19th December 1813

The news continues to be favourable from Holland, the French being driven from a considerable part of it.  They are losing ground very fast in Italy, the confederation of the Rhine is dissolved.


30th November 1813

The Town was Illuminated on account of the recent Victories gained in Spain by Lord Wellington and the Allies in Germany.  I was out of pocket 16 shillings for Candles on this occasion.  The Mob behaved tolerably well.  The Tar barrels were carried about as usuall but no riots were to be seen.

The Frost still continues.  Markets are rather Moderate.  Sugar is getting up on account of the Markets beginning to be open in some parts of the north of Europe.

The ‘tar barrels’ may refer to the practice of  carrying lit barrels as a spectacle of celebration – in this case because of the ‘recent Victories’ which caused the town to be ‘Illuminated’.  If that is correct, it appears the news from Europe was publicly celebrated throughout the town and Dr Lucas’ wording suggests it was a fairly common occurence at times of celebration.  Some parts of Scotland, particularly Aberdeenshire, continue to carry burning tar barrels at Hogmanay as part of the annual celebration so the practice is still known.

6th November 1813

Twenty One Guns were fired from the Castle on account of a very great Victory gained by the Russians Prussians and Austrians over the French in the north of Germany near Leipsic on the 18th and 19th of October.

This refers to the great Battle of Leipzig in which Napoleon was defeated decisively for the first time in battle. The outcome of the battle forced the French commander to retreat back to France. The Allies, acting on the momentum of their victory, invaded France early in 1814. By the spring, Napoleon had been foced to abdicate and was exiled to Elba. Involving over 600,000 troops, Leipzig was the largest battle to be fought in Europe until the First World War.

19th August 1813

News arrived of an unsuccessful assault on the Castle of Saint Sebastians in Spain in which the British were repulsed with the loss of 500 men killed wounded and prisoners.  The French to the amount of 40,000 or 50,000 under Soult advanced to the relief of it, but after successful Attacks on the 25th July, the 27 and the 28, the 30 in which the French were constantly repulsed, at last on the 31 a decisive action took place in which the French were completely defeated and driven into France.  In these actions the Enemy have lost upwards of 15,000 men in Killed Wounded and prisoners, the Allies have 6000 Killed and Wounded.  The Sieges of Pampeluna and St Sebastians are continued.  A salute of 21 Guns were fired from the Castle, and the Bells were set a ringing when the news arrived in town.

7th July 1813

News arrived that the British Army under Marquis Wellington had gained a great Victory over the French army at Vittoria in Spain, 1200 French killed and taken 150 pieces of cannon with 400 Ammunition Waggons etc etc taken.  The British Army were in pursuit of the fugitives.  The Bells, on the arrival of the News, were set a ringing and the Great guns were set discharged from the Castle with other marks of rejoicing.

Comment by guest blogger, Mr G. Dixon:

Wellington’s victory over the French at Vittoria in northern Spain on 21st June 1813 was one of the principal battles in the Peninsular War against Napoleon and an important step forward in the Allied troops’ advance to final victory over the French at Waterloo in June 1815.  The greatest composer of the age, Beethoven, then very short of money, was persuaded to write a celebratory piece, variously known as ‘Wellington’s Victory’ or ‘The Battle Symphony’, dedicated to the Prince Regent of Great Britain, which was immensely popular for a while, but it dismissed nowadays as “an absurd piece of programme music, with its fanfare, cannonades, and fugal treatment of God Save the King” (1).  Its initial popularity, however, as well as easing Beethoven’s financial straits, brought a request from a local theatre which resulted in his extensively revising his failed and only opera, ‘Leonore’ (1805).  This, as ‘Fidelio’ was first performed in May 1814 and is now regarded as one of the greatest operas ever written.

1.       ‘The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians’, Stanley Sadie ed., 1995 reprint, vol 2, p368


6th June 1813

Another murderous battle has been fought at Bautzen in Germany, Betwixt the Russians, Prussians and the French.  Both sides claimed the victory. Upwards of 20,000 men are killed on both sides.

A strong drouth.  Hay harvest is beginning.  The crop will be rather a scanty one.

The Battle of Bautzen was fought at that German town on the 20th to the 21st May 1813. The combined Russian and Prussian army, in retreat after the earlier Battle of Lutzen, were pushed back by Napoleon’s force of 115,000 men. This entry gives an indication of how long it took for news to reach the British newspapers from Europe.

1st June 1813

Made some alterations on the cellar by closing up the doors and windows that were on the east side of it and striking out a door in the west side, raised the wall on the north east corner three feet and put a door on the entry at the north end of it.  There has been hard fighting in Germany.  The French attacked the Russians and Prussia and at Lubzen.  The numbers on both sides were nearly equal being 120000 on each side.  The Russians and Prussians Keept [sic] the field of battle, both sides claimed the Victory, there was upwards of 20,000 Slain and as many wounded, the greatest number of whom were  French.  The French seem to be nearly at a stand and are not advancing fast towards the territories of their Enemies. ‘Tis not certain what part the Austrians will take in this year Campaign on the Continent.  The conduct of the Swedes and Danes is also rather enigmatical.

Panasonic MECH=KV-S3065CL SIDE=R

6th May 1813

A Shower of Rain succeeded by fine mild weather.

Swallows first seen here this season.

A bill brought into parliament taking off all restrictions off the Roman Catholics in Great Britain and Ireland by which they are nearly on a footing with His Majesty’s other subjects, without adequate security for their peaceable behaviour.

Bonaparte the French Emperor has set out for Germany to head his Army against the Russians and Prussians.

There had been restrictions on Roman Catholics in Britain since the Acts of Uniformity and Test Acts of the 16th and 17th centuries. An emancipation bill that would have allowed increased freedoms to Catholics in Britain was introduced in the House of Commons in February 1813. The proposed bill went on to receive a second reading but was eventually lost in committee. The Roman Catholic Relief Act was finally passed in 1829 after it became evident that public opinion had changed with regard to this issue.

26th January 1813

The storm continues.

Paid the expenses of Mr Campbell’s funeral amounting to £12.18 Sterling – having received an order from his brother for £15 for that purpose.  Gave the ballance to his widow.

The French are completely driven out of Russia into Poland and Prussia with the Loss of upwards of two hundred and Eighty thousand men in Killed and prisoners besides immense loss in Cannon and Stores.  Their Emperor ran away in disguise and got to Paris.  Most of his generals also deserted their corps.