Lady Anne Barnard appears to have kept dairies for much of her life. This publication contains her dairies of 1799 while those of 1800 was published as VRS Vol II-30 (1999). She had the habit of destroying the original drafts of dairies after she produced “revised versions”. The revised version of her dairies of 1797-1798 was published as VRS Vol II-24 (1993) called The Cape Journals of Lady Anne Barnard 1797-1798.

Lady Anne was also an accomplished artist. Some of her works are included in her published accounts of life in the 18th and 19th centuries. Her works include oil paintings and drawings.


Lady Anne Barnard was born in Scotland in 1750 as Anne Lindsay the daughter of James Lindsay the impoverished 5th Earl of Balcarres and his wife Anne Dalrymple, who was 40 years his junior. Anne’s mother resented being coerced into marrying a man old enough to be her grandfather, and she took out some of her dissatisfaction with her lot on her children, especially Anne.

Anne grew up desperate for the approval that her mother failed to give her and was decidedly wary of a marriage like her mother’s.

In her early twenties she went to London to reside with Margaret, her widowed sister, where the two sisters lived together for many years. The beauty of Lady Margaret, and the charm and lively conversation of Lady Anne, ‘one of the most fascinating women of her time’, as a contemporary describes her, made them very popular. Their house became a social centre, and a favourite resort of some of the most famous literary and political men of the day.

Andrew Barnard
Lady Anne Barnard (Miniature by Mrs Mee, nee Anne Foldsone)

Lady Anne Lindsay had many suitors but only married at the age of 43 years. Her husband, Andrew Barnard, the impoverished son of the Bishop of Limerick, had neither nor connections to recommend him. She continued to use her title as she was the daughter of an earl and was known as Lady Anne Barnard for the rest of her life.

Using her political connections, Anne succeeded in obtaining a Government appointment for her husband, and in early 1797 the Barnards arrived in the Cape of Good Hope with the new Governot Lord Macartney. Macartney’s wife had not travelled out with him and so Lady Anne acted as his official hostess. They entertained the army officers and the Dutch colonists as well as visitors who were passing through the Cape.


When the Barnards’ arrived in the Cape in May 1797 Andrew Barnard, as Colonial Secretary, was the second most senior official in the Cape and enjoyed a close working relationship with Governor Lord Macartney. Macartney allocated the Barnard’s the best house in the Castle and later allowed them to renovate a run-down cottage in the Newlands Forest as a country home which they called “Paradise”.  When Macartney retired to England in Novembert 1798 due to ill health the Commander of the Troops in the Cape, Lt General Francis Dundas, took charge as acting Governor resulting in a dramatic change in the Barnard’s situation. The officers envied Andrew Barnard from the outset, his high salary, and the social standing which he enjoyed, in their view, because of his wife’s title. They moved to undermine him at every turn and to have the Barnard’s removed from their residence in the Castle.

General and Mrs Francis Dundas playing chess

Macartney’s successor Sir George Yonge who arrived in December 1799 was weak-minded and given to pomp and ostentation and frittered away his time on inconsequtial activities instead of governing. The Barnard’s were soon aghast at the irregularities and corruption which pervaded the new regime. Andrew Barnards constant querying of governmental malpractices so discomfited Sir George that he sought to rid himself of his upright Secretary.

The dairies Lady Anne kept during 1799 were thus written at a time when the situation of the Barnards changed compared to the time of Lord Macartney. During this period Lady Ann supervises the lay-out and construction of their country-house The Vineyard which became the core of today’s Vineyard Hotel.

The Vineyard
Our upper servants: Hudson, Pawell, Revell

Lady Ann’s dairies have a unique value for the brilliant light they shed on many of the social aspects of Cape life during the 18th century. While they are important as historical source, they are equally valuable as autobiography; they can be enjoyed as offering an encounter with an exceptional individual amid a fascinating life. They are a domestic record containing guest lists and menus, accounts of the building decoration and furnishing of a new home, of their servants and their own lives.


Paradise, Jan. 31st, 1799, Thursday; Friday, Feb.1; Sat., Feb.2

I am obliged you see to pack up half a week in one page, for want of time at the moment prevents individuality… Heavens what a fine long word from me! —but added to other business already too much almost for me — I am upper boy at present, my Dutch1 pickle having lately askd my permission to go to the Cape for a night . . . I gave it & a little money to boot — he dressd himself in his new cloaths — hat etc — left us in good faith and is gone off — probably has embarked on board of some of the ships now sailing & we shall never hear more of him.

I am not sure if I am tight in making myself so very great a Slave to saving the money of my dear Secretary, without Cook (two black slaves excepted who understand nothing above the roast and boil that I dont teach them) — without housekeeper — Ladys Maid — butter-dairy maid — as I have much of all this to do myself, the leisure for all the little elegancys or singularitys which by drawing or describing I coud fix on my paper & on my memory for the amusement of others are lost, nor am I sure that what I save him is equal to what I lose to myself— on the other hand, tho there is trouble & some fatigue to me there is peace — no quarreling amongst upper servants, no one to find fault with for omissions, as I have to do all, it is done however and pretty well done. Mr B. seems quite Happy & delighted to see his table well furnished his dinner good & well served, & altho I cook part of it & put it down myself, I am rewarded by his sweet words. I save too at least 100 per ann. of wages to him and in this world if one is usefull & not unhappy while being so it is ones business & certainly wisdom to think it much the same whether one spends time in one way or another. . . to sit light on circumstances which hobble beneath one is the best way of not being hurt by them.

Cousin Anne woud feel herself sadly demeaned by many of the acts I am in some degree necessitated to perform; she is not aware, nor is any one aware who see me trudging about a Housekeeper, that it is philosophy which assists me to carry the keys & that in my mind I feel myself rising by every circumstance which is beneath what I perhaps feel myself entitled to, but which I surmount; how easy & how right it is to be proud and conceited privately while bending to what must be endured.

Anne proposes to be a good wife to her poor Col by starving, eating chops for ever and ever, off the cleanest table cloth, the best wine, the best cooked chops & perhaps a soup: but that no one is to eat one along with her & him — I tell her she is proposing a Life of self indulgence instead of activity & attention, that she is shutting the door to his friends, and with the same money she shoud have to pay for the chops & clean table cloth washed out by the laundress and nice wine woud give them a little joint at home, a clean table cloth washd by her maid, Cape wine — & two or three friends. She is preferring the other way of living because it gives her no trouble — but all this I hope a little time will bring right — at 23 young people must be unutterably elegant and supinely dignified! it provokes me a little who am certainly as well born a woman as any of the Elegantes and who know and feel what is best, but the most generous people in large matters are often selfish in trifles & have a false high minded sett of notions which they despise those for not having who have them not, & which the other party recognises by returning secretly the sentiment tho on a still prouder Key.

Doctor Hare & Capt Holmes dined with us the 31 of Jan., Col Craufurd the first of Feb. — & on Saturday the 2nd, inspite of the most extraordinary deluge of rain which I ever saw, it occupied Mr B the whole morning in placing and emptying buckets & pails put judiciously under the parts of our old thatched roof where the water found its way; had we saved the Hogsheads full of wine instead of water (renderd the color of Madeira by the old thatch) we shoud have had enough for more than one years consumption tho that is of common wine 22 gallons per week — by B’s vigilance he prevented it from getting thro to the rooms below but all was a sea above & the clay of the floors mixing with the rains we were so many pigs in our stys.”

Edited by Margaret Lenta and Basil Le Cordeur
Margaret Lenta works in the Department of English at the University of Natal, Durban. Her research interests are eighteenth-century prose, especially by women, and twentieth-century South African writing.

MARGARET  LENTA  grew  up  in  the  north of England. She took her first degree at Manchester University, and later taught in Nigeria and Kenya before coming to South Africa. Since 1973 she has worked in the Department of English  at the University of Natal,  Durban,  where she is now a professor. Her research interests are eighteenth century prose, especially by women, and twentieth century South African writing. Besides having published a variety of articles in these areas, she is co-author, with MJ Daymond and JU Jacobs, of Momentum: On R ecent South African Writing, has edited Olive Schreiner’s Thoughts on South Africa and is an editor of the journal Current Writing. She has five children.

BASIL LE CORDEUR was until his retirement King George V Professor of History at the University of Cape Town, where he also served as head of the Department of History. He is the author of numerous books, papers  and  articles on the history of the Cape and Natal in the nineteenth century. Besides The Kitchingman Papers and The War of the Axe, 1847 which he co-edited with Christopher Saunders,  he  has  published The Politics of Eastern Cape Separatism, 1820-54 and edited The Diary of Charles Lennox Stretch. A past President of the South African Historical Society, General Editor of the Brenthurst Series and Editor-in-Chief of the South African Historical Journal, he is currently working on a social and economic history of the British army at the Cape in the first half of the nineteenth century.