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Who's that girl?

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

1828 portrait of a young fashionable woman

This appears therefore to be Christiana Bourchier, daughter of John Bourchier and Charlotte Chadwick of Baggotstown, Co Limerick. She is difficult to trace in the records because of her surname which can be spelt in many ways and also because she often used the name Catherine or Kate instead of Christiana. She married Richard Eaton as Catherine Bowcher on 22 November 1826 at St Peters, Dublin.[1] Their marriage was announced in the newspaper; this confirmed that Christiana was the eldest daughter of John Bourchier.[2]

Newspaper marriage announcement showing Richard and Christiana's marriage

Christiana’s marriage in 1826 shows up on many online trees, almost all of these trees also claim that she was born in 1815. Amazing how so many people can believe that she would have married at 11 years old! It is much more likely that she was born some time prior to 1810.

According to Burke her parents, who married in 1797, had children as follows:

  • John born in 1811

  • John James Stephen (died in infancy)

  • Christiana

  • Marianne

  • Charlotte

  • Sophia

  • Elizabeth

  • Clarinda

What is obvious from this list? Burke has put all the boys first, and then the girls. The only birth year recorded is for the eldest – John – born in 1811. The creators of all those online trees have assumed that all the other children follow on from this at neat 2-year intervals, resulting in a birth date of 1815 for Christiana and 1825 for the last born - Clarinda. However, Burke was largely concerned with inheritance of land and/or titles and so lists the firstborn son and heir first followed by any other boys – regardless of when the girls were born. John and Charlotte were married in 1797, it seems unlikely (but not impossible) that 14 years passed before their first child was born. Charlotte herself was born in around 1775 so it is also improbable that she had Clarinda at the grand age of 50. When their daughter Charlotte died in 1874 her age was recorded as 70 so a birth date of around 1804 is much more likely than the 1819 assumed by others.[3]

Christiana’s husband, Richard Eaton was land agent for the Prior-Wandesforde family of Castlecomer, County Kilkenny. This is where Richard and Christiana settled. They appear to have had three children. The birth announcements for two of their sons were in the newspaper in 1827 and 1828. The children were not named but the first announcement was in 1827, a son, this would have been Richard John described on his marriage as their eldest.[4] The announcement of their second son’s birth was in the newspaper in 1829 – this was Bourchier.[5] They had a daughter, Charlotte Anne Wandesford Eaton, who died unmarried in 1882.[6]

Richard Eaton died on 31 March 1850 at the Globe Hotel, Limerick.[7] Christianna Bourchier Eaton died on 18 February 1880 at Tontine, Castleconnell, County Limerick. The newspaper report of her death does not confirm her age.[8]

A bit on the artist: Thomas Lawrence Whitaker. His service record shows that he became ensign in the East Yorkshire Militia on 3 August 1809. He became a lieutenant on 2 May 1810. On 13 May 1812 he became an ensign in the 34th Foot, he was a lieutenant on 27 July 1815. He went to half pay on March 25 1817. He was a lieutenant once more, this time in the 65th Foot on 15 February 1827.[9] The Roll of Officers show that he went back to half pay on 8 November 1839 and then he died in 1840.[10] Serving with the 34th Foot between 1812 and 1817 means that he most likely fought under Wellington in the Peninsular Wars: Vitoria, the Pyrenees, Bivelle, Nive in 1813 and Orthez and Toulouse in 1814 before embarking for Ireland.

In 1822, the 65th Foot were in England. Thomas was obviously in Ireland in 1828. In 1829, the regiment returned to the West Indies and Thomas’s service record shows that he was there until 31 March 1839. The Roll of Officers states that he died in 1840, it’s not clear whether that death took place back in England or in the West Indies (or somewhere in between!) I am struggling to find this death.

Thomas was baptised on 2 April 1788 at Beverley in Yorkshire. His father was Thomas Whitaker, a pauper according to the parish register.[11] It seemed odd to me that a pauper’s son might get an officer’s commission into the Army. He is described as a gentleman in the announcement of his commission in the London Gazette. It seems unlikely that there were two Thomas Lawrence Whitakers in Beverley. I do have a couple of theories. His grandfather, Lawrence Whitaker, was a schoolmaster. He died in Beverley in 1797. He left his books and school equipment to his son Thomas, all monies to be paid to his wife until her death and then to Thomas. I do wonder therefore whether Thomas Lawrence’s father bought him a commission with the inheritance. My other theory is connected to one of the trustees mentioned in his grandfather’s will: John Lockwood. Lockwood was a solicitor in Beverley who acted as land steward for wealthy landowners such as the earl of Londesborough and the bishops of Peterborough and Durham. A wealthy man, perhaps Lockwood paid for the commission.

[1] Marriages (PR) Ireland. Dublin, County Dublin. 22 November 1826. EATON, Richard and BOWCHER, Katherine. DU-CI-MA-49240. accessed 31 July 2023 [2] Marriage announcement (1826) Dublin Morning Register. 27 November. Page 4, col d. British Newspaper accessed 25 July 2023 [3] Deaths index (CR) Ireland. Tipperaray. 17 January 1874. CHADWICK, Charlotte. Vol 8, Page 512. Ireland, Civil Registration Deaths Index, 1864-1958. accessed 31 July 2023. [4] Birth announcement (1827) Limerick Chronicle. 24 November Page 3, col a. British Newspaper accessed 31 July 2023 [5] Birth announcement (1829) Dublin Morning Register. 31 August Page 1, col c. British Newspaper accessed 31 July 2023 [6] Death announcement (1882) Dublin Daily Express. EATON, Charlotte. 1 June. Page 1, col a. British Newspaper accessed 31 July 2023 [7] Death announcement (1850) Dublin Evening Mail. 3 April. Page 3, col d. British Newspaper accessed 31 July 2023 [8] Testamentary Records. National Probate Calendar. Limerick, Ireland. Probate date 13 April 1880. EATON, Christianna. accessed 3 July 2023 [9] War Office Great Britain. Officer’s Service Records. Beverley, Yorkshire. WHITAKER, Thomas Lawrence. WO 25/797/171. National Archives, Kew, England. [10] Raikes, George Alfred (1885) Roll of the Officers of the York and Lancaster Regiment. London: Richard Bentley & Son. Page 127. accessed 3 July 2023 [11] Baptisms (PR) England. Beverley, Yorkshire. 2 April 1788. WHITAKER, Thomas Lawrence. Collection: Yorkshire: Baptisms. accessed 25 July 2023

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