Sunday, November 27, 2016

George, First Baron Dartmouth: The Man who Gave the Glorious Revolution a "Legge" Up

Hello everyone and welcome to my final blog of the semester! Try not to ruin your keyboard with all the tears I know you are shedding. I can't believe I am almost finished. It seems like just yesterday that I was writing "The Art of the Spreadsheet". This may be the last of my blogs, but the semester isn't over for me yet. I have still been working on finishing up the spreadsheet for James, Duke of York when I wasn't busy stuffing my face with turkey over Thanksgiving.

Anyway, at first I thought that for this week's blog I could end it how I began, by writing a biography on the monarch or duke that I was creating the spreadsheet for. However, I decided against it. There are enough biographies out there about James II or about Mary, Duchess of York. The whole reason for this blog was to provide information about those who aren't as prominent in history, so I would like to end with that trend.

May I introduce, for the final time, this week's choice, George Legge, First Baron Dartmouth.

George Legge was born in 1647, eldest son of his parents. He was educated at Westminster School and King's College, Cambridge. In 1666 he was a volunteer in the fleet during the Four Days' Battle, a naval battle in the Second Anglo-Dutch War. He became captain of the Pembroke in April of 1667. Unfortunately, Legge had only been on one voyage to sea when he became captain and as a result of his lack of experience, the Pembroke was lost when it collided with the Fairfax on May 11, 1667. Apparently his lack of skill with sea vessels did not translate to his skill with the ladies, for he was married in November of that same year to Barbara Archbold. They would go on to have eight children, only one of which was a boy named William. So it seems that ole George must have had his hands full with 7 daughters and a son to take care of.

In 1668, despite Legge's misfortune with crashing his ship, the Duke of York's opinion of him grew enough to land him a job as one of the duke's grooms of the bedchamber. In 1669 he became captain of a company in the Tower of London and in 1670 he succeeded his father as lieutenant-governor of Portsmouth. In a rather ironic twist of events, Legge eventually became captain of the Fairfax in 1672, the ship he had formerly crashed into with his first vessel. He then took part in Sir Robert Holmes's attack on the Dutch Smyrna convoy in March of that year and fought in the battle of Solebay in May. Later that year he took command of the York before returning to shore in August. In 1673 he commanded the Royal Katherine and fought in the second Battle of Schooneveld, a Franco-Dutch war between an Anglo-French fleet commanded by Prince Rupert of the Rhine and the fleet of the United Provinces. Legge fought for the prince, defending his shattered flagship for three hours. Although Legge had worked under the Duke of York, he must have held Prince Rupert in high esteem, for he had not only defended him for hours during the battle, but he also sought to moderate extreme criticisms of Rupert's appointments and tactics made by some of the Duke of York's clients.

As one can see, Legge spent some of his early life out at sea. However, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War he began to receive important land positions instead. In 1672 he became lieutenant-general of the ordnance, in 1673 he was master of the horse to James, Duke of York, and in February 1673 he was elected MP for Ludgershall, a town in England with a ridiculously odd name. He soon became identified as a faithful supporter of the court and in May 1678 was appointed general of artillery with the English army in Flanders. He was elected to parliament for Portsmouth twice in 1679 and again in 1681 as well.

One can gather that Legge appears to be a prominent and political man. So far in his life he had gained quite a few important posts and had shown himself to be worthy of battle with his time spent at sea. Yet, none of these accomplishments would have led anyone to guess just how committed he was to his Protestant religion. In 1679 he stated that, "I am the Duke of York's servant and I will serve him affectionately, but I will live and die a Protestant and am as loyal as my family has always been." If that seemed rather bold, then his next comment that he made in 1680 will appear almost dangerous. Legge exclaimed that "...if my master the duke be popish, God's curse be on him that was the cause of it." Legge definitely had guts to so outwardly attack his master's religion. However, these statements are not at all surprising, as England was largely Protestant at the time and many were unhappy with any Catholic in a position of power like the duke. Yet even with Legge's condemnation of James's religion, he remained largely supportive of him, informing him of political developments in London while he was in exile in Brussels and Edinburgh. Unfortunately, this support created growing pressure for him to give up one of his major posts, the mastership of the ordnance and the governorship of Portsmouth. It appeared that Legge was one of the few Protestants willing to outwardly support the duke despite his hatred of Catholicism, and it was causing concern among other political figures.

As a result, Legge had to part with his governorship of Portsmouth but compensated for it by becoming a privy councilor in 1682 and also becoming Baron Dartmouth in December of that same year. In 1683 Charles II decided to evacuate and demolish Tangier, an English colony since 1661, as a way to cut costs. Legge was then appointed admiral in 1683 and was ordered to act as general of land forces and governor of Tangier. While he was there, Legge had a lot of demanding work to accomplish. He had to demolish the town, settle the compensation of the inhabitants, and convince the lord of the castle there that English forces were strong enough to resist attacks by Muslims. Writings from this time suggest that Legge was determined to remedy what he saw as abuses in the navy and attempted to create new rules governing officers' seniority. Legge finally abandoned Tangier on February 6, 1684 after it had been adequately destroyed and arrived back in Europe soon after.

When James ascended to the throne, Legge became master of the horse, constable of the Tower of London, and colonel of the Royal Fusiliers. He regularly attended James while he ruled and was even a witness of the birth of the Prince of Wales in June 1688. He was regarded as one of the king's leading Anglican advisers. In September 1688, Legge was appointed to command the fleet that had been mobilized to defend against an invasion from the Netherlands. While his fleet lay in wait, Legge struggled to suppress those who supported this invasion by William of Orange. Many of his officers had close links with the conspiracy in the army to overthrow James. Unfortunately, Legge's attempt to sail was prevented by wind and he was too late to stop William's landing at Torbay. There were no attacks, for it was believed that the Dutch had quite a large fleet and that nobody would stand a chance of surviving.

Legge took his failure to intercept the invasion quite seriously, though he realized there was nothing he could have done to control the weather conditions which prevented him from sailing. Though James publicly exonerated him from blame, he later privately suspected him for being involved in the conspiracy. As a result of this mistrust, Legge's attitude towards James changed as well. Animosity grew between the two until a letter was smuggled to Legge, inviting him to join his fleet to Herbert's. He responded positively and surrendered his fleet to William's control on December 13th, 1688. Although he had effectively helped William gain control of the throne, it was revealed through his letters that he was grieved by the king's departure and was concerned about his own future, despite the help he gave to William. He retained command of his fleet until January 10, 1689 before he was brought before William and stripped of his other offices in the revolution. He then proclaimed his allegiance to William and Mary on March 2, 1689. In 1691 he was accused of sending intelligence to the Jacobites and was subsequently arrested. Although he denied the accusations made against him he was committed to the Tower of London at the end of July and died there of apoplexy on October 25, 1691.

I said that I wanted to work on someone who was not as prominent in history, but I must admit that George Legge still has quite a place. It was his failure to prevent William of Orange's invasion that set in stone the "Glorious Revolution". Although he had spent a decent amount of time within the political realm, both on land and sea, Legge was not experienced enough to be given such a position. Compared to other captains, he was actually quite inexperienced at sea, since he had only spent about two years captaining ships. He was indecisive and split between his loyalty to the king and his loyalty to his religion. His Protestant leanings mixed with his inability to let his duty surpass his feelings towards the king is what made William's ascension possible in the end. I find Legge's confusion interesting, for it makes me wonder if many others who worked under James were going through the very same thing. Many English citizens were Protestants at this time and they had to decide who they were more loyal to, their monarch or their religion. Legge's indecisiveness must have been common among many who worked under James II, although most people's decisions probably did not have the finalizing effect that Legge's did.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed the final biography for this blog post. It's hard to believe it is over. I never imagined that I would learn so much about British court officers. Writing about these people has not only provided me with their own personal information that I could never have learned before, but it also helped me to understand trends within society at the time. Most of all, it helped me to see these people as more than just names on a spreadsheet, and for that I am the most thankful.

J. D. Davies, ‘Legge, George, first Baron Dartmouth (c.1647–1691)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2006 [, accessed 20 Nov 2016]

Sunday, November 20, 2016

I'm With Her-bert: The Life of a 17th Century Politician

Hello everyone and happy almost Thanksgiving! I am excited to go home, to spend some time with my family, and, most importantly, to sleep. As for my spreadsheets, I hope to finish up the last one of this batch on the train ride home. That's right everyone. I am on the 7th and last royal house least until I get the next set of names. I am currently working on James, Duke of York's house. He had 29 pages worth of household members....oh how I miss the days of the Duke of Cambridge. He only had three people to his house....that may have something to do with his death as a child . . . but at least that made it easier on me!

Anyway, in the spirit of my finishing up the Duke of York's household, I have picked yet another person who worked under him to talk about today. So, everyone please give a warm welcome to Sir Edward Herbert, Jacobite Earl of Portland.

Unfortunately, I could not find any pictures of Edward Herbert. So please enjoy this photo of Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride.

Edward Herbert was born on June 10, 1645, second surviving son of his parents. As a child, Herbert and his mother suffered through poverty after his older brother's death in 1657. After the Restoration their fortunes did improve however and Herbert entered Winchester School in 1661. He then graduated from New College, Oxford in 1665 and in 1669 he entered the Middle Temple which, to explain as simply as possible, was sort of like being in a super cool, honorable club. He looked for a career in Ireland and was appointed as chief justice of Tipperary and as the king's attorney-general of Ireland in 1677. However, it is said that Herbert was resolved to settle at Westminster Hall, so he eventually returned to England where he became engaged in several royal appointments. In October 1683 he was appointed chief justice of Chester and solicitor-general to the Duchess of York. On February 10, 1684 he was knighted and then in 1685 he acted as attorney-general to the duke of York. Apparently working within the court came pretty natural to ole Herbert.

In April of 1685, Herbert was elected to parliament, but his career was quite brief. During the reign of James II, when James went from Duke of York to King of England, Herbert was appointed to the privy council. In October of 1685 Herbert also replaced Justice George Jeffreys as chief justice on the king's bench. Herbert was apparently encouraged by Jeffreys to "execute the law to the utmost of its vengeance upon those that are now known . . . by the name of whigs'". So, Jeffreys definitely didn't like Protestants, which may have been unfortunate for him as most of the English population was Protestant during this time. Herbert looked back on these times as quite difficult and claimed that he even tried to decline the post at first. However, with Jeffrey's and the king's urging, he had to accept.

Right now it appears that Herbert didn't do much except involve himself in heavy political and lawful jobs. Yet this pressure to act on behalf of the Catholic Tories as chief justice gives hint to the political tensions at the time. James must have been anxious to hire someone who he thought would not side with the Protestant Whigs, as they were becoming more disgruntled with his Catholic occupation of the throne.

Up to this point Herbert seemed to have a relatively quiet life. Yet as soon as he was given the post of Lord Chief Justice, he was thrown into controversy. In the famous Godden v. Hales, Herbert had to decide whether or not to convict a man named Sir Edward Hales who had apparently violated the provisions of the Test Act. For those who don't know, the Test Act was a law that made a person's eligibility for public office dependent on his religion. Hales, a Catholic, had been appointed lieutenant of the Tower of London and his coachman, Arthur Godden, brought action against him. It comes as no surprise that it would have been preferred for a Protestant to take such a position. When Hales appealed to the king's bench, he claimed that James II had granted him dispensation under the great seal, freeing him from the law. The outcome of this trial was critical, for it would show how far the king's claim on power could go and how much he could dispense with parliamentary law. Right before the trial, James infamously purged four judges who were hostile to his cause. Although this was quite the unpopular move, it was well within his power to do so. Herbert presided over this important trial and the day after the case was heard, on June 17, 1686 Herbert delivered a verdict of eleven to one in favor of Hales and the crown.

This decision was quite astounding to many people, even by Herbert's nearest friends. By choosing the side of the crown, Herbert and the royal court were essentially saying that the king's decree can override parliamentary decisions. There were angry denunciations of this decision published and Herbert began to fall under "the greatest infamy and reproach". In order to defend himself, Herbert published a defense of his decision, arguing that the court had ruled in favor of the king's power to dispense with laws in individual cases, not laws entirely. Although this decision was quite shocking to many, especially Whigs, Herbert's distinction between dispensing and the suspending power caused him to become quite popularized. There were even rumors he would replace Jeffreys at his new post of Chancellor. This prominence was not to last long for Herbert though. As if to prove that he was not always inclined to side with the king on all decisions, Herbert now began to make decisions against the king. He voted for the acquittal of a Bishop and denied that the king had the authority to execute deserters from his army during peacetime. These decisions caused his demotion to the court of common pleas.

In the coming year, Herbert had little part in the collapse of James's reign, when he was overthrown by William of Orange and the Whig party. However, this still left him in a dangerous position since his court decision in Godden v. Hales put many Whigs against him. By December 11, 1688 Herbert fled London and spent the remainder of his life at James's exiled court at St. Germain-en-Laye and was created earl of Portland under Jacobite peerage in 1690. He was appointed James's chancellor but as he was a Protestant, he could not sit on the council. Though he was popular with the Jacobites, James always kept him at arm's length. Herbert eventually died of apoplexy at St. Germain on November 5, 1698.

Herbert's life is interesting, for he never seemed to fully commit himself to either Whig or Tory ideologies as most politicians did. Herbert cared more about upholding the law than picking sides. However, in this sort of political climate, if one didn't pick a side, that was as good as being the enemy to both. So even though Herbert was a Protestant, he still had to flee the country when James was overthrown. Yet even in James's exiled court, Herbert could never really move to higher ranks because of James's obvious distrust of him and his Protestantism. Herbert's life shows that picking a side was crucial to one's status in society in 17th century England. I find this especially interesting when comparing this to today's political climate. It seems as if one can only be a Liberal or a Conservative, and it is imperative that one side hate the other. Being in between both parties just shows weakness and stupidity. I guess Herbert's case shows us that even though hundreds of years have lapsed between then and now, the importance of one's political views has barely changed at all.

Jeffrey R. Collins, ‘Herbert, Edward , Jacobite earl of Portland (1645–1698)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2005 [, accessed 20 Nov 2016]

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sir Charles Berkeley: Friend of the King, Former Phoenix Suns Player

Hey everyone! I know you're all dying to know how the spreadsheets are going. I can gladly inform you all that I am about done with Mary Duchess of York's house, and I only have two left after that! At least with this batch. Creating spreadsheets comes quite naturally to me now. I'm basically an expert.

Anyway, besides my slow but steady progress, there's not much else to update you on! This week, I decided to talk about a man from James, Duke of York's house. So, I'd like you all to give a warm welcome to Charles Berkeley, retired, professional basketball player!

No wait...that's Charles Barkley. Okay, this is Sir Charles Berkeley, Earl of Falmouth.

Sir Charles Berkeley was baptized in January 1630. His family was strongly royalist during the civil wars and afterwards, he was sent to serve the exiled Stuart court. In 1652 his uncle, Sir John Berkeley, used his influence as governor to James, Duke of York to get Charles a commission as a cavalry officer under his command. Charles remained in James's employment until the Restoration. He then became his groom of the stole and apparently a great friend as well! In 1660 he returned to England with James who ensured Berkeley several honors from his brother, who was now Charles II, newly restored to the throne. Charles Berkeley received a knighthood, the post of lieutenant-governor of Portsmouth, and the receipts from mooring fees levied on the Thames, which provided him with the income he needed to purchase a house. It comes as no surprise that Charles bought a house beside Whitehall since he was so close to James. In 1661, James secured his election as MP for New Romney, Kent. 

While all of this sounds rather nice, there was some scandal involved with Sir Charles Berkeley. He claimed to have enjoyed the "favors" of James of York's new wife, Anne Hyde, in an effort to dissolve the marriage. The marriage was considered to be a disaster by many and Charles hoped to defame Anne's father, the king's new chief minister. Though Charles claimed it as an attempt to protect his patron, it was considered quite tactless in the court. However, James didn't seem to mind and this had little effect on Charles's relationship with James or even with Charles II. I guess Anne really wasn't favored too highly. Charles went on to marry a woman he loved, despite her coming from an impoverished royal family. Apparently a famous beauty, Mary Bagot was married to Charles Berkeley on December 18, 1664.

While at court, Berkeley became associated with the faction led by George Digby, second earl of Bristol and Sir Henry Bennet. He was also apparently friendly with the king's current mistress, Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine. In 1662, the faction led by Digby became an important part of the government, enabling Berkeley to become keeper of the privy purse for this faction. I guess Charles had a way with important men in the royal family, for people began to notice that he was one of the favorites of King Charles II himself. In 1663 he was raised to the Irish peerage as Baron Berkeley of Rathdowne and Viscount Fitzhardinge of Berehaven. Then, in March 1665 he was given the English titles Baron Botetourt of Langport and Earl of Falmouth as part of the honors designated when war was declared against the Dutch. Unfortunately, Sir Charles Berkeley's life was to be cut tragically short. He volunteered for service in the royal fleet and was killed by a cannon shot in the first battle on June 3rd, 1665. On June 22 he was given a hero's funeral in Westminster Abbey. His English barony and earldom became extinct after his death, for he only had a single daughter with Mary. 

It is said that King Charles was more upset by Charles's death than by anyone else and it is almost certain that he would have received even further advancement if he had lived longer than 35. However, it is strange that one so favorable with both King Charles and James, Duke of York would be mentioned so little. He is not recorded much at all, nor is he known for anything such as great intelligence or good looks. He never had a high political office, he simply ran diplomatic errands much of the time. He had no real political aims, except maybe that he fooled around with Anne Hyde. So why write about him?

Charles is fascinating because he had such a close relationship with two very important members of the royal court, yet he is known for very little. Even still, Charles HAD to be special in some way. I imagine there must have been something rather charismatic about him if he was able to befriend a duke and a king. He was a devoted servant and apparently a great companion as well. I wanted to write about Charles because I feel as if I can sense all the important information that is missing about him. What was his personality like? Why was his so highly favored among Charles II and James? Was he a great friend? Husband? These are things I most likely will never find out, but the basis Charles's personality is there. He is yet another person in history who was important in the lives of prominent people, yet we know nothing about him ourselves. Yet, it is people like Charles who make up the backbone of historical figures. He was important to Charles II and James and may have shaped their lives in ways that will never be known. That is why I think it is important to know about a man such as Charles Berkeley, even if it is not much. He may not have been a king or a duke, but he still has a historical presence and I think it is important to recognize that. After all, kings and dukes are fun to learn about but they certainly did not make up the bulk of society.

Ronald Hutton, ‘Berkeley, Charles, earl of Falmouth (bap. 1630, d. 1665)’, rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 13 Nov 2016]

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Could a Blog be Any "Mordaunt-ing"?

Hello everyone! We are slowly counting down the days. Only one month left before my journey into the world of spreadsheets is over! I can't decide if I should be joyful, sad, or panicked because that is definitely not enough time to finish everything I need to do before the semester is over. I'm going to try to stick with joy while masking the panic.

Anyway, I am feeling rather invested in the royal court as of late, since I recently binge watched Netflix's new show, The Crown. I now cannot get enough of the royal family. Although I've been enamored with 20th century royalty, alas I cannot write about Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Philip for they are not a part of my time frame. So, as I must continue to talk about 17th century court officers, I would like to introduce all of you to someone who resided in both James II and Mary, Duchess of York's court, Henry Mordaunt, second Earl of Peterborough.

Henry Mordaunt, second Earl of Peterborough was baptized at St. Ann Blackfriars, London on October 18, 1623. Unfortunately, not much is said about Mordaunt's early life. His father, John Mordaunt, first Earl of Peterborough, made quite a reputation for himself, for he had a rocky relationship with Charles I and there were suspicions of his religious background. After his death by consumption in 1643, Henry criticized him for "a humour he had, which was averse to constraint, and indulgent to all his passions".

Henry was educated at Eton College in 1635 and was sent to France before the outbreak of the English Civil War to be kept safe. His tutor, Thomas Raymond, described him as a "noble and hopeful...cavalier". In 1642 he returned to England to serve in the parliamentary army before abandoning the king and joining the Cavaliers. He earned command of a regiment of horse but was wounded in the arm and thigh and had his horse shot under him in the battle of Newbury in September, 1643. In December, 1644 he married Lady Penelope O'Brien, with whom he had two daughters. Though he compounded for his estate in 1645, a 1647 interview with the captive Charles I, who had been charged with high treason by this time, inspired him vouch for the king's side once again. This prompted him to join with George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, and the Earl of Holland in an uprising to seize Reigate in July, 1648. This failed however, and although he escaped capture, he was forced to compound a second time and spent the 1650s trying to pay off his debts for his participation in the uprising.

After the Restoration of Charles II, Henry was granted the governorship of Tangier, a city in Morocco. He took possession of the city in January 1662 and although he successfully fortified the town's harbor, he complained of struggles against Berbers and disloyal subordinates. He was eventually recalled in December of that same year and was compensated with a 1000 pound pension, though that was rarely paid. Despite this, Henry's growing friendship with James, Duke of York allowed him better prospects. Thanks to James's patronage, in 1665 he served as a volunteer aboard the Unicorn in the Second Anglo-Dutch War and commanded a troop in York's regiment of horse in 1678. In 1666 he had become Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire which he held until 1688. His service as a courtier and a political ally strengthened his relationship with the James.

In 1673, Charles II appointed him as ambassador-extraordinary, granting him the duty to arrange James's second marriage to Princess Mary of Modena. Henry stood as James's proxy in the royal wedding in September 1673 and escorted Duchess Mary back to England where he would take his seat as a privy councillor in 1674. Because of his close relations with James, he was accused of playing a role in the Popish Plot, and was dropped from the council in 1679. He and his wife were forced to take shelter in Brussels for a time, though he returned to England by 1680 and was passionate in his work to ensure that James would be able to secure the throne. He was restored to council in February 1683.

As a result of his close relationship with James, Henry carried the scepter at James II's coronation and the king awarded him the Garter in June 1685, which is the highest order of chivalry. He was appointed as groom of the stole and first gentleman of the bedchamber and in 1686 he became Queen Mary's high steward and chief bailiff. In 1687 he converted to Catholicism, although he lived amidst a mostly Protestant England. He assisted James in purging the bench and lieutenancy during his reign and even witnessed the birth of the prince of Wales in June 1688. During the Revolution of 1688, Henry fell along with his friend the king. His home was sacked by a mob and he was captured in December when he attempted to flee the kingdom.

After his capture, Henry was imprisoned in the Tower of London for two years, during which time he was impeached of high treason by the Commons. He rejoined the established Church of England in 1692, but his loyalties would always lie with James, giving him the title of Jacobite. In April he asked permission to visit the exiled king but was confined to his house in 1696 for suspicion of involvement in the assassination plot against William III. His health declined, apparently from eating too many oysters, and he eventually died on June 19 1697. As he only had two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, his title passed on to his nephew, Charles Mordaunt, third Earl of Peterborough.

I would normally say that Henry led a rather ordinary aristocratic life. He inherited titles, fought in battles, and retained positions within the court system. Yet, Henry had something unique about him and that was his relationship with James II. I gather this must have been a very close friendship, for Henry even took part in the coronation and was present for the birth of James's son. His loyalty to James even outstripped his religious leanings, as he eventually converted to Catholicism. This must have been a brave move, for Protestantism ruled the majority of the English population during this time. He even wanted to visit James after his abdication, which I figure must have been a brave move as well since anti-Catholicism was rampant in England during this time and James was not looked kindly upon by many in the English government. I find Henry's dedication fascinating, especially since it can only be understood through his actions with religion and his work. I have nothing that tells me in his own words how close Henry was to James. As historians must often do, I can only interpret his actions and make assumptions. Though these assumptions might be wrong sometimes, I feel that making connections like this is important. Not only does it help one to understand the political environment during certain time periods, but it can also give a personality to historical people. Henry's friendship with James II was a strong one, and it effected the rest Henry's life. To read about a friendship such as this not only helps me understand Henry's character, but it humanizes him, and that, I believe, is one of the most important things one can do in history.

Victor Stater, ‘Mordaunt, Henry, second earl of Peterborough (bap. 1623, d. 1697)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 6 Nov 2016]

Sunday, October 30, 2016

My Name is Earl (of Dunmore)

Hey everyone! I must admit that filling out spreadsheets has been a bit slow lately. My other schoolwork has finally caught up to me, but fear not! I will always have a new and exciting biography for you every week, and I will always get it in by Sunday night...most likely by midnight.

Anyway, I have actually already finished inputting the information from most of the houses I've received. I'm still working on a few, one of which is the Household of Mary, Duchess of York. Tonight, I will be telling you all about someone who was a part of her house, a man named Lord Charles Murray, first Earl of Dunmore.

Charles Murray was born  on February 28, 1661, the second son of twelve from John Murray, first marquess of Atholl and his wife Lady Amelia Sophia Stanley. Charles was supposedly the most Anglicized son of the family, closest to his mother's relatives. He sought a commission from William of Orange in 1680 and was appointed in 1681 as lieutenant-colonel of the new Scots Greys dragoons. He became the Scots Greys' colonel on November 6, 1685 after having served in western Scotland during Argyll's rebellion. On December 6, 1682 he married a woman named Catherine in London, daughter of Richard Watts of Great Munden, Hertfordshire. On July 28, 1683 James, Duke of York appointed Murray master of the horse to Princess Anne, who was already his friend. In January of 1685 he was appointed master of the horse to Duchess Mary, though he was re-appointed soon after she became queen. In the 1685 English parliament he was MP and court candidate. The year before, encouraged by James, the marquess decided to transfer the inheritance of his main highland estate in Atholl (in Scotland) from his oldest son, John, Lord Murray, considered insufficiently loyal, to Lord Charles. This transfer of land allowed James to create Charles as the Scottish Earl of Dunmore on August 6, 1686, though this claim was later renounced.

In 1688, Lord Charles led the Scots Greys in a campaign against William of Orange. However after James was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution, he lost the regiment and his court post. Returning to Edinburgh, Scotland on March 20 1689, he influenced his wavering father towards Jacobitism, a political and military movement which sought to restore King James to the throne, and also encouraged plotting from the Scots Greys. Suspected of being involved in a highland revolt, he was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle from June 1689 to January 1690. Once he was bailed, he returned to England for a decade. In 1691 he introduced his father among London plotters, but while he was corresponding with James II through his fiercely Jacobite wife, he declared he was waiting on events to make a move. During the 1692 invasion attempt he was one of a London group who planned a rising in support. Unfortunately, he was captured in hiding on May 16 of that year and committed to the Tower of London. After being bailed in August, no further Jacobite activity by Dunmore is known. As someone who is largely interested in Jacobitism myself, you can imagine my disappointment learning that fact. Since Dunmore suffered from the stone, which I can only assume means kidney stones, he retreated to live with his family. He was arrested at Lathom House in March 1696 and kept in Liverpool until July. Afterwards he settled in Chester.

Once James II died, Dunmore's loyalties changed. He had nine children to take care of and only earned 500 to 600 pounds a year in England and the Netherlands. He eventually returned to Scotland while his brother held office in Atholl. He hoped to receive a position through his brother and on February 4, 1703 he was sworn of the privy council and took a seat in Scottish Parliament. He was one of the semi-Jacobite cavalier party but joined the court side after the Lord Commissioner of Queensberry broke with them. He defended his brother against Queensberry's "Scotch plot" allegations during this time as well. In 1704, Dunmore was appointed to a committee of parliament for examining public accounts. He attempted to bribe his brother to stay away from the union debates, yet his brother still attended. Dunmore voted for the union and the court related policies. In 1707 he was appointed governor of Blackness Castle. Dunmore had three sons enter the army around this time. The oldest son died while serving in 1704 and afterwards, Dunmore and his wife solicited the Marlboroughs so their other sons could be advanced to higher ranks.

Dunmore died in Holyrood Palace on April 19, 1710. His wife died just a few months later. The two sons who succeeded him can be seen as a symbol for Dumore's divided life of politics. John Murray, second earl, fought for the English while Dunmore's fifth son, William, joined the Jacobite rising of 1745 and was convicted of treason after the rising failed.

I find that Dunmore's life leaves me with many questions! That doesn't surprise me since I actually love to study Jacobites and the rising of 1745. The fact that Dunmore was a Jacobite at one point already interests me a lot. Yet, his life leaves me curious. Why was Dunmore a Jacobite in the first place? Was he close with James II? Did his time in Scotland make him more apt to join in on the Jacobite cause? Yet, why did his loyalties suddenly vanish? I can only guess Dunmore's loyalties really lay with James II more so than the other Jacobite principles. Once James II was out of the picture, Dunmore didn't care to participate in Jacobite conspiracies surrounding James' son who strove to carry on his father's legacy. I can only wonder, if Dunmore had lived till the 1715 uprising, which side would he have chosen?

Historians should always ask why. Though the answers may look obvious sometimes, that is not always the case. It is important to weigh what we know with what we don't know, and then even ask, why don't we know certain things? Were there no records of certain events or of people's opinions? Noticing patterns and trying to make sense of these patterns is always an important part of history. I found tracing Dunmore's life to be quite interesting, for I wonder if his case was that of many English noblemen during the time. Did loyalties frequently change during this time? If they did, for what reasons? These are just a few of the many questions Dunmore's life has inspired me to ask. Though I could never answer all of them, I'm sure my curiosity will lead me to even more interesting stories along the way.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sir Allen Apsley: The Man Who Should've Posed for More Portraits

Hey guys! I am excited to announce that I have more documents to convert into spreadsheets! Woo!! Exciting stuff, I know. What's even more exciting is that this time I am working on 7 different houses instead of just one! Now before everyone faints from the mere idea of having that much work to do, fear not. Some of these houses are quite small, especially compared to Queen Catherine's house. For instance, the Duke of Cambridge only had three people! Just to give you an idea of what I'm working with, here are all the houses I will be converting into spreadsheets these next few weeks.

James, Duke of York, 1660-1685
Anne, Duchess of York, 1660-1671
Mary, Duchess of York, 1676-1688
James, Prince of Wales, 1688
Lady Mary (later Princess of Orange) 1669-1677
James, Duke of Cambridge, 1663-1667
Lady Isabella, 1677-1680

Don't they all sound so charming? If you'll notice, the Duke of Cambridge only lived to be four years old, poor thing.

Anyway, today I am going to focus on someone from James, Duke of York's house. I would like to introduce everyone to Sir Allen Apsley!

I apologize, but this is the only photo I could find of him!

Sir Allen Apsley was born on August 28, 1616, first son of his father who, not surprisingly, was also named Sir Allen Apsley. When naming offspring, people from this period didn't strain their imaginations too much. His father was victualler of the navy and lieutenant of the Tower of London. Apsley went to school at Merchant Taylors' School, London between 1625 and 1628. He went on to Trinity College, Oxford in November 1631. Once the civil war started, Apsley was commissioned into the royalist forces and by 1642, he was commanding a troop of horse under Sir John Byron. The next year, he was serving as Sir John Berkeley's deputy as lieutenant-governor of Exeter. In 1645 he was appointed governor of Barnstaple.

In Devon, Apsley came into contact with the court of Queen Henrietta Maria and Prince Charles who stayed in Barnstaple in June 1645. He also came into contact with Sir Edward Hyde, chancellor of the exchequer and a member of the prince's council who was distantly connected to Apsley through relatives. It is thought that Apsley married a Devon woman named Frances during this period. Following the departure from the west of the prince, Apsley eventually had to surrender Barnstaple the day after Berkeley yielded Exeter as the royalist resistance collapsed in April 1646. Apsley had a close relationship to Colonel John Hutchinson, governor of Nottingham, who had married his sister Lucy and with whom had stayed for a while. As a result of this relationship, Apsley helped to shield him from over-severe composition terms and defended him from a lawsuit. It is thought that his connection to such a figure is what provided him with links to army leadership and a role in the negotiations between the army and the king. Apsley was knighted on October 17, 1646, suggesting a visit to the king at Newcastle. When Sir John Berkeley was dispatched by the queen to England in the summer of 1647 to open negotiations with the army, Apsley bore a warning message to him from Hutchinson's cousin Henry Ireton and Oliver Cromwell. I know that delivering a message doesn't sound THAT impressive, but this was actually a seemingly important job! I mean, can you imagine delivering a message from Oliver Cromwell himself?

Evidence that Apsley became involved in royalist conspiracy eventually surfaced. From about 1657 he was in contact with a relative, Allen Brodrick, the secretary to the Sealed Knot, a secret Royalist association. He also maintained a regular correspondence with Sir Edward Hyde, now the principal coordinator of royalist schemes. However, he was apparently a great conspirator, since he avoided ever falling under suspicion. By early 1660, Apsley was working in London to protect the king's and Hyde's interests.

Apsley became a member of the household of James, Duke of York shortly before the Restoration, presumably through his friendship with Berkeley who was now Lord Berkeley of Stratton, the duke's favorite. He was also given the post master of the privy hawks during a visit to Charles II at The Hague. So now, Apsley was officially a part of both camps, causing a possible strain on his relationships with Royalists, such as Hyde, and those in the court, such as Berkeley and the duke. However, an affair between the duke and Hyde's daughter Anne and their marriage in September 1660 left Apsley well placed as a link in an important political alliance. Elected MP for Thetford, he acted as manager of the duke's concerns in the commons and worked closely with the manager of Hyde's, his old ally Allen Brodrick.

Apsley was appointed cofferer of the duke's household as well, which meant he shared responsibility for the duke's financial affairs with his treasurer and receiver-general, Thomas Povey. However, his relationship with Povey was not a great one, and by 1666 York's finances were a mess. To solve the issue, Apsley took responsibility as treasurer and receiver-general as well. Using his position and prominence, he returned favors paid to him by his brother-in-law, Hutchinson. He helped him to avoid execution and tried to alleviate the conditions of his imprisonment until Hutchinson's death in 1664. Apsley once again became a soldier during the Second Anglo-Dutch War and accompanied the duke on the Royal Charles at the battle of Lowestoft in June 1665. He was appointed colonel to raise a foot regiment in 1667.

Though everything seemed to be going pretty great for Apsley, this wasn't to last. Apsley's salary from being master of the hawks was cut by the Treasury commission in August of 1667. As a consequence, he surrendered the post to the earl of Rochester and William Chiffinch in return for an annuity in 1675. After Hyde was dismissed, Apsley's involvement in managing government business in the Commons was most likely cut. Though he continued to act as the duke's spokesman in the Commons, defending his second marriage to the princess of Modena, he failed to be elected to the Exclusion parliaments.

Apsley apparently underwent a religious conversion later in his life. A set of verse meditations on Genesis, Order and Disorder, published in 1679 was attributed to Apsley by a man named Anthony Wood. His letters to Hyde in the 1650s show a strong interest in modern and classical literature. Yet, in the preface to Order and Disorder the author confesses that he had "experienc'd it to be a very unsafe and unprofitable thing for those that are young, before their faith be fixed, to exercise themselves in the study of vain, foolish, atheistical poesie". Basically, if Apsley wrote this, it seems his conversion was strong enough to steer him away from the interest he once had in classical literature.

Apsley died in his home in St. James's Square, Westminster, on October 15, 1683 and was buried at Westminster Abbey. I don't know about any of you, but I found Apsley's biography to be a tad dull compared to others I have worked on. I apologize for any drool that may have made it's way onto your laptop if you fell asleep during this biography. It's truly understandable. However! Though Apsley's life story wasn't exactly riveting, I think it is important to read about a life such as his. I love reading stories about monarchs. I could spend all day reading about Charles II or Catherine of Braganza or even Lady Castlemaine. These were prominent people in the court system! Yet, one must realize that their lives were not the lives of everyday men and women. The reason they tend to captivate audiences is because these individuals had the money and power to control the country and its politics. If one had the choice to read about a peasant or a king, I bet that most people would pick the king.

 Apsley's life was certainly not average. He was still prominent enough to be knighted and was a part of the royalist conspiracy, yet it doesn't seem that he caused any significant changes. I mean, I could barely find the one photo of him! Apsley was heavily entrenched in politics but his life didn't circle around mistresses, duels, or overthrowing monarchs. He was a soldier, a knight, and a politician and his less "glamorous" story was surely more common than most of the other individuals I have written about. I think it is important for historians to focus on men like him, and even men who were below his rank, for the monarchs only made up a handful of people during this time. Although they had a lot of power, their stories are no more important than those of the soldier, the politician, or even the peasant.

Paul Seaward, ‘Apsley, Sir Allen (1616–1683)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 23 Oct 2016]

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Mary Queen of Hearts (Technically Duchess)

Hey guys! I have some good news and some bad(ish) news. Good news is that I finally finished the spreadsheet! 899 entries of names, dates, and occupations. Real exciting stuff, right? I honestly feel like a spreadsheet guru. Give me anything, I'll spreadsheet the heck out of it. Am I overemphasizing a skill that most people can do? Probably. Do I care? Nah.

So the bad(ish) news is that I lied to all of you last week. Though I sent in my work on Queen Catherine's house, I unfortunately do not yet have the new list of people under a different royal house. So it looks like I am not destined to end Catherine's royal house with Richard Lumley. Sorry Rich, I hope you can forgive me. Anyway, though I can't make any promises, I think this next person will definitely be the last biography I do from the royal house of Queen Catherine of Braganza. So everyone get ready, cause you're all about to learn about one Mary Villiers, Duchess of Lennox and Richmond.

Mary Villiers was born at Wallingford House, London in March of 1622. She was the eldest and only daughter of her parents, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham and Lady Katherine. She was definitely more popular than I was as a child, already being favored in court circles at a young age. It probably helped that she was the goddaughter of James I, who allowed her free access to the privy quarters and frequently cuddled her, calling her his little grandchild. Due to her father's status, her marriage was arranged early on. As a part of her father's attempt at reconciliation with the heir of the elector palatine, she became betrothed to Charles Herbert, Lord Herbert of Shurland. Mary's father was murdered in 1628, entrusting her guardianship to the Herbert family.

Mary still frequently spent time at court and would participate in masques. On one occasion she was carried to Charles I in a hamper, gaining the name Butterfly or Papillon as a consequence of this. I know that sounds kind of weird, but I think it's an interesting tidbit! Anyway, she married Lord Herbert on January 8, 1635 in the royal closet at Whitehall and before you ask, I'm pretty sure it wasn't an actual closet. The event was celebrated in verse by William Davenant and marked by a drama from Henry Killigrew, published in 1638 as The Conspiracy. I don't know about you, but I would love for my wedding to end up being a drama.

Herbert soon left with his younger brother Philip to travel abroad, as one does not even a year after marriage, and died of smallpox in January 1636 while in Florence. Not one to wait too long, Lady Mary married the king's cousin James Stuart, fourth duke of Lennox and first duke of Richmond on August 3rd, 1637. Though the couple had a house at Cobham Hall in Kent, they remained prominent at court where, apparently, the Duchess's beauty was celebrated in verse and prose. She also had numerous portraits done, including some by Anthony Van Dyck. No wonder she didn't want to leave court, since everyone was apparently swooning over her looks there.

After the outbreak of the civil war, Mary joined the queen in Holland, returning early in 1643. There was some gossip surrounding her that she "had used beating up of quarters ... too frequently with Prince Rupert". Sounds scandalous, right? For those of you who may be confused, and rightly so, this gossip pointed to a romance between the two. In July of 1648, her brother, Lord Francis Villiers, was unfortunately killed in a skirmish. The next year, on the morning of Charles I's execution, the king found his father's watch which Mary had played with as an infant and had it sent to her as his last bequest. Can we just take a moment to recognize how special this woman had to be for the king's last bequest to be to send her his father's watch? My heart can't take it!

Mary eventually had two children, a son, Esme, born in November 1649, and a daughter Mary, born in July 1651. On March 30, 1655 her second husband died as well, leaving Mary in debt. So she set out for France, where she became involved in royalist affairs. Her son died in Paris in August 1660, and it was probably around this time that Mary decided to return to England. In December of that year, a French agent in England wrote to Cardinal Mazarin, after visiting Mary's house, that she was the most amusing woman in the world. So not only was Mary a looker, but had a great personality as well. Luckily for her, this winning personality convinced the French agent to request Charles II that she be repaid 40,000 pounds owed her by the crown and proposed the three of them meet in private to discuss potential royal brides.

In March 1662 she was appointed a lady of the bedchamber to the queen dowager, Henrietta Maria, effectively putting her under the royal house of Catherine of Braganza as well. Though a privy seal was issued for 20,000 pounds to her so she could repay her debts, she still found herself in financial difficulties. Before November 1664 she married Colonel Thomas Howard who was known as Northern Tom Howard. He was lieutenant of the yeoman of the guard and younger brother of Charles Howard, first earl of Carlisle. Though she remained in England when Henrietta Maria returned to France in 1665, she eventually departed for France a few years later. Once there, she played a part in the negotiations between Charles II and his sister, Henriette Anne, Duchess of Orleans. According to French diplomatic correspondence reported in March 1669, Mary told her other brother of Henrietta Anne's distrust of him in a letter.

By 1674 Mary was granted a pension of 1000 pounds a year for the rest of her life. Her daughter, who married Lord Richard Butler, had died in 1668. Her husband died 10 years later in the summer of 1678. So now this poor woman had outlived three husbands, one brother, and both of her children. Unfortunately, not much is known about her last years. Still known as the Duchess of Richmond, she died in 1685 and was buried in the Richmond tomb in Westminster Abbey with her second and third husbands and her son.

Mary Villiers (Stuart), Duchess of Richmond is a good example of why I tend to find history so intriguing. I can tell you guys a million dates: the year she was born, married, had kids, and died. I can tell you about her role in different events in history and what her reputation was. However, what I love to learn and to tell others about are the almost insignificant events that she was a part of. Learning that Charles I thought highly enough of her to send her his father's watch as his final request because he knew it might mean something to her feels more real than any other information I know about her. That is a very human moment and it is moments like that which make these people real.

In history, it can be difficult to imagine historical figures as real people who had real emotions and connections. The farther back in time they lived, the harder it can be to feel any sort of connection. However, when I learn that Mary was considered "amusing" by a French agent or that James I called her his "little grandchild", I see these people as real human beings. They felt sorrow when losing a loved one and happiness when doing something they loved. Although I've written longer biographies about far more prominent people, in a way I feel that I connected more with Mary than with most other members of the royal court. This is why I love history, and this is why it is so important in today's time. It can be hard to learn from characters or stories which seem fictional because they happened so long ago, but if we can see these people as real, we might just be able to use what we know about them to shape our own lives today.

Freda Hast, ‘Villiers , Mary, duchess of Lennox and Richmond (1622–1685)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 16 Oct 2016]