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Jemima Nicholas, Heroine of Fishguard

“This woman was called Jemima Fawr or Jemima the Great from her heroine acts, she having marched against the French who landed hereabout in 1797 and being of such personal powers as to be able to overcome most men in a fight. I recollect her well. She followed the trade of a shoemaker and made me, when a little boy, several pairs of shoes.”

Samuel Fenton, Vicar of Saint Mary’s, 1832

The battle of Fishguard has been memorialized in The Last Invasion Tapestry, the work of more than 70 women, who stitched for over 2 years to complete the project.

Jemima Nicholas (also spelled Niclas; baptised 2nd March 1755– died July 1832), also known as Jemima Fawr, was a Welsh heroine who led the women of Pembrokeshire into battle in what is known as the last invasion of Britain. When the contingent arrived, she reached for a pitchfork and captured 12 French soldiers who were drunk at the time. They surrendered shortly afterwards at the Royal Oak. She died at the age of 82, and a plaque in Fishguard is dedicated to her.
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The Battle of Fishguard

Another moment sufficed to explain the mystery. A dress of very elegant materials, but of very simple form, was drawn forth by the dainty hands of Mrs. Selby, and displayed before the wondering eyes of her mistress. It consisted of a very full short petticoat, the fabric of which it was composed being very rich satin, but the colour of that dark, sombre tint of which the homely duffle garments of the west-country peasants were generally made, before the high-pressure cotton-mills had caused all local peculiarities of costume to give place to their patterned calicos. The upper part of the dress was of very delicate cambric, and bore a picturesque approximation to the short-sleeved under-garment of the females of all lands.

But the most remarkable feature of the dress was a small red cloak, such as little Red Riding-Hood has made immortal throughout the world of Romance, but which has the more solemn stamp of historical renown accorded to it in the Duchy of Cornwall. The head-dress was a somewhat fantastical little black hat, fastened under the chin by a blue ribbon, while the dainty and diminutive black shoes, though the material was black satin, had buckles high up on the instep, and heels that marked a very remote period in the art of shoe-making, lint the whole dress, such as it was, would decidedly have required an interpreter, had it not been made familiar to the London world by a very popular picture recently exhibited, which bore in the catalogue the title of—”The Cornish Heroine.”

Mrs. Cuthbert certainly contemplated this dress with more surprise than satisfaction. She was by no means ignorant of the tradition which attributed the safety of the Cornish coast, at a moment of threatened invasion, to the imposing appearance of a multitude of red cloaks, so arranged as to make the wearers mistaken for cohorts of the stouter sex; but she could trace no connection between this old story, and her present position as the honoured mistress of a mansion favoured by the presence of the Sovereign.
-The days of the Regency, George the fourth; or, Town and country
By Frances Trollope, 1857

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