An intriguing article from the Independent. Elizabeth Wynne was Lord Nelson’s nurse following the loss of his arm. She left 40 volumes of diaries and was a witness to several key events of the 18th century. She married one of Nelson’s “band of brothers”, Admiral Thomas Fremantle. Nevertheless her diaries and the story of her life were almost lost to history. For the first time, a definitive biography of “Betsey” Wynne is being written.
Diaries tell forgotten story of Nelson’s nurse
Now a historian at Bath Spa University has been awarded a £100,000 grant to write the first definitive biography of Wynne after her journals were rediscovered at her ancestral home, Swanbourne House in Buckinghamshire.
They recount in detail Wynne’s life as the wife of one of Horatio Nelson’s famous “band of brothers”, Admiral Thomas Fremantle, and whose bohemian relations included a lover of Casanova. Wynne was just 19 and pregnant when she cared for Nelson at sea after his amputation.
The project will cast new light on the role of women in 18th- and early 19th-century society, including their place on board the Royal Navy’s ships as Nelson’s fleet sailed around the Mediterranean during the Napoleonic Wars.
The diaries were kept by Wynne, a striking beauty of her era, from the age of 11, just weeks before the start of the French Revolution, until her death in 1857. The cast of characters encountered by Wynne ranged from a key agent of the doomed French king Louis XVI to Lady Hamilton, the scandal-prone socialite who became Lord Nelson’s mistress and organised Fremantle’s wedding to the young Englishwoman.