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Mrs Nancy Barclay, née Devoy was the wife of Colonel James Barclay. As a young woman she lived in India with her father, a colour-sergeant in the 117th Foot Regiment. There she met Barclay, then a sergeant, and they married some time following the Rebellion of 1857. The couple eventually returned to England and took up residence at the military garrison in Aldershot, where Mrs. Barclay devoted herself to doing charitable works for Catholic aid societies. The couple lived together, apparently happily, for thirty years, until Colonel Barclay's was found dead, apparently murdered by his wife. His death would prove to be intimately connected with the events of 1857, as Sherlock Holmes would uncover in "The Adventure of the Crooked Man".

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