‘A Welshwoman of no good fame, but handsome …’

LUCY  WALTER

1630 – 1658

Lucy was born in Roch Castle near Haverfordwest in Wales, the daughter of middle-class gentry.  Her family supported Charles 1 and, as a consequence, Roch Castle was burned by Parliamentary forces in 1644.  Lucy lived in London for a time before travelling to The Hague where, in the summer of 1648, she caught the eye of the young Prince of Wales.  She may have been Charles’s first real mistress but he was certainly not her first lover.  An earlier affair had taken place with Colonel Robert Sidney – whose brother, Algernon, had paid fifty gold pieces for Lucy’s favours but been forced to rejoin his regiment before he could claim them.  This seems to say everything we need to know about Lucy’s morals.

In April 1649, Lucy bore a son, James.  Charles acknowledged paternity and later created the boy, Duke of Monmouth.  Then, in June of the following year, Charles sailed to Scotland where he was crowned in January 1651 and led the ill-fated Worcester campaign in an attempt to regain his throne.  While he was away, Lucy had an affair with Viscount Taafe and produced a daughter, Mary.

On his return to Paris from Worcester in the autumn of 1651, Charles officially ended his liaison with Lucy with a gift of pearls – though it’s hard to say how he afforded them.  Lucy then set about trying to get his attention by involving herself in a series of embarrassing scandals that rocked and dismayed the English court-in-exile.  Charles wanted to remove young James from her influence – even attempting to kidnap the child – but to no avail.  In 1656, Lucy took both children to London where she was arrested as a spy and incarcerated in the Tower of London for a couple of weeks before being released and deported to the Low Countries.

She died in in Paris in 1658 – probably of venereal disease.

Lucy’s importance to history is solely through her son, James.  When, in the mid to late 1670’s, it became clear that Charles ll would never have a legitimate son and that his successor would therefore be his Catholic younger brother, the Country Party in England devised something they called the Exclusion Bill.  Its purpose was to exclude the Duke of York from the succession and replace him with Lucy’s son, the Protestant Duke of Monmouth. This meant it would be extremely convenient if  Monmouth could be proved (or at least seen to be) legitimate.  And since Charles stubbornly refused to budge on the issue, many people chose to believe that he and Lucy Walter had been secretly married … and that their marriage-lines reposed in a mysterious Black Box belonging to the bishop who’d heard Lucy’s final confession.

It is certainly true that, when Charles first terminated their affair, Lucy went around calling herself his wife.  But is it really likely that, either during the last months of his father’s life or in the first months of his own kingship, Charles would have done anything so rash and stupid?  I think not.

You can meet Lucy in The King’s Falcon, due for release soon.

 

THE PRICE ONE FAMILY PAID

This is a bit different to my usual Who’s Who in that it’s not nearly as detailed.  George, John and Bernard Stuart are largely known to us through Van Dyck’s outstanding portraits and details of their actual lives are very thin on the ground.  Despite this – and for reasons that will become clear as you read the few lines below – I felt there was a strong case for featuring them.

Esme Stuart, 3rd Duke of Lennox and his wife Katherine had eleven children, six of whom were sons.   Henry died at the age of sixteen, Francis at less than a year.  Of the remaining four, only one – Ludovic –  survived the Civil War.

Lord George Stuart, 9th Seigneur d’Aubigny

1618-1642

Anthony_Van_Dyck_Lord_George_Stuart_Seigneur_D'Aubigny

George was brought up in France by his grandmother and, on the death of his father, he became a ward of Charles 1. When his brother, Henry, died in 1632, he inherited the title of Lord d’Aubigny.
Returning to England in 1636, he married Katherine, daughter of the Earl of Suffolk, secretly and without her father’s permission – which suggests that the two of them were very much in love. They had two children, a son and a daughter.
George died of injuries received at the Battle of Edgehill in October 1642.  He was twenty-four years old.

On a separate note, his widow later re-married and became Lady Newburgh.  She and her husband were suspected of Royalist plotting after the 2nd Civil War and forced to flee abroad – though the date they did so is unclear as we know Charles 1 spent a night at their home on his final journey from Carisbrooke to London.  You can meet Katherine [Kate] at the King’s trial in Garland of Straw.

 

Lord John Stuart 1621-1644  and  Lord Bernard Stuart 1623-1645

 

Like his brothers, John [the one wearing gold]  entered the King’s service at the start of the Civil War.  He died at the Battle of Cheriton in March, 1644, aged twenty-three.

Bernard was created Earl of Lichfield as a reward for his gallantry at the first and second Battles of Newbury.  He died of wounds sustained whilst leading a sortie against Parliamentary besiegers at the Battle of Rowton Heath.  He was twenty-two.

All wars are fought by young men and the Civil War was no different.  At present, many people around the world are remembering the sons and brothers, husbands and fathers who lost their lives in the First World War.  The tragic losses suffered by the Stuart family in the 1640’s is a perfect illustration of  how little things change.

As with several other portraits in my Who’s Who collection, the ones shown here are on display at the National Portrait Gallery, London.