Meet Lt. Shirley from Lynne Basham Tagawa’s A Fallen Sparrow

Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today.

Tell us something about where you live: 

Hello, Lt. Robert Shirley at your service. My home is in Leicestershire. I was living with my uncle before I purchased a commission in the British Army. It’s a beautiful place, really. Sheep grazing in peaceful pastures. I have pleasant memories of it. But I cannot return.

Is there anything special about your name? Why do you think you were given that name? 

Robert is common enough, I think. Shirley was a noble house at one time. Some of its members were notorious, like the Earl of Ferrar, who was hung for murder. The Countess of Huntingdon is revered by all, however. She supports Methodist ministers, including the late George Whitefield. You might have heard of Francis, Lord Rawdon, who is a grandson of the countess. He acquitted himself well in the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, though I regret to say that Dr. Joseph Warren met his death by his hands. Warren was a good man. It was a horrible day.

Do you have an occupation? What do you like or dislike about your work?

I still believe that the Army is a noble career. At least in theory. As for my own role in the late war, that was most difficult. Lord Dartmouth asked me to become an observer for him. Looking back, I think he meant well. He’s a good and godly man. But in truth, I was a spy, and it was not an honorable task. Major John Andre had a somewhat different view. He compared it to killing in combat. Definitely unsavory, but sometimes necessary.

But in preparation for this role, I was forced to learn a trade. Bookbinding. At first I was horrified, but in truth, I have come to love the labor of ink and paper and leather. 

Who are the special people in your life?

My godmother, the Countess of Huntingdon, supported me in many small ways. She undoubtedly prayed for me throughout. I am sure she prays for that rogue, Lord Rawdon. Who knows if he will repent of his ways one day.

I am also connected to an American family, the Russells. It is a most amazing development. Not something I could ever have imagined.

What is your heart’s deepest desire?

My deepest desires are none of your business. But I will say that I would desire peace between this infant country and Great Britain. I wish to be able to go home. Though truthfully, I have found a new home here, a new life. Maybe it’s for the best. 

What is your deepest regret?

Oh, that is hard. I regret Major Andres’s death. Hanging is dishonorable, especially for an officer. It is the death of a spy, and he met his end with great bravery. I hear a hymn was found on his person. Some have great hope for his soul. It gives me comfort.

What have you learned about yourself in the course of your story?

Well, now, that would take quite a bit of time. Besides, I do not wish to give anything away! 

Thanks for allowing us to get know you a little better!


Lynne Tagawa is a wife, mother, and grandma to five sweethearts. She’s an educator, editor, and author of an eighteenth-century historical fiction series, the Russells. She loves to include gospel truth in her stories. The Shenandoah Road, first in the series, was a Selah Awards finalist.

Lynne loves good coffee and sugar-free treats. She and her husband live in South Texas.


A Fallen Sparrow: A Novel of the American Revolution is Christian historical fiction with a good helping of romance.

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