Robert Milligan was the third child and eldest son born to Robert Milligan and Jean Dunbar. He was born on August 28, 1787, and baptised at St. Andrews, Holborn, on November 14, 1787.
Robert was a soldier by profession, and with Captain James Bouchier’s 11th regiment of Light Dragoons fought and was wounded at Waterloo.
The story of his relationship with his wife (who was a childhood companion of Sophia, the eldest daughter of Sir Walter Scott) is a beautifully romantic one, and told through Joanna Baillie’s correspondence:
Letter to Charlotte Scott, 1816.
“ I know you are truly interested in what concerns my happiness, and I am going to tell you of an event in our family which deeply concerns us all and has one way or another agitated our minds very much for these some months past.
My niece is going to be married; and though she has chosen a very worthy young man, whose family we have long known and highly respected, yet our anxiety for her happiness has been very great, perhaps unreasonably so, and I would not live the last April and May over again for a great hire.
She is a very clever woman, fond of books and with a mind and taste well cultivated; he is a plain honest soldier, whose education has been quite neglected and who, dogs and horses and military matter excepted, has little information on any subject.
This being the case, you may believe we had all of us many discouraging thoughts in regard to her future happiness, and her poor mother above all has been very anxious; but the young man himself has behaved under some very trying circumstances and throughout the whole of the affair with so much sense and delicacy and sweetness of temper and forebearance, that we now, thank God! Begin to hope with some confidence that she will really be happy.
You wish them all good, I know, when I tell you that he was one of our brave Dragoons at Waterloo, where he was what was called ‘severely wounded’.
He is to remain in the Army, and hopes soon to get into the Guards which are never ordered abroad but on actual service. He has a good moderate fortune, and being admirably fitted in both mind and body for a soldier, it is the best plan.
His name is Milligan, and it was a sister of his who sat next to you when you dined with us at Hampstead. You may have forgotten her indeed, but she will never forget having sat by you. I believe this same wedding will take place next week. I am going abroad with the newly married pair and my nephew William to spend some weeks and see part of Switzerland and Geneva.”
I love this story of soldier Robert Milligan and his young bride to be, Elizabeth Margaret Baillie, aged 29 and 22 respectively, standing firm against the protests of the Baillie family. Elizabeth’s father was Matthew Baillie, physician to King George 3rd and a favoured friend at Court.
Matthew Baillie's wife was Sophia, daughter of Dr. Thomas Denman, (1733-1815) whose reminiscences of his early life as a ship's surgeon have been quarried for some historical novels. Denman had a fashionable obstetric practice, in which he was followed by his other son-in-law, the ill-fated Sir Richard Croft (1762-1818), who killed himself after the death of his patient Princess Charlotte, the heir to the Throne. Denman's son, Thomas Denman (1779-1854), a lawyer, advocated legal reform including the abolition of slavery, defended Queen Charlotte and became Lord Chief Justice.
The latter would not have been pleased to see his niece marry into the Milligan family, as their fortune was made on trade based upon slave-dependent tea plantations in the West Indies!
Robert Milligan married Elizabeth Margaret Baillie on July 11, 1816. Their first and only child was born the following year. Sophia Milligan was born on July 4, 1817, and baptised on July 30, 1817, at St. Marys, St. Marylebone, London.
Sophia’s great-aunt Joanna Baillie recorded a health scare for her baby niece in late December of 1821, when she wrote to William Southerby:
“ We were in dreadful anxiety at the beginning of last week about my niece’s little girl and only child, as dear an object to our family as your Babe can be to yours.
She was taken with Scarlet Fever, very severely, at Windsor, where her father is stationed with his regiment, and my brother and Mrs Baillie went there and remained until all danger was over. Thank God it is over, for it makes me tremble to think what misery would have ensued had it been otherwise. An only child swept away and the house left desolate!”
The little family spent most of their lives at East Ridge, Ryde, on Isle of Wight. They were regularly visited by their Baillie aunts, Joanna and Agnes, and their Hughan relations.
Robert Milligan’s sister, Mary Milligan, lived with the family in the latter part of her life, and when she died she was buried in their family plot.
Robert Milligan died on December 21, 1875, aged 82. The family grave is pictured on the following page, and Robert’s inscription reads thus:
“ IN MEMORY OF
WHO DIED, BELOVED AND REVERED
DECEMBER 21ST 1875
HE WAS SEVERELY WOUNDED AT THE
BATTLE OF WATERLOO
WHEN A LIEUTENANT IN THE 11TH LIGHT DRAGOONS
AND AFTERWARDS ENTERED AS A CAPTAIN
THE 2ND LIFE GUARDS
THEN SHALL THE DUST RETURN TO THE EARTH AS IT WAS
AND THE SPIRIT SHALL RETURN UNTO GOD WHO GAVE IT. “
Elizabeth died the year after her husband, on June 25, 1876. Her inscription reads:
“IN MEMORY OF
DAUGHTER OF MATTHEW BAILLE MD
AND FOR NEARLY SIXTY YEARS
THE BELOVED WIFE OF
DIED JUNE 25TH 1876
BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART FOR THEY SHALL SEE GOD
WHO SHALL SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF CHRIST.”
Their daughter, Sophia Milligan, lived for another 17 years after her mother. She never married, and died on September 17, 1893, aged 76 years.
“IN MEMORY OF
ONLY CHILD OF
ROBERT AND ELIZABETH MILLIGAN
BORN 4TH JULY 1817
DIED 17TH SEPTEMBER 1893
GOD IS LOVE
COMMIT THY WAY UNTO THE LORD, TRUST ALSO IN HIM
AND HE SHALL BRING IT TO PASS.”
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