Caroline Charteris-Wemyss-Douglas

Other names: 
Lady Caroline Charteris
12 January 1816 - 2nd September 1891

Caroline was born on 12th January 1816, and baptized on 27th February the same year at Aberlady, East Lothian, Scotland.

Her birth entry in the Old Parish Record for Aberlady on the page beginning Dec 1815 states 'Born 12th Jan.y, baptized 27th. Feb.y, Caroline, a Daughter to the Right Hon.ble Francis Charteris Earl of Wemyss, & Margaret Campbell Countess of Wemyss his Spouse – Witness, The Marquis of Douglas & Rev. Mr. Alison, Episcopal Chapel Edin.r'

Her parents were Francis Charteris-Wemyss-Douglas, Earl of Wemyss of Gosford House, Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland (born 15 Apr 1772, died 28 Jun 1853 at Gosford House) and Margaret Campbell of Shawfield, Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, Scotland (born around 1778, died 25 Jan 1850 at Gosford House). They married on 31 Aug 1794.

She had 2 brothers and 7 sisters, including Eleanor whose husband named Port Ellen village and lighthouse on the Isle of Islay after her (and Port Charlotte after his mother).

The Court Journal (Gazette of the Fashionable World) contains the names of Lady Caroline Charteris and Lady Jane Charteris, having attended The Queen’s Drawing Room on Thursday 14th May 1835 and having been presented to the Queen.

There are a few recorded examples of her benevolence. In 1863 Bishop Tait established the Bishop of London’s Mission Fund. ‘‘The Marquis of Westminster gave a princely £10,000....There were also a myriad of more modest donations down to Lady Caroline Charteris who subscribed a guinea a year.’

In an article about St Peter’s Church, Vauxhall, there is an entry in relation to helping the poor of the parish which states that the first vicar of the church, Rev. George W. Herbert in 1886 ‘managed to secure donations of soup and blankets from Lady Caroline Charteris and Lady Mary Gordon and brandy was presented by Mr Burnett, the owner of a distillery in the parish and a previous benefactor to the parish soup kitchen...’

In 1889 Edward Clifford writes about a journey to the Hawaian Islands to deliver gurjun oil to ameliorate the condition of lepers there, under the care of Father Damien. Other items sent by friends included ‘...then a magic-lantern with Scriptural slides, which I had used the winter before during a Mission tour in India, then numbers of coloured prints ; and finally an ariston from Lady Caroline Charteris, which would play about forty tunes by simply having its handle turned. Father Damien immediately began to play it, and before we had been at the settlement half an hour he was showing his boys how to use it’.

Later that year, a newspaper article reported on a meeting attended by Caroline with Lord Wolseley and others, including Octavia Hill whose idea it was, to discuss the formation of a Cadet Corps to promote a sense of corporate life in the working lads of the neighbourhood at Borough, Southmark.

Caroline remained unmarried, and died on 2nd Sep 1891.

George MacDonald wrote a poem in her memory:

In Memorium: Lady Caroline Charteris

The mountain-stream may humbly boast
For her the loud waves call;
The hamlet feeds the nation's host,
The home-farm feeds the hall;

And unto earth heaven's Lord doth lend
The right, of high import,
The gladsome privilege to send
New courtiers to Love's court.

Not strange to thee, O lady dear,
Life in that palace fair,
For thou while waiting with us here
Didst just as they do there!

Thy heart still open to receive,
Open thy hand to give,
God had thee graced with more than leave
In heavenly state to live!

And though thou art gone up so high
Thou art not gone so far
But that thy love to us comes nigh,
As starlight from a star.

And ours must reach where'er thou art,
In far or near abode,
For God is of all love the heart,
And we are all in God.

George Douglas Campbell Duke of Argyll also wrote a four page book of Lines in her memory.

One of her sisters, Jane (Lady Dundas) donated £6,500 to build and furnish a wing of the Edinburgh Sick Children's Hospital at Sciennes, naming it the Lady Caroline Charteris Memorial Wing in Caroline's memory. She also endowed £12,083 to provide an annuity to fund the wing, The Lady Caroline Charteris Endowment Fund. A plaque on the outside wall of the wing states:


Old Parish Records Pre 1855 Births and Baptisms, Scotland
Caroline Charteris-Wemyss-Douglas Female 1816 - 1891
Family Search Website: Community Trees
Caroline Charteris Wemyss 1816 - 1891 Website Baptismal year to be corrected to 1816 Entry for her sister: 10.Jane Charteris Wemyss(Douglas) 1811 - 1897 to be corrected and changed to 10.Jane Charteris Wemyss(Dunbar) 1811 - 1897
Sick Kids hospital: At the forefront of child medicine for last 150 years
Newspaper Article
The Queen's Drawing-Room
The Court Journal: Court Circular & Fashionable Gazette, Volume 7
St Peter’s, Vauxhall 26 February 2012
The Vauxhall Society Webiste
Lothian Health Services Archive
Lord Wolseley on Cadet Corps. Wanganui Herald, Volume XXIII, Issue 6892, 28 August 1889, Page 2
Paperspast Website
Back to the Future. Bishop Tait and the Mission to London illustrated from the Fulham Papers. Friends of Lambeth Library - 19/07/07
The Diocese of London Website
Full text of 'Father Damien and Others'
Internet Archives Website
Ariston Organette (Erhlich Patent)
Richards Radios Website