Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Forgotten Princess

Everyone knows about Pocahontas, the Powhatan Indian princess who ended her life in Gravesend, but few know of Paskwâwimostos, the Cree Indian girl buried in the same graveyard.

She was the daughter of Mahihkan (Grey Wolf), chief of the Cree in Saskatchewan, when in 1701 she caught the eye of George Montagu Danderville Herbert, youngest son of the Marquess of Powis, a forty-year old adventurer exploring the area in the company of an intrepid Hudson Bay Company employee, Henry Kelsey.

Although Herbert had a wife and three children at home in Kent, he took the beautiful young princess back with him and kept her, with a few personal servants, in a lodge in the manor grounds, where she gave birth to two of his children. He also changed her name, which he found difficult to pronounce (it means 'great bison') to the somewhat easier 'Meg'.

Herbert, however, was not an ideal partner. His drunkeness, his many infidelities, his occasional outbursts of violence, the scandal of his openly kept mistress, gave him an ill name in the country round. No respectable landowner would entertain him - no respectable lady would entertain Meg.

She grew bitter, frequently upbraiding him for taking her from her own country. He responded with blows, and then stopped visiting her, reducing her servants to one and restricting her allowance. Her children were taken away to be schooled elsewhere. She never saw her two sons again. Worn down and heartbroken, she died in 1712, aged only around 30.

Despite her unorthodox life, there was widespread pity for her, and a large crowd attended her funeral in Gravesend. When Herbert arrived he was hissed by the crowd and stones and ordure thrown at his carriage.

The Gravesend Recorder printed a special broadsheet edition covering her funeral.

The heading : "Cad Buries Cree Meg"


Anonymous said...

Who writes your materiel!?

Loving your work! Lets do lunch!!

Mr Showbiz Agent

tim said...

For that you should suffer....

Not In My Backyard said...

lol, i just got that.

Ian said...

Naughty Laban, get back to work, you've missed two important stories which have strolled right up your street:


Ross F said...

I was reading intently, feeling sorry for the poor woman right up to the punchline. I feel suckered.