Frances Isabella Duberly

Frances Isabella Duberly

Frances Isabella Duberly

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Fanny Duberly (27 September 1829 – January 1903) was an adventurous soldier’s wife from the Crimean War and Sepoy Mutiny. Her husband, Captain Henry Duberly, was the paymaster to the 8th Royal Irish Hussars, part of the famed Light Brigade of Balaclava. The published journal of her time in the Crimea (Journal Kept During the Russian War) not only includes splendid accounts of what she saw, but also is a good record of all the rumors and gossip of the army.

Early history

Born Frances Isabella Locke in 1829, the daughter of a Wiltshire banker, Wadham Locke, she has been described as “a splendid rider, witty, ambitious, daring, lively, loquacious and gregarious.” She certainly possessed the physical requirements and tough attitude required of her surroundings: “was awoke by the reveille at half-past two; rose, packed our bedding and tent, got a stale egg and a mouthful of brandy, and was in my saddle by half-past five.”

After the death of her mother in 1838, she moved to live with her eldest brother (also Wadham Locke) at Ashton Gifford House in Wiltshire. She left Ashton Gifford on her marriage in 1845 - which took place shortly after her brother had married for a second time.

In the Crimea

She travelled with her husband to the Crimea in 1854 and stayed with him throughout his time there, despite the protests of commanders such as Lord Lucan. As the only woman at the front-lines, she was of course the center of much attention. She was told of planned...
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