36 free quilt blocks, one a week with a guide to Jane Austen's England and posts about the people in her life.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Block 21: West Wind for Tom Fowle

Block 21: West Wind for Tom Fowle by Becky Brown

Illustration by William C. Cooke  from Emma, 1892

Jane’s sister Cassandra fell in love with a boarder at her father’s school. Three Fowle brothers attended the school, becoming close to James Austen and his sisters. When Cass was in her early twenties she and Tom Fowle agreed to marry but, as a minister in the Church of England, Tom had to wait to marry until he secured a living. Through an eminent cousin, the Earl of Craven, Tom was promised a position in Shropshire when it opened up. Until then marriage was postponed and their engagement remained private.

Lord Craven by Francis Cotes
The Fowles named Tom’s brother Craven
 Fowle to honor the family patron.

Tom’s options changed when the King’s brother Frederick Duke of York, Army Commander-in-Chief, began to worry about the Army’s moral and political health. Hoping representatives of the Church of England would keep soldiers from sin and ungodly radicalism, the Duke ruled chaplains must accompany regiments into the field. 

Sailors Carousing by Cruickshank

The change of duty inspired many chaplains to retire on their pensions, thus opening the field to younger men like Tom Fowle. Tom sailed to the West Indies as a chaplain, not so much for the money, but as a favor to a cousin who might return the favor by patronage.

Capture of Trinidad by Nicholas Pocock

Lord Craven led his troops under Sir Ralph Abercromby, engaged in empire building against the Spanish who were allied with the French enemy. Poorly-defended Spanish colonies in the Caribbean were too tempting to ignore and Abercromby captured the island of Trinidad, declaring it a British colony in February, 1797.

The arrow at right points to Trinidad; 
the other to Santo Domingo southeast of Cuba.
"The North Sea" is the Caribbean.

Craven’s chaplain Tom Fowle probably did not live to see that victory. He died in early February in Santo Domingo in what we call the Dominican Republic, an island north of Trinidad.

Yellow Fever (Yellow Jack) traveled beyond the 
tropics with ships and sailors.

He succumbed to a fever, perhaps yellow fever, malaria, encephalitis or any of the diseases transmitted by the mosquitoes that actually ruled the tropics. The threat of dying on duty in the West Indies was so great that Lord Craven wrote he’d never have asked Tom to join the troops had he known he was engaged.

West Wind by Georgann Eglinksi

Ashdown Park

Jane and Cass continued to visit the Fowle family after Tom’s death and they gossiped about Lord Craven, Lord of the Manor at Ashdown House. In 1801, Jane wrote her sister that cousin “Eliza has seen Lord Craven …. She found his manners very pleasing indeed. The little flaw of having a Mistress now living with him at Ashdown Park seems to be the only unpleasing circumstance about him….”

West Wind by Bettina Havig

Cassandra never married. We can recall her lost fiancé with West Wind, given the name by the Nancy Page quilt column in the 1930s.

BlockBase #1393

Cutting a 12” Block

A - Cut 5 squares 4-7/8”. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 5 triangles.

B - Cut 2 squares 8-7/8”. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 2 triangles.


West Wind by Becky Brown


  1. Is it true that in all or most of Jane's books the heroine's older sister marries very happily? Jane was perhaps giving fictional Cassandra the life her real sister she had planned.