Biographical / Historical
Louisa Matilda Jane Crawford (27th September 1789 – 29th December 1857) was a 19th century professional songwriter. She was the daughter of Ann Courtenay (d. 1816) and George Montagu (1753-1815) of Lackham House in Wiltshire, an English army officer and naturalist known for his pioneering Ornithological Dictionary of 1802. She married Matthew Crawford of Middle Temple, a barrister who spent much of their marriage working in the North of the country, in 1822. She earned an income through songwriting and poetry but, despite this, the couple always struggled financially.
Louisa was related to nobility on both sides of the family; her father was a descendent of Henry Montagu, the 1st Earl of Manchester, whilst her maternal grandmother, Lady Jane Stuart, was the sister of Scottish nobleman John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute and Prime Minister to George III. It is clear from her correspondence that she frequently appealed to her wealthier relatives for financial aid. In a letter to Matthew she references a visit from the Duke of Manchester, whilst she also received promises of money from J. A. Stuart and Lady Bute.
Much of her work appeared, often anonymously, in magazines and journals, was sold to publishers and set to music by Samuel Wesley, Sidney Nelson, Edward Clare and others. She frequently both prose and poems, including several "autobiographical sketches", to London literary journal The Metropolitan Magazine, (which has subsequently been digitised by the HathiTrust). Her most successful song, “Kathleen Mavourneen,” was set to music by composer Frederick Crouch. It enjoyed wide success in America where it was popularised by Irish Soprano Catherine Hayes on her international tours, but was frequently attributed solely to Crouch, or erroneously to Annie, Julia, Louise or Marion Crawford. An examination of her archive shows that she gained great pleasure through her work. She died in 1857, the cause unknown, although Matthew refers to a long affliction of heart disease supplemented by attacks of Bronchitis in an 1846 letter (Coll-1839/2/6).