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A visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 1) online

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the prisoners were to be pardoned, yet my
Lord would certainly not be of the number.
When I inquired into the reason of this
distinction I could obtain no other answer
than that they would not flatter me. But
I soon perceived the reasons which they
declined alleging to me. A Roman Ca-
tholic upon the frontiers of Scotland who
headed a very considerable party ; a man
whose family had always signalized itself
by its loyalty to the royal house of Stuart,
and who was the only support of the Ca-
tholics against the inveteracy of the Whigs,
who were very numerous in that part of
Scotland, would become an agreeable sacri-
fice to the opposite party. They still re-
tained a lively rememlirance of his grand-
father, who defended his own castle of
Caerlaverock to tlie last extremity, and
surrendered it up only at the express com-
mand of his royal master. Now having
his grandson in their power, they were
determined not to let him escape from
their hands. Upon this I formed the reso-
lution to attempt his escape, but opened
my intention to no one but my dear Evans.
Li order to concert measures 1 strongly
solicited to be permitted to see my Lord,
which they refused to grant me unless
I would remain confined with him in



100



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



the Tower. This I would not gnbniit
to, and alleged for excuse tliat my health
would not permit me to imdergo the con-
finement. The real reason of my refusal
was not to put it out of my power to
accomplish my designs ; however by bribing
the guards 1 often contrived to see my
Lord, till the day upon which the pri-
soneis were condemned. After that, for the
last week we were allowed to see and take
our leave of them. By the assistance of
Evans I had prepared eveiything necessary
to disguise my Lord, but had the utmost
difficulty to prevail upon him to make use
of them. However, I at length succeeded
by the help of Almighty God. On the
22nd of February, Avhich fell upon a Thurs-
day, our general petition v/as presented to
the House of Lords, the purport of which
was to interest the Lords to intercede with
his Majesty to pardon the prisoners. We
were however disappointed, the day before
the petition was to be presented, the Duke
of St. Albans, who had promised my Lady
Derwentwater to present it, when it came to
the point failed in his word. However, as
she was the only English Countess concemedj
it was mcumbent on her to have it presented.
We had but one day left before the execu-
tion, and the Duke still promised to present
the petition, but for fear he should fail I
engaged the Duke of Montrose to secure its
being done by one or the other. T then went
in company with most of the ladies of qua-
lity then in town to solicit the interest of
the Lords as they were going to the House.
They all behaved to me with great civility,
but particidarly the Earl of Pembroke, wlio,
though he desired me not to speak to him,
yet he promised to employ his interest in
my favour, and honourably kept his word,
for he spoke very strongly in our behalf.
The subject of the debate was, Avhether the
king had the power to pardon those who had
been condemned by parliament ; and it was
chiefly owing to Lord Pembroke's speech
that it was carried in the affirmative. How-
ever, one of the lords stood up, and said the
House could only intercede for those of the
prisoners who should approve themselves
worthy of their intercession, but not for all
of them indiscriminately. This salvo quite
blasted all my hopes, for I was assured tliat
it was aimed at the exclusion of those who
sliould refuse to subscribe to tlie petition,
which was a tiling I knew my Lord would
never submit to ; nor in fact could I wish to
preserve his life on these terms. As the
motion had passed generally I thought I
could draw from it some advantage in favour
of my design. Accordingly I immediately
left the House of Lords, and hastened to the
Tower, where, affecting an air of joy and .sa-
tisfaction, I toM the guards 1 passed liy (hat



I came to bring joyful tidings to the pri-
soners ; I desired them to lay aside tlieir
fears, for the petition had passed the house
in their favour. I then gave them some
money to drink to the Lords and his iNlajesty,
though it was but trifling, for I thought if I
were too liberal on the occasion they might
suspect ray designs, and that giving them
something would gain their good-will and
services for the next day wliich was the eve
of execution. Thenext morning I could not go
to the Tower, having so many tilings on my
hands to put in readiness ; but in the evening
when all was ready I sent for Mrs. INIills,
Avith whom I lodged, and acquainted her with
my design of attempting my Lord's escape,
as there was no ytrospect of his being par-
doned, and that this was the last night before
the execution. I told her that I had every-
thing in readiness, and that I trusted she
would not refuse to accompany me, that my
Lord might pass for her. 1 pressed her to
come immediately as we had no time to lose.
At the same time I sent to Mrs. IMorgan,
then usually known by the name of Hilton,
to whose acquaintance my dear Evans had
introduced me, which I look upon as a very
singular happiness. I immediately commu-
nicated my resolutions to her. She was of
a very tall slender make, so I begged her to
put under her own riding-hood one that I
had prepared for Mrs. Mills, as she was to
lend hers to my Lord, that in coming out
he miglit be taken for her. Mrs. Mills was
tlien with cliild, so that she was not only of
the same height, but nearly of the same
size as my Lord. When we were in the
coach, I never ceased talking that tliey miglit
have no leisure to reflect. Tlieir surprise
and astonishment when I first opened my
design to them had made them consent
without even thinking of the consequences.
On our arrival at the Tower, the first I intro-
duced was ;\lrs. ilorgan (for I was only
allowed to take in one at a time). She
brought in the clothes that were to serve
Mrs. JMills when she left her own behind her.
When Jlrs. ]\Iorgan had taken off what she
had brought for my purpose, I conducted
her back to the staircase, and in going I
begged her to send me my maid to dress me,
that I was afraid of being too late to present
my last petition that night if she did not
come immediately. I des[)atchcd her safe,
and went partly down stairs to meet Mrs.
Mills, who had the precaution to hold her
handkerchief to her face, as is natural for a
woman to do when she is going to take her
last farcAvell of a friend on the eve of his
execution. I had indeed desired her to do
so that my Lord might go out in the same
manner. Her 03' obrows were rather inclined
to be sandy, and my Lord's were ver}^ dark
and very Ihiek; liowcvev I had prepared



SEATS or GREAT BRITAIN.



101



gome paint of the colour of hers to disguise
his with ; I also brouglit an artificial lieacl-
dress of tlie same coloured liair as hers, and
I painted his face witli wliite and his clieeks
with rouge to hide his long beard, wliicli he
had not time to shave. All this provision I
liad before left in the Tower. Tlie poor
guards, whom my slight liberality the day
before had endeared me to, let me go quietly
out with my company, and Avere not so
strictly on the Avatch as they usually had
been, and the more so as they were per-
suaded from what I told them the day before
that the prisoners would obtain their pardon.
1 made Mrs. Mills take off her own hood,
and put on that which I had brought for her.
I then took her by the hand and led her out
of my Lord's chamber, and in passing through
the next room, in which were several people,
with all the concern imaginable I said, " My
dear Mrs. Catherine, go in all haste and send
me my waiting-maid, she certainly cannot
reflect Iioav late it is ; I am to ^jresent my
petition to-night, and if I let slip this oppor-
tunity I am undone, for to-morrow will be
too late ; hasten her as much as possible, for
I shall be on thorns till she comes." Every-
body in the lOom, who were chiefly the
guards' wives and daughters, seemed to com-
passionate me exceedingly, and the sentinel
officiously opened the door. When I had
seen lier safe out, I returned to my Lord and
finished dressing him. I had taken care that
Mrs. Mills did not go out crying, that my
Lord might the better pass for the lady who
came in crying and afflicted, and the more
so, because he had the same dress which she
Avore. When 1 had almost finished dressing
my Lord in all my petticoats except one, I
perceived that it was growing dark, and Avas
afraid that the light of the candles might
betray us, so I resolved to set olF. I Avent
out leading him by the hand, Avhilst he held
his handkerchief to his eyes. I spoke to him
in the most piteous and afflicted tone of voice,
bewailing bitterly the negligence of EA'ans,
who had ruined me by her delay. Then said
I, " My dear Mrs. Betty, for the love of God,
run quickly and bring her with you ; you
know my lodging, and if you ever made des-
patch in your life, do it at present. I am
almost distracted with this disappointment."
The guards opened the door, and I went
down stairs Avith him, still conjuring him to
make all possible despatch. As soon as he
had cleared the door I made him walk before
me for fear the sentinel should take notice of
his Avalk ; but I still continued to press him to
make all the despatch he possibly could. At
the bottom of the stairs I met my dear EA-ans,
into whose hands I confided him. I had
before engaged Mr. Mills to be in readiness
before the Tower to conduct him to some



place of safety in case we succeeded. He
looked upon the affair as so very improbable
to succeed that his astonishment Avhen he
saAV us threw him into such a consternation
that he Avas almost out of himself; Avhicli
Evans perceiving, with the greatest presence
of mind, Avithout telling him anything lest
he should mistrust them, conducted him to
some of her own friends on Avhom she could
rel)', and so secured him, Avithout Avhich Ave
should have been undone. When she had
conducted him, and left him Avith them she
returned to Mr. IMills, avIio by this time had
recovered himself from his astonishment.
They Avent home together, and having foxmd
a place of security they conducted him to it.
In the meantime as I had pretended to have
sent the young lady on a message I Avas
obliged to return up stairs, and go back to
my Lord's room in the same feigned anxiety
of being too late, so that everybody seemed
sincerely to sjmipathise in my distress.
AVhen I Avas in the room I talked as if he had
been really present ; I ansAvered my oAvn
questions in my Lord's voice as nearly as I
could imitate it ; I Avalked up and doAvn as
if we Avere conversing together till I thought
they had time enough thoroughly to clear
themselves of the guards. I then thought
proper to make off also. I opened the door,
and stood half in it that those in the outward
chamber might hear what I said, but held it
so close that they could not look in. I bade
my Lord formal farewell for the night, and
added that something more than usual
must have happened to make Evans negli-
gent on this important occasion, Avho had
ahvays been so punctual in the smallest tri-
fles ; that I saAv no other remedy but to go
in person, that if tlie ToAver was still open,
Avhen T had finished my Inisiness, 1 would
return that night ; but that he miglit be
assured I would be with him as early in the
morning as I could gain admittance into the
Tower, and I flattered myself I should bring
more favouralile news. Then before I shut
the door I pulled through the string of the
latch, so that it could only be opened in the
inside. I then shut it Avith some degree of
force that I might be sure of its being
well shut. I said to the servant as I passed
by (who Avas ignorant of the whole trans-
action), that he need not carry in candles to
his master till my Lord sent for them, ns
he desired to finish some prayers first. I
Avent doAvn stairs and called a coach, as there
weie several on the stand, and drove home to
my OAvn lodgings, Avhere poor Mi. jMcKenzie
had been waiting to carry thepetition in case
my attempt had failed. I told him there
was no need of any petition as my Lord Avas
safe out of the ToAvcr, and out of the liands
of his enemies as I supposed, but that I did



102



SEATS OF GREAT imiTAIN.



not know wliere lie was. I discharged the
coach and sent for a sedan chair and went
to the Duchess ol' Buccleugh, who expected
me about tliat time, as I had begged of lier
to present tlie petition for me, having taken
my precaution against all events. I asked
if she was at home, and they answered me
that she expected me, and had another
duchess with her. T refused to go up stairs
as she hsid company with her, and I was not
in a condition to see any other company. I
beggetl to be shown into a chamber below
stairs, and that they would have the goodness
to send her Grace's maid to me, having
something to say to her. I had discharged
the chair lest I might be pursued and
watched."

It would have been a pity if so much cou-
rage and affection had been defeated. But
they were not. His Lordship escaped to
Calais in a servant's livery, when so lapid
was the passage, that the captain jestinglv
remarked, " the wind could not have served
better if my passengers had been flying for
their lives."

Not long afterward the Countess by tlie
advice of an eminent lawj-er fled the country
and joined her husband, for so incensed was
the king against her that there was no
saying how far he might be inclined to
stretc'.. the law against her.

The mansion of Terregles, as it now ap-
pears, was built about sixt}^ years ago. It is
a large plain building of red freestone in the
Grecian style of architecture. The gardens
and grounds are extensive, in part retaining
the form in which they were originally laid
out at a very remote period. The terraces,
and clipped hedges of beech and yew, bring
us back to the times Avhen the great object
Avas to confine nature in stays as it were,
and reduce her from a wild frolicsome maiden
to a sober and prim matron.

The old house or castle Avas pulled down
about three and twenty years since.

DINDEE HOUSE, about two miles from
Wells, Somersetshire, the seat of James
Curtis Somerville, Esq. The present man-
sion Avas built in 1802, upon the site of the
old manor-house, by the Rev. William
Somerville, prebendary of Wells, vicar of
Bibmy, and rector of Aston-Somerville in
Crloucestershire. It is a substantial stone-
faced building, in a mixture of the Italian
and Grecian stjdes, and stands in a pictu-
resque valley, surrounded by trees. At the
back is the village of Dinder. In the plea-
sure grounds is a stream of Avator, Avith
small cascades, and crossed by a bridge in
the road from the House to the Lodge.

At one time IJinder House belonged to
the Rodneys ; from them it passed to the



Ilicks's, through Avhom it came by marriage
to the Hon. George Somerville, the great-
grandfather of the present proprietor.

I-IALE ILA.LL, in ancient times called Haugh
Heale, Cumberland, the seat of Miles Fon-
sonby, E'sq., who derives his descent from
an ancient and nolile house in Picard}^,
which became established in England at tlic
time of the Conquest. The name of Pon-
sonby Avas assumed from the family gaining
possession of an estate so called.

In 1177, the tAventy-third year of Henry
the Second, the Ponsonbys had the office of
Barber to the king of England, conferred
upon them at a period when such nomina-
tions were supposed to confer honour, for
much about the same time Ave read of the
situation of butler being bestOAved upon an
ancestor of the Duke of Ormond. The first
named in the Herald's Visitation is John Pon-
sonby, father of Simon Ponsonby. From a
will of Sir Roger Ponsonby, clerk, dated Oc-
tober 28th, 1554, and tiled at Doctors' Com-
mons, it Avould appear that his eldest brother,
Sir .MatheAV Ponsonbj', Avas then the head of
the house, as by this will he only left him
the smallest legacy in comparison Avith other
brothers and nephews on account of his
being the eldest. He died parson of the
church of Chekindcn in Oxfordshire, and
amongst other bequests he left tAventy
pounds for a yearly dirge, and the mass of
, live Avounds, to be said in the church Avhere
his father and mother lay, at the same time
ordering a tombstone to be placed over the
grave of his ftither,

A moiety of this estate Avas conveyed to
the Ponsonb^'s by Agnes, daughter and co-
heiress of Alexander De Hale, Avho married
one of the family about the reign of EdAvard
the First. Subsequently, in the time of
Richard the Second, they acquired the en-
tire property

The oldest date about the Hall is 1591,
Avith the initials, on either side of it, of S. P.
(Simon Ponsonby), and A. P. (Anne Pon-
sonby). But this can only refer to the
repair of that particular portion, for the
building, as is knoAvn from other sources,
Avas erected by an ancestor of Alexander De
Hale at the time of the Norman Conquest.
It is an old English structure, retaining
many traces of the age to AA-hich it belongs ;
as for instance, a fire-place in the kitchen
full fifteen feet, a brobdinnagian arrange-
ment, that could hardly have been thought
of, except in an age Avhen oxen Avere roasted
Avliule Two Gothic doors, one leading into
this kitchen, and the other into the entrance
hall, give the place an air of great antiquity,
though the latter doorway bears the date of
1G25, with the initials J. P. upon it.



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



103



In point of situation Hale ILill possesses
none of the softer features of an English
landscape. On the contrar}^, it stands upon
the edge of a bleak and desolate moorland.
If, however, this gives it a somewhat naked
appearance, in amends it offers a fine tract
for the sportsmen, and there is about tlie
Hall a good deal of wood and plantation.
Some vestiges, too, of antiquity may be found
liere. Not far from the house is a large
dovecot, with hundreds of holes inside, now
unroofed and overgrown with ivy. Hutchin-
son, the historian of Cumberland, writing
eighty j^ears ago, describes Hale Hall as
" a commodious and pleasant mansion, for
several ages the place of residence of the
ancient family of Fonsonby."

In the neighbourhood is a romantic hill,
called Wotohanli. Accordmg to tradition,
this singular name — Woe-to-bank, was de-
rived from an event that belongs to the
remote period Avhen wolves abounded in the
island, and afforded the hunter one of his
principal amusements. The legend runs
thus, and whether true or not, has nothing
in it to shock belief. A lord of Beckermont,
the neighbouring parish to Hale, was one
day hunting the wolf with his wife and ser-
vants. During the chase he missed his lady,
upon which the sport of the day was given
up, and the huntsmen scattered in all direc-
tions in quest of her. After a long and
anxious search, just as the shades of evening-
began to close upon them, they found her
body on this very bank, with a wolf in the
act of feasting on the prey that it was plain
enough to see he had killed. The despair
of the husband at this sight may be more
easily imagined than described. In the first
burst of agony, he exclaimed, " woe to this
bank ! " — and hence, as the tale became a
common theme amongst the people, the
place acquired a name from the denuncia-
tion he had uttered in his grief.

BRAMHALL, OR BRAMALL, Cheshire,
about two miles south-west of Stockport,
the seat of the Davenports. The Bromeale,
or Bromhale family, is mentioned in very
ancient records, but the male line became
extinct in Geoft'rey de Bromhale, when his
daughter and heiress, Alice, brought the
estate to John, second son of Thomas Daven-
port of Wheltrough, Esq., in the twenty-
second year of Edward III. During the
great Civil War, Peter Davenport, the then
j^ossessor of the estate, appears to have
suffered considerably from both royalists
and parliamentarians. If the latter robbed
him of guns and horses. Prince Rupert's
soldiers plundered him of linen and other
goods, to the amount of a hundred pounds,
consumed his provisions, damaged the house



and, as he patheticall}' exclaims, " ate me
threescore bushells of oates." No sooner had
these cormorants departed, tlian back
swarmed the republican locusts to glean all
— it could not have been much — that had
escaped the king's party. Then came a
connnission of sequestration, when he was
forced to pay five hundred pounds, by way
of composition, to purge himself of his de-
linquency in having been plundered by
Prince Rupert, for of no otJier offence does
he appear to have been guilty. There is
something ludicrously pathetic in his own
account of these persecutions, though no
doidjt serious enough to him at the time of
their occurrence :

" On New Year's day. 1 643, Sir IVilliam
Brereton being about Slopport, Captain
Sankey, Captain Francis Dokenfield, with
two or three troopers, came to Bramhall,
and went into my stable and took out all my
horses ; then they drove all they could find
out of the park, taking them quite away
witli them, above twenty in all; afterwards
searched my house for arms again, and took
my fowling-piece, stocking-piece, and drum
(which Sir William had left me), with divers
otlier things ; and although, by means my
wife made to Sir William Brereton, we had
a warrant from him to have all mj^ eoods
taken at that time to be restored, and' had
my young horse, with some other horses
again, yet we lost them, both horses and
other goods, wdiich we could never after get.
In JNIay, 1654, Captain Stanley's men took
my mare from me at Widford, and made me
to come home on foot, and shortly after
came to Bramhall to be quartered ; notwith-
standing, next day after they were gone
came Prince Rupert his army, by whom I
lost better than a hundred pounds in linens
and other goods at Mile's End, besides the
rifling and pulling to pieces of my house.
By whom, and my Lord Gormge's army, I
lost eight horses, and besides victuals and
other provisions, they ate me threescore
bushels of oats. No sooner was the Prince
gone, but Stanley's cornet, one Lely, and
twenty of his troop (which before had fled
the country), hastened their return, to
plunder me of my horses, which the Prince
had left me, which they did, notwithstanding
the quarter they had here before, the
captain's letter respecting my mare, nor my
care in procuring Avhat I could of ni}' neigh-
bours' horses being taken, but tooke all I
had, seventeen of my ownandmy cliildren's,
of which we could never get one restored.

" Then came the committee for seques-
tration. On Friday, the 9th of August
1644, information was brought in to the se-
questrators for delinquency, by oath, as they
say, but by whose malicious instigation I



104



SEATS OP GREAT BRITAIN.



could not yet come to know, but certainly
by my own tenants.

"August 12th. Notwithstanding all the
aforesaid losses and expenses I had sufliered
on the parliament's side, and Sir William
Brereton's promise to the contrary, there
came to Bramhal the commissioners deputed
by the commissioners for Macclesfield hun-
dred,*with a commission directed to them for
the said sequestrators to take an inventory
of all my goods, both within the house and
without, -which they in a most strict and
severe manner performed, going into every
room of the house, and narrowly searching
every corner, causing all boxes and chests
to be opened, which otherwise they threat-
ened to break open, being in the meantime
guarded with a company of musquetiers,
who stood in the parke and all about the
house with their matches lighted.

"The Thursday next ensuing, they began
their examination of witnesses to prove me
a delinquent, not sparing what they could
extort from any one that might turn to my
disadvatage, wherein some of my own
tenants showed themselves forward to give
in evidence against me, but I must not know
who they were.

" About three weeks afterwards, I re-
ceived a warrant from the sequestrators to
appear before them at Stopport in person, to
answer such objections as they had found
against me, which I accordingly did, where
they alleged against me that I had joined
with the commissioners of array at Honch-
cath, Knotesford, and i\Iacclesiield, where-
unto I affirmatively answered that I was
there, and withall gave them such reasons
for my being there as might have satisfied
them, yet nevertheless I did conceive that
my composition made with Sir William



Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 1) → online text (page 23 of 79)