This latest release includes the burial record of John Brown (1826-1883), ghillie and later personal servant to Queen Victoria. Brown was brought back to popular attention when he was played by Billy Connolly in a 1997 fictionalized film version of his life.
|Queen Victoria on 'Fyvie' with John Brown at Balmoral, by George Washington Wilson, 1863; medium: carte de visite; from the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland|
|Sketches of John Brown by the young Queen Victoria|
Members of Victoria's court questioned the relationship, with rumours spreading that a morganatic marriage had taken place and that they had even conceived a child. Still today, it is not known how close the two were. When the Queen died in 1901, she was buried with a lock of John Brown's hair, his photograph, his letters and a ring belonging to his mother.
When Brown died in 1883 at the age of just 56, the Queen was distraught. The Times of 29 March 1883 reported that Brown died "in the Clarence Tower at Windsor Castle, after a short but painful illness resulting from an attack of erysipolas in the face, partly induced, it is believed by the recent severity of the weather."
Although John Brown died at Windsor Castle, his body was returned to his native Aberdeenshire to be laid to rest. An article in The Times of 4 April 1883 noted, "The body, with the mourners, was conveyed by the 5.35pm train to Waterloo, where a special engine was provided to take it on to Euston Station, to meet the down train to Scotland. It is to be taken to Bhaille-na-Coille, the residence of the brother of the deceased, and will be interred at Crathie tomorrow. The outer coffin is of polished oak with brass fittings, and bears the following inscription:-"John Brown. Born December 8 1886. Died March 27, 1883." He is buried in the kirkyard of Crathie, near the banks of the river Dee, across the water from the Balmoral estate.
|Statue of John Brown in the grounds of Balmoral|
Friend more than servant.
Loyal. Truthful. Brave.
Selfless than Duty, even to the grave.