Saturday, 12 April 2008

Edward Gibbon Wakefield

Naughty, naughty man

Click on the image at left to read it

I came across this while doing some research at work on another topic. It comes from the Indian Gazette (02 November 1826), a newspaper published in Calcutta. I haven't done a big search for it, but I think it likely it was written by a local resident. From what I can glean, this paper was something of a tabloid, reprinting the harder news of the Government Gazette, Bengal Hurkaru, and "Home news", and adding a bit of local gossip.

The poem refers to his second kidnapping of a teenage girl (Ellen Turner) from England and their marriage in Scotland where the rules on this sort of thing were a bit slacker. His first marriage (also in Scotland) to Eliza Pattle had stuck - probably the girl's family wanted to avoid a scandal - but she had died from complications resulting from the birth of the equally wayward son, Edward Jerningham Wakefield.

This second affair was closely monitored by the press wherever there was an interest in British society, and the family of the poor girl stood by her. The global British press closely reported on the court proceedings. The end result for EGW was a spell in prison and a subsequent career in the furthest colonies. He died in New Zealand.

EGW, as is well known, was a VERY dodgy character who, after some strange doings in Canada, a failed go at creating a colony in South Australia, went on to orchestrate the creation of the New Zealand Company, encouraging colonisation, and eventually became a Member of Parliament there. Go figure.

The poem is not a very good one, but you can't have everything. It follows an article reporting on Wakefield's confession, probably reprinted from a London newspaper.

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