Waldie, Jane, later Watts, 1793—1826
by Benjamin Colbert
Jane Waldie was the youngest daughter of George Waldie (c.1850-1826) and Ann Waldie, née Ormston. Her sister was Charlotte Anne Eaton, née Waldie (1788-1859; ODNB), travel writer and novelist. Jane Waldie grew up at Tynemouth and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She learned to read early, and was precocious both in her general reading and her scrapbooking of poetical extracts. She was also powerfully attracted to painting and later studied under Alexander Nasmyth (1758-1840; ODNB). At sixteen, a visit to her brother and sister in Cornwall became a painting tour whose landscape studies extended to her return tour though South and North Wales.
With her sister Charlotte she visited Brussels in June 1815 and they soon found themselves in the path of the advancing French army. Evacuated to Antwerp, they were among the first to tour the battlefield at Waterloo after Napoleon’s defeat. Jane Waldie’s drawing of the battlefield was published in the company of Charlotte’s prose descriptions in the miscellany, The Battle of Waterloo … by a Near Observer, later in 1815. Jane Waldie, too, kept a journal of the tour; this, however, remained unpublished during her lifetime (extensive extracts were included in the Annual Biography and Obituary notice that appeared after her death).
The sisters made a second trip to the continent in 1816, visiting France and Switzerland before an extended stay in Italy. Late in 1817, Jane Waldie began treating with her sister’s publisher, John Murray, for the publication of her own journal of the Italian tour. The negotiations were protracted and the book did not appear until 1820, as Sketches Descriptive of Italy. In May 1818, she exhibited anonymously at Somerset House (using her initials only) a painting from the tour, The Temple of Paestum, assuring Murray that ‘when we get so far [in the production of Sketches] (if we can do) … you will see by my description of the place, that I have painted under the same impression’ (Letter, 18 May 1818).
On her return from Italy she met and became engaged to Captain George Augustus Watts of Darlington. They married the following year on 20 October 1819, and went to live at Langton-Grange, near Staindrop, in county Durham. She died on 6 July 1826 after an illness.
‘Mrs. Watts’. Annual Biography and Obituary 11 (1827): 121-42. Print.
Taylor, Clare L. 'Eaton [née Waldie], Charlotte Anne (1788–1859), writer'. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sept. 2004. Oxford University Press. Web. 2 Mar. 2018. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/28447
Waldie, Jane. Letters to John Murray. 1817-1818. MS. 41251. John Murray Archive. Natl. Lib. of Scotland, Edinburgh.
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