NameMary Ann Forbes , 938
Spouses
FatherJohn Andrew Biggs , 602 (1787-1844)
MotherBarbara Mouat , 599 (~1793-)
Family ID299
Marr Date9 Dec 1844
Notes for Mary Ann Forbes
Name:
Mary Ann FORBES

Event type:
Biography
Start date:

Start year:
1825
End date:

End year:

Biographical notes:
Bap 13 Feb 1825 Calcutta, dau of William Nairn, Lt, Ben Eng N/1/13 f.407; m 9 Dec 1844 St John's, Calcutta, John Peter Mouat BIGGS, Lt, 38th Mad NI N/1/66 f.213

Transcribed by:
British Library
India Office Records Reference:

N/1/13 f.407 
N/1/66 f.213 
Source name:

Source year:

Source edition:

Presidency:
Bengal
Notes for John Peter (Spouse 1)
United Service Magazine 1857
To be Majors-
Capt. John Peter Biggs, Madras Infantry

Extract from Imperial Vancouver Island: Who was Who 1850-1950 by JF Bosher
Records show him joining the 38th regiment, Madras Native Infantry, in 1836 and promoted to lieutenant on 8 october 1839 and to major on 20 october 1856 or 17 april 1857. The 1861 census for the Channel Islands records him, aged 41, as Major retired HMEIS born at Agra, India, living at 1 Paxton (Baxter?) Place, St Peter’s Port, Guernsey, with his wife Sarah, aged 26, born in Ireland, and 4 children: John W. Biggs, age 12, born Nursingpore, India; Mary Biggs age 9, born Hampatre?, India; Jane Biggs,2,born at St Peter’s Port, Guernsey; and Charles E Biggs, 8mo, born St Peter’s Port. With them was John’s mother Barbara Biggs, 68, “Gent. Officer’s widow” born England and his sister in law Margaret Forbes,36,born at Calcutta,India. Sarah must have been John’s 2nd wife unless she gave birth to John W, Biggs when she was 14. On 12 May 1863 he was appt. Justice of the Peace for Chemainus and Salt Spring Island. The widow Augusta Mouat Biggs recorded in 1891 census with 2 children born India, a third born locally all living with 3 servants at Bideford, Devon, was probably the widow of Colonel James Andrews Mouat Biggs of the Bengal Army who died at Cheltenham on Oct 26, 1887.

hompi.sogang.ac.kr/anthony/GrigsbyMaryTaylor.htm
"Mary Linley" was the stage name taken by Hilda Mouat Biggs at the start of her acting career in about 1912, and after her marriage she seems always to have called herself Mary (Linley) Taylor. She was born on September 14, 1889, at her parents' home in Abbey Row, Westport, Malmesbury. Her birth was belatedly registered in Malmesbury in June 1890, and that of her younger brother Ronald was registered in December the same year. The birth of Ethel, the sister she calls “Betty” in Chain of Amber (p49) was registered there in June 1888, while those of her younger brother Eric and her younger sister Una (who later lived with her in Korea and California) were registered in Cheltenham in September 1896 and March 1898, while the family were living at 2, Fauconberg Villas, Cheltenham. On the headstone in Hillcrest Cemetery, Mendocino, Mendocino County, California, where Mary Linley Taylor and Una Mouat Biggs share a grave, their birth dates are given as 1889 and 1897. Their parents were Dr. Charles Edward Forbes Mouat-Biggs and Mary Louisa Tickell, who were married in Cheltenham on July 5, 1887. The Tickell family line is a complex one, needing to be developed on a seperate page

            Regarding Mary's paternal grandfather, there is a record online that John Peter Mouat Biggs joined the army in India in 1836 and on 8 Oct 1839 was promoted lieutenant in the Thirty-Eighth Regiment Native Infantry (Rifle Company). Captain John Peter Mouat Biggs of the Madras Infantry was appointed Major on April 17, 1857. Much later, the April 7, 1861, census of Guernsey (Channel Islands) shows this same John Biggs (there is not enough room on the printed form for the full names) living with his family at 1 Paxton Place, St. Peter Port. He himself (Major Retired, HMEIS, aged 41) was born in Agra (?) East Indies but his wife Sarah (only 26) had been born in Ireland (1881 census says Dublin). Her unmarried sister Margaret Forbes (34) was living with them, and she was born in Calcutta.  (The 'Forbes' in Hilda's father's name is therefore his mother's maiden name.) They had 4 children at the time, the eldest a son, John W. (12, born in Nursingpore, India), Mary (9, born in Hampstre?, India) and Jane (2, born in Guernsey), as well as a son Charles E. aged 8 months, Hilda's future father, born therefore in 1860. The 1891 census of England confirms that Hilda's father was indeed born in Guernsey (Channel Islands). 

            In 1863, we find a report that "Major John Peter Mouat Biggs of Chemainus” was briefly appointed "justice of the peace for Chemainus and Salt Spring Island," where a series of violent murders had occurred. Chemainus is on Vancouver Island, Canada. It is very hard not to think he was Mary’s grandfather, Charles’s father, but equally hard to understand such a radical move away from retirement in Guernsey. A recent book, The Terror of the Coast: land alienation and colonial war on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, 1849-1863, by Chris Arnett (Talonbooks, 1999), a detailed reconstruction of the war between the First Nations and the colonial government of Vancouver Island, says that a local commander, named Douglas, "appointed as Justice of the Peace Major John Peter Mouat Biggs, a retired East India Company officer who had recently preempted land on the Chemainus Prairie." He had presumably found life in Guernsey too restricted and begun a new adventure in Canada. By the time of  the 1881 census he had died and his widow was living at 50 Cambridge Gardens, Kensington, London with May (a daughter born 1852 in Madras from John Peter's first marriage), Jane and Charles (already a 'student of medicine'), and  her sister  Margaret (noted as 'daughter of  Major General,' suggesting he was Major-General William Forbes, 1796-1855, of the Bengal Engineers, designer of St. Paul's Cathedral, Calcutta).

When he was 11, Hilda's father entered Wellington College, at least for the year 1873-4. In 1884 he was living at 62, Westbourne Park, Paddington, when he became a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians. On the day of the 1891 census, the family was living in a house named Milverton, 17 Abbey Row, Westport, in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, where Hilda's father was working as a 'general practitioner' (family doctor). He was then 30. Soon after that they moved to Cheltenham.  In 1899, he became a member of the Clinical Society of London. Mary’s father’s name is on a monument in Cheltenham listing all who served in South Africa as volunteers during the Boer War (1899-1902), "2nd. Volunteer Brigade Gloucestershire Regiment Capt. C.E.F. Mouat-Biggs," and he is recorded as having sailed from Southampton on February 17, 1900, on board the Guelph. Mary Taylor’s book includes a photo of the imposing house, Milverton, where the family lived in Cheltenham. It later became a hotel and then the headquarters of a food company. The 1901 census shows that on that day, Hilda and Ethel were both boarding with Louisa E. Tickell (aged 70, 'living on own means,' their maternal grandmother) in a large boarding house known as Ashburnham House, Clarence Parade, Portsmouth, (then part of the county of Southampton) that was run by 3 sisters by the name of Thorn. Their mother, with Eric and Eva and a cook, 2 housemaids and a nurse, were living at Milverton in Cheltenham. We do not know why the family was divided in this way. In 1913, Charles Edward Forbes Mouat-Biggs was enrolled at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and in later years he published a number of papers on topics indicating an interest in scorpions and in Nicaragua.

            Mary’s silence about her father’s family is frustrating since she explains nothing about the family's international background. She simply says that among visitors to the house were “soldiers, sailors, big game hunters, explorers and scientists,” including the explorer Captain Scott. The house was full of exotic objects from Africa as well as the East, China as well as India. Most telling, though, is her mention of the arrival of a huge elephant’s foot, “the largest elephant ever shot in India,” shot by her father and others on the Maharaja of Patiala’s shikar. Another of the feet had been sent to King Edward VII, no less! That being the case, the Maharaja in question can be identified as Bhupinder Singh, “best known for his extravagance, and for being a cricketer.” He had become Maharja in 1900, on the death of his father, “a Council of Regency ruled in his name until he took partial powers shortly before his 18th birthday on 1 October 1909, and was invested with full powers by the Viceroy of India, the 4th Earl of Minto, on 3 November 1910.” Mary’s family had high connections in India, perhaps more from the Tickell side than from the Mouat Biggs.

The Mouat Biggs family


Mouat Biggs is an extremely unusual name. Hilda's family is almost the only known example, and although Hilda's father hyphenated it in legal documents, in fact "Mouat" was almost certainly not part of the legal family name; although the children of several generations were all registered with it, the legal name was simply Biggs. 


Going back one generation, we find that on 16 Feb 1817, the India Office Ecclesiastical Returns-Bengal Presidency registered the birth of Barbara Achmuty Mouat Biggs, daughter of J. A. Biggs and his wife Barbara. No further information is given, but it is very tempting to think that the mother’s maiden name was Mouat and that they decided to give both their names to their children. This would seem to be the origin of the Mouat-Biggs line. John Peter Mouat Biggs would then have been a younger brother (born 1820) of Barbara Achmuty. The 68-year-old (now widowed) mother of John (Peter Mouat) Biggs, Barbara, (68, Gent(leman) Officer's Widow, born in England)  was living with John Biggs and his family (2 sons, 2 daughters) in Guernsey at the census in 1861.

Another son of J. A. Biggs and Barbara, James Andrews Mouat Biggs, died in Cheltenham on October 26, 1887, reportedly aged 57, having been born in 1830 (but another record says he was born in 1824) in Cawnpore, India. He left for India from Southampton on the Hindustan in January 1848 as a cadet. The London Gazette of April 17, 1863, records that "Lieutenant James Andrews Mouat Biggs of the Bengal army, late of the 10th Native Infantry, having completed 15 years' service, is to become Captain by brevet." His death certificate records the final rank of "Colonel, Bengal Staff Corps." At the end of his career, at the 1881 census he was living in Bideford  (Devon) with his wife (Augusta Monnat, born in Ireland 1837) and 3 children (2 daughters born in the Punjab in 1863, 1868, and one son, Ernest, aged 9, who died 03/05/1916 in the Somme during the first World War, a Second Lieutenant in the Lincolnshire Regiment, named on the Torquay war memorial, who was born in Cheltenham in 1872). One of his sons (name unknown), born in April 1865, studied for a time at Cheltenham College (date unknown). The death of James Andrews Mouat Biggs was registered by his son J. M. Mouat Biggs of Bideford, probably the J. Mouat Biggs (age unknown) who was studying at Newton Abbot College (Devon) in 1877-80. John Alborough Mouat-Biggs, Captain Royal Irish Regiment, who was killed in the first World War 22/03/1918 aged 22, and is buried at Honnechy (France) was perhaps another son of this family. Curiously, the death certificate for James Andrews Mouat Biggs indicates that he died at The Lypiatts, Cheltenham, which was (until it was sold in 1904) the address of the Tickell family. The wedding of his brother Charles Edward Forbes Mouat-Biggs had been celebrated in Cheltenham in July of that year, and the certificate says he had been suffering from an abdominal cancer for the previous 6 months, so perhaps he had come up from Bideford for the wedding, then stayed on. We have no information as yet on the nature of the relationship between the Tickells and the Mouat-Biggs prior to the wedding. The shared India connections might have brought them close.

The only other traceable person with the Mouat-Biggs name outside of Hilda's immediate family is 'Tim' Edward Mouat-Biggs  (1919-1997), "After 22 years in the South African Air Force Tim founded his own aviation workshop. He flew cropsprayers and dabbled in aerial photography on the side. But most of all, Tim will be remembered for his deep devotion to gliding. Having built and flown his own gliders, he subsequently became the agent for Schempp-Hirth in South Africa. A South African and Rhodesian (Zimbabwe) national champion many times over, Tim represented his country at several World Gliding Championships with distinction." He died in a mid-air collision while gliding. His brother might have been the John Mouat-Biggs who died in South Africa in 1946, and they were both perhaps sons of Hilda's brother Ronald, himself a military officer during and after the first World War. A "Mouat-Biggs J." is among the second world war Commonwealth dead buried in Padua, he was perhaps a brother of this Edward. In 1959, we read that "Ronald Mouat-Biggs, High-Wycombe garages superintendent of the Thames Valley Traction Co., Ltd., for 30 years, has retired."

Name: Mary Ann FORBES

Event type: Biography
Start date:

Start year: 1825
End date:

End year:

Biographical notes:
Bap 13 Feb 1825 Calcutta, dau of William Nairn, Lt, Ben Eng N/1/13 f.407; m 9 Dec 1844 St John's, Calcutta, John Peter Mouat BIGGS, Lt, 38th Mad NI N/1/66 f.213

Transcribed by:
British Library
India Office Records Reference:

N/1/13 f.407 
N/1/66 f.213 
Source name:

Source year:

Source edition:

Presidency:
Bengal


Name: John Peter Mouat BIGGS

Event type: Biography
Start date:

Start year: 1819
End date:

End year: 1864
Biographical notes:
Madras Army; b 15 Oct & bap 2 Dec 1819/1 May 1820 Agra/Meerut, s of John Andrew, Maj, Ben H.Art, & Barbara N/1/11 ff.76, 422; L/MIL/9/184 ff.259-67; ret 20 Oct 1856, d 20 Aug 1864; m (1) 9 Dec 1844 Mary Anne FORBES (b 1824, d 1852); Mary b 1845 & d 1846; William b 21 Mar 1847, d 31 Jul 1848; John William Forbes b 13 Nov 1848; James F. b 9 Sep 1850, d 31 Dec 1852; Mary Catherine b 27 Mar 1852, d 5 Feb 1939; m (2) 11 Nov 1847 Sarah Brett (b 30 May 1834, d 1 Mar 1839); Jane W.R. b 17 Aug 1858, d 30 Sep 1936; Charles Edward Forbes b 9 Jul 1860

Transcribed by:
British Library
India Office Records Reference:

N/1/11 ff.76,422 
L/MIL/9/184 ff.259-67 
L/AG/23/10/1-2 
Source name:

Source year:

Source edition:

Presidency:
Bengal
Last Modified 18 Nov 2013Created 17 Nov 2017 using Reunion for Macintosh