A new Century 1800, and the birth of another son, Charles Howe. (He followed in his father’s footsteps and was captain of HMS Challenger, the first of three ships sent to establish a colony at the Swan River in Western Australia. The city of Fremantle was named after him.) In August, Thomas was appointed command of HMS Ganges by the Admiralty and left on the 24th to take up his post as second in command to Nelson. In March the following year Betsy writes, ‘Lady Nelson is suing for a separate maintenance. I have no patience with her husband at his age and such a cripple to play the fool with Lady Hamilton’. She received letters from her husband giving details of the fleet and skirmishes with the French at Copenhagen. In August the ship put into Portsmouth and Betsy took young Thomas and her sister Eugenia to meet up with her husband after a year’s absence. Thomas secured lodgings for them in the town. Betsy returned to Portsmouth the following month with young Tom as the ship was still detained. They stayed aboard the ‘Ganges’ for ten days until the ship set sail to join the fleet. In May 1805 Thomas was appointed to command the 98 gun frigate HMS Neptune. At the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21st 1805, Thomas wrote a detailed account, hour by hour in which Lord Nelson lost his life. (These are all in the diaries along with letters to and from Betsy.) He spent the next five years in England and during that first year he was MP for Sandwich. He was then appointed Lord of the Admiralty and the family spent most of their time at their London home.
In 1816 the wheel had come full circle and Betsy was back in Italy taking her elder daughters to similar parties that she went to as a girl. After 25 years she returned to Venice and met her sister Mary again. The Fremantle’s lived the same ‘high-brow’ life as did the Wynne’s. Thomas Fremantle was in command of the Mediterranean until his sudden death of a fever in Naples in 1819 at the age of 52 years. He was buried in the Garden of Don Carlo Califano outside the gate of San Gennaro. Betsy was left with 10 young children aged from 7 years to 21 years. Betsy died on November 2nd 1857 and is buried at Cimier near Naples.
Betsy had continued writing her diaries but the fourth volume - 1819-1857 - Betsy’s widowhood and the fortunes of her children was never published. In 2011 Dr Elaine Chalus of Bath Spa University was given a grant and access to the 41 diaries of the Wynne sisters for her research. We look forward to Betsy’s biography being published.
The Wynne Diaries (edited by Anne Fremantle 1930’s)
Volume 1 1789-1794 The early wandering life of the Wynne Family.
2 1794-1798 The flight into Italy and from Florence. / The courtship & marriage of Betsy & Thomas.
3 1798-1820 The love affairs of Eugenia, Harriet & Justina. / Life in London & Buckinghamshire.
A descendant, Elizabeth (Betsy) Fremantle is married to the Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith. In 2006 a new pub was built in Swanbourne called the ’Betsy Wynne‘ and named after our Betsy who was much loved in the village and played an important part in the growth of Swanbourne.
(With Thanks to Eileen Dorr)