Transcript of a letter from General Sir John Scott to his old friend Carlisle Spedding, at 6 (now 45) Pittville Lawn1

[13] Cromwell Road, Sth. Kensington
Decr. 18th. 1868.

My dear Spedding,

The Season of Christmas, which is now drawing on fast reminds Me that Our relatives of Summergrove2 assured me that a few lines from an old friend, as myself, would not be unacceptable to you, and to Me it seems that I can in no better way take Advantage of the time, than in reminding you of our former Intimacy, and asking you to do me the very good favor of letting Me know, how you [are] bearing up against the inevitable Ailments, which must attend upon advancing life, in spite of your very strong Constitution. I hope therefore that if writing is too great an exertion, that you will get your excellent friend & Physician write for you.

I have very often reflected with surprise, upon the length of time that has elapsed, without our Meeting, tho the distance seperating [sic] Us is really not great, Yet so it is and I think it cannot be less than 30 years since I saw you last, and yet I was a fast friend of your Brothers, till near his last.3

I imagine that nearly all our old Comrades have passed away, with the exception of Fendall,4 who lives in Dorsetshire, and now very rarely indeed comes up to Town. Every thing almost is changed in this extraordinary Age in which We live, and I have lived long enough to hear persons say, that Cavalry will be no longer wanted for the purposes of War, tho on this Matter I am hard of belief; But perhaps the subject has long ceased to interest You; You would be sorry for the loss of Bruce.5

I am much pleased to know that the photograph, met with your Approval; Shortly After it was sent We were in Cumberland, and paid a very short Visit to Summergrove. I hope you will bear in Mind my great desire to hear of you, however Short the Communication be, for An Account of your health & Welfare will be a great boon to me. Meanwhile Lady Scott joins with Me in Kindest regards, and I am as always,

Your sincere Friend & Comrade

J. Scott.

The official List of the Officers of the Army and of the Corps of Royal Marines (1821: p. 129) shows that all three officers mentioned in this letter were then serving in the 4th (or Queen’s Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons: Carlisle Spedding and William Fendall were Captains, and John Scott was a Lieutenant. The battle honours of the 4th Dragoons included Talavera, Albuera, Salamanca, Vittoria, Toulouse, Peninsula.

Text and image by kind permission of Julian Silverton.

1 General Sir John Scott (1797-1873) KCB enlisted in the Army as a Cornet (the most junior officer rank) in 1815, and progressed to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1830 and to General in 1868. He died after a fall from his horse in Rotten Row, London, in 1873. For a fuller account of his life and service career, see the Annual Register for 1873 (pp. 126-7).
2 The Spedding family seat was at Summergrove, Helsingham, near Whitehaven, Cumberland. The estate had been in the family since it was purchased by James Spedding, son of mining engineer Carlyle Spedding, in 1761. “Our relatives”: Carlisle Spedding’s brother James lived at Summergrove in 1861; John Scott was possibly related to Carlisle Spedding through James Spedding’s son James Dyke Spedding, whose first wife was the Hon. Maria Annabel Hepburne Scott (1798-1844).
3 Carlisle Spedding’s brother James died at Summergrove on 10 April 1863.
4 Lieutenant-Colonel William Fendall, born in Bengal c1793, lived with his wife Caroline and their family in Child Okeford, Dorset after his retirement from the Army, Fendell enlisted as a Cornet when he joined in 1808, progressing to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1832. He died in 1888.
5 Presumably Robert Nicholson Bruce, who served (as a Cornet) with Spedding, Scott, and Fendall in the 4th Dragoons in 1821. He died in 1867, the year before this letter was written.