Stock ID #157268
pp manuscript diary covering exactly 4 years from January 1st 1858 to December 31st 1861. Each page is written in Arabella Maitland's attractive largely legible handwriting. Although the paper is unlined each entry is meticulously written as though there were visible lines. The manuscript is bound in a contemporary half leather foolscap ledger, marbled paper covered boards, binding is worn in places, with some loss of leather on spine and small 2.5cm split upper joint. 32 x 20.5cm. The text is very clean and overall this is a very handsome diary. Arabella Maitland, the daughter of clergyman Joseph Wright, was born, grew up and married in India, during the last days of the East India Company. In this detailed daily diary she narrates four years of her life in Madras (including a period in Bangalore to escape the summer heat!) with her husband and children. This diary gives us a personal account, at times touching account, of life as it was for those well placed in British India in the mid 19th century.
A loving mother, Arabella Maitland was understandably quite focussed on life around the house and she naturally describes her children's health and activities in detail. It is clear that anxiety about illness, her family's and her own, preys on her mind. However her horizon extends beyond the home. She is keenly interested in John Maitland's, her husband, military career and many other facets of their world outside the house. A constant thread running throughout the diary are social activities and news of her friends and neighbours. The diary serves as a view into this world with all of its complications and interest. Arabella mentions the financial situations of others, she tells of a letter which she and John wrote to the secretary of the Retiring Fund Committee regarding their "swindling behaviour", of her work with John to rearrange the rules of his Department and many other occasions and incidents. Snippets of John's professional life appear in the journal. An example of this being the visit of the Department local staff to their home on New Year's Day 1860 at which time John took the opportunity to address the staff to stress to them the importance of education for their children with the aim of expanding their horizons so they might grow up to become Department Collectors.
Arabella mixes socially with a range of Europeans including those with military, missionary and church backgrounds. A strong believer herself she never fails to comment on the family's church attendance, sermons and the texts of the day. Apart from church several times a week, she led a busy life teaching her many children, running the household, doing good works (her visits to the Female Asylum are an example) and both visiting and receiving visitors on an almost daily basis. It is interesting to read both the similarities and differences between the social interactions of the time. For example, her reference to the majority of her friends and acquaintances by their title, while in contrast with this apparent formality, she and her friends very frequently call on each other without invitation.
There are numerous references to key military and administrative figures including the Governor's of Madras, George Harris, 3rd Baron Harris and Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan. Arabella also details her
angst and uncertainty over the changing fortunes of the East India Company "The last day of the old East Indian Co's rule!" and her husband's military career (four regiments of the Madras Light Cavalry and the Madras Artillery batteries disappeared in the post-Mutiny reorganisation).
Arabella's husband, Lt Col John R. A. Maitland had a distinguished military career, in particular during his service in the Madras Artillery. There he became the Superintendent of the Gun Carriage Manufactory where he set up a school for his artificers. This led to debate about a College, and the setting up of Madras University (of which he became a fellow). He served as the Governor's aide-de-camp at one point early in his career, which goes some way towards explaining his close relationship to various people in the government of the Madras Presidency. John Maitland ended his days as Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery. Some of his and Arabella's male children were named after those directors of the East India Company who recommended him for entry to the company. Both Arabella and John Maitland had notable lineages. John's maternal grandfather was Sir William Maxwell of Monreith (1715-1771), from a line of Baronets which continues to today. (When referring to this item please quote stockid 157268).