hanover Gate into Park road I heard the report of a pistol-shot come from inside my cab. I drove rapidly up to a policeman standing on point duty at North Bank, and told him that I believed the gentleman had shot himself. I got down from my box, and on the policeman and myself looking into the vehicle saw my fare lying huddled up in a corner of the seat, with a pistol in his hand. He was bleeding from a wound in the head, and the policeman at once got into the vehicle and ordered me to drive to St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, but the gentleman died before we arrived there."
    Inquiries indicated that the identity of the gentleman had not been established, but the police were making every possible effort, with the aid of the documents found upon the deceased, to obtain trace of his friends. No further information was forthcoming at the hospital beyond that already given above, but the belief was expressed that, from the evidence of cards found upon the body, Howard Douglas Campbell was the correct name of the deceased man. He was, apparently, about forty-five years of age.
It was, indeed, Howard Douglas Campbell.

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