Topic: Eagar, Margaretta
Limerick native Margaretta Alexandra Eagar wasn't exactly born - in 1863 - with a silver spoon in her mouth. One of 10 children of a Protestant couple, she trained as a nurse and ended up at Russia's Imperial Court as nanny to Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia - the four daughters of the ill-fated Tsar Nicholas II.
A silver cloisonne (enamelled) spoon given to her by the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in 1904 in honour of the birth of the Tsarevich and Grand Duke Alexei Nikolayevich. It is stamped with the crowned, double-headed eagle of the Russian imperial coat-of-arms. The spoon, made by St. Petersburg imperial goldsmiths, the Grachev Brothers, was inherited by a descendant of Eagar and was one of the star lots in Adam's third annual Irish country house collection sale at Slane Castle earlier this month.
After training as a nurse in Belfast, Margaretta Eagar was appointed governess to the four grand duchesses known as OTMA in 1898, a position she held for six years until the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). In 1906 she published her memoirs Six Years at the Russian Court. In 1917 the grand duchesses and their family were murdered by the Bolsheviks and subsequently Miss Eagar's pension ceased. Despite being employed as a governess by several English families she fell into financial difficulties following this. At which point the spoon was acquired by Dr. Lily A. Baker F.R.C.S.I., together with several articles of jewellery. These were given to Eagar by the Tsarina as an expression of gratitude for her kindness and assistance during her financial quandaries. The spoon was passed by descent to the current vendor and sold for 2600 Euros on October 11, 2011.
Thank you to Mr. Roy Tomlin for bringing this to our attention.
© Royal Russia. 21 October, 2011