The Irish Rebellion of 1798
The Lockwood Series
The Lockwood Series is based on research done both at the British national Archives and the Inniskilling Regimental Museum in Northern Ireland. I've done my best to tell an interesting story while remaining true to the history of the men and women whose lives, in the end, required very little work by an author to render them fascinating tales.
There are currently three books available: Lieutenant Lockwood, The Lockwoods of Clonakilty, and Captain Lockwood. The fourth, likely titled Ensign Lockwood, is in the works. It is a prequel which deals with the early lives of James Lockwood and Brigid O'Brian, and their early days together during the Irish Rebellion of 1798.
'Ensign Lockwood', pages 94-96 As the battalion is prepared to sail for Belgium.....
All of the married men who had been drafted were gathered on the parade ground, their anxious wives and children standing with them. Lieutenants Lockwood and Gooch, accompanied by a Second Battalion drummer, marched out to the crowd with considerable formality, in part to show they took the affair seriously, and in part to take a degree of shelter behind the tradition and ceremony.
James looked to Gooch to address the silent crowd, but Gooch was terrified into silence by the pack of tense, emotional women. “Adjutant Gooch,” said James loudly, “has given me the honour of managing the process to select which of the women and children will accompany the First Battalion on active service on the Continent.”
James had a loud, confident voice, and his presence went well with the women, as they were suspicious of Gooch, a man who so obviously despised them.
“Know this!” continued James, “The lives of army wives and children on campaign are hard, and fraught with danger. I would advise you all to consider that, before putting in for such a life, particularly if you have children.” No one moved; they were all determined to stay together, come what may.
“Very well. War Office regulations dictate that only three wives accompany each company overseas. Those women have to be on the Married Roll, be of good character, with no more than two children, and they have to be willing to work for the other men of the company, doing laundry and such. I trust that this is not news to you; we all understand what is at stake here.”
The crowd was silent, all their eyes and hopes focused on James. Clearing his throat, he continued. “The First Battalion left Bermuda with a full complement of wives. The seven companies that are here had twenty-one wives and their children, but due to illness seven will remain here at Gosport barracks. There are, of course, many more than seven wives here, so, we will use the traditional method to determine who shall go, and who shall stay. Drummer, come forward.”
The drummer, whose profession required a talent for theater, dramatically marched forward, unhooked his large brass drum, and set it on the ground at James’s feet. James dropped two dice onto the drumhead, and called, “Each eligible woman shall come forward and roll the dice. The highest seven rolls will go. You can’t ask fairer than that. Chance, or God, will decide.”
There was no argument as to which women were eligible, as the established wives would have brutally called out any woman who would have dared try to bluff her way into the proceedings. The women on the battalion’s Married Roll jealously guarded their status, and even if they had some sympathy for the unofficial wives, they would not risk lengthening the odds by allowing them into the lottery. The several Portsmouth doxies, crude, drunken slovens, merited no compassion, but many of the wives could not bear to look at Susan Ullum and Deb Dissell, decent, desperate local women who were living on the meager incomes of Privates Shaw and Toole, who stood abashed at their sides. There was also some sympathy for Mrs. Buchanan, an older woman of great standing amongst the wives, but if she and her sergeant husband had opted to have four children that was their concern.
In the end, twenty-six women stepped forward and rolled the dice. Most were Irish, the balance English, Spanish, or Portuguese. Mary Rooney, unlucky all her life, tentatively stepped up, rolled twelve, and burst into tears. Colleen Costello handed her baby to her husband, stepped forward, rolled a three, and turned back to them, her hands shaking. Helen McManus had both her little girls and her husband blow on the dice, quietly said an Act of Contrition, and rolled nine, hopeful.
The ceremony, held with an almost religious reverence, ended with seven relieved families, trying to not show away, and nineteen shattered families, trying not to show their fear and disappointment, most tearfully failing.
Mark Bois is of Belgian and Irish ancestry. It is perhaps natural, then, that he would develop a fascination with the First Battalion of the 27th Foot, an Irish regiment, at the Battle of Waterloo. He would eventually return to school to earn a Master’s degree in history, writing his thesis on the Inniskilling Regiment in 1815.
Amongst the dusty rosters and letters in the British National Archives, and then in the artifacts and records of the Inniskilling Regimental Museum, he found what he needed to write his thesis, but he also discovered the fascinating personal stories that provided the basis for Lieutenant and Mrs. Lockwood. Many actual experiences of the men and officers of the 27th Foot were pulled from those sources to be used in the novel.
Like Lt. Lockwood, Mark is the father of five, and has been happily married to their exceptional mother for more than thirty years. When not working, writing, or reading, he trains for indoor rowing regattas, where he enjoys only moderate success. He also builds furniture and remodels his house, though he is increasingly devoted to weekend naps.