CAPTAIN GEORGE CARTWRIGHT, VISITING HIS FOX-TRAPS. Reproduced by permission of "The Ancestor.".
CAPTAIN GEORGE CARTWRIGHT, VISITING HIS FOX-TRAPS. Reproduced by permission of "The Ancestor.".

The second son, George, is known as "Labrador Cartwright." Born at Marnham in 1739, a commission was obtained for him, and he rose to the rank of Captain, In 1770 he retired on half pay, and then in a semi-official capacity, devoted himself to the exploration of the Coast of Labrador. He spent sixteen years trapping and exploring in Labrador, and brought back to England five Esquimaux, the first who had ever been seen in this country. They created quite a furore in London, being received by King George, and becoming the lions of the Season, His sister, Catherine, in her red morocco diary, gives an account of the excitement and interest caused at Marnham by these novel visitors, and thus describes them, "All the Indians have bright black eyes and dark complexions. Cauboic is very handsome, with an uncommon degree of sense, sweetness, sprightliness, and sensibility, and of ease and gentility in all her actions and motions, & on our farther acquaintance, I found in her untutored soul native modesty, worth, and honour, with a peculiar quickness of apprehension, innocent vivacity, and affectionate temper, and engaging manner. Tooklavinia, her husband, is sensible, good-tempered, honest, disinterested, & agreeable to everybody but his wife, who hates and fears him to excess, nor has he much love for her, tho he ran away with her even against her own consent. But from what I was able to judge, he would be fonder of her, if she could reconcile herself to him. Ettinyak has handsome features, and a countenance remarkably sensible and penetrating. Econgohe, his wife, is a plain little un-genteel woman, but very shrewd & ingenious, this woman has a selfish and unpleasing temper. Ikkyuma is a striking likeness of her father in feature, countenance and complexion, & already shews an amazing fine understanding, she is very pretty, every soul doats upon her."

Unfortunately the visit had a tragic ending, for the diary goes on to relate how, shortly before their embarkation for Labrador, Cauboic sickened of the much dreaded smallpox, and although she struggled safely through it, her husband and his relations all died: and it was left to George Cartwright to break the news to poor Cauboic, as soon as she was pronounced out of danger. The diary thus describes the scene, "My brother's next letter, dated the 15th of June arrived ye 20th. It informed us that Cauboic's physician that day pronounced her out of all manner of danger, & that George began to prepare her to hear of the fate of the rest, & that she confest to him she hated them all excepting the child, exprest a great dislike to returning to her former mode of life, and begged hereafter she might live in his house." The fears expressed by George, that the loss of the Indians would be resented by their relations, and seriously affect his future prospects, luckily proved unfounded, for Catherine tells us that "My brother having finished his business at Waterford, quitted it again with his only charge on Friday 16th, and they arrived safe at Cape Charles on Saturday Aug. 28th, where my brother was kindly and cordially received by the Innuits, though the relations of the deceased were affected to excess by the loss of their friends."

George Cartwright seems to have possessed to an extraordinary degree the Englishman's power of managing inferior races. Perhaps the secret of his success is to be found in an interesting memorandum, which was drawn up for the use of a friend, who was evidently thinking of betaking himself to Labrador. In it he says, "Associate very much with Indians of all nations, for you will learn something from each. If they displease you, talk to them cooly and firmly, but never fly into a passion with them. The more you excel them in sporting, the higher opinion they will have of you. Do not fish for salmon when an Indian is present, until you are perfect in the art, less one should break you." And later on, "In all your conversations with Indians, be sure never to tell them that which is not true, nor even such truths as they will not readily believe, and you cannot prove. In your dealings with them, never cheat them by imposing bad articles upon them : should any article break through the fault of the maker (a thing that often happens amongst low priced hard ware) exchange it for a new one."

Labrador was evidently no sofa existence; in another place the memorandum gives some idea of the hardships to be met with on those ice-bound shores. He says, "Be very careful of going to a distance from home by yourself during the first winter, and do not rely upon your own opinion of the weather. Never go out of the house without a good hatchet, tinder and matches, as your life may often depend on the possession of them. Have a side pocket in your Breeches, and always carry a sharp butcher's knife in it. Provide a three ounce phyal of Thebaic Tincture, and an ounce of Citrine Ointment for your eyes, and camel hair pencils to apply them with. In case of being snow blind or catching an opthalmia, foment your eyes with a stream of boiling water until the severe pain is abated, which will be in three or four days, during which time they must be kept well covered, and then apply the Citrine and Thebaic, and do not be persuaded to use any other remedies. When very thirsty with walking, scrape your tongue with your knife, wash your gums with your finger, gargle your mouth and throat with water, but swallow only one small mouthful of it. When faint and weak with walking and long fasting, break a cake of bread and put it in water, whilst it is soaking, scrape your tongue and wash your mouth as above directed, then eat the bread and drink one mouthful of water only. On arriving at home never indulge in taking a drink of cold liquor within an hour, but take the chill off it with a hot poker or a mixture of what is warm. Never eat much or one bit of fleshmeat until you have finished your day's journey, for it will oppress you and cause unquenchable thirst. Spruce beer is the best common drink, and an excellent scorbutic, be not sparing of either spruce or treacle. Brew it in vessels that will hold only a week's consumption, and have one cask or keg to succeed another, it will be ripe for drinking in a week."

After his return from his last voyage to Labrador in 1786, George Cartwright became barrack master of Nottingham, and lived to a hearty old age, dying at Mansfield in 1819. His magnum opus was "Transactions on the Coast of Labrador " in 3 vols. This mighty hunter was a giant in stature and a great eater, he himself, confessed that a leg of mutton was with him but an affair of two slices, the first slice taking one side away, and the other clearing the bone. In character he appears to have been affectionate and upright, with the simple-hearted religion of the doer rather than that of the thinker. In his above quoted Memorandum he says, "Constantly keep in mind the admirable injunction of our Blessed Saviour, 'Do unto them as you would they should do unto you,' you will find it answer best in the long run, and keep you constantly on good terms with your conscience, a friend, whom you ought never to quarrel with." Also in a letter to his sister of Jan. 8th 1818, he writes, "As I have long been preparing to quit this world, do not feel any uneasiness at the near approach of the time when I must do it, and will enjoy my stay here as well as circumstances will permit, nor repine at what cannot be remedied."

Major John Cartwright, aged 49. From a painting by Hoppner, 1789.
Major John Cartwright, aged 49. From a painting by Hoppner, 1789.

Of a very different personality was his next brother, John Cartwright, born in 1740, and known to fame as Major Cartwright, and the "Father of English Radicalism." Restless, eager, with the thoughts of a philosopher, the visions of a dreamer, and a certain lack of balance, the "honest Major" (as Maurice Hewlett calls him), spent his life in tilting at windmills, and spending and being spent for an ungrateful populace. He could not help himself : being entirely devoid of the spirit of compromise, or taking things as you find them, which is the native genius of most Englishmen.

He began life in the Navy, but his ardent principles soon interfered with all hope of advancement, and he left the Navy rather than join Lord Howe's Command on the American Station, and fight against what he considered the cause of Liberty. On leaving the Navy, he joined the Notts Militia, which his father had helped to found, and his rank of Major was thus obtained, although, as a matter of fact, his Commission was taken from him for the offence of attending a public meeting where the anniversary of the Fall of the Bastille was celebrated. John Cartwright was a born fighter, and the clash and din of politics was life to him. As an advanced Radical, he declared for annual Parliaments, universal suffrage, and the ballot, and was the originator of the popular cry, 'One man one vote.'

In 1778 he was proposed as Parliamentary Candidate for the County of Nottingham, and he fought that as well as several other contests, but, needless to say, was never elected. Two of his old election banners for a contest at Retford, where he owned a Mill, called the Revolution Mill, are inscribed as follows—


Hostility to Faction
and Friendship to Pitt
For defending the King
and vindicating the Rights of the People.


Important Manufactures introduced
The youthful poor of both sexes employed
Virtuous Industry encouraged and rewarded

The Navigation of the Canal increased
Population, Trade and Prosperty advanced
And the value of Landed Property improved
By the friend of Freedom and of Retford.

In a curious little old Memorandum book, relating to the Nottinghamshire contest, there is a list of some of the villages and voters to be canvassed, from which the following page may be of local interest.

Heathcote   Lond. Blagg Sm. P
Pryalx   D Howitt A
Blagg   P Blagg. jun. P (If no neighbour-neighbour-
Clarkson Miss   D   ing gentleman)
Levers   A Toplis (If not compelled
Whittaker   P (If Musters does   by Widow Molyn)
    not stand) Chettle A
Johnson   (If not compelled Marsh              D  
    by Kirk of Normanton) Maryat             A (But his wife says he will give his
Jackson A     vote on account
Wilkinson A     of Mr. Disney)
Challand A   Rev. Mr. Water A
G. Mason P   Pacey P (If not com-
G. Mason, sen P     pelled by Lord
Millington A     Chesterfield)
G. Green   (will not go White D (Thoroton)
    against me) Horsepool A
Simpson A   Grant P (If not com-
Blagg P (Father and Mother at   pelled by Lord C.)
    Car Colston) Oliver D
J. Taylor A   Bass too old  
      Shelton P
      Brooks Chettle D AD.

John Cartwright was a voluminous writer, even as a midshipman, and his letters, of which there are large numbers in the family portfolios, are far above the average, both in style and expression. His active brain needed constant outlet; he wrote eighty political tracts, besides pamphlets on almost every conceivable subject from agricultural experiments to Home Defence. He designed a marvellous Hieronauticon, or Naval Temple in honour of Nelson's victories, which however, though approved by the authorities, was never built: and he also took an active share in the struggle then going on for the abolition of slavery. A few extracts from his later letters, written to his favourite nephew, Edmund Cartwright, will suffice to shew his curiously radical, philosophical, and unorthodox turn of mind.

In December 1791, he writes,

"My dear Edmund,

It is with great pleasure that I send you an engraving of the 'Declaration of Rights.' If hung up in your rooms

at Oxford, it will probably lead you into arguments on the subject with many who are prejudiced against such doctrines as it maintains. I think it may be safely trusted to your good sense and love of truth to listen with attention to every argument that can be offered against your own opinions, and to be ready to embrace new sentiments, whenever sound reasoning shall require you to do so ; and you have a right to call upon all opponents to observe the same rule. It is truth alone by which we ought to be guided, and to which we ought to submit. Neither custom nor authority are to be regarded when they tend to error and mischief. When men argue for the sake of victory or in support of party dogmas, they are not likely either to convince others or to improve themselves. But when it becomes evident that a man in his reasonings on any subject is actuated by a sincere love of truth, and that his ultimate aim is to establish what is most beneficial to his species, his opinions will be respected, which is a very important step towards their being embraced. On this particular subject of Civil Liberty, we in England have, in my opinion, two lights in which to contemplate it. First in the abstract, which leads us to consider what sort of government would be most agreeable to the will of the Deity, and most beneficial to Man. Secondly, How to preserve whatever is valuable in our Constitution, and, as occasion may offer, how to improve it by approximation towards the perfect model, we may have conceived as above. Even in the bringing about any reform, we ought not to use dishonest means, nor rashly to hazard more ill than there is a probability of good. The most rational, efficacious, and virtuous means are to enlighten the minds of the people on the science of


Your affectionate Uncle,

John Cartwright."

On June 28th 1795, he writes, "This leads me to say a few words on your future plan in life, I understand that you have sometimes shewn a serious inclination to the Church. If you really have any serious thoughts of that profession, I wish you to examine well the nature of the engagement. In order to this, it is necessary to scrutinize the 39 Articles, and to weigh well the Creed you are to teach. If on due consideration, you can truly and honestly subscribe to those Articles, and to all the forms of Prayer, which arise out of them, you may most conscientiously undertake the Ministry of the Church of England. But if you cannot digest all this, it should seem that there are difficulties in your way of more importance than you are aware of. To the unprincipled or dissolute, who can make religion a trade, neither Articles, nor Creeds, nor Subscriptions will be any impediments, but I persuade myself that you will not make light of these things. It is one thing to teach Christianity—another to teach state Creeds. The more sincerely a man is a Christian, the longer he will be in fixing his own Creed, and it will probably undergo some variations according to his diligence in studying the subject, and his capacity in rightly interpreting writings, which have exercised the patience and acumen of learned critics. But he who becomes a priest is required to take the contrary course, and when his engagement is made while still young, 'tis an hundred to one that he must either become in time extremely dissatisfied, and compelled to relinquish his situation, or travel on a conscious hypocrite, profaning the Temple of the Deity with his own daily falsehoods, while pretending to lead others into the way of truth. Thinking these matters deserve you serious consideration, I have given you my thoughts, and wish to know your own sentiments. If you particularly incline to become a Christian Minister, I am far from objecting to it, I know not any profession I more respect, all that I would guard you against is professing a faith before you have adopted it, or subscribing to strings of propositions before you are satisfied of their truth."