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Eliza Errington née LoudonArtist1808 to 1869

Eliza Errington was an artist who had a privileged background. However she needed resilience and determination through her marriage as she travelled frequently. Her paintings of her life have become important historic documents.

44 Durnford Street. Eliza’s childhood home

Early Years and schooling.

Eliza was born in Plymouth, England in 1808, to John and Margaret Loudon. Her father was a purser and paymaster in the Royal Navy. Eliza and her sister were sent to finishing school in Paris, where the composer Franz Liszt was their piano teacher.

Marriage and travel to Van Diemen’s Land

Art by Eliza Errington
Sketches by Eliza

In January 1838, she married Arnold Charles Errington at St George’s Church, Stonehouse, Plymouth. He was a Captain of the 51st Regiment of Foot. This marriage changed her way of life forever. Within three years, shortly after the birth of their first son, the family was posted to Harwich Redoubt Fort, in Essex, where Arnold was to be commanding officer.

Two years later, they were posted to the convict colony on Van Diemen’s Land, now known as Tasmania. It was a far cry from Eliza’s life in Plymouth. The journey began with a 24 mile march from Chatham Barracks in Kent to Deptford Docks. The march was under the command of Captain Errington, and his convict guard. The guard was accompanied by four wives and eight children, including Eliza and her two-year-old son. However on some of these marches, families had the luxury of travelling in carts, rather than walking.

After this long journey, the next day they boarded the ‘Duchess of Northumberland’ and set sail from Deptford. The ship picked up convicts from various points as it sailed round the coast of England. The ship then sailed for Demerara and round Cape Horn to Hobart on a journey lasting over 100 days.

Life through her art

After their arrival at Hobart, Tasmania they then left for the isolated penal settlement of Port Arthur. Their accommodation was in Rose Cottage, the commandant’s house. It must have been a strange life for Eliza, far away from home, family, and friends, and surrounded by the hard life of a convict colony. But she was obviously a resilient person, and she occupied her spare time drawing and sketching her surroundings and family. She sent her sketches and paintings back to England to show her family and friends what life was like on the other side of the world. These works also reassured family that they were safe and sound and living a normal life. Some of these pieces have been acquired by the National Library of Australia, and are considered to be of historical importance.

Yet more travels – India and South Africa

Rose Cottage in Port Arthur by Eliza Errington

A busy time for the family – travel to India and South Africa

Their second son was born at Port Arthur. Following this the Erringtons then returned to Hobart, where their third son was born. Arnold was promoted to Major meaning more travel for the family.

After four years in Tasmania, they were sent to Madras, India and they were stationed at Bangalore. Eliza continued to paint, including a colourful view of their bungalow compound at Boonamarlee. However two years later found them back in England where their only daughter was born and their eldest son was settled in Ilminster Grammar School. Soon they were off again and some of the family set off to The Cape, South Africa. Here Eliza continued to paint with views of the farmhouse they were living in.

After arriving in SA the regiment, under Arnold’s command, was sent to fight in the second Burma War. Eliza remained in South Africa. Whilst in Burma Arnold was severely wounded. He was rewarded for his bravery with medal & clasp and honorary promotion to Lt-Colonel. After returning to the Cape for a short stay with his family, they returned to Devon, and the birth of their last child.

A hectic few years followed and the army were posted to the Curragh in County Kildare in Ireland then on to the Crimea. Following this the family lived for nearly ten years back to India, due to the aftermath of the Indian Mutiny.

Eliza’s biography at Design and Art, Australia mentions she was with Arnold in Ireland and India. Eliza continued her painting in both places. She made an important record of some aspects of life at the time. As was common at the time their children, remained in England living with their maternal grandparents, attending schools and starting their careers.

Retirement in England

Grave of Eliza, Arnold, and Sophie Errington

In March 1867 Arnold requested, and was given permission to retire. He, Eliza, and their daughter Sophia came to live in Clifton. Sadly after all her travels it was a short retirement. Unfortunately in early in 1869 a report appeared in the Bristol Mercury:

“Deaths- January 23 at Lansdown Place, Clifton, suddenly, Eliza Helen, the beloved wife of Major-General Errington.”

Bristol Mercury 1869

Arnold died in 1890 and their daughter Sophia in 1929, all three are buried in this grave.

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Eliza Errington née Loudon<span class="ag_notability">Botanist and funghi Specialist</span><span class="ag_event_date"><i class="icon-calendar"></i>1807 to 1876</span>
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