The Illegitimate child of Major General Banastre Tarleton

Colonel Banastre Tarleton by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1782
Colonel Banastre Tarleton by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1782 via Wikimedia Commons

In the course of our research, we came across a reference to an illegitimate child of Banastre Tarleton, army officer and politician.  Regular readers will probably be aware by now that we’re both natural ‘nosey parkers’ and as such simply had to find out more about this child.  So, here is some additional gossip on the subject for you.

In 1797 Major General Banastre Tarleton was ending his relationship with the actress and courtesan Mary Robinson (before Banastre she was better known as the Perdita to the Prince of Wales Florizel).  The diarist Joseph Farington recorded on the 2nd May 1797 that Banastre and Mary had separated due to his designs on her daughter ‘who is now 21.’  Maria Elizabeth Robinson, the daughter of Mary and Thomas Robinson, the husband from whom she had separated many years before, had been born in October 1774 so was actually a year older than the diarist thought.

In December 1798 Banastre married Susan Priscilla Bertie, illegitimate daughter and heiress of his former friend Robert Bertie, 4th Duke of Ancaster, who had been brought up by her titled grandmother and her aunt Lady Cholmondeley and who was almost a quarter of a century her husband’s, junior.

And at some point around his split from Mary and before his marriage to Susan Priscilla, Banastre was to father an illegitimate daughter, named in his honour and for his friend the Prince, as Banina Georgiana Tarleton.  Born on the 19th December 1797, the little girl was not baptized until the 26th May 1801, at the Old Church in Saint Pancras, her mother named as Kolina on the baptism register.

This girl had but a short life, almost anonymous until a notice of her death appeared at the age of just twenty years on the 12th April 1818.  If her birth date (which is given in the parish register entry of her baptism) is correct, then she must have been conceived around the middle of March 1797, and Banastre appears to be resident in London at that time.  Interestingly, the only other woman he is linked with by the press in 1797, other than Mary Robinson, was her daughter.  Was Farington merely repeating salacious gossip or was there some truth behind the rumours?

General T_____ is said to fluctuate between the “Perdita” and her fair daughter, like the ass between two bundles of hay.

The Times, 13th October, 1797

Why Banina Georgiana was not baptized sooner is a mystery.  She was three and a half years old when she was taken to the church at St Pancras, but Banastre hadn’t been in London much in the interim; after his marriage to Susan Priscilla Bertie the newly-wed couple left for Portugal where Banastre had been given a command, not returning to England until the October of 1799 and in 1800 they spent some months in Wales.

Mary Robinson, after failing to reclaim Banastre and with the ill-health, she had suffered from since possibly undergoing a miscarriage during the early days of her relationship with him, died on the 26th December 1800 at her daughter’s cottage in Englefield Green near Egham.  After her death, a lock of her hair was reputedly sent to ‘a General and a Prince’, the two great loves of her life.  Is it somehow significant that the baptism of this little girl did not take place until after the great Perdita had died?

Mrs Mary Robinson (Perdita) by Thomas Gainsborough, 1781 (c) The Wallace Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Mrs Mary Robinson (Perdita) by Thomas Gainsborough, 1781
(c) The Wallace Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Despite our best efforts, we can still add little to Banina Georgiana’s life but we have found her burial, surprisingly up in Scotland, and as this does not seem to have been mentioned before we thought that we should share this new information with you, our readers.  In the Findo Gask parish burial records is the following document.

 Miss Tarleton, daughter of General Sir Banastre Tarleton, Baronet, died at Gask House, on Sunday the 12th, and was interred within the Old Church on Wednesday the 15th of April, 1818.

Sir Banastre sent five pounds to the poor as the price of a burial place, which sum, the Men and Managers of the Fund, after stating to Sir Banastre their uncertainty whether it was in their power to dispose of the ground, received in lieu of any right which the public may have in it, – and grateful for the bounty and human attention of Sir Banastre and Lady Tarleton to the poor of the place, as well during the whole term of their residence at Gask as on the present occasion, they promised to use their utmost endeavours to preserve entire the ground in which the remains of Miss Tarleton were deposited.

O.P.R. Deaths 352/00/0010 029

Banina Georgiana Tarleton died at Gask House at Findo Gask in Perthshire, the family home of Carolina Nairne nee Oliphant (1766-1845), a Scottish songwriter and poet from a Jacobite family.

Carolina Oliphant, Baroness Nairne, 1766 - 1845. Songwriter & son William Murray Nairne
Carolina Oliphant, Lady Nairne with her son

In 1806, when Carolina was forty-one years of age, she married her second cousin William Murray Nairne who in 1824 became the Baron Nairne.  The Nairnes lived in Edinburgh after their marriage.  We have to here point out that the name Carolina is very similar to the name of Banina’s mother, Kolina, although in doing so we wish to cast no aspersions on her moral character; it may just be a coincidence that the two names are similar and that Banina died at Gask House.

Died . . . At Gask House, on the 12th current, Miss Tarleton, daughter of General Sir Banastre Tarleton, Bart.

Caledonian Mercury, 18th April 1818

Gask House (rebuilt 1801-1805 by Laurence Oliphant) via
Gask House (rebuilt 1801-1805 by Laurence Oliphant) via

The Tarleton’s seem to have been using Gask House as a Scottish estate although their main residence was at Leintwardine in Herefordshire and their London address was 29 Berkeley Square; the Nairnes seem to mainly reside in Edinburgh.

Was Banina Georgiana there as part of a family unit with her father and her stepmother, or did Sir Banastre (he was made a baronet in 1816) and Lady Tarleton travel to Scotland after her death?  Certainly, they were there during June 1818 and as Susan Priscilla herself was illegitimate and had been brought up as part of the Cholmondeley family due to the kindness of her aunt it would not be surprising if she accepted Banastre’s illegitimate daughter as part of her family as the couple had no children of their own.

Sir Banaster [sic] and Lady Tarleton arrived on Thursday, at their house in Berkeley-square, from their seat in Scotland.

Morning Chronicle, 20th June 1818

Susan Priscilla, after her marriage in 1798, became religious and befriended Mary Robinson’s daughter; in 1804 Wild Wreath, a collection of poems put together by Maria Elizabeth Robinson included engravings from drawings by Mrs B. Tarleton along with poems written by ‘Susan’, which hints at a friendship just a few years after the baptism of Banina Georgiana between the Tarleton’s and the girl who reportedly was the cause of Banastre’s split with Mary Robinson.  Maria Elizabeth Robinson herself just predeceased Banina Georgiana for she was buried in Old Windsor (where her mother lay) on the 26th January 1818.  Her will, written in the August of 1801, left all she owned to Mrs Elizabeth Weale who shared her cottage on Englefield Green.

Is it just possible that the name Kolina is hiding the identity of someone else, someone close to Mary Robinson?

The Thunderer, 1782. Satirical print featuring the Prince of Wales, Colonel Banastre Tarleton and Mary (Perdita) Robinson. Ban Tarleton is boasting of his exploits to the prince, outside a brothel named the Whirligig.
Satirical print featuring the Prince of Wales, Colonel Banastre Tarleton and Mary (Perdita) Robinson, 1782. (Library of Congress prints)

Mary Robinson: Selected Poems, edited by Judith Pascoe

30 thoughts on “The Illegitimate child of Major General Banastre Tarleton

    1. All Things Georgian

      Thank you so much for your very kind comments. Although our background is in genealogy, we share a passion for history, especially the Georgian Era. You could say we’re just extremely nosey which means that when presented with even the tiniest snippet of information we simply pull it apart until we have unearthed as many facts as possible. This was very much the case with Tartleton, we knew he had an illegitimate child, this was ‘common knowledge’ but virtually no facts about the child were known, so using our genealogy background we set about establishing the facts, having done this she became worthy of a mention on our blog.


  1. This Tarleton man is the same fellow who is the Evil Britisher in Mel Gibson’s “Patriot”. However, there is another side to Tarleton. He was first and foremost a gentleman: the British made a deal with American slaves, that if they aided the British, Britain would ensure their freedom after the Revolution War. The American victors were most uninterested in the fate of the slaves, and were perfectly willing to forget this agreement. However, Tarleton did not forget that deal, and insisted that freedom for these people be kept on the negotiating table. As a result, the now ex slaves travelled north to Britain’s Nova Scotia.

    Thus, his continued interest in his illegitimate daughter should not be a surprise.: Tarleton was a gentleman, who did not forget his obligations!


    1. All Things Georgian

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on our blog. Tarleton certainly did have ‘bad press’ during his life, but that was largely in reference to his career and politics. We agree that there is no reason to assume that he forgot his obligations, in fact with reference to Banina, quite the contrary appears to have been the case.


      1. Christine Tarleton

        Well I am not sure you will read this, but My husband had no idea Banister had a child. This was interesting and we will share it with our Family…C Tarleton


        1. Sarah Murden

          Thank you so much for your message, we’re absolutely thrilled to be able to add something to your family tree. If you find out any more about the child please do let us know.


      1. Sarah Murden

        Thank you so much for such a fascinating question, to which appears to be no straightforward answer and not one we felt able to answer, so we asked one of our lovely friends in America for help and here is his reply –

        From 1774 to 1784, a person could go from being a slave in the British Empire to a slave in the independent state of Massachusetts, a slave of the United States of America, and finally a citizen of the United States of America without ever leaving home.

        Or, if enslaved to an official working with the British Army could move from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia to New York and yet always be a slave within the British Empire’.


      2. James Dark

        Good point. At that juncture in history, England had freed the slaves in their home islands in 1776, but waited until the 1830’s to do a compensated emancipation plan in their colonies. What was considered to inadequate compensation led to the formation of the Transvall and the Orange Free State. Which led to two Boer Wars.

        Interesting how history can bite you in the ass sometimes.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Robert Cook

      And yet, Tarleton stood for MP representing Liverpool on a pro-slavery platform and was well known in his time for mocking and taunting abolitionists.



        A most unfortunate consequence of the relative morays of the 1800s. How anyone could ever indenture or kept another soul captive for their labour is deeply frustrating to all Christian and good souls disposed to a higher Spiritual consciousness. Well done William Wilberforce.

        The new world Tarltons [ sans the ‘e’ ] in the colonies of New England stridently opposed and fought slavery. We left native England in the 1670s and 80s and arrived in Portsmouth, NH and upon the island of New Castle, NH. Many of us fought in the Revolutionary War [ sorry about that ] and the Civil War, to free our brothers and sisters in the south and save our Constitutional Republic.

        Sir Banastre Tarleton is sadly often mischaracterised as giving ‘No Quarter’ as a highly effective cavalry officer and defamed in the movie ‘The Patriot’ erroneously burning down a church with innocents inside.

        Tarltons have always served our country’s of origin with military distinction and Esprit de corps standard of conduct.

        Wish the readers and historians of All Things Georgian warmly and well.

        Peter Banastre Tarlton, Esq.


  2. This is fascinating. Banastre is my 4 x Great Uncle and I have always been interested in him. I always try to visit the National Gallery when in London to pay my respects! I didn’t know about Banina either. Thank you for doing the research and posting it.


    1. Joanne Major

      You are welcome, and thank you. Banastre is a really interesting character and glad we could add to your knowledge of him. 🙂


    2. I’m a Tarleton. Was told for many years, by my Uncles and dad, that we are descendants of Banastre. Found out with Ancestry, we are related to King Henry VIII. Now, I’m not sure if we have any connections with Banastre. Would love to know.


      1. Sarah Murden

        Apart from the illegitimate child Banstre and his wife didn’t have any children, so sadly there would be no legitimate descendants and it appears he had no siblings, so no possible ancestors via that route either; but having Henry VIII as an ancestor is very impressive 🙂


  3. bk

    Didn’t Colonel B., son of John Tarlton, Mayor of Liverpool in 1764, have seven siblings including brothers John, Thomas, & Clayton?


    1. Sarah Murden

      John Tarleton, a merchant married Jane Parker of Cuerdon, Lancashire in 1751. They went on to have 6 known children – Thomas (1753), Bannistre (aka Banastre) born 28th January 1754, but not baptised until 21st August 1754; John (1755); William (1758); Clayton (1762); Bridgett (1760) and Ann, for whom no baptism can be found, but she died a spinster and left a will in which she named her siblings. The children were baptised at St. George, Liverpool and Banastre was named for his maternal grandfather, Banastre Parker.


  4. Peter Banastre Tarlton, Esq

    Dear Sarah,

    Thank you for your contributions to the Tarleton genealogy and all things Georgian. My side of the family left England in 1671 for the colonies.

    Trying trace our surname spelling back to the time when we departed for Portsmouth, NH and Virginia colonies. Would be very appreciative if you had additional information and or sources.

    Typically, Tarltons in London dropped the ‘e’ from our surname and Merseyside Tarletons keep the ‘e’. In the colonies, Portsmouth NH Tarlton / Tarletons had both spellings, as did the southern families.

    Kind regards and keep well,



    1. Sarah Murden

      Dear Peter

      Thank you so much for your message, unfortunately we only looked that the immediate family rather than the wider family, but hopefully one of our lovely readers will see you comment and be able to help. Good luck with your research 🙂


  5. robert j. walters

    I wonder if there are any descendants in New Kent County, Virginia where Tarleton raped and burned during the Revolutionary War ???


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