Charlotte Greentree

Charlotte was born on August 3, 1757, the fifth daughter of James Greentree and Margaret Bates. The next we hear of her is in 1785, when she received permission from the East India Company to proceed to Bengal from St. Helena.[1] At the age of 28, having not found a husband on the island, she is presumably off to the larger world of India as part of the so-called “fishing fleet” – one of the unwed females hoping to find a suitable spouse amongst the many single men serving there. Her other surviving sisters had long since married and left St. Helena.

The following year, she achieved her objective, by marrying George Drake of the Bombay Marine (the East India Company’s marine service) on the 26 November, 1786 in St. John’s Anglican Church in Calcutta.[2] As reported in one newspaper, George Drake was the son of a former East India Governor, possibly the Roger Drake who, in his will probated in 1765, mentions a son, George. [3]

East India News: George Drake, Esq. son of the Late Governor Drake, to Miss Charlotte Greentree, sister-in-law to Sir. Digby Dent.[4]

George did not survive for even a year after the marriage, as he is recorded as being buried on 27 April 1787 in Fort William.[5]

A few months later, on 29 October of 1787, the widowed Charlotte was married to Charles Wyatt, a Lieutenant in the Bengal Engineers.[6] A member of a prominent British family of architects, he had come to India in 1781 (after an abortive attempt to get there in 1780, when his ship, the Mount Stuart, was captured by the combined French and Spanish fleets).[7] Although there is no evidence that Charles himself had architectural training, he spent much of his time in Calcutta working in this capacity.

Marquess Wellesley later wrote, ‘On my arrival at Fort William in 1798 I selected Captain Wyatt on account of his professional character and experience to carry into execution a plan … for the improvement of the public buildings of … Calcutta’. Wyatt’s main achievement was the building of the new Government House which was said to have cost the Company £180,000.[8]

Charles Wyatt was furloughed on 4 May 1804[9] until his retirement in 1806 and the Wyatts returned to England. As is so common for women of the period, the history that now remains is that of Charles, not of Charlotte. In 1812 Charles stood for Parliament and took the second seat for Sudbury in Suffolk. He represented the constituency in two successive parliaments. He was not an outstanding politician, making no known speech in the House and “Though Wyatt was described as a ‘liberal benefactor’ to the poor of Sudbury, ‘much beloved and respected by his constituents’, his links with the borough seem to have been limited to liberal entertainment at election time. “[10]

He had obviously made a significant fortune in India, as in 1811 the Wyatts bought the Ealing Grove estate, described as a mansion house and 64 acres.[11] Situated in the then rural village of Ealing in Middlesex, the house is described as an “elegant villa” and a “substantial and capacious residence.”[12]

When his uncle, the architect James Wyatt, died in 1813, Charles Wyatt made his home, Foley House in Portland Place, his London residence and lived there till his death in 1819.

March 13 At Foley-house, aged 60, Charles Wyatt, esq. late M.P. for Sudbury, Suffolk; to the poor of which town he was a most liberal benefactor. Mr. W. represented Sudbury in two successive Parliaments, and was much beloved and respected by his constituents. He was a candidate for Sudbury at the late elections, but was unsuccessful. (Gentleman’s Magazine, 1819, p. 377)

Charles was buried in the crypt of St. Marylebone parish church. When Charlotte died is not definitively known, although there is a strong possibility she is the Charlotte Wyatt, aged 72, of Earl’s Court, Brompton who was buried on 3 August, 1832 in St. Marylebone.

By the time Charles died, his business affairs had deteriorated. A codicil made in 1812 to his will of 1808 substantially reduced all the bequests he had left to his wife, children and sisters as he declared “I have sustained a devaluation in my pecuniary matters.” [13] Interestingly, there had also been developments in the lives of two of Charles’s and Charlotte’s children, which also necessitated changes to his original intentions. Their oldest son, Charles, was suffering from a mental illness that had made him incapable of managing his own affairs (see below) and daughter, Charlotte, had married without parental consent. (See her page, soon to come).

Charles and Charlotte had eight children, all born before the family’s return to England.[14]

Charles William, baptized 28 July, 1789 at Barrackpore, Bengal (now part of north Calcutta), by his chaplain uncle, Robartes Carr.[15] Little is known about this son, except for the description of his state of mental health in his father’s will in 1819: “…whereas my eldest son Charles Wyatt has been for some time past in a very imbecile state of mind so much so his recovery therefrom is doubtful and therefore incapable of managing his worldly affairs…”[16] His date of death is not known.

Henry Robartes, born 17 February, 1790 and baptized two days later in Calcutta.[17] This son went on to have distinguished career in the Life Guards and died in Paris in 1865. (See his own page)

Herbert, born 29 September, 1791 and baptized in Bengal 22 March, 1792.[18] He also joined the Life Guards and is listed by the War Office as a Captain in 1821. He describes himself in the 1851 English census as a Commission Agent for what appears to be timber. He is living at No. 9 Charlotte Place, St. George Hanover Square with his wife, Eliza (although no record has been found of a marriage), and her son.[19] The family has not been found in the 1861 census and by 1871 they have moved to Church Fields, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire and he describes himself as “Retired from H.M. Military Services.” Herbert died on 12 December, 1874, in London. Eliza followed him on the 24 March 1882. They are both buried in Brompton Cemetery.

On the 12th inst., at Highgate, Herbert Wyatt, Esq., formerly of the 2d Life Guards, aged eighty-four. (The Morning Post, Wednesday, December 16, 1874)

Augustus, born 9 September 1794 and baptized in March of the following year.[20]  In the 1851 English census he can be found in the Village of Weeford, Staffordshire, described as a “Gentleman Annuitant,” along with his wife, Mary – he had married Mary Symkin Nichols in 1829. It does not appear that he and Mary had children.

On the 23rd ult. at Weeford, by the Rev. J. Mucklestone, Augustus, the fourth son of the late Charles Wyatt, Esq. of Foley House, London to Mary, only child of the late Rev. Daniel Nichols, Rector of Grendon, Warwickshire. (The Derby Mercury, July 1, 1829)

Augustus was left a widower in 1859 and he is listed with his sister, Charlotte, at her home in the Gentleshaw Parsonage in the 1861 census; he is described as a “gentleman.” He died in 1878 and is buried in the Brompton Cemetery in London.[21]

July 21 at 23, Ossington-street, Bayswater, Augustus Wyatt, Esq., late of Clint Hill, Staffordshire, aged 83. (The Standard (London) July 26, 1878)

James Greentree, born 31 January 1796 and baptized 31 January 1797.[22] In 1814, James applied to the East India Company for employment as a Writer (a junior clerk). (See his own page)

Thomas, born 29 September 1797 and baptized 21 August 1799 in Calcutta.[27] He too joined the East India Company, but the fascinating tale of his marriage and subsequent divorce deserves a page of its own. (See his own page)

Marianne, born 9 January 1800 and baptized 1 September 1801 in Calcutta.[28] (See her own page)

Charlotte, born about 1801 has an even more interesting marital history than her brother, Thomas. (See her own page)

[1] 1785 (Index of Court Minutes B/99 1784-1785 IOR Indexes B/95-100)

[2] British Library, India Office Records: N/1/4 f.27. Available:

[3] 17 June 1765 Reference: PROB 11/909/284. Roger Drake is notorious as the Governor of Fort William whose actions led to the Siege of Calcutta. He afterwards fled and left many of those left behind to be imprisoned in the infamous “black hole of Calcutta.”

[4]Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser (London) August 17, 1787. Available: 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection Database.

[5] British Library, India Office Records: N/1/4/39 and Burial: 26th April 1787 Mr. George Drake, Lieut. in the Bombay Marine. T. Blanchard Chaplain. Bengal Burials, vol. 4, p. 39. British Library, India Office Records: N/1.

[6] “Marriages: 29th Oct 1787 Mr. Charles Wyatt, Lieut. of Engineers and Mrs. Charlotte Drake Widow.” British Library, India Office Records: N/1/4/f.36.

[7] Hodson, V.C.P. List of Officers of the Bengal Army, 1758-1834. London: Phillimore, 1957, v. 4, pp. 533-534.

[8] Charles Wyatt Biography. The History of Parliament. Available:

[9] Ibid.

[10] Charles Wyatt Biography. The History of Parliament. Available:

[11]‘Ealing and Brentford: Other Estates,’ A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 7: Acton, Chiswick, Ealing, and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesden. 1982, pp. 128-131. Available:

[12] Brady, John Henry. A New Pocket Guide to London and its Environs. London: John W. Parker, 1838, p. 240; Brayley, Edward Wedlake. London and Middlesex: or, An Historical, Commercial, & Descriptive Survey … Vol. 4. London: J. Harris et al, 1816, p. 335.

[13] Charles Wyatt Will PROB 11/1615/35

[14] There is evidence that Charles Wyatt had had an illegitimate son who died in 1786: Charles Wyatt, Inf, illeg s of Lt Charles, Eng. [No mother mentioned]. British Library, India Office Records: N/1/4/f.29.

[15] British Library, India Office Records :N/1/4 f.72.

[16] Charles Wyatt will, 1819. PROB 11/1615/35.

[17] British Library, India Office Records: N/1/4 f.102.

[18] British Library, India Office Records: N/1/4 f.72.

[19] Herbert’s stepson became Sir Henry Oakley (1823-1912), a prominent British railway administrator.

[20]British Library, India Office Records: N/1/4 f.72.

[21] Deceased Online. Available:

[22]British Library, India Office Records: N/1/4 f.72 and Biographical Notes, British Library, India Office Records: J/1/29 f.274.

[23] A General Register of the Hon’ble East India Company’s Civil Servants of the Bengal Establishment from 1790 to 1842… Calcutta, 1844, p. 433.

[24] The East India Directory and Registry… Various dates and publishers.

[25] Danvers, Frederick Charles. Memorials of Old Haileybury College. London: Constable, 1904, p. 350.

[26] Bengal, Past & Present: Journal of the Calcutta Historical Society: Vol. 42 ,1931, p. 8.

[27] British Library, India Office Records: N/1/4 f.72.

[28] Ibid.

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