Captain Frances Dalyell alias Mrs Pierson
Every so often a little snippet of information turns into a day of book diving and visiting some of the more esoteric corners of the world wide web.
Ballads such as The Valiant Commander with his Resolute Lady tell us of women wearing men's clothes and taking up arms; and, there are many myths and legends of women donning men's clothes to fight in the wars - but is this fact or fiction? The lot of camp followers and the women working as spies is relatively well documented (in C17th terms that is!) but did women cross dress and actually get to the sharp pointy end of things?
These words suggest the king believed female cross-dressing was quite widespread in his army and show a willingness on his part to take a much firmer line on the practice – particularly in relation to prostitutes. Curiously though, when the proclamation was finally published it contained no reference to cross-dressing.
For those of you without an academic log in, there's an abridged version on the BBC History magazine site.
So it really was a 'thing' and not a plot device from the 1980s TV drama 'By the Sword Divided'
A discussion over on Twitter led to the following investigation into a female Captain of Horse fighting for the King, first with Montrose and then with Newcastle.Captain Frances Dalziel/Dalyell/Dalzell (alias Mrs Pierson)
|Clearly not Captain Frances: one of the many women from the Sealed Knot/ECWS who entertain us on summer bank holiday weekends|
Born in Scotland, she was allegedly the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Carnwath.
Frances first appears as a captain in Earl of Crawford’s Regiment of Horse, and she led her troop on Montrose's brief campaign into Dumfries in April 1644. Her cornet was black with the motto “I DARE” and the motif of a naked man in a gibbet.
After Dumfries Prince Rupert took command of what troops Montrose had, and it would appear around this time that her troop transferred to Lord Eythin’s Regiment of Horse serving as part of the Marquis of Newcastle’s army
A Frances Dalyell (alias Mrs Pierson) appears in Reid's Cavalier Army Lists listed as serving in Lord Eythin’s Regiment of Horse, she appears in the regiment in June 1644. Reid’s lists are primarily based upon “A List of Officers Claiming to the Sixty Thousand Pounds &c. Granted by His Sacred Majesty for the Relief of His True-Loyal and Indigent Party” (known as Indigent Officers or IO).
She also appears in some contemporary depositions:
“in the commissione granted be the Marques of Newcastell to hir, Captane Francis Dalzell”
J. Erskine. “10 Junij 1644. Major John Arskyne's examination”
I sense an extra troop of horse for Montrose's Army needs to be planned. I see myself utilising the harquebusier with helmet officer with a headswap from the female heads pack. For those of you who are acolytes of the church of not15mm* Bad Squiddo have expressed an interest in producing her in miniature form.