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Ep 156: Kit Cavanagh with Guest Emily Laurence Baker

Kit Cavanagh as illustrated in 1706

Bravery on the battlefield and living in disguise this week as we are joined by fellow guide. Emily Laurence Baker tells us all about Kit Cavanagh AKA Christian Davies AKA Mother Ross.

The illustration above is described as depicting Christian Davies - English Soldier. Which doesn't tell the whole story! In 1691, while Kit is running the pub she inherited from her aunt, her husband (and father of her two children) disappeared. She eventually hears he's joined (or was pressganged into) the British Army and is fighting in Holland. So she decides to dress up as a man and go find enlisting. Obvs!

It takes a while to find him, and she has various adventures along the way.

"Amazingly, she managed to do this without being discovered: she ate with them, drank with them, slept with them, played cards with them, even urinated alongside them by using what she describes as a 'silver tube with leather straps'. No one was ever the wiser." (Marian Broderick)

She avoided discovery even though she was wounded in the thigh at the Battle of Schellenberg. - we're now into the War of Spanish Succession.

Battle of Schellenberg 2nd July 1704 Jan van Huchtenburgh - Statens Museum for Kunst

C17th government Dragoon - Edinburgh Castle - Kim Traynor CC BY-SA 3.0

By then she's part of the 2nd Royal North British Dragoons - known as the Scot's Greys. And might have been wearing a uniform similar to this fine figure at Edinburgh Castle. Hopefully furry hat and all.

It seems the musket ball was left in her thigh after the battle. Presumably had it been removed, her bigger secret may have been discovered. Six weeks later she was fighting at the Battle of Blenheim, and finally found her husband.

Part of the Battle of Blenheim tapestry at Blenheim Palace by Judocus de Vos

This tapestry depiction of the Battle of Blenheim seems much more orderly than Schellenberg above. It might just be the most idyllic battle ever! Although I suspect it's the nature of depictions and artist's choices, rather than the battles themselves.

Soldier of the Royal Regiment of Foot

By now her husband Richard was with The Royal Regiment of Foot. And on finding each other they decide to tell everyone they are brothers. Which works for another couple of years until Kit is injured in the head at the Battle of Ramillies, and finally is discovered.

But not disgraced. Her brigade commander insisted she was paid her army pay while recuperating. And she continued to follow the army as a wife and Sutleress. Listen to the pod to hear Alex explain what a sutleress is all about. In fact, listen in to hear Emily tell us the detail of what happens next. Short version: Richard is killed and Kit sees out the War of Spanish Succession with a succession of different husbands. By 1712 is back home being rewarded by Queen Anne.

Huge thanks to Emily for joining us today. You can find her on Instagram where she celebrates Wonder Women Wednesdays.

We, as ever, are here:

And, as ever, would love to hear from you.

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