Jane Welsh Carlyle

Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish historian and essayist who became known as "the Sage of Chelsea", in 1826 married Jane Baillie Welsh, the only daughter of a Haddington doctor, living in Lodge Street. This followed an introduction by his friend Edward Irving, the revivalist minister. As a girl she had been an apt pupil and a daredevil tomboy who had practised in secret to be able to cross the Tyne by the parapet of the Nungate bridge - just like any boy! Her best friends at school were Agnes and Janet Burns, the daughters of Gilbert Burns (brother of Robert Burns) who was factor at Lennoxlove.

From 1834 to her death in 1866 they lived at Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, where they received the leading men of letters. Jane was forthright and quick-witted but declined to become a writer, despite her husband's promptings. The marriage was a difficult one. Carlyle was a withdrawn and even tormented man but she supported him loyally through his depressions and chronic ill health. After Jane's sudden death, he wrote little more; there is an anguished memorial of her in his Reminiscences (1881).

Jane's memorial stone lies between pillars in the north of the choir, close to the Lauderdale Aisle. On it a bronze tablet bears the following appreciation from her husband.

"Here now rests Jane Welsh Carlyle, Spouse of Thomas Carlyle, Chelsea, London. She was born at Haddington, 14th July, 1801; only child of the above John Welsh and of Grace Welsh, Caplegil Dumfriesshire, his wife. In her bright existence she had more sorrows than are common; but also a soft invincibility, a clearness of discernment, and a noble loyalty of heart, which are rare. For forty years she was the true and ever loving helpmate of her husband; and by act and word, unweariedly forwarded him, as none else could, in all of worthy that he did or attempted. She died at London, 21st April, 1866; suddenly snatched away from him, and the light of his life as if gone out."