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Napoleonic War and Lanark

Napoleonic War and Lanark

In the year 1815 Scotland was playing post to a considerable number of French prisoners of war.
Lanark & Biggar were two places where French prisoners ended up. Some of these ended up in a fair degree of luxury. These were the officers and some of them were lodged in the Clydesdale Inn – then known as the Clydesdale hotel.

The Archaeological Society did find one relic of this era – a single French boot up in the attic of the Clydesdale Hotel. The mind boggles as to how the boot ended up there and one has the vision of a one legged Frenchman looking for his long lost boot! Whoever the owner of the boot was, he was one of twenty eight officers who were billeted on parole of honour in Lanark.

The prisoners were an interesting bunch including a Spaniard from Cuba, a German, a Venetian and a Swiss captain.
Many of these men took employment as teachers – one teaching French in the Manse to the children of the Reverend William Menzies, minister of St Nicholas. Another Levasseur taught French to Robert Owen’s sons at Braxfield. K A large number of them joined the St John’s Free Masons!

However some did try to escape with the aid of Janet and James Hislop who were sentenced in 1813 to seven years transportation. The would be escapees were Pierre Martys, Chales Etier and Charles Foucald.
But of all stories about the French prisoners in Lanark, the story of Captain Augustus Francis Brard is amazing. He fought in Spain with Howat and was initially sent as a prisoner to Menorca. He arrived in Cupar and then was sent to Lanark. He remained there till l1814 and went to France but returned to marry Miss Jean Currie, daughter of the Procurator in Lanark. Ten days after his marriage news reached him that Napolean had escaped from Elba. That day he went back to France where he rejoined his regiment. He then marched with them to Waterloo in command of 120 men. He was slightly wounded and taken prisoner. His language skills proved very useful and he became an interpreter. Eventually he returned to Lanark before working in Glasgow.

Returning to Lanark in 1850 he taught French. His pupils included Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman (Liberal Prime Minister) d.1908. As for Brard – he died on Wednesday 17th August 1873 aged 84 years and was buried in St Nicholas Churchyard.

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