Charles Thomas-Stanford.

Sussex in the great Civil War and the interregnum, 1642-1660 online

. (page 16 of 30)
Online LibraryCharles Thomas-StanfordSussex in the great Civil War and the interregnum, 1642-1660 → online text (page 16 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


1 Cal. S. P. Dom., Chas. I, dvii, 151.

2 Ibid.) dxii, Navy papers.



WHILE these events were taking place at home, a
man of Sussex birth was conducting abroad a series
of difficult and delicate negotiations on behalf of the King,
which not only failed in their object, but in the result
served to discredit the Royal cause in the eyes of friends
and foes alike. Nothing revealed more plainly Charles's
incapacity to understand the feelings and temper of Eng-
lishmen than his continual efforts to obtain foreign aid to
bolster up his throne. The landing of a horde of ruffians
from Germany, which he and his queen made such frantic
attempts to procure, would have surely been the occasion
of a sinking of domestic strife, and the united uprising of
all men in defence of their homes, their goods, and their

Wars and revolutions offer many opportunities of ad-
vancement to able men. The commercial avenues to wealth
and distinction common in our own day did not exist, or
hardly existed, in the seventeenth century. The usual path
to eminence lay through the Church, the law, politics, or
the arnw In the early years of the century there were
born .. .e Rev. Stephen Goffe, rector of Stanmer, himself
" a very severe Puritan," l three sons, who all attained some
celebrity, but by very different routes. The youngest,
William, was the best known. Apprenticed to a London
drysalter, he joined the Parliamentary army, and soon

1 Wood, Alhenae Oxonienses, ii, 26.


became a prominent soldier. He was named one of the
King's judges and signed his death warrant. His subse-
quent career will be dealt with later. The second son, John,
went to Oxford and became a fellow of Magdalen. In
1634 he was accused before the deputy-steward of the
University of having killed a member of his College, but
was acquitted. 1 In 1642 he was presented to the living of
Hackington, near Canterbury, from which he was ejected
the following year for refusing to take the Covenant, and
thrown into the county prison at Canterbury. 2 Through
the influence of his brother, the regicide, he was in 1652
inducted into the living of Norton, near Sittingbourne. In
1660 he was restored to the vicarage of Hackington. He
enjoyed a reputation as an able scholar and a thoughtful
writer, but no works of importance by him are known.

The eldest son, Stephen, born in 1605, was educated at
Merton College, Oxford. After taking his degree he went
to the Low Countries as chaplain to the regiment of
Colonel Horace Vere, and entered at Leyden University
in 1633. Returning to England he was appointed one of
Charles I's chaplains through the influence of Henry
Jermyn, and took the degree of D.D. in 1636. When war
broke out he followed the fortunes of the King, and became
one of his most trusted agents. " A dexterous man too,
and could comply with all men in all the acts of good
fellowship." 3 In August 1642 he was empowered by warrant
issued at York to collect and give receipts for money or
plate given or tendered for the King's service. 4 In 1644
Charles conceived the project of a match between his son,
the Prince of Wales, then only fourteen years of age, and
the youthful daughter of the Prince of Orange, as part of a
scheme for obtaining assistance from the Continent against
the Parliament, and Dr. Goffe was sent to Holland to carry

1 Wharton, Laud, p. 71. 2 D. N. B.

3 Clarendon, Hist., xi.

1 Portland MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.), i, 47.


on the negotiations. The autograph letter of introduction
from Charles to the Prince was as follows:

Oxford, 24th May 1644.

" L'affaire dont ce porteur, le docteur Goffe, va in-
struict, vous donnera des preuves de 1'afifection que j'ay
pour ce quis vous regarde j'ay faict choix de ceste personne
a cest employ, non seulement pour 1'avoir reconneu abile et
fidelle, mais a cause aussy que sa condition rendra sa n6goci-
ation moins suspecte le secrett d'icelle estant pour le present
tout a faict ne"cessaire, tant a mes interests qu'au vostres.
Je vous prie de luy donner parfaicte croiance, particuliere-
ment quand il vous asseurera que je suis veVitablement
vostre bien bon affection^


Charles's project was that the marriage should form a
link between England, France, and the Dutch Republic.
The Prince of Orange was to give general military assist-
ance to France, and to furnish fifteen or twenty ships of
war for two months, and a sufficient number of other
vessels to bring over to England 4,000 French foot and
2,000 French horse. He was also to pay his daughter's
portion in ready money. 2 No great progress was made with
these negotiations in 1644, but at the beginning of 1645
they were renewed with great vigour. The chief difficulty
perhaps was that the Prince was not an absolute monarch,
but the first magistrate and generalissimo of a republic
which observed a strict neutrality as regards the contend-
ing forces in England. A long correspondence took place
between Dr. Goffe, at the Hague, and Lord Jermyn, who
was with the Queen at Paris. The letters, which were written
in cipher, were transcribed by Jermyn, and transmitted to

1 Preserved in the collection of autograph letters and historical
documents of the late Mr. Alfred Morrison.

2 Gardiner, Civil War, ch. xvii.


Lord Digby in England. 1 Many of them fell into the hands
of the Parliament when Digby was defeated at Sherburn in
Yorkshire in October 1645.

Henrietta Maria was now endeavouring to carry through
a scheme suggested by Cardinal Mazarin, to obtain the
assistance of the Duke of Lorraine. The Duke, who had
been expelled from France by Richelieu, had transferred his
sword to the service of the Emperor, and had fought with
bravery and distinction at the head of a band of adven-
turers who subsisted on plunder alone. 2 If the Duke could
be got to listen to Henrietta Maria's overtures, France
would be freed from his troublesome presence on her
borders, and Mazarin would have rendered effective assist-
ance to Charles. The Duke's answer was favourable; he
was ready to enter Charles's service with 10,000 men. Goffe
was therefore instructed to revive the marriage project, and
to endeavour to obtain from the Prince of Orange the use
of sufficient shipping to carry over this army, and of a fleet
of warships to be employed in an attack upon the Parlia-
mentary navy in the Downs or in the Medway. The Sussex
coast was considered favourable for the landing of foreign
troops. In one of the King's letters taken at Naseby, dated
Oxford, 3<Dth March 1645, he mentions the ease with which
they might " land at divers fit and safe places of landing
upon the west coasts, besides the ports under my obedience,
as Selsey near Chichester." And Hastings was suggested
as the point at which the French troops the Queen was
endeavouring to raise might be disembarked. 3

This scheming continued throughout the whole of 1645
and the early part of 1646. The Parliament was kept well
informed by its agents in Paris, Robert Wright and Sir
George Gerard, of what was going on. In December and
January, the former wrote to Oliver St. John with reference

1 Cal. S. P. Dom., 1644-5, Preface, xv.

2 Gardiner, Civil War, ch. xxvii.

3 Viet. Hist. Sussex, ii, 157.


to the Queen's plans. The Prince of Orange was still hold-
ing out hopes to Dr. Goffe that he would transport the
mercenaries to England in Dutch shipping. Wright urged
that above everything the Parliament should endeavour to
get possession of the Prince of Wales, to effect which even
100,000 would be well spent. General Goring might be
wrought upon ; both he and his father, the Earl of Nor-
wich, were much dissatisfied with the Queen and she with
them. Goring was at this time in Paris, ostensibly to re-
cover from a wound, but in reality in the hope of obtain-
ing command of the French troops, of which a first de-
tachment was shortly to be shipped to Newhaven. " Gen-
eral Goring having now past his cure will make his flourish
for twenty or thirty days in Paris, and so return for the
west." *

If Charles thought he was going to get the best of a
bargain with the Dutch, he ignored the national character, as
expressed in a time-honoured distich. Self-interest not only
was, but was avowed, the mainspring of Dutch diplomacy.
A few years later, John Evelyn wrote in his diary: " Dined
with the Dutch Ambassador. He did in a manner acknow-
ledge that his nation mind only their own profit, do nothing
out of gratitude, but collaterally as it relates to their gain
or security; and therefore the English were to look for
nothing of assistance to the banished King. This was to
me no very grateful discourse, though an ingenuous con-
fession." 2

Some of Goffe's letters contain passages descriptive of
persons who figured in the Court life of the period. In
one of these is a pleasant reference to the Prince of Orange's
children: "the young Prince is worthy of all honour and
kindness from their Majesties, and grows a very proper
and lovely person, as does Mademoiselle, more now than
at first, perhaps difficulty adds beauty, but truly she has a

1 Portland MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.), i, 323, 335.
a Evelyn's Diary, isth November 1659.


perfect good shape, white skin, excellently well-fashioned
hands, neck and breast, the face is not ill indeed, all but
very good for many proportions there." l

All the negotiations came to nothing. Perhaps the Prince
was not very desirous in view of Charles's waning fortunes
to mate his daughter with the Prince of Wales ; and to the
other side it became plain that any sum which he could be
expected to give his daughter would not go far in supply-
ing the sinews of war. So Charles, Prince of Wales, re-
mained a bachelor until he married Catherine of Braganca
seventeen years later. And the Dutch statesmen set their
face strongly against the proposal that the Duke of Lor-
raine's army should pass through Dutch territory and be
transported to England in Dutch shipping. Sussex and
England were relieved from all fear of an invasion by a
pack of German wolves, and the discredit of the King was
deepened. " Irish, French, Dutch or Lorrainers were all
one to Charles if only they would help him to regain his
crown. Born of a Scottish father and a Danish mother,
with a grandmother who was half French by birth and al-
together French by breeding, with a French wife, with
German nephews and a Dutch son-in-law, Charles had
nothing in him in touch with English national feeling." 2

The subsequent career of Dr. Stephen Goffe may be
briefly noted here. Having returned to England, and being
suspected of privity with the King's escape from Hampton
Court, he was arrested and imprisoned, but found means to
escape. While the King was at Carisbrooke, he employed
Goffe to negotiate with the Scottish Commissioners with a
view to their receding from the demand that he should take
the Covenant. 3 After the King's execution, Goffe retired to
Paris, where he became a Catholic and chaplain to Henri-
etta Maria. He rose to be the Superior of the Fathers of
the Oratory, and died in their house in 1681. He had

1 Cal. S. P. Dom., Chas. I, dvii, 37.

2 Gardiner, Civil War, ch. xxix. 3 D. N. B.


wandered far from his early Puritan up-bringing in the
rectory of Stanmer.

From the tortuous and unpatriotic intrigues of this
diplomatic churchman we may turn with relief to the ser-
vice to his king of John Ashburnham, scion of a house
which perhaps more fully than any other represents the
ancienne noblesse of Sussex. Son and heir of Sir John Ash-
burnham of Ashburnham, he was appointed groom of the
bed-chamber to Charles I in 1628. They had been on
intimate terms previously, for in a letter written the year
before, the King styles him " Jack," as he continued to do
through life. 1 To the Long Parliament he was returned as
member for Hastings, and Clarendon informs us that he
was the person who reported to the King what passed in
the debates. On 5th February 1643 he was discharged and
disabled from being any longer a member of the House,
for his adherence to the King's cause; and on I4th Sept-
ember it was ordered that his estate be forthwith sequest-
ered. 2 In 1644 he was nominated one of the King's com-
missioners for the Treaty of Uxbridge. During the war he
acted as the King's treasurer, styled " Our Treasurer at
Wars." In 1646, when the Parliamentary armies were
closing on Oxford, "it was judged necessary by all con-
sidering men (as well for the advantage of that faithful
remnant within that place, as for His Majesty's safety) that
His sacred Person should not be liable to the success of an
assault (for Conditions or Treaties seemed vain to be ex-
pected where the King was) but that some expedient should
be found by escape from thence to save His life, though
nothing could be thought on in order to His flight, that in
point of danger kept not equal pace with the hazard of His
stay." 3 The courses open to him were to go to Newark, to
the Scottish army, where he might be compelled to embrace
Presbyterianism ; to betake himself to London where he

1 Lower's Worthies of Sussex, p. 288. * Commons' Journals.

3 Ashburnham's Narrative, p. 64.


would have to reckon with the Independents; or to endeav-
our to escape beyond the seas. But Oxford must be left at
all hazards.

Still apparently undecided, at three o'clock on the morn-
ing of 27th April the King set out on his humiliating
journey. Though perhaps determined to go to the Scots,
he informed his council of his intention to go to London.
With his hair and beard close trimmed, and disguised as a
servant, he passed over Magdalen bridge at three o'clock
in the morning, in company with John Ashburnham and
Dr. Hudson, one of his chaplains. "Farewell, Harry!"
called out the Governor, Sir Thomas Glemham, as he closed
the gates behind him, 1 and the party took the London road.
At Hillingdon they halted three hours, Charles perhaps
still nursing the vain hope that some encouraging message
would come to him from the City, if the City knew what
was happening. But no message came. Abandoning all
idea of entering London, Charles turned his horse's head
northward, and rode through Harrow and St. Albans to
Wheathampstead, where he halted for the night. The
guards on the road had been kept in good humour by small
presents of money, and satisfied by the exhibition of a pass
signed by Fairfax in favour of some Royalist who was to
go to London to make his composition. 2 Near St. Albans
the party was alarmed by the clatter of horses' hoofs, and
feared pursuit, but it proved to be merely " a drunken man,
well-horsed, riding violently." 3

To this pathetic pass had twenty years of sovereignty
and four years of war with half his subjects brought the
King. Born to a slightly lower station he might have lived
admired and respected, a great noble of dignified presence
and carriage, a judicious patron of the arts, a model hus-
band and father, his faults of indecision and duplicity never

1 Gary, Memorials of the Civil War, i, 12.

2 Gardiner, Great Civil War, ch. xli.

3 Kingston's Herts during the Civil War, p. 61.


leaping to the light; omnium consensu capax imperil nisi
imperasset. But Nature had not fitted him to ape with
success the masterful Tudors ; nor were the times propitious
for such endeavours. And now, beaten in the field, involved
in a web of fruitless scheming, he had taken the road which
was to lead him to the scaffold.

Disregarding Ashburnham's advice to take shipping from
Lynn to Newcastle, Charles, after some negotiations with
the Scots through Hudson and Montreuil, the French am-
bassador, entered the Scottish camp on 5th May, and
refusing to comply with Lothian's demand that he should
sign the Covenant, was made a prisoner. Ashburnham was
allowed to escape to Scotland, whence he made his way to

It is unnecessary to follow the tangled proceedings of
the next fifteen months during which Charles was surren-
dered by the Scots to the Parliamentary Commissioners,
conducted by them to Holmby House, taken charge of by
Joyce's troopers and brought to Hampton Court, while the
army occupied London. Through the interest of Sir Edward
Ford with Ireton and Cromwell, who was now doing his
utmost to arrange terms with the King, Ashburnham was
allowed to rejoin him at Hampton Court. The King had
written from Newcastle, whither the Scots had taken him,
to the Queen on i$th May 1646: " I owe Jack nine thous-
and two hundred pounds, which I earnestly recommend
thou wouldst assist him in for his repayment." 1 On nth
November the King, accompanied by Ashburnham, William
Legge, and Sir John Berkeley, escaped unnoticed from
Hampton Court, and two days later threw himself on the
mercy of Robert Hammond, Governor of the Isle of Wight.
Ashburnham and Berkeley had been sent forward from
Titchfield to sound Hammond, and though they obtained
no satisfactory assurances from him they brought him to

1 Ashburnhanvs Narrative, ii, 138.


the King. A vessel had been ordered from Southampton to
convey the King, if necessary, to France, but owing to an
embargo placed on all shipping as soon as his escape was
discovered, it did not arrive. The King was much upset at
his place of retreat being revealed to Hammond, and spoke
to Ashburnham " with a very severe and reserved counten-
ance, the first of that kind to me," as he says in his narra-
tive. 1 Ashburnham promptly offered to murder Hammond
and the captain he had brought with him ; but the King,
after " walking some few turns in the room," declined this
expedient, and decided to go with Hammond to Caris-
brooke. Several attempts at escape thence were made:
Ashburnham left the island and kept a barque in readiness
at Hastings for some weeks ; 2 but they all proved fruitless,
and the King remained a prisoner.

Various friendly persons in Sussex were prepared for
possible events. Mr. Wilson of Eastbourne Place "was
entrusted with the important secret of what was intended.
A letter was sent to him, by an express from the Earl of
Dorset, with a little picture of the King enclosed (for fear
of discovery) informing him that he should prepare to
receive the original ; to which he returned this loyal answer,
that he would do it with his life and fortune." 3

Hastings appears at this time to have offered advan-
tages to refugees. About the time that the King left
Hampton Court, the Marquis of Ormonde, who had been
concerned in the negotiations, and now found the country
too hot to hold him, escaped from Hastings to Dieppe.
" He in disguise, and without being attended by more than
one servant, rode into Sussex and in an obscure and un-
guarded port or harbour put himself on board a shallop
which safely transported him into Normandy." 4 This ob-
scurity later attracted the notice of Parliament. On 22nd
August 1648, a "clerk of the passage" was appointed at

1 Ashburnham's Narrative, ii, 117. 3 Ibid., p. 128.

3 Wilson MSS. ; S. A. C., xi, 28. * Clarendon, x, 153.


Hastings, the House " having information that dangerous
persons pass that way into foreign parts." '

At the Restoration Ashburnham, who meantime had
suffered much hardship, including "five years spent in
close imprisonment in London, and three banishments to
Guernsey Castle, the cause being for sending money to
His Majesty," was restored to his position of groom of the

The estate of Ashburnham, which, according to a
picturesque tradition, had been held by the family from
Saxon times, and certainly for many generations, had been
lost by his father, Sir John. By a fortunate marriage he
was enabled to repurchase it. In 1629 he married Frances,
only daughter and heiress of William Holland of West
Burton in Sussex, nephew and chief heir of William
Holland, Alderman of Chichester, who had amassed a con-
siderable fortune in trade there, and was godfather of
William Cawley the regicide. 2 The loss and recovery of
the estate is mentioned on the monument of John Ash-
burnham in Ashburnham church, which he rebuilt: " Here
lyes in the Vault beneath John Ashburnham Esq of this
place sonn to the unfortunate person S r John Ashburnham
whose good nature and frank disposition towards two
friends in being deeply engaged for them necessitated him
to sell this place (in the family long before the Conquest)
and all the estate he had elsewhere, not leaving to his wife
and six children the least subsistence which is not inserted
to the least disadvantage to his memory (God forbid it
should be understood to be a charge of disrespect upon
him) but to give God the prayse, who soe suddenly pro-
vided both for his wife and children as that within less
than two years after the death of the said S r John, there
was not any of them but was in a condition rather to be
helpful to others than to want support themselves. May
God be pleased to add this blessing to his posterity that

1 Cal. S. P. Dom., Chas. I, dxvi, 81. 2 S. A. C., xliii, 60.


they may never be unmindful of the great things He
hath done for them. . . . The said M r John Ashburnham
married the daughter and heire of William Holland of
Westburton in this County Esqre, who lyes also here
interred, and by whom he had these eight children. She
made the first stepp towards the recovery of some part of
the inheritance wasted by the said Sir John, for she sould
her whole estate to lay out the money in this place. She
lived in great reputation for piety and discretion and died
in the seven and thirtieth yeare of her age." l

The matter of the escape of Charles from Hampton
Court and his delivery to Colonel Hammond caused a good
deal of controversy and recrimination. Ashburnham especi-
ally was accused of having betrayed him, an accusation
from which he was freely absolved by Charles II. His
descendant, George, third Earl of Ashburnham, considering
that some statements of Clarendon threw doubts on his
honesty, wrote: "A vindication of his character and con-
duct from the misrepresentations of Lord Clarendon." 2
Samuel Pepys, writing in 1665, speaks of "my Lord
Barkeley, one to whom only, with Jacke Ashburne and
Colonel Legg, the King's removal to the Isle of Wight
from Hampton Court was communicated; and (though
betrayed by their knavery, or at best by their ignorance,
insomuch that they have all solemnly charged one another
with their failures therein, and have been at daggers-
drawing publickly about it), yet now none greater friends in
the world." 3

A noticeable feature of the Civil War was the division of
families; near relations not uncommonly took different
sides. Perhaps at the outset the dividing line was a thin
one ; but the first step once taken, the subtle influence of
party tended to widen it. In Sussex such leading families
as the Gorings and the Ashburnhams furnished recruits to

1 S. A. C., xxxii, 19. 2 London, 1830.

3 Pepys' Diary, ed. Wheatley, v, 162.




fat *

J,r /-A

^,/<ft S ^^,-rt



>~C -K./V/" //%, csvnf. '
'+/',(/ A-*f an- f /,l<.+ ^

n->+t /y . if V T . I r .. ..

<- ',

t-Tf , < r. / , A/"


r/. . '

, r ,.

' ' / ,'' '




both parties. Colonel Anthony Stapley, member for the
county throughout the war, and one of the King's judges,
was married to a sister of Lord Goring, the great Cavalier
leader. Sir Edward Ford, the Royalist High Sheriff, was,
as we have seen, brother-in-law to Ireton, Cromwell's son-
in-law. And it was not always the case that political
division sapped family affection. As an instance of the
entire absence of anything like bitterness of feeling in a
large group of men and women, amongst whom were warm
partisans, Mr. Gardiner quotes from a letter of the Royalist
Edmund Verney, to his brother, the Roundhead Sir Ralph :
" Although I would willingly lose my right hand that you
had gone the other way, yet I will never consent that this
dispute shall make a quarrel between us. I pray God
grant a sudden and firm peace, that we may safely meet in
person as well as affection. Though I am tooth and nail
for the King's cause, and shall endure so to the death,

Online LibraryCharles Thomas-StanfordSussex in the great Civil War and the interregnum, 1642-1660 → online text (page 16 of 30)