Annapolis Heritage Society | Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

Forbes Letter

This is a transcription of an archival letter that arrived at the Annapolis Heritage Society last summer. The letter was sent by Lt. Anthony Sommersgill VanRosen Forbes to his wife Susannah Glorianna Davoue of Annapolis Royal. Forbes was a member of the 64th Regiment while they were stationed in Nova Scotia and obviously met his wife during this period. The 64th had arrived in Nova Scotia in 1813. The Regiment provided the funeral guard for Captain James Lawrence of the USS Chesapeake after its famed battle with HMS Shannon. As a Lieutenant, Forbes would have played an official role in the funeral arrangements.

At some point during his time in the province, Forbes met the daughter of Colonel Frederic Davoue. After serving in the American Revolution, Colonel Davoue was a prominent resident of the Annapolis Royal area. The Davoue family lived near the Mileboard Corner where the Colonel is buried in a small cemetery.

In 1815 the 64th Regiment was reassigned to France in the wake of the Battle of Waterloo. Here Forbes served as a member of the Army of Occupation for a short time. Forbes contracts an eye condition that he refers to as “opthalmia” which causes him to be shipped back to England. From shipwrecks to leeches, he has a troubled journey. It is this story he recounts in his letter to his wife.

This is an interesting case of historical records recording names in one manner and family records recording names in another. Calnek’s “History of the County of Annapolis” records the name as Anthony Vancrossen Somersill Forbes and his wife as Florianna.

Forbes recovers from his condition and eventually finds his way back to Nova Scotia. He died on February 23, 1838 and he is buried in Yarmouth. Among his descendants is a prominent line of doctors and jurists in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. All spelling and grammar in this transcription appears as it does in the original.

Mrs Forbes
Annapolis Royal
Nova Scotia

Chapel House
Sloane St. 4th Jany. 1816
My ever dearest Susan,
For your sake & my own I have permission from my Doctor, only to say that I am recovering from a most desperate attack of opthalmia which has nearly deprived me of my left eye, & so injured my right that until further recovered I am forbid reading or writing. – from the 26th Octr. To 9th of Decr. I was confined to my bed, bled in the arms & temple & hav 69 leeches applied to my eyes at different times. My sight was considered as irrecoverable. I thought of my own good Sue and bore it ever with cheerfulness. On coming here from Calais I was shipwrecked off Ramsgate, & miraculously saved myself on the night of 26th Decr. – I never ceased to think of the severest trials of my own dearest love – for bless you; I have not been well enough tosee my sisters at present – I shall soon write more fully – you know my reason for brevity ?? – I am among most kind friends, & mending rapidly – I have 2 months leave for recovery of sight – queer time unasked for – my appearance was enough. I am in excellent bodily health & thank god for rapidly gaining ground in my sight.

Believe me forever your most devoted & most dutiful half blind husband (area lost) ?? A. Forbes

(area lost) your dear letter of 19th (area lost) when quite blind at Belville near Paris. Direct my letters to the Regt at Plymouth.

God bless & preserve my dearest love – I long to hear from you – adieu –