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Margaret Skerrett (nee Caldwell) 1749?-1805

Lived in Nantwich, Cheshire

What did Margaret look like?

Born: Around 1749 and died March 12 1805 aged 56.  Buried in Nantwich 18 March 1805.
Daughter of: James Caldwell (of Scotland) and Hannah Caldwell (nee Armstrong).  
Sister of:
1. Ann Caldwell (1758?-1826).
2. James Caldwell (1759-1838) of Linley Wood who married Elizabeth Stamford (1754-1831).
3. Elizabeth Caldwell, (Bessy, Betty, 1766?-1842).
Margaret married: Joseph Skerrett (1745?-1832).
Margaret and Joseph had issue:
1. Not known

We know of Margaret from the following sources:
1. Anne Marsh-Caldwell's diary.
2. James Caldwell's diary.
3. Her grave at Nantwich

Relevant notes from Anne's diary are as follows:

To return to my brief but vivid recollections of those early days: I used to sit on a little stool at Grand Mamma's feet.  I remember her sending me across the room one day "to tell that girl" -meaning Aunt Bessy- "to uncross her legs!".  I remember following her (Grand-Mamma) into the back kitchen often... (she had the 'gravel', I believe - and I heard her father suffered dreadfully from it in his old age.)  Her maiden name was Armstrong; her father was, I believe, a stay-maker; a very remarkable man he was thought for sense and love of literature - She had been very handsome - they say she and my Grand-Papa Caldwell were the handsomest couple almost ever seen in Nantwich.  I never saw him; he died after suffering two years from a dreadful nervous complaint aggravated I suspect from the harsh treatment adopted in those days as the proper method with these. My Grand-Mamma had been the mother of 13 children, of which four only grew up; Aunt Sheret [Skerrett], the eldest, my Aunt Anne, my father, and my Aunt Bessy, seven years younger than was the youngest child. Of these children three, I think, died of putrid sore throat. It must have been ill understood in those days. Most of the others appear to have died as infants. There were, I think, three Jameses before my father - who had been a most beautiful child with long curling flaxen hair and was made a perfect idol by his mother. I don't suppose my Grand-Mamma had been very happy - my Mother at least used to say "She never wished to have her daughters married - though she was glad enough to see her son married - meaning she did not car so much how it befel other people's daughters.

I remember going with Grand-Mamma through the little glass door and seeing Miss Sheret [Skerrett] coming out of the garden with a green watering pot in her hand - the watering pot was little and green and I thought it very pretty - but though Miss Sheret [Skerrett] was little I could not bear her, for she wore a dull coloured buff striped gown with a plain cap and was not pretty; had a stayed look and a red nose - and I quite felt an uncomfortable sensation when I looked at her.  . . .

. . . I remember Mr Sheret [Skerrett], a very diminutive, fussy little man marked with the small-pox, was the apothecary. My parents thought him clever - and I think he must have been very clever - by what I can now recollect of medical events, that is, in proportion to the medical knowledge of those days, which must have been far inferior to the present - though they, I suspect, possessed some medical secrets that are now lost. He was my Uncle Sheret's [Skerrett's] brother; his name was Robert. My Uncle's brother was General Sheret [Skerrett]. He had run away and enlisted, and they had then, I believe, bought him a commission. He distinguished himself some years after. George III gave him the regiment of the Durham Fencibles - he had no interest. I have often heard my father tell the story; Mr Pitt had a friend - Mr Dundas had a friend, and I don't know who besides, and George III said "What has Sheret [Skerrett] had? Nobody remembers Sheret [Skerrett] - he shall have it." He had married a Miss Byrne, a young lady of good family in Ireland, and had one son, John Byrne Sheret [Skerrett], who died of fever; of them more hereafter&ldots; I ought to have put among my Newcastle recollections a dim one of a dinner with my Uncle and Aunt Sheret [Skerrett]. General Sheret [Skerrett] was present - he was also marked with the small-pox; Mrs Sheret [Skerrett] wore a bonnet. There was a tall rosy-faced handsome youth standing with his hand on the back of his chair - this was John, afterwards General John Sheret [Skerrett]. Old General Sheret [Skerrett] distinguished himself much in the Irish rebellion and is mentioned with much praise in Gordon's History. I remember one passage, the pride and delight of dear Uncle Sheret [Skerrett]; "The conduct of General Sheret [Skerrett] on this occasion saved the day - and in my opinion, Ireland" says the historian.

. . . At last we reached Nantwich and I was to point out my Grand-Mamma's well known house, now inhabited by my Uncle Sheret [Skerrett] - an old Cheshire wooden house painted black and white I recollected it to be, with a tree trained against the parlour window - of that I was positive.  . . .

. . . Aunt Bessy and Aunt Anne were now living in my Uncle's house in Dysart Building; my Uncle and Aunt Sheret [Skerrett] had exchanged for the more important mansion in the Hospital Street. These worthy Aunts had come into their little fortunes, something less than two thousand pounds apiece, not quite two hundred a year between them; and my Aunt, a woman of the most clear and excellent head and the noblest character in the whole world, had arranged her plans and begun that life of honourable and gentlewoman-like independence upon small means which she persevered in to the end - through all the difficult years of the French War-years when wheat was 120 shillings, and ten per cent taken in property tax at one fell swoop out of their little income; many years after did this high spirited and righteous woman tell me that she never turned the year without being "something in hand - a few shillings contents me, Anne, but something in hand it must be" - They had no bills!