My name is Andrew F. Martin and I run an English Language School in Alcalá de Guadaíra near Seville in the south of Spain. When I first arrived here about twenty-five years ago, I was intrigued to find that a part of the town was called “La Cruz del Inglés” (The English Cross), so I asked some of the locals where this name had originated from. To my great surprise, nobody could answer my question. Some told me that it was named after an English doctor who had lived in the town and others said that it was because the crossroads resembled an English cross. So in the end I was none the wiser.
In February 2010, I received an invitation to a meeting organized by a group of local historians whose aim was to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the English Cross and to recover a part of the history of Alcalá de Guadaíra which had been lost in time. I finally learnt the true story. John Scrope Colquitt was lieutenant colonel in the First Foot Guards. He took part in the liberation of Seville on August 27th 1812 and his regiment moved to Alcalá at the beginning of September 1812. He fell gravely ill and died a few days later and was buried on September 5th 1812 at the place which is now known as La Cruz del Inglés. I decided to investigate this character and soon came up with some rather curious information. John Scrope Colquitt was born in Liverpool in 1775, just down the coast from my home town, Blackpool. His mother was called Martin which just happens to be my surname. So perhaps we’re even distant relations. Who knows?
The Colquitt family were a well known Liverpudlian family. John Scrope’s grandfather, Scrope Colquitt, was the city bailiff and there is still a street in the city, Colquitt Street, which bears his name. His father, John Colquitt, was a barrister and customs collector. His grandfather Samuel Martin, from Whitehaven, had tobacco plantations in Virginia which were confiscated from him during the American War of Independence. John Scrope had a brother and a sister. His brother Samuel Martin Colquitt was an Admiral in the Royal Navy . He was involved in a duel in 1804 together with Captain William Sparling over a question of honour in which a ship builder from Liverpool, Mr Edward Grayson was killed. They were tried at Lancaster High Court and found innocent. His sister Bridget married a Liverpool businessman John Parke, whose brother, Lord Wensleydale, became a famous nineteenth century jurist.
John Scrope Colquitt studied at Macclesfield and Rugby boarding schools and then went to university at Trinity College Cambridge.
Trinity College Cambridge
We know that he had a large collection of books and had his own bookplate which is now kept at the British Museum in London.
John Scrope Colquitt was also a painter and one of his paintings can be found at St James’s Palace in London.
However, he decided to give up his university studies and join the army in 1794. The French Revolution had begun in 1789 and the English gentry feared that the seed of revolution would spread across Europe. We must recall that John Scrope Colquitt’s grandfather, Samuel Martin, had lost his two plantations in Virginia and the ten ships he possessed during the American War of Independence. So John Scrope Colquitt joined the Foot Guards, considered the élite of the British Army. The Foot Guards were nicknamed “the gentlemen’s sons” as most officials came from aristocratic or land-owning backgrounds.
The First Foot Guard’s in Battle
The First Foot Guards were the Royal Household troops and would be present at many State occasions such as Nelson’s funeral in 1805, the Trooping of the Colour and they would perform guard duties at St James’s Palace and at Windsor. In order to join the Foot Guards an official would have firstly to buy his colours. He would then need to buy three uniforms: full dress, undress and service dress. Full dress was for royal occasions and balls, undress for everyday use and service dress for use on campaign. Hence, being an officer in the Foot Guards was reserved for the more affluent in society.
The First Foot Guards at St James’s Palace in London.
The Foot Guards played a decisive role in the Peninsular War. They disembarked in the Peninsula in October 1808. However, the British troops under Sir John Moore were defeated at the Battle of Corunna and were forced to retreat in terribly harsh winter conditions.
Battle of Corunna, 1808
The First Foot Guards did not return to Spain until 1810. The French forces under Marshall Soult had marched south and captured the city of Seville. The Spanish court fled to Cadiz which was besieged by the French for two long years. In 1811 Sir Thomas Graham sailed from Cadiz to Tarifa before marching across the mountains to attack the French from the rear. The two forces clashed on Tuesday March 5th 1811 on the hill of Barrosa. 2600 allied forces fought against 4000 French. The allied troops forced their way up the hill until they finally regained control. The battle lasted an hour and a half. The First Foot Guards lost 10 officers and 210 soldiers. John Scrope Colquitt was badly injured.
Battle of Barrosa
In 1812 the Duke of Wellington began his advance in Spain. Badajoz fell to Wellington on April 6th 1812 and the French suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Salamanca (Los Arapiles) on 22nd July 1812. In August Soult lifted the siege of Cadiz and the First Foot Guards under Colonel Skerret sailed to Huelva and then began a march to Seville. The allied troops arrived in Seville on August 27th 1812 and when the French tried to destroy the boat bridge the allied forces gallantly fought to prevent them. John Downie, a dear friend of Lt Col John Scrope Colquitt heroically battled to save the bridge and was taken prisoner by the French troops. The French troops eventually fled the city and the local people acclaimed the allied troops. John Scrope Colquitt’s company was sent to Alcalá de Guadaíra, a nearby town which supplied bread to the city. However, John Scrope Colquitt was too ill to accompany them as he had fever caused by the extreme heat and the fatigue of the long journey. He died in Seville on Friday 4th September 1812. His company was grief stricken and decided to bury him according to Anglican rites and with full military honours on Saturday 5th September 1812. He was buried at the site which to this very day is called “La Cruz del Inglés” (The English Cross).
Alcalá de Guadaíra
A portrait of John Downie
A few days later Sir James Fellowes, chief medical officer of the British troops, visited “Alcalá of the Bakers” and was deeply saddened when he visited the tomb of his dear friend and university colleague John Scrope Colquitt.
John Scrope Colquitt died at the age of 37. He left a widow and two small children, Georgina who was 12 and Ernest who was two. His wife, Jane Anne was widowed for the second time. Her first husband was Captain Horsfall from Ireland and they had a son Henry Horsfall Lewen who had property in Kilmain, County Mayo and in Dunmore, County Galway. John Scrope Colquitt left her his bookplate, collection of books and paintings as well as all his property.
Copy of the will of John Scrope Colquitt
John Scrope Colquitt’s son, Ernest Augustus was tragically blinded at the age of seventeen in a hunting accident on Saturday 6th January1827: The incident occurred at Lutwyche Hall, Shropshire, home of Ralph Benson who was a relative of Jane Anne Colquitt, when a rifle exploded in Ernest’s face, seriously disfiguring him. Ernest never married and lived with his mother until her death. He then lived in lodgings until his death in 1881.
John Scrope Colquitt’s daughter Georgina never married either but she was always very close to all her family. She moved to Cheltenham where her uncle Samuel Colquitt lived with his second wife Frances Rachel Wigget from Bath who he had married in 1843 at the age of 66. Georgina lived with John Scrope Colquitt’s widowed sister Bridget at 3, Suffolk Place, Cheltenham, together with their five servants. Bridget and Georgina often visited their cousin Goodwin Colquitt. Goodwin’s father, Captain Goodwin Colquitt, had also been in the First Guards together with his cousin John Scrope Colquitt and had become a hero at the Battle of Waterloo when he caught a live shell, stood up and threw it over the heads of officers and men as if it were a cricket ball.
A Will’s cigarette card depicting Captain Colquitt’s bravery at Waterloo
Goodwin Colquitt junior married the heiress Georgina Craven, daughter of the racehorse owner and breeder Fulwar Craven, in 1841.
A portrait of Fulwar Craven at the National Gallery in London
Goodwin Colquitt-Craven was a highly respected gentleman and he became High Sheriff of the County of Gloucester in 1864. In 1870 he wrote a book titled “Nothing to Do” about Sir Geoffry Goldenstore who was so rich and bored that he didn’t know what to do with his time and money so he travelled round Europe in search of pleasure.
John Scrope Colquitt’s daughter Georgina was a devout Anglican and a staunch Conservative, following family tradition. She died in 1879 at the age of 81 and is buried together with her Aunt Bridget at St Peter’s in Leckhampton.
St Peter’s Leckhampton.
In her will, she left her estate of ten thousand pounds to her dearest brother Ernest. She left her dear collection of shells to her friend Mary Farington of Preston, Lancashire and even left instructions as to how to pack them. She never lost contact with her Uncle Samuel’s family and left them the chiming dining room clock to remind them of those special evenings they had spent together in her uncle’s company, as well as a brooch with a lock of her uncle’s hair. She left any rights she had to property in Ireland to her cousin Frederick Lewen. She left all her family portraits to her cousin Goodwin Colquitt-Craven at Brockhampton Park and to his daughter, her dearest cousin Leila Louisa, she left one thousand pounds.
Leila Louisa married Reverend Coventry of Severn Stoke, Worcestershire and we know that Georgina visited them and their children at the Rectory.
Home of the Coventry Family
Leila Louisa and Reverend Coventry had four children Blanche, Sybil, Winifred and Fulwar. I have been in contact with several of their grandchildren, namely William Wallace, Robin Wallace, James Collett-White, Anne Hyde Smith and Stephen Thompson, although they were unable to help me in my quest.
This is the story of John Scrope Colquitt and of the Colquitt family so far. There is obviously still a lot of missing information but there is one fundamental piece which is still to be found, a portrait of John Scrope Colquitt. The family portraits were left by Georgina Colquitt to her cousin Goodwin Colquitt-Craven at Brockhampton Park. Brockhampton Park was sold in 1899 and this is where we seem to lose all trace of John Scrope Colquitt. We would really like to find a portrait of him. Any help would be greatly appreciated as well as any additional information about the family or the First Foot Guards.
Portrait of an unknown military gentleman, early 19th century