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In 1779 occurred an event that was to have a profound influence on
his subsequent career. He met Anne Phillips, the young daughter of
Nathaniel Phillips the Jamaica merchant, and fell in love with her.
The father frowned upon the idea of a match, in view of his daughter's
age and the fact that Cameron had little to offer, and had, apparently,
no prospects. But Cameron was not to be denied, and he and Anne
eloped to Gretna Green where they went through a form of marriage.
Such is the family tradition. However, the registers of Marylebone
church in London, reveal a more prosaic story, and record that on
16 September 1779 Anne Phillips was married by banns to Alan Cameron
of Erracht in Scotland. This does not entirely dispose of the runaway
match, for I am informed that several Gretna Green marriages were
subsequently regularised by a Church ceremony.
The Historical Records of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
published in 1909, contains an excellent reproduction of a miniature
of Anne, and a silhouette of her husband, the latter being identical with
the one described at the beginning of this essay.
They had seven children-Phillips, born in 1782; Donald; Nathaniel
born at London in 1787; Ewen; Marcella; Anne; and Diana. During
their early married life they lived partly at Erracht (where Alan had
acquired a lease which unhappily involved him in a feud with his clan
chieftain) and in Gloucester Place, Portman Square, where the Jamaica
merchant had settled. Alan still pined for military adventure, but
remained unemployed
In 1793 Cameron's great chance came. On 17 August of that year
he received letters of service for raising a corps of highlanders. The
regiment was to be raised without the usual allowance of levy money;
it was to be recruited within three months, and when established to
be designated the 79th or Cameronian Volunteers, with Cameron as
its commander.
The raising of a regiment involved a considerable outlay of money,
far beyond the resources of Cameron's purse. However, Nathaniel
Phillips rose nobly to the occasion, and as a result of his practical help,
and the great popularity of his son-in-law in the Highlands, the 79th
was quickly formed, and on 3 January 1794 embodied at Glasgow as
an effective corps consisting of 1,000 men officered by old half-pay
officers of the American War, with Alan Cameron as Lieutenant-Colonel
Commandant. When we reflect that this was achieved without any
government bounty, it is clear that the measure of Nathaniel Phillips'
assistance must have been decisive.
The subsequent conduct of the unit, both under its old designation
of 79th Foot (Cameronian Volunteers) and its newer one of Queen's
Own Cameron Highlanders, provides a distinguished chapter in the
annals of British arms. In 1794 the regiment served in Ireland where
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