Anne Becher, born 1792, was "one of the reigning beauties of the day," and a daughter of John Harmon Becher (Collector of the South 24 Parganas district d. Calcutta, 1800), of an old Bengal civilian family "noted for the tenderness of its women." Anne Becher, her sister Harriet, and widowed mother Harriet, had been sent back to India by her authoritarian guardian grandmother, widow Ann Becher, in 1809 on the Earl Howe. Anne's grandmother had told her that the man she loved, Henry Carmichael-Smyth, an ensign of the Bengal Engineers whom she met at an Assembly Ball in Bath, Somerset in 1807, had died, and he was told that Anne was no longer interested in him; neither of these were true. Though Carmichael-Smyth was from a distinguished Scottish military family, Anne's grandmother went to extreme lengths to prevent their marriage; surviving family letters state that she wanted a better match for her granddaughter. Anne Becher and Richmond Thackeray were married in Calcutta on 13 October 1810. Their only child, William, was born on 18 July 1811.
Anne's family's deception was unexpectedly revealed in 1812, when Richmond Thackeray unwittingly invited the supposedly dead Carmichael-Smyth to dinner. After Richmond died of a fever on 13 September 1815, Anne married Henry Carmichael-Smyth on 13 March 1817. The couple moved to England in 1820, after sending William off to school there more than three years before. The separation from his mother had a traumatic effect on the young Thackeray which he discussed in his essay "On Letts's Diary" in The Roundabout Papers.