Chapter Summaries

Chapter I

Date: Summer, 1805

Location: Genevan Foundling Hospital

The Genevan Foundling Hospital is located at Plymouth Dock (now Devonport) overlooking the Hamoaze on the lower River Tamar. It was founded in approximately 1785 by the Rev Mr M. Scougall, a Scottish Calvinist. The matron is Miss Amelia Plinlimmon, who claimed descent from Glendower, King of Wales (Owen Glyndwr, c. 1354-c.1417), and from the Tudors. The porter is Mr George, a retired naval seaman.

The purpose of the Hospital was to rescue foundlings from death and the Roman Catholic Church.

We meet Harry Revel, one of the foundling and the central character in the novel. His original name is unknown and his date of birth unclear although it was probably 1795-1797.

Mr Scougall gives a sermon.  

Chapter II

Date: Summer, 1808

Location: Plymouth Dock or Devonport

The story of a Jack Tar who as a POW lost his leg in the French prison of 'Jivvy', the fortress of Givet on the River Meuse or Mass. (This story is also found in The Mayor of Troy, XX. See also: Prisoners of War in France (1914) edited by Sir Edward Hain.)

In early July the wedding of Mr Scougall and the widow of a Plymouth publican with a property in the Cornish parish of Antony is announced at the Hospital.

The wedding breakfast is held at the Hospital. The wedding ceremony in Emmanuel Anglican church. Towards the end of the ceremony Harry Revel climbs the church spire and has to be rescued by a steeplejack. This event becomes the talk of Plymouth, coming to the attention of Mr Trapp, the chimney sweep.  

Chapter  III

Date: September, 1808

Location: Genevan Foundling Hospital

Mr Sydney Trapp, chimney sweep, secures Harry Revel as an apprentice sweep, believing him to be impervious to heights. Harry is taken to the Trapp residence on the Barbican, below the Citadel, at Plymouth.

Harry Revel is ten, remaining with the Trapps for four years. From June to September Sydney Trapp engages himself in longlining for mackerel and whiting, and seining for pilchards. The rest of the year he sweeps chimneys.

Chapter  IV

Date: Autumn, 1808

Location: The Barbican, Plymouth

Life on the Barbican. The press-gang. (See The Mayor of Troy, Chapter XIII.)

Location: Tucker's Bun Shop in Bedford Street, Hoe area.

Amelia Plinlimmon invites Harry Revel to meet her at Mr Tucker's Bun Shop in Bedford Street to celebrate her birthday, and the birthday she has chosen for him.

On parting from Tucker's Bun Shop, Amelia and Harry agree to meet again. 

Chapter V

Date: May 1, 1810

Location: Mr Tucker's Bun Shop

Harry Revel and Amelia Plinlimmon meet for a second time at Tucker's Bun Shop.

Textual Problem: At the meeting Arthur Plinlimmon is given as a major, when at the previous meeting he was given as a captain.

Archibald Plinlimmon is a private in the 105th, the North Wilts Regiment, in which Colonel Festonhaugh is a former comrade of Arthur Plinlimmon. Since January Archibald has been stationed in Plymouth, with the Peninsula as the expected destination.

On leaving Tucker's, Harry and Amelia encounter Archibald near the Hoe and within sound of the bullring where Corineus had mythologically defeated Gogmagog. Subsequently, a bull appears, making a charge for Archibald's associate, Sergeant Letcher, who is wounded through Archibald's incompetence. This wound, resulting in a limp, identifies Letcher as the man outside of Rodriguez's house on the morning of the murder.

Date: May 1, 1811

Location: Mr Tucker's Bun Shop

When Harry Revel arrives at Tucker's for the third meeting, Amelia has yet to arrive, having been detained by Archibald. After the meal Amelia finds her purse empty, with the suspicion that Archibald has emptied it. Archibald is a thief, thus suggesting his motive for being outside of Rodriguez's window on the morning of the murder. It was for the purpose of theft, which is admitted in Chapter XX.

Chapter VI

Date: June 18, 1811

Location: House of Mr & Mrs Trapp

Mr S. Trapp is requested by Isaac Rodriguez to sweep his chimneys. Rodriguez lives at Marine Stores, which stands at the corner of where Southside Street joins the Barbican, and where a post office later stood.

Revel claims to have been working for S. Trapp for nearly three years although in Chapter III, the time is given as close to four, which is probably correct.

Rodriguez appears to have come from Lisbon where his brother lives, off the street of the Four Evangelists.


Date: June 19, 1811, approx. 5 am

Location: Rodriguez's house.

As Sydney Trapp and Harry Revel knock on the door of Marine Stores, Harry Revel notices Sergeant Letcher (Leicester) walking up the street towards Notte Street. The door being unlocked, they enter and make for the kitchen, above which is Rodriguez's bedroom. Harry Revel climbs the chimney. On reaching the chimney-pot Harry Revel observes a figure, Archibald Plinlimmon, on the roof to the right. Revel then loses his footing, descending down a side flue into Rodriguez's bedroom, where he discovers the man's body. Plinlimmon is intending to rob Rodriguez. His motive is probably to buy a commission in the army and marry Isabel Brooks of Minden Cottage.

Chapter VII

Date: June 19, 1811, 5.30 am

Location: The bedroom of Rodriguez and the roof outside

Rodriguez had been stabbed in the back by John Whitmore shortly before the entry of Harry Revel. Revel hears Archibald Plinlimmon on the flat roof outside the window. Revel opens the door to the landing to see a farther door being closed by a hand sporting a ring and a black cuff. On returning to the scene of the murder Revel exits via the window onto the flat roof, only to be confronted by Archibald Plinlimmon , who had seen the body of Rodriguez and is endeavouring to escape. Revel informs Plinlimmon of the presence of Trapp and Letcher in the street below. Plinlimmon agrees to keep silent providing Revel effects an escape; yet Revel suspects Plinlimmon to have been the murderer. They exit from the roof through a louvre skylight and into a warehouse, where a derrick facilitates a lowering into the street.

Chapter VIII

Date: June 19, 1811, am

Location: Warehouse off Southside Street to the toll-gate at Plymouth Dock (Devonport).

Harry Revel escapes to Treville Street where he is snatched into a hackney-carriage by Ben Jope, who is conveying the body of a messmate Bill Adams from Symonds' boarding-house to the cemetery of Plymouth Dock (presumably between Wilton Road and Fitzroy Road).

The story of Bill Adams' death at Symonds' boarding-house.

The hackney picks up the Rev John Whitmore who is travelling back to Antony , following the murder, with the guineas of Rodriguez in his possession, after having paid his hotel bill. Whitmore possibly recognises Revel from the murder scene.

The funeral cortège strikes up the song 'Tom Bowling': written by Charles Dibdin (1745-1814) and included in The Oddities at the Lyceum Theatre in 1790, from where it passed to the navy as a popular song.

The story of Ben Jope and the widow Babbage.

With Ben Jope engaged in an altercation with the toll-gate keeper, Whitmore warns Harry Revel that he is the chief suspect in the murder of Rodriguez and exits the hackney with a valise, presumably containing the coins.

Chapter IX

Date: June 19, 1811, am

Location: A hackney-coach between Plymouth and St Budeaux

The story of Ben Jope and the toll-gate keeper.

Harry Revel relates to Ben Jope the incidents in the house of Rodriguez and the presumed innocence of Archibald Plinlimmon – which conflicts with Chapter VII.

Bill Adams is buried in the Dock graveyard.

Incident: Ben Jope and the driver of the hackney-coach.

Harry Revel and Ben Jope arrive at St Budeaux by coach and cross some fields to the foreshore of the River Tamar, opposite Saltash, where Jope hails from. On the shore is moored the Glad Tidings, a ketch from Looe registered at Fowey (Glad Tidings, FY).

Chapter X

Date: June 19, 1811, late morning

Location: The Glad Tidings at St Budeaux.

The Glad Tidings is owned by Onesimus Pengelly and Sarah Treleaven, Ben Jope's widowed sister, who had been married earlier that morning. Ben Jope explains the circumstances surrounding Harry Revel. Sarah agrees to give Revel refuge providing Ben marries the widow Babbage of Dock.

The Glad Tidings sails on the rising tide of evening into the Hamoaze, with Harry Revel on board. 

Chapter XI

Date: June 19, 1811, evening and night

Location: The Hamoaze to Plymouth Sound

The Glad Tidings passes from the Hamoaze, through the Narrows, to Plymouth Sound, where Pengelly is hailed by the water-guard about the murder and the search for Harry Revel. Fearing a second approach by an unidentified craft, Harry Revel slips into the bay and swims towards the shore, only to be headed by the craft, which contains soldiers, including Sergeant Letcher, intent on making a landing.

Harry Revel effects a landing and discovers a hiding place, where he falls asleep. It is probably not yet midnight.

Chapter XII

Date: June 20, 1811, from about midnight

Location: Rame Head

The soldiers, led by Major Dilke and a Riding Officer (customs official) plus Sergeant Letcher but not Archibald Plinlimmon, are intent on intercepting a shipment of contraband,  but a flare is set off by Jack Rogers, one of the venturers, to warn the smuggling boats and the awaiting landsmen.

Jack Rogers makes for the cave being used by Harry Revel.

Information: Jack Rogers of Brynn, JP, Deputy-Lieutenant of Cornwall and a member of the smuggling syndicate based at the house of Lydia Belcher of Antony.

Story: Josh Truscott of Blowinghouse, JP, and landowner.

Story: Jack Rogers, Lydia Belcher and the flare.

When the coast has cleared, Jack Rogers and Harry Revel travel by tilbury along the coast road to Antony.

Date: June 20, 1811, night

Location: The home of Whitmore  

Chapter  XIII

Date: June 20, 1811, from 1am

Location: The house of Lydia Belcher,  Antony

The tilbury carrying Jack Rogers and Harry Revel turns from the coastal into the main road.

Description and history of Lydia Belcher.

The text indicates that John Whitmore is courting Lydia Belcher; which he is for her money.

On arriving at Lydia Belcher's house, Harry Revel hides in the shrubbery while Jack Rogers joins the venturers, who had financed  the smuggling run interrupted by the soldiers. The barking of the dogs announces the otherwise secret arrival of Sergeant Letcher, one of Major Dilke's soldiers, who wishes to extort money from Whitmore.

The venturers play a hand of cards for guineas. Whitmore relates an account of the murder of Rodriguez, who three weeks before had been buying guineas along the coastal road, with a boy as the chief suspect. Whitmore changes a note of Jack Rogers' into guineas and hears Letcher's owl call from the garden. Rogers restores to Whitmore one guinea dropped on the floor, before Whitmore excuses himself from the room so as to join Letcher.

Chapter XIV

Date: June 20, 1811, from 2 am

Location: The house of Lydia Belcher at Antony

The reader learns that Letcher's real name is Leicester and Whitmore's is Pickthall.

Whitmore joins Letcher in the hearing of Harry Revel. Letcher warns Whitmore against associating with Lydia Belcher, a person suspected of smuggling. For the second time in ten days Letcher demands money. He knows that Whitmore has officiated at an irregular marriage involving Isabel Brooks and Archibald Plinlimmon.

At first light Jack Rogers appears, with Letcher and Whitmore creeping away, under orders to feed Lydia's swans down at the lake. Harry Revel joins him, revealing himself to be the murder suspect. It becomes clear that one of the guineas obtained from Whitmore had three weeks before been sold by Rogers to Rodriguez, as it contained a mark. Revel then describes how Whitmore had walked out of the card game to speak secretly to Letcher or Leicester about Isabel Brooks and Archibald Plinlimmon, with a demand for money at its conclusion.

With the sudden reappearance of Whitmore, Revel exits through the hedge, making his way in growing daylight to the entrance of Minden Cottage, where Isabel Brooks is awaiting the arrival of Archibald Plinlimmon. She takes pity on Revel. 

Chapter  XV

Date: June 20, 1811, first light to noon 

Location: Minden Cottage

Isabel Brooks is at the door of Minden Cottage wearing the wedding ring of Archibald Plinlimmon. She puts Harry Revel to bed.

He awakes at noon.

A description of Minden Cottage and Lydia Belcher's adjoining park.

A description of Major Brooks.

Harry Revel's age is given as fourteen.

Major Brooks is aware of Whitmore as an imposter, which disturbs Isabel who has recently been married to Plinlimmon by him. Revel acknowledges how he was taught to write by Amelia Plinlimmon, the sister of Arthur Plinlimmon, Major Brooks' comrade in the Fourth Regiment, and aunt to Archibald Plinlimmon, a frequent visitor at Minden Cottage.

The history of the families of Plinlimmon and Leicester and the military history of Brooks.

Chapter  XVI

Date: June 20, 1811, afternoon

Location: Minden Cottage

Isabel Brooks admits to Harry Revel of having been awaiting Archibald Plinlimmon at the door of the cottage that night and slips the wedding ring back on her finger. She then informs him of the arrival, when he was sleeping, of Jack Rogers, who was on his way to Plymouth and had left a note arranging a meeting for nine pm.

At 9 pm Jack Rogers and Harry Revel meet at the footbridge in the presence of Parson Doidge and two constables. Jack Rogers is carrying a warrant for the arrest of Whitmore on the evidence of the marked guinea and the absence of a bishop's licence. They walk to the home of Whitmore, who opens the door in the expectation of Lydia Belcher, with whom he is hoping to elope so as to obtain her wealth. Whitmore is challenged over the marked guineas, while Revel notices the ringed finger as that last seen closing the door in the house of Rodriguez. Revel reveals how Letcher, whose real name is Leicester, is receiving money from Whitmore.

Chapter  XVII

Date: June 20, 1811, after 9 pm

Location: Whitmore's home

The private marriage of Isabel Brooks and Archibald Plinlimmon is revealed to Jack Rogers and Parson Doidge by Harry Revel, as is the knowledge of Whitmore as a clerical imposter, although Brooks and Plinlimmon were innocent of the fact. It appears that Jack Rogers had also previously desired the hand of Isabel Brooks.

Chapter XVIII

Lydia Belcher stands accused by Jack Rogers, JP, of aiding a criminal, a matter which they then discuss in private.

The Rector, searching for the licence, discovers a screw of paper containing 15s 9d, and the licence in a valise.

The hoot of an owl echoes through the room, the occupants hide and Sergeant Letcher climbs in through the casement for the purpose of extorting more money (£50) from Whitmore.

Chapter XIX

Date: June 20, 1811, night

Location: Whitmore's home

Letcher/ Leicester enters the room and is knocked down by Jack Rogers, who discovers a  guinea with a scratch on it, Letcher claiming it had come from Whitmore. Revel states that it had come originally from Rodriguez. On writing a warrant, Jack Rogers uses Letcher's correct name, Leicester, which reveals to him his exposed position.

Archibald Plinlimmon and Isabel Brooks enter the house and are informed of events; then they are legally married by Parson Doidge.

Chapter XX

Date: June 20, 1811, night

Location: Whitmore's home 

Isabel Brooks asks clemency for Leicester, while Harry Revel reveals that Leicester's guinea had been given to him by Whitmore in the shrubbery of Lydia Belcher the previous night. Plinlimmon acknowledges his presence by the window of Rodriguez and his escape with Revel. Lydia Belcher realises Whitmore, whom she had helped to escape, to be the murderer, but with insufficient evidence to secure a conviction. Leicester is allowed to go free. Plinlimmon goes to make confession to Major Brooks, while Revel is sent to bed at Minden, as he is shortly to join the army as a drummer boy, following Plinlimmon to Portugal.

 Date: July, 4

Two weeks later he is rowed out from St John to join the 52nd Regiment sailing for Portugal.

Chapter  XXI

Date: July 28, 1811, to January 8, 1812

Location: Plymouth Sound, Figueira and Ciudad Rodrigo

Harry Revel leaves Plymouth Sound with a draft of the 52nd Regiment on board the Bute, a brig, and drifts in the channel until July 31. Revel uses the time to learn to play the bugle, which results in a poisoned lip. On arrival at Figueira on the Mondego river on September 3, he is placed in the hospital until December. On December 24, he is sent forward to Villa del Ciervo on the banks of the Aguede and then on to the camp of the 52nd near Ciudad Rodrigo. On January 7, 1812, Revel reaches Boden, a village across the river from the fortress. The river is crossed in the early hours of January 8 and Ciudad Rodrigo approached. Revel is in Number 4 Company of the 52nd Regiment, commanded by Colonel Colborne, with Lockhart as captain and Henderson as sergeant.

Chapter XXII

Date: January 8, 1812, onwards

Location: Ciudad Rodrigo

On the morning of January 8, the 52nd Regiment move into camp outside of Ciudad Rodrigo, where Revel encounters Archibald Plinlimmon. At 8 pm The 52nd are marched forward to the left of the 43rd for the forthcoming assault. A rocket signals an attack by the Light Company of a lunette on Mount Tesson before the convent of San Francisco. From January 9 to the night of January 17 trenches are forwarded, with the North Wilts in occupation on January 11. Harry Revel meets George Leicester returning to the camp and receives news of John Whitmore, who has deserted to the enemy, and Archibald Plinlimmon.

Having stolen Rodriguez's guineas, John Whitmore had hoped to obtain Lydia Belcher's money by eloping with her and then leaving her, the Falmouth Packet being his means of escape. George Leicester encountered him in Lisbon, threatening to expose him unless he joined the North Wilts. At Celorico, Whitmore had deserted to the French, with Ciudad Rodrigo as his safe haven.

Archibald Plinlimmon was on the roof outside of Rodriguez's window with the intention of stealing the guineas. Revel realises the implication of Leicester in the attempted theft (VII; XX). The reader possibly questions whether Leicester was the instigator! Leicester threatens to revenge himself on Whitmore, Plinlimmon and Revel.

Chapter  XXIII

Date: January 19 & 20, 1812

Location: Ciudad Rodrigo

The assault, led by the Third Division, begins at 6 pm on January 19 at a breach in the wall. Harry Revel passes into Ciudad Rodrigo with the 52nd blowing his bugle.

A description of the assault.

On entering the town square, Revel is wounded in the foot, fainting for a moment with the pain.

A description of the sack of Ciudad Rodrigo.

Sergeant Leicester appears with a Portuguese guide seeking Whitmore and two soldiers carry Revel. The party stop before a house with an iron balcony outside of a first floor window. Leicester enters, with Whitmore falling from the balcony in an effort to escape. Leicester forces Whitmore's mistress to watch as Whitmore is shot, by a wall. The mistress stabs Leicester and disappears.

With the dawn Plinlimmon arrives for a body count, having Revel removed to a hospital. Plinlimmon is indifferent to the death of Whitmore, having just heard of the death of Isabel in childbirth.

Chapter  XXIV

Date: January to May, 1812

Location: Plymouth

Harry Revel is removed to the Cumberland, a transport moored in the Tagus, where he meets Ben Jope, who admits to having jilted the widow Babbage in spite of his promise, and explains how the murder has been cleared up.

The Cumberland sails on May 2 from the Tagus, arriving in Plymouth Sound on May 29. Revel insists upon Jope honouring his word regarding marriage to the widow Babbage. On arriving at her house they discover Mr George as her new husband. He informs them of the closing of the Genevan Foundling Hospital and the transference of Amelia Plinlimmon to Minden Cottage as housekeeper to Major Brooks following the death of Isabel. Harry Revel travels to Minden Cottage and spends his first night on home territory in the room he had vacated in July 1811.