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Last Days In London

It is likely that much of the last ten years of the life of James Fea, following the failure of the '45 would have been spent in London where he sought justice for his grievances against the government and it was there that he died on 7th May 1756.

John Fea, his brother, received a letter written the following day  from a Philip Bruguier advising him of the death at the house. The address was given as "Goldsmith, at the Star in Macclesfield Street, near St. Ann's Church, Soho, London."

There are two other letters which tell us a little more about his death and were both sent to John Fea:

  • a holograph letter from Sir Robert Strange (then Mr Strange)
London, May 8th 1756

Sir,  It is not in words to describe to you my concern that this our first correspondence  should be atended with so moving a circumstance.  I have herewith the misfortune to inform you of the mellancholly Accounts of your brother's death.  As our friendship and regard for each other was great so is my grief in proportion.  I cannot here dwell on this subject in describing to you his state of health for some time past not the sudden illness by which it pleased providence to translate him to a happier state. 

Mrs Strange who laments this loss as of a Father has wrote particularly on this to Mr. Lumisden who we have beg'd may say something to you on this head.  I have taken care to seal up all the papers and what other things he had which shall remain so till I have the pleasure of hearing from you.  I have with the advice of Mr. Spence ordered his funerals in the most decent manner - he died yesterday afternoon and will be interr'd on Monday.  I shall in a post or two write you more particularly, in the meantime be ashured nothing that's in my power shall be wanting, wherein I can show regard to the memory of my friend or serve his relations.  Ashure his Lady of my sincear respect and sympathy in her present misfortune and believe me to be,

Sir, your obedient huml. Servt
Robert Strange.

Robert Strange married Isabella Lumisden, the daughter of William Lumisden, the lawyer in Edinburgh.  They were staunch Jacobite supporters.
  • letter from William Lumisden in Edinburgh
Dear Sir

As the immoderate grief with which my son Mr. Strange is overwhelmed his not writing some circumstances relating to your brother's death, wherewith I am heavily affected, and on account wherewith I must sincerely condole with you, I shall transcribe them from my daughter's letter.  For though in themselves they are not very material, yet it's very natural for you and his other relations and friends to be inquisitive concerning them. 

Several weeks ago he was suddenly seized with a fainting fit, on which he consulted physicians, and so far got the better of it  as to go frequently abroad and particularly on the sixth instant he breakfasted with Doctor Forbes, called at David Wilson, book seller in the Strand, and from that went to the City where he dined.  But the day after, being Friday he found himself greatly pained inwardly and sent early for Doctor Forbes and was bled.  There was something ordered for him to take, he kept his bed (she says) the first time he had done so since her remembrance , about five o' clock he took a fainting fit like what he took at first. Doctor Forbes and Doctor Monro were sent for but he never recovered.

As the physicians thought his case doubtful, it was judged right to open him, and certainly it was, which was done by Mr Forbes, Doctor Monro, the professor his brother and his best friends being present , and they found his trouble was ane inflammation of the lower part of his body.  His lungs and heart were as fresh and  sound as a child.  Great was the love and friendship betwixt my daughter and him and as a mark of it she insists that he may be interred where she proposes to lie if she die in London . . . ".  This was St Paul's Churchyard, Covent garden, London.

Then follows a rather lengthy homily in a Christian spirit against overmuch grief, in the course of which occur these sentences.  "And at the same time believe, as we have all the reason in the world to believe, that our worthy friend is now happy.  What reason have we for unbounded melancholy but selfishness, the greatest of sins, which his noble soul always abhorred". 

Then after expressing further sympathy, he signs with his own hand - Will. Lumisden, and the latter is dated Edinburgh, 13th May, 1756.

The Feas of Clestrain (1932), Hugh Marwick
Proceedings of the Orkney Antiquarian Society Vol xi, pages 38 - 39

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