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Finding Aid for the Elizabeth Marsh Narrative of her Captivity in Barbary [...et al.], [between 1760 and 1795]
170/604  
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Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Elizabeth Marsh Narrative of her Captivity in Barbary [...et al.]
    Date (inclusive): [between 1760 and 1795]
    Collection number: 170/604
    Creator: Marsh, Elizabeth
    Extent: 106 leaves extant, 3 have been removed: paper; 240 x 190 mm. bound to 249 x 200 mm.
    Abstract: This bound manuscript contains two separate narratives. Narrative of her Captivity in Barbary, a draft of the earliest Barbary captivity narrative to be published by an Englishwoman, details Elizabeth Marsh's 1956 capture by pirates. The second piece, Journal of a Voyage by Sea from Calcutta to Madras, and of a Journey from thence back to Dacca, written considerably later circa 1775, describes her travels around India.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Ex libris John Marsh [author's brother]; his bookplate on upper paste-down (see also note on leaf 69v). Library's acquisition source and date unknown.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Elizabeth Marsh Narrative of her Captivity in Barbary [...et al.] (Collection Number 170/604). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    Processing Note

    Cataloged by Manushag Powell, with assistance from Jain Fletcher and Laurel McPhee, July 2004, in the Center For Primary Research and Training (CFPRT).

    Biography

    Elizabeth Marsh, a middle-class Englishwoman, was born in 1735 to a naval dockyard manager and his wife. She was living with her parents in Minorca when the start of the Seven Years' War in 1756 forced the family to relocate to Gibraltar. On a sailing voyage to visit friends in England, her ship was attacked by corsairs. Marsh, along with the other passengers and sailors, was taken captive and sent to Sallee (Salé) and then Marrakesh (Marrakech), Morocco. Her sufferings were politically motivated; the soon-to-be sultan, Sidi Mohammed, had responded to the insulting behavior of an envoy of the British government with a wave of aggressive captive-taking. Marsh was ransomed by the British government after several months, and returned safely to Gibraltar.
    During her initial voyage, she was traveling (she states) under the protection of a family friend, a young merchant named James Crisp. The two claimed to be siblings upon the commencement of their captivity, and later claimed to be married, ostensibly to protect Marsh from the sexual interest of Sidi Mohammed. Marsh narrates that, by repeating some words spoken to her by one of his women, she converted or was tricked into converting to Islam. It took a great deal of tears and pleading to convince Mohammed to respect her preference of remaining a "married" Christian woman. After her release, Marsh returned to her parents and married Crisp legally. The pair settled in England until financial troubles forced Crisp to relocate to India, where his wife eventually joined him and where the two remained until the ends of their lives. If her journal of her tour of the Indian coast is any indication, her traumatic Barbary experience did not quash her taste for adventure, and she seems to have enjoyed traveling despite the dangers and discomforts she sometimes faced. The couple had two children, a son and a daughter. Both their son and son-in-law worked for the East India Company.
    Some of the details of Marsh's life as she gives it in these works have indeed been verified (see Linda Colley's work), although this does not mean that all aspects of her narratives are invariably true.

    Scope and Content

    The first account, Narrative of her Captivity in Barbary (1r-59), begins with the author's capture by Barbary pirates. Marsh describes her captivity and her travels therein from Sallee (Salé) to Marrakesh (Marrakech) to Safee (Safi), and her eventual return to Gibraltar. The second, Journal of a Voyage by Sea from Calcutta to Madras, and of a Journey from thence back to Dacca (69v-102r), details her travels around India in an effort to improve her health. The manuscript records the places she visited, and her impressions of the climate, people, and landscape.

    Organization and Arrangement

    The narrative sections are as follows:
    • Narrative I: Narrative of her Captivity in Barbary (ca. 1760).
    • Narrative II: Journal of a Voyage by Sea from Calcutta to Madras, and of a Journey from thence back to Dacca (ca. 1775).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Manuscripts.

    Related Material

    Bound Manuscripts Collection (Collection 170)  . Available at the Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.