Jemmat, daughter of Admiral John Yeo
Catherine [aka Catherine Yeo]
with many women writers of this period, very little is
known about Catherine Jemmat, and most of what we do know
comes from her Memoirs. She was born in Exeter, the daughter
of Captain John Yeo and his wife, who died when the poet
was only five. When her father remarried, the girl was
sent to boarding school. She grew up headstrong and had
many admirers. She married a silk mercer named Jemmat
in spite of her father's disapproval. Her husband, a violent
man with a serious drinking problem, went bankrupt in
1756; and her father, a rear-admiral on half pay, died
soon after. Probably to raise money, she began circulating
proposals for her Memoirs in 1760 and received subscriptions
from many aristocrats and military people. In addition
to this work, she published Miscellanies in Prose and
Verse which included "The Rural Lass" which had appeared
earlier in the Gentleman's Magazine (1754) and "Question
on the Art of Writing" which had been in Dodsley's Collection
vi (1758). She was probably dependent on the support of
aristocratic patrons. In November, 1766, the London Magazine
reported what seems to be her death notice, yet her Memoirs
were reprinted by subscription with new subscribers in
1771. Some sources list her death date as 1766. Condensed
from a biography written by Sarah Forney.
Jemmat's memoirs give us an incite into life in the 1700's
and also enabled me to work out where her father, Admiral
John Yeo fitted into the Yeo Tree. She was the great grandaughter
of the Reverend William Yeo of Wolborough, Newton Abbot who
would probably of thoroughly disapproved her way of life,
just as her father did. I cannot include all her memoirs but
have extracted pieces of them to share with you. She was certainly
a girl with imaginative views and quite a seducer.....The
memoirs are really worth reading in their complete form.
begins with :-
the time of my birth my father, the late Admiral Yeo, was
a captain in his Majesty's Navy and resided at Exeter in
Devonshire, where I was born. My parents when I was yet
an infant removed to Plymouth, a principal sea-port and
very compatible with his maritime employment., where he
raised to the rank of half pay admiral.
was a finish'd tar in his own house, a baashar whose single
nod of disapprobation struck terror in the whole family.
Between five and six years of age I unhappily lost a tender
mother, my father was then at sea and arrived the very night
her funeral rites had been performed. The night of my mother's
interrment and of my father's arrival from a long voyage
was the first time to my remembrance I had ever seen him.
My mother left in his care besides myself, a brother and
sister who were yet younger. My father to apolgise for his
coming to England without the knowledge or permission of
the Lords of the Admiralty pleaded his extreme fondness
and passionate regard to his wife. However he was severely
reprimanded for it by their hardships and had not as I have
been informed, a ship to command for nine years after.
was so enthusiastically fond of her as to insist on having
her corpse taken up from the grave to bid a last adieu to
the inanimate lifeless body buried in the clay. However,
with much difficulty was eventually persuaded from doing
so. However, such was his grief, that nine weeks later he
married a giggling girl of nineteen. She had five children,
four of whom it has pleased providence to call to a better
state and had the worthy captain, my half brother completed
the number of the deceased, the world and myself might well
have borne the loss with christyn patience and resignation.
complete the dismal scene that was opening to us, new characters
in the great drama of life, my grandfather, a pious, plain,
upright man who boarded with us, was snatched away by death.
Had heaven pleased to have lent us his life a little longer,
he would have at least have seen us properly instructed
in the principles of religion and morality.
The complete book can be read here thanks to Google Books
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