Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Execution and Burial of King Charles I (Part One)


King Charles I at the time of his trial in 1649,
as painted by Edward Bower.
[Source : Wikipedia]

This Blog will be in two parts, firstly the events that transpired after the execution of King Charles I at Whitehall on the 30th January 1649 and prior to the removal of the King's body to Windsor Castle; and secondly, the removal of the King's body to Windsor Castle and his clandestine burial in St. George's Chapel. A later Blog will give an interesting account, 164 years later, of the rediscovery and re-opening of his coffin in 1813.

But we do not however need to dwell on the lengthy and well documented reasons why, as decreed by Oliver Cromwell's 'Rump Parliament', that King Charles I, and convicted on the charge of High Treason, bravely met his fate at the hands of the executioner. But the subsequent, and sometimes inconsistent, story of his secretive burial is not widely known and is worth relating.


The Execution of King Charles I at Whitehall, 1649
From a painting by Ernest Crofts, R.A
Source : Bibby's Annual 1909
(from my own collection) 

The above painting recreates the grim winter morning scene on the 30th January 1649 after King Charles I had been led through the Banqueting Hall at Whitehall Palace and out through an opening made in a window onto the scaffold prior to his execution. The executioner and his assistant are ready and waiting at right with the execution block visible. Mr Herbert [Sir Thomas Herbert], the King's faithful servant and 'Groom of the Bedchamber', is shown holding his master's hat and cloak while supporting himself on the window sill, being in a state of distress and collapse. King Charles, at left, with perfect dignity and calmness, hands the blue ribbon of the Order of the Garter, which he had worn around his neck, to Bishop Juxon. Roundhead soldiers keep back the sullen and disapproving crowd. Thus has been immortalised a significant and pivotal event in British history.


King Charles I's Bible, believed given to
Bishop Juxon just prior to his execution.
[Source : TheBookofDays.com]

Herbert writes that prior to his execution, King Charles I passed his Bible to Bishop Juxon to be passed onto his son who was then safely in exile in France; "His Majesty also delivered him his Bible, in the margin whereof he had, with his own hand, written many annotations and quotations, and charged him to give it to the Prince [the future King Charles II] so soon as he returned."

Being a bitterly cold day, Charles went to his execution wearing two heavy shirts so that he might not shiver in the cold and appear to be afraid. Prior to the actual execution, King Charles I "declared publicly that he died a Christian according to the profession of the Church of England."


King Charles I's Watch, given to Sir Thomas
Herbert on the morning of his execution.

[Source : TheBookofDays.com]

Finally, with the King indicating that he was ready, the executioner carried out the fatal stroke. Click Here if you wish to read a full transcript of the King's final words prior to his execution.

The identity of the masked and disguised Executioner remains unclear, the official Executioner, Richard Brandon, at least initially, refused to carry out the task despite payment of £200 being offered. But an examination of the skull in 1813, clearly shows a clean strike from a steady hand. The British Parliamentary website claims that after the Restoration in 1660 The House of Lords ordered the return of the Death Warrant from Charles’ [unnamed] executioner, then being imprisoned in the Tower of London. But we know Richard Brandon himself died in June 1649, just five months after Charles.


A contemporary German print of
the Execution of King Charles I
[Source : Wikipedia]

From this point there are at least two separate published accounts which I shall primarily refer to. The first narrative is dated 1721 and relies heavily on the earlier published memoirs, of Mr John Rushworth (died 1690), Clerk-Assistant to the Parliamentary House of Commons under Cromwell, and particularly that of the King's Groom of the Bedchamber, Sir Thomas Herbert (died 1682), written between 1678 and 1681.

The second narrative, written by Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, prior to his death in 1674 and published in 1807, unfortunately varies somewhat. I shall however attempt to find some commonality in these accounts or note where the accounts markedly differ. Even in 1681 Mr Herbert refers to "misinformation" as to events.


Another representation of the execution of King Charles I.
Painter unknown, c.1649.
[Source : National Galleries of Scotland]

We know from the 1721 and earlier accounts, that immediately after the execution "The corpse was put into a coffin, and the Bishop and Mr Herbert went with it to the Back-stairs to have it embalmed; after embalming, his head was sewed on, and the corpse was wrapt in lead, and the coffin covered with a velvet pall then removed to St. James's."

The condition of the body in 1813 confirms that it was speedily embalmed. We also know that the body was wrapped in cere-cloth [a waxed cloth used to cover the dead] and placed in a wooden coffin prior to being sealed in a plain leaden coffin. The velvet pall was noted lying over the coffin in 1813.


The head of King Charles I, having
been re-stitched onto his body.
From a contemporary painting.

The 1807 narrative of Lord Clarendon conversely states that "His body was immediately carried into a room at Whitehall; where he was exposed for many days to the public view, that all men might know that he was not alive. And he was then embalmed, and put into a coffin, and so carried to St. James's [Palace]; where he likewise remained several days...". This account appears partly spurious.

We do however know from Herbert's memoirs that many wished to see the King's body whilst it lay in his chambers at St. James's Palace. He confirms that until the 7th February "it was exposed to public view", also that many would have given money "for locks of his hair" but these requests were refused by Mr Trapam, the King's Surgeon. Herbert also notes of the 'public viewing' that "but few had leave to enter and behold it".


Oliver Cromwell visiting the coffin of King Charles I,
from a painting by Paul Delaroche, 1831
[Source : Wikipedia]

Oliver Cromwell is also alleged to have visited Charles's coffin one night, sighing "Twas a cruel necessity!" as he did so. Neither narrative mentions this alleged event, being published as late as 1894.

The 1721 narrative informs us that the King's above-mentioned faithful servant, Mr Herbert and another Royal Courtier, Mr Anthony Mildmay, made all the initial burial arrangements. The King is not believed to have left any specific requests regarding his burial. Mr Herbert initially made application to Parliament to have His Majesty buried in the Chapel of King Henry VII at Westminster Abbey. This was refused as "his burying here would attract members of all sorts thither, to see where the King was buried; which, as the times were, was judged unsafe and inconvenient."


The Chapel of King Henry VII in Westminster Abbey,
as painted by Canaletto, early 1750's. It had been
intended that King Charles I would be interred here.
[Source : Wikipedia]

After discussions, Mr Herbert then made application to Parliament to bury His Majesty in the Royal Chapel of St George at Windsor, both in regard to his having been a member of the Most Noble Order of the Garter and that several other Kings were interred there. Approval was granted on the 6th February 1649.

The 1807 narrative notes that four of the late King's faithful Noblemen, being the Duke of Richmond, the Marquis of Hertford, and the Earls of Southampton and Lindsey also made application to "those who governed, 'that they might have leave to perform the last duty to their dead master, and to wait upon him to his grave.'"

This request was hesitantly granted, "that they should not attend the corpse out of town; since they resolved it should be privately carried to Windsor without pomp or noise, and then they should have timely notice, that, if they pleased, they might be at his internment." Furthermore, the cost was not to exceed £500.

The 1721 narrative later records these four Noblemen appearing unexpectedly at Windsor which indicates that they acted independently of Messrs. Herbert and Mildmay.


Sir Thomas Herbert
[Source : Wikipedia Commons]

The 1807 narrative claims that "...that it was committed to four of those servants who had been by them [those in authority] appointed to wait upon him during his imprisonment, that they should convey the body to Windsor..." Those four servants were Messrs Herbert, Mildmay, Preston and Joyner, along with "some others in mourning equipage".

The 1721 narrative describes the sombre scene as the cortège left St James's Palace on the night of the 7th February 1649; "...a hearse covered with black velvet, drawn by six horses covered with black cloth, in which were about a dozen gentleman, most of them being such that had waited upon his Majesty...". Four coaches followed, two also being covered with black cloth.

Click Here to read Part Two of this Blog which details the arrival at Windsor Castle and the further events that transpired.

Bibliography :

- "Athenae Oxonienses", Vol II, Woods, 1721
- "History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England", Vol III, Clarendon, 1807
- "Memoirs of the Last Two Years of then Reign of King Charles I", Sir Thomas Herbert, 1813
- "An Account of what Appeared on Opening the Coffin of King Charles The First", Sir Henry Halford, 1813


Sunday, 16 August 2015

Dalkeith Palace - A Little Known Grand Scottish Palace


A coloured print of Dalkeith Palace from 1880.
Source : Wikipedia

The story of the little known but palatial Dalkeith Palace in Midlothian Scotland is worth relating, simply because of what it had once been. Rather sadly, the fine contents parted company with the Palace 103 years ago and are now, although still both family owned, irrevocably separated. How and why will be detailed further on in this blog.

The Gallery, taken 1911.
Source : Country Life

But first we need to travel back to 1701 when Anne, Duchess of Buccleugh (and widow of King Charles the Second's illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth), returned to Scotland after many years at Court to oversee the large family estates.

The Staircase Hall and Marble Staircase, taken 1911.
The 1828 marble statue of the Duke of Wellington
by Thomas Campbell still resides here today.
Source : Country Life

It was Duchess Anne who, in 1702, engaged the noted Scottish Architect James Smith to rebuild the old castle at Dalkeith, just south of Edinburgh. A Palladian fronticepiece now graced the handsome new building but what Smith also created inside, and under the specific direction of the Duchess, truly set out to impress. The baroque decorations were magnificent but the frequent and beautiful use of marble for architectural work within the house was, then and now, almost unique in Scotland. This work included not only the marble staircase but a marble screen with Corinthian columns, marble door casings, chimney pieces and fireplaces, with marble tables to match. Smith created a baroque masterpiece.

A pink and white carved chimney piece by Grinling Gibbons
located in Duchess Anne's "Petit Apartements". Taken 1911
Source : Country Life

Naturally the standard of furniture and furnishings were equally impressive and this can be confirmed by the fact that the majority of the furniture from the formal rooms survive today.

Later Dukes of Buccleugh were responsible for the landscaped park which surrounds the Palace, including the striking single arch "Montagu Bridge" designed and built by Robert Adam in 1792.


The Montagu Bridge by William Adam
and framing the rear of Dalkeith Palace.
Source : WKU Libraries

Dalkeith Palace had a number of memorable and famous visitors. Firstly, Prince Charles Edward Stuart stayed for two nights at Dalkeith Palace in 1745 during his ill fated attempt to regain the English throne for his Father. Duke Francis, a Hanoverian supporter, was forced to provide hospitality to the 'Young Pretender' and with troops supporting the Prince encamped nearby one would not have dared refuse. Francis still generously plied the Prince with chicken, duck, oysters and brandy. I wonder what conversation passed between the Duke and The Prince at the dinner table?


A 19th century 'Mauchline Ware' paper knife with a printed
image of Dalkeith Palace. This is known as 'Transfer Ware'
From my own collection.

Then in 1822, and due to the "long neglected" condition of the Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh, King George IV used Dalkeith Palace for two weeks as his "pied-à-terre", being the guest of Walter, the young 16 year old Duke of Buccleugh. During this momentous state visit to Scotland, George would drive out daily to drawing rooms, balls, theatre performances, banquets and dances but much entertaining also took place at Dalkeith. Lamps illuminated the entire road at night between Edinburgh and Dalkeith.

A close up of the above 'transfer ware' image of Dalkeith Palace.
From my own collection.

The Royal chefs took over the Dalkeith kitchens with the King being served by his own Butlers. But keeping an eye on his generous - but young - host, the King once protested when the Duke was offered a glass of the King's liquer, "No! No! It is too strong for his Grace to drink." At night the King slept "in a domed Polonaise bed amid the luxury of Dalkeith", the bed having been especially made for him.

The Entrance Front, Dalkeith Palace, 1984.
Source : Country Life

Another significant visit took place during the state visit of Queen Victoria to Scotland in 1842. Due to a sudden outbreak of scarlet fever at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen and Prince Albert resided for five days in Dalkeith Palace with the Queen's leveés being held in the Gallery.  

Dalkeith Palace today.
Source : Wikipedia Commons

While photographed by "Country Life" in 1911 and 1912, it is indeed unfortunate that the Palace interiors with the original furniture and furnishings "in situ", were not fully recorded. For in 1914 the Buccleugh family formally "closed" Dalkeith Palace, transferring the sumptuous contents primarily to their country seat of Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries and Galloway. The latter has been further enriched by furnishings from the demolished London family seat of Montagu House in Whitehall. For the duration of 'The Great War' the estate at Dalkeith was used to house soldiers.

Dalkeith Palace today.
Source : Wikipedia Commons

Thus it is fortunate that despite a variety of subsequent uses, including housing Polish troops during World War Two and since 1984 being occupied by the European Study Centre for the University of Wisconsin USA, the Palace itself has survived the vicissitudes of time, not to mention death duties and the huge cost of maintaining an old building. Sentiment may have played a part in its survival. In the decades following The Great War grand family homes often had little appeal and were deeply unfashionable. Finding other uses for the palace most likely saved it. Ownership of Dalkeith Palace is, to their credit, still retained by the Dukes of Buccleugh and Queensberry, and the building is kept in good repair. The last major work involved fitting a new roof in 2008. Bearing in mind the fate of unfashionable and unwanted architectural masterpieces such as Hamilton Palace, the Montagu - Douglas - Scott family have been excellent guardians of their heritage.

The Marble Hall today.
Source : University of Wisconson in Scotland

An impression of the rich furniture and furnishing which once graced the Palace rooms may today be gained by visiting Drumlanrig Castle. But both Palace and contents are indeed now irrevocably separated and were an attempt ever made to rejoin the two this would considerably diminish the now opulent interiors at Drumlanrig.

The Entrance Hall today.
Source : University of Wisconson in Scotland

The Dalkeith Palace grounds have been open to the public since 1975 and upwards of 80 students now occupy the Palace during the term semesters.

The now semi-ruinous conservatory in the Palace grounds.
It has now become what one would term a "folly".
Source : British Listed Buildings


Bibliography :

- "Scottish Houses and Gardens", by Ian Gow (Country Life publication)
- "George IV" by Christopher Hibbert
- Various Internet resources


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Poignant Story of a Colonial Era Bible


The Sparrow Family Bible
[From my own collection]

Among my family collection of ephemera and artefacts is an old hand sized Bible. But 154 years after the death of the then 21 year old owner in the remote and wild backblocks of colonial era New Zealand, this old King James Version Bible has a poignant story to tell. This story is doubly significant for me because had the owner lived I would simply not be here.

In 1982, as I rummaged through boxes of dusty old books in my Father's then unoccupied and eerily sombre old family home in rural Southland, a small and well handled leatherette bound Bible caught my eye. I had no idea of who it belonged to and the scribble of family names in it, dating back to 1841, meant absolutely nothing to me. Out of perhaps 100 books, many of them old school or church prizes from the Edwardian era, some with fancy art nouveau style covers, I chose only a comfortable handful which included the Bible. It was however only a matter of some weeks later that the old wooden house burnt down in a blazing inferno with the loss of all the remaining books, many with presentation bookplates which I would have liked to have kept. But what prompted me to choose this old Bible, thus saving it and the story that went with it, has always intrigued me as my choice proved to be significant.


The Names of Sparrow Family Children
Recorded in the Old Bible
[From my own Collection]

It was only as late as 2003 that I was finally able to unravel, through an Internet surname interest list, the full story relating to the scribble of family names on the inside cover of the Bible. I discovered that it related to my Great Grandfather's first wife and her own siblings, being of course all in her maiden name. This now linked the Bible to known family history and is today a very tangible link to a series of momentous events that occurred over 150 years ago.  


The picturesque Simpson Family Home and adjoining
Stonecarving Business at 5 Ipswich Road, Stowmarket.
Note the yard with an array of carved tombstones.
[Source : M. Humphries, England]

So I now know that I hold the family Bible of Emma Sparrow (born 1841) and her siblings of Suffolk, England. Being born in the small village of Onehouse, Emma married my Great Grandfather, Charles Herbert Simpson, a stonemason of Stowmarket, on the 28th April 1861. As Emma was the eldest daughter and her parents were by then deceased this may account for her holding the Sparrow family Bible. While an unintentional pun, I also discovered that her mother's maiden name was "Bird". Even then this would have been the subject of some mirth. But surprisingly, I note that Emma's marriage certificate is signed with an "X" which indicates that she could not write thus sadly her education was obviously limited. The 1851 census (when aged 10) shows her as residing with her family in Stowmarket with "Sunday School" given under 'occupation' rather than "scholar" were she attending school. Her younger siblings were likewise recorded as "Sunday School". Unfortunately schools were then not always free let alone compulsory by law.


The Simpson Family Stonemason's Trade Card
[From my own collection]

The Simpson family ran a successful stonemason's business in Stowmarket, working mainly on carving tombstones. But by the end of August 1861 both Emma (née Sparrow) and Charles Simpson, including his siblings and elderly parents, as well as grandchildren, had departed en masse for a new life in Colonial New Zealand. What specifically drew them here all at once is unknown as they left behind an apparently thriving business, being carried on by remaining family members. Emma would almost certainly have known when she married that in under six months she would be embarking on a voyage half way around the world for a new life in New Zealand, leaving behind not only her friends of old but also her own eight surviving siblings.


The Immigrant Sailing Vessel, "Chile", which
served from 1860 to 1892
[Source : Ward, Simpson Family History 1861-1976]

The immigrant sailing vessel "Chile", an iron hulled ship of 768 tons under charter to "Shaw Saville & Co." and carrying no less than ten Simpson family members, departed from Gravesend London on the 29th August 1861, arriving at Port Chalmers New Zealand on the 14th December 1861 after a no doubt tiresome - and perilous - voyage. She was known as a fast ship and described as "One of the noblest passenger ships afloat, whose cabins have all the conveniences of an ocean steamer." Still, such a voyage, especially in a sailing vessel, was not taken lightly. Emma brought out with her the small Sparrow family Bible which is now not only a tangible link to Emma herself but also to the 1861 voyage of the "Chile". All travelled as steerage passengers on a promissory note, which means that the fare was to be repaid from wages to be earned in New Zealand through employment with the Provincial Government.


The rugged Southern Coastline with the Waikawa Estuary 
highlighted. The settlement of Waikava was, as at 1861, 
located on the eastern (right hand) side of the harbour.
[Source : Google Maps]

While family folklore, especially after 154 years, can be misleading, the generally accepted and most believable story (of two diverse versions) was that Mrs Emma Simpson née Sparrow, died in childbirth at Waikava [the old name for the present day Waikawa] not long after her arrival in New Zealand, also losing her child. Luckily both versions of the family "story" do at least relate to Waikava, then a remote settlement on the southern coast and being primarily serviced by occasional passing coastal trade vessels. Due to this remoteness neither death could be officially registered nor was this attended to later thus there are simply no written records. But the Bible I rescued has at least, along with the names and dates of birth of Emma's eight siblings, the following entries :

"Emma Sparrow, Born 23rd January 1841"

[and underneath in different handwriting]

"Died July 12th 1862"


Confirmation in the Bible of the date of birth and
date of death of Mrs Emma Simpson (née Sparrow).
[From my own collection]

My family never knew why Mrs Emma Simpson née Sparrow had even been in such a remote settlement. The other less believable "story" of her death related to a shipwreck off Waikava on the journey further south. Although a decidedly treacherous coastline, either in a sailing vessel or steamer, no ships were reported as lost at this time. But around ten years ago the discovery of an obscure newspaper reference in the "Otago Witness" for the 3rd January 1863 resolved this mystery beyond reasonable doubt. The article refers to blocks of stone from "Waikava" carved by Mr E. Simpson (Senior) to be exhibited at the Industrial Exhibition at Dunedin. Thus the Simpson family had been employed at Waikava, reverting to their stonemasonry skills and presumably under the direction of the Provincial Government. While it is known that stone mining once took place in this area, the local Historical Museum advised me that the stone proved not to be durable for building purposes.


The Settlement of Waikawa as it appeared in 1899
still with native forest on the hills. As at 1861 the
old settlement of Waikava lay across the harbour.
[Source : The Cyclopedia of Otago & Southland]

The harbour at Waikava, then being a sufficient ten feet at low tide, enabled not only quarried and dressed stone but also good quality coal from local seams and around 20,000 feet of milled timber per week from the Haldane family sawmill to be shipped to larger settlements such as Dunedin. The silting up of the bar at the entrance to the picturesque harbour, being the estuary of the Waikawa River, plus the opening up of inland roads and the extension of the southern railway line in the mid to late 1870's proved to be the death knell of Waikava as a coastal shipping port.


The Information Board at the current Waikawa Cemetery
[From own own collection]

The Waikawa Cemetery now records Emma's death on an information board although her burial place, including that of her infant child, lies on farmland in the private Haldane Family burial ground on the other side of the estuary. In these early years the old settlement of Waikava was then located across the harbour. Emma's resting place and that of other early settlers was, according to an older resident, once surrounded by a picket fence but this is no longer extant. I believe a rock now marks the area. While I have not yet visited I hope one day to pay my own respects, taking with me Emma's Bible. Emma's grieving husband, Charles Herbert Simpson, later married again and had five children, one being my Grandmother, being named Emma in remembrance of his first wife. Charles himself died at Riverton Southland in 1877 aged 38 years after suffering a severe epileptic attack.


The new Waikawa Cemetery on the western side of the bay
taken looking towards the south east. Emma Simpson's
grave lies on the other side of the bay.
[From my own collection]

One could not imagine Emma's feelings of expectation, but no doubt also trepidation, at dutifully following her husband half way around the world. She met her fate only seven months later while in childbirth in the remote coastal settlement of Waikava and far from experienced medical care. She was probably reliant on her mother in law, Mrs Lucy Simpson and a capable local settler and mother, Mrs Elizabeth (Betsy) Haldane. Emma is certainly buried on what was then the Haldane family farm. Sadly, I note that Emma's own mother had died of "childbirth complications" in 1856 (the child lived). One dreads to think of what Emma may have suffered in those final hours or even days. But her family Bible, a very tangible and tactile link to Emma herself, has helped keep her tragic story alive today.


The Simpson Family,
Stowmarket, Suffolk, England, 1861
[Source : M. Humphries, Cambridge, England]

There the story of Emma and her Bible would have ended but for the quite unexpected and rather remarkable discovery of a named outdoors group photo of the Simpson family taken before they departed for New Zealand in 1861, being held by distant family descendants in England. This includes Emma (née Sparrow) and her husband Charles Simpson, the only known photograph of both.


The rear of a carte-de-visite
photograph taken by John Deazeley
of Stowmarket, circa 1864 - 1873.
[Source : Photographers of Australia]

This photograph could either be the work of "F. Downing" or "John Deazeley". Downing is known to have had a "short lived" studio in Ipswich Street, Stowmarket in 1858 but unfortunately there is no subsequent record of him. Another photographer, John Deazeley (1831-1890), who we do know specialised in small carte-de-visite format outdoors group photos, especially of sports groups, appears not to have set up a permanent studio in Stowmarket until 1864. As at 1861 he is noted as working as a Photographer but living at Halesworth which is 30 miles north of Stowmarket. The Simpson photo is a copy print so there are no other identifying details but we can at least be certain about the date it was taken.


Emma Simpson (née Sparrow) and Charles Simpson, 1861
[Source : M. Humphries, Cambridge, England]

Today we see a grainy image of a thin-faced woman peering out from a slow exposure (in good light perhaps a few seconds) photo taken in England a century and a half ago. I am still left wondering at what unknown guiding force motivated me to save her Bible from an impending inferno and then to find the 1861 Simpson family photo - plus all their names. I like to think that Emma herself desired that her story be told and that she wished not to be forgotten. It is rather odd but curiously satisfying that other serendipitous discoveries, with some being more than mere chance, have occurred to me over the years.


Bibliography :

- "Ward, Simpson Family History 1861 - 1976" by Lucy Froggatt (from my own collection)
- "The Ward Family History", Dec 1975, by Lucy Froggatt (from my own collection)
- "Cyclopedia of Otago and Southland", 1905 (from my own collection)
- "Photographers of Australia" Website
- "Shaw Saville & Albion Line" records (accessed 1975)
- Humphries family, England
- Simpson Family History (commissioned by the Simpson family)
- "Papers Past", National Library of New Zealand / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
- Personal Family papers


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