Arturo Vinuesa Parral has just published his novel “La Cruz del Inglés John Scrope” (The English Cross John Scrope), which at present is only available in Spanish. The novel takes place in the Andalusian port city of Cadiz in the years 1810-12 when the city is besieged by the French and is occupied by Wellington’s forces. The novel is a mixture of historical fact and romantic fiction. It gives a detailed description of the Napoleonic conquest of southern Spain and the bickering among the Spanish politicians confined within the city walls of Cadiz as they draw up the first liberal Spanish Constitution, popularly known as “La Pepa.”
The dashing Lt Col. John Scrope Colquitt of the First Foot Guards is sent with his regiment to Cadiz to help defend the city from the French, where he also spies on the activities of the Spanish authorities for the British Government. A beautiful local girl Margarita works as a volunteer in the military hospital. They fall in love but John Scrope is deeply religious and traditional and is torn between his beautiful Spanish lover and his wife Jane and their two children, Georgina and Ernest, who eagerly await his return in the city of Liverpool.
In 1811 John Scrope, together with thousands of allied troops, leaves Cadiz to fight the French in La Barrosa in an attempt to lift the French siege. Margarita is distraught when she learns that Captain Colquitt has been seriously wounded but is relieved to discover that it is not her lover but his cousin Goodwin Colquitt who was later to become a hero at the Battle of Waterloo.
On August 27th 1812 John Scrope heroically takes part in the liberation of Seville but his great efforts and the extreme heat take their toll and he succumbs to fever. Margarita senses that something is wrong and leaves her father and younger brother in Cadiz in search of her beloved John Scrope. She finds him in a military camp in Alcalá de Guadaíra where she nurses him but he dies in her arms. His last words are that he will soon be forgotten but till this very day the place where the captain of the red coats was buried is still known as the English Cross and on 5th May 2012, two hundred years after his death, members of the Colquitt family inaugurated a memorial to recall for ever this hero of the Peninsular War.