Charles Thomas-Stanford.

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

. (page 22 of 30)
Online LibraryCharles Thomas-StanfordSussex in the great Civil War and the interregnum, 1642-1660 → online text (page 22 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

eminence called Bow Hill, and entered the narrow and
picturesque vale denominated Kingly Bottom so called
from a battle between the inhabitants of Chichester and
the Danes and Charles failed not to notice the group of
venerable yew-trees venerable in his days, though still
extant, with the trifle of two centuries added to their age
that adorn the valley. After this, they passed Stoke Down,
bestowing a passing observation on the curious circular
hollows indented in the sod.

" From the acclivities over which the travellers next rode,
the ancient and picturesque city of Chichester could be
seen on the level land near the sea, the tall spire and pin-
nacles of its noble cathedral, the adjacent bell-tower, and
the quaint old octagonal market-cross, erected in the fif-
teenth century, all rising above the crumbling walls still
surrounding the city. As Charles looked towards this fine
old cathedral, he could not help deploring to his com-
panions the damage it had sustained at the hands of the
sacrilegious Republican soldiers.



" Avoiding Chichester, the king and his company pursued
their way along the beautiful and well-wooded slopes of the
Goodwood downs. If the journey had been unattended
with risk, it would have been delightful; but, beset by
peril as he was on all sides, Charles did not lose his sense
of enjoyment The constant presence of danger had made
him well-nigh indifferent to it. Constitutionally brave,
almost reckless, he was assailed by no idle apprehensions.
The chief maxim in his philosophy was to make the most
of the passing moment, and not to let the chances of future
misfortune damp present enjoyment.

"The fineness of the weather contributed materially to the
pleasure of the ride. It was an exquisite morning, and the
day promised to continue equally beautiful throughout.
The trees were clothed with the glowing livery of later
autumn, and, as the whole district was well and variously
wooded, there was every variety of shade in the foliage
still left, from bright yellow to deepest red. Corn was then,
as now, extensively grown in the broad and fertile fields in
the flat land nearer the sea, but the crops had been gathered,
and the fields were, for the most part, covered with stubble.
The prospect offered to the king, as he looked towards the
coast, was varied and extensive. On the left, the ancient
mansion of Halnaker, now in ruins, but at that time pre-
senting a goodly specimen of the Tudor era of architecture,
seemed to invite him to halt; and Colonel Gunter informed
his majesty that over the buttery hatch in this old house
were scrolls hospitably entreating visitors to ' come in and
drink,' assuring them they would be ' les bien-venus.' Not-
withstanding these inducements to tarry, Charles rode on,
galloping along the fine avenue of chestnut-trees, the fallen
leaves of which now thickly strewed the ground.

" Halnaker was soon left behind, and ere long the some-
what devious course of the royal party led them through
the exquisite grove of birch-trees skirting Slindon Park,
the remarkable beauty of the timber eliciting the warm


admiration of the king, who would fain have loitered to
admire it at his leisure.

" The proud-looking castle of Arundel was now visible,
magnificently situated on the terrace of a hill, surrounded
by noble woods, above which towered the ancient central
keep. From the spot where the royal party surveyed it,
about two miles off, the stately edifice looked the picture
of feudal grandeur, but a nearer approach showed how
grievously it had been injured. Though the interior of the
ancient and stately fabric was mutilated and destroyed,
though the carved tombs and monuments, stone pulpit,
arches, altars, delicate tracery, and exquisite architectural
ornaments of the church were defaced, though much of the
fine timber growing near the fortress was remorselessly
hewn down, the defences of the castle were still maintained,
and it was even then looked upon as a place of considerable

As the travellers approached Arundel they met the
governor of the castle, Captain Morley, going out to hunt.
The better to avoid him they dismounted, and so escaped
notice. Charles being told who it was, replied merrily: " I
did not much like his starched mouchates."

This incident appears to have caused the travellers to
change their route; instead of crossing the Arun at
Arundel, they seem to have ridden northwards, and crossed
at Houghton Bridge. In the village they stopped at an inn
for some bread and drink without dismounting. A ride of
eleven miles brought them to Bramber, and as they entered
the town they came suddenly on a party of soldiers. Lord
Wilmot was for turning back, but Colonel Gounter said : " If
we do we are undone. Let us go boldly on and we shall
not be suspected " ; and the King agreed with him. And so
it turned out.

Gounter wished the King to make a halt at Beeding,
where he had provided refreshment at the house of one
Mr. Backshall; but Wilmot opposed this course in view of


the neighbourhood of the soldiers. Colonel Counter's nar-
rative seems to suggest a slight disagreement on this
point, with the result that Wilmot " carried the King out of
the road I knew not whither, so we parted they where
they thought safest, I to Brighthelmstone." 1

Wilmot and Charles probably rode direct over the downs.
At any rate the party met again at the "George" Inn, at
Brighthelmstone, where they found Mr. Mansel and Nicholas
Tettersall. After supper the landlord, one Smith by name,
went up to Charles, and taking his hand kissed it, saying:
"It shall not be said but I have kissed the best man's
hand in England." The King merely laughed, and went
into the next room, " not desiring," as he said himself, " any
further discourse with him, there being no remedy against
my being known by him, and more discourse might have
but raised suspicion." Smith is said to have been previously
one of Charles I's guards. 2

After some difficulty with Tettersall, who at the last
minute declined to start unless his bark was insured by
Counter at a valuation of ^200, they took horse about two
hours after midnight, and rode to the creek, probably at
Southwick, to which for greater safety the vessel of
thirty-four tons burden had been brought, Shoreham being
at that time an important and busy place. 3 The King and

1 There is no reason whatever to suppose that Charles broke his
journey between Hambledon and Brighton, at Amberley or Houghton,
as suggested in an article entitled Route of Charles II through Sussex
in S. A. C., xviii. The writer is very inaccurate ; he confuses Captain
Morley, governor of Arundel, with Colonel Herbert Morley, and even
with Sir William Waller; and he exaggerates the distance. Colonel
Counter's narrative is a much safer guide.

2 There is considerable diversity of detail in the accounts of what
passed on this night at Brighthelmstone. The whole matter is treated
exhaustively in Mr. F. E. Sawyer's Captain Nicholas Tettersall and
the escape of Charles the Second, S. A. C., xxxii, 81 seq.

3 There is some doubt as to the actual place of embarkation. We
know from Counter's narrative that the vessel, when chartered, was
lying at Shoreham. Clarendon and other writers not acquainted with


Lord Wilmot, having said farewell to Colonel Counter,
climbed on board, and lay down in the little cabin till the
tide came. At eight in the morning they set sail. Counter
remained on the beach with the horses ready, in case any-
thing untoward should happen, till the afternoon, when
they passed out of sight. Next morning Charles landed
safely at Fecamp in Normandy. No sooner was he on
shore than a violent storm came on, so that Tettersall
was forced to cut his cable, and lost his anchor to save
his boat, for which he required of Counter eight pounds,
" and had it."

Nicholas Tettersall seems to have been by no means
lacking in astuteness. At the Restoration he took his vessel
into the Thames and moored her opposite Whitehall, no
doubt as a gentle reminder of his claims. Soon after she
was entered as a fifth-rate in the navy, when her name was
changed from the Surprise to the Royal Escape, and she
appears in the Navy List of 1684 as a smack of thirty-four
tons, ten men, no guns. 1 Tettersall himself was made a
Captain in the Navy, and received a pension of 100 a
year. Colonel Counter, who had been chiefly instrumental
in arranging the escape, died before the Restoration, leav-
ing his estate encumbered with a debt of ^"3,000, chiefly
expended in the King's service. It does not appear that
anything was done to relieve his family of this burden, but
his widow obtained a pension of 200 a year for twenty-one
years, and there is extant a letter of Charles II, dated
4th May 1664, recommending his son, George Counter,

the locality speak of Brighthelmstone as the place whence Charles set
sail, but the King himself, in his account dictated to Samuel Pepys,
definitely states that he and his companions " went toward Shoreham,
taking the master of the ship with us on horseback behind one of our
company." Finding the vessel lying dry, it being low water, he and
Lord Wilmot "got up with a ladder into her." When it was high
water "they went out of the port." This seems to render untenable
the opinion that they embarked from Brighton beach.
1 S. A. C., xxxii, 90.


then a boy at Winchester, for a scholarship at New
College. 1

Mr. Francis Mansel, the merchant of Chichester, was
granted a pension of 200 a year. But it does not seem to
have been regularly paid, and as he was taxed on the
strength of it, may have been rather a burden than a
blessing. Samuel Pepys met him in 1667. " And so away
with the 'chequer men to the Leg in King Street, and there
had wine for them: and here was one in company with
them, that was the man that got the vessel to carry over
the King from Bredhemson, who hath a pension of 200
per annum, but ill paid, and the man is looking after getting
of a prize-ship to live by ; but the trouble is that the poor
man who hath received no part of his money these four
years and is ready to starve almost, must yet pay to the
Poll Bill for this pension. He told me several particulars
of the King's coming thither, which was mighty pleasant,
and shews how mean a thing a king is, how subject to fall,
and how like other men he is in his afflictions." *

The legend that Charles visited Ovingdean Grange, of
which Harrison Ainsworth made use, has no foundation in
fact, but is of respectable antiquity. "When the Geers
lived at Ovingdean Farm, Charles the Second lay con-
cealed here, till he had an opportunity of embarking at
Brighton for France. His person had such an effect on the
good woman of the house that her next child (a very fine
boy) was said to be the picture of the King." 3

It was fortunate for Counter and others who had assisted
Charles in his escape that until the Restoration he gave no
true account of his adventures. He is even said to have
amused himself by concocting a fictitious story. He asserted
that he owed his safety after Worcester not to the Penderels

1 S. A. C., xxxii, 103. - Pepys' Diary, ed. Wheatley, vi, 188.

3 Rev. Mr. Morgan's letter to Sir William Burrell, dated March
1780. Burrell MSS. in British Museum, No. 5684, p. 93. S. A. C., xiii,


and Jane Lane, but to a soldier who had formerly been a
highwayman and knew every by-path in the neighbourhood.
He further declared that after his concealment in the oak
he had made his way to London, where he disguised him-
self as a washerwoman, and passed through the streets
carrying a basket of linen on his head. 1

1 Gardiner, Commonwealth, ch. xvii.



THE advantage which accrued to the Parliamentary
cause from the adhesion of the navy has not always
been duly estimated. The influence of sea-power on history
is somewhat of a modern discovery. In the case of the
Civil War its effects were more negative than positive; it
must be judged rather by what it prevented than by what
it achieved. When war was imminent the Parliament
appointed the Earl of Warwick as Vice-Admiral to the
Earl of Northumberland, Lord High Admiral, a somewhat
lukewarm supporter of the popular party, who readily
acquiesced. There was some demur on the part of a few
captains, but Warwick carried the fleet with him. Perhaps
an incautious remark of Charles about " water-rats " helped
to bring about this result. Even in great crises petty
personal feelings sometimes have an undue influence.

The Prince of Orange at any rate understood what the
command of the sea and the possession of London meant
to the Parliament ; he told Dr. Stephen Goffe * that if the
King could preserve himself until he could by sea do
something upon the rebels and their London trade, they
would be instantly ruined. 2

Throughout the greater part of the war the Parliament
was able, through its possession of the fleet, to keep open
the trade of London and other ports of the kingdom, and
to render difficult Royalist communications with foreign

1 See ch. viii. 2 Cal. S. P. Dom., Chas. I, dvii, 37.



countries. The continual failure of the attempts to bring
over foreign contingents was partly due to the existence of
a strong Parliamentary fleet. Such incidents as the whole-
sale drowning of Irish troops captured by Captain Swanley
off the coast of Pembroke made projects of invasion appear

And the Parliament was also able to communicate with,
and send supplies to, its Generals in remote parts of the
kingdom when intervening counties were held by the
Royalists. In July 1644 Essex was in Devonshire and
wanted pay for his troops. The committee of both king-
doms sent 20,000 through Surrey and Sussex to Arundel,
Chichester, and Portsmouth, whence it was shipped to the
west. It was convoyed by a troop of Kentish horse, assisted
by Colonels Morley and Stapley. 1

During the "Presbyterian-Royalist" outbreak of 1648
several ships revolted and formed the nucleus of a Royalist
fleet under the Prince of Wales. But beyond a temporary
occupation of the three castles in the Downs Deal,
Walmer, and Sandown under cover of their guns, little
was achieved.

To the Sussex coast towns the Parliamentary command
of the sea was of great importance. The trade of Rye with
the continent has already been mentioned. 2 A description
of the harbour, dated 1652, states "there may lye afloat at
lowe water 15 or 20 sayle of shippes, which draw 3 and 3^
fathome water and have more water than they draw by
4 or 6 foot ; and at the same tyme further up in the Channel!
may ride afloat at lowe water 50 or 60 sayle of ships which
draw 12 or 13 foot water, all without prejudice one to the
other. There is a very good conveniency for ships to cleane
and tallow, careeninge afloat or groundinge adry which they
please." 3

In spite of occasional trouble from the Royalist privateers,

1 Cal. S. P. Dom., Chas. I, dii, 40. - See ante, p. 13.

3 Rye MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com., xiii, 4), p. 219.


a fairly regular service of packets was maintained through-
out the war and under the Commonwealth between Rye and
Dieppe. " We humbly certify that during the time of the
late differences in this nation, there hath always been a
fair correspondence between this town and Dieppe in
France, the Governour thereof behaving himself very civilly
and courteously towards the friends of this State and deny-
ing entertainment to pirates." l An example of the pleasant
relations of the authorities of Rye and Dieppe occurred in
1557. The Mayor wrote to the Governor: " I am informed
that a barque, whereof one George Broadbridge was master,
being surprised by the enemy was by some Frenchmen of
your town together with the help of the barque's men re-
gained and brought into Dieppe, and for their salvage they
intend to make her their prize. The enemy have taken the
master prisoner, and intend to set a ransom on him. Where-
fore on the poor man's behalf I desire your favour that
what may be reasonable for your men's salvage of the
barque may be allowed and the barque restored." 2

Among notable visitors to Rye was John Evelyn, the
diarist. After a long absence abroad, he had returned to
London in February 1652, in time to see "the magnificent
funeral of that arch-rebel Ireton, carried in pomp from
Somerset House to Westminster." Having decided to
bring his wife over from Paris, he went to " Colonel Morley,
one of their Council of State, as then called, who had been
my school-fellow, 3 to request a pass for my wife's safe
landing, and the goods she was to bring with her out of
France, which he courteously granted, and did me many
other kindnesses, that was a great matter in those days." 4
Having received a letter from Colonel Morley to the magis-
trates and searchers at Rye, to assist the lady at her
landing and show her all civility, Evelyn set out on the

1 Rye MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com., xiii, 4), p. 218. June 3, 1652.

2 ibid.) p. 229. 3 At Lewes Grammar School.
4 Evelyn's Diary, 3oth May


4th of June to meet her at the port, " where was an embargo
on occasion of the late conflict with the Holland fleet, the
two nations being now in war, and which made sailing very
unsafe." He was kept waiting several days, the Channel
passage being at the time a very uncertain affair. " On
Whitsunday I went to the church (which is a very fair one)
and heard one of the canters, who dismissed the assembly
very rudely and without any blessing. Here I stayed till
the loth with no small impatience, when I walked over to
survey the ruins of Winchelsea, that ancient cinque-port,
which by the remains and ruins of ancient streets and
public structures discovers it to have been formerly a con-
siderable and large city. There are to be seen vast caves
and vaults, walls and towers, ruins of monasteries and of a
sumptuous church, in which are some handsome monu-
ments, especially of the Templars, buried just in the
manner of those in the Temple at London. This place
being now all in rubbish, and a few despicable hovels and
cottages only standing, hath yet a mayor. 1 The sea, which
formerly rendered it a rich and commodious port, has now
forsaken it. On the nth, about four in the afternoon being
at bowls on the green, we discovered a vessel, which proved
to be that in which my wife was, and which got into the
harbour about eight that evening to my no small joy.
They had been three days at sea, and escaped the Dutch
fleet, through which they had passed, taken for fishers,
which was great good fortune, there being seventeen bales
of furniture and other rich plunder, which I bless God
came all safe to land, together with my wife, and my Lady
Browne her mother, who accompanied her. My wife being
discomposed by having been so long at sea, we set not
forth towards home till the I4th, when hearing the small-
pox was very rife in and about London, and Lady Browne
having a desire to drink Tunbridge waters, I carried them

1 Mr. Evelyn might have added that Winchelsea returned two
members to Parliament.


thither, and stayed in a very sweet place, private and
refreshing, and took the waters myself till the 23rd, when
I went to prepare for their reception, leaving them for the
present in their little cottage by the wells." Poor Lady
Browne did not derive much permanent benefit from the
Tunbridge waters, as a month later she was " taken with a
scarlet fever and died."

Not only was the traffic of passengers to and from
France an important affair, but the commerce of Rye at
this time was also very considerable. It was the chief port
of shipment for the iron produced at the Sussex ironworks.
A curious circumstance is the large number of horses ex-
ported to France and Flanders, so large that it was thought
to be harmful to the public service, and prohibited in 1653,
except by leave of the Council of State. Even under this
limited authority, the number sent was still great, the
warrant books being filled with counterfoils relating to
horses forwarded from Rye for persons of distinction on
the Continent. In 1656 fifteen couples of hounds, and in
1657 twelve couples, were sent under a pass to Dieppe. 1

Continual applications were made throughout the period
for protection from the Dunkirk privateers in the King's
service, of which Beachey Head was a favourite lurking-
place. 2 During the war the Parliamentary fleet was too
fully occupied to give much attention to such police work,
but with the establishment of the Commonwealth strong
measures were at once taken by the Government to protect
the Sussex fishermen and traders. On June pth 1649,
Colonel Edward Popham sent an order to Captain Wheatley
of the Warspite: " Hearing from some members of the
House serving for Sussex and from the Governor of Rye
that the coast has been much infested with pirates and
picaroons since the surprisal of the Robert frigate, appointed
for that service, you are to repair with your vessel to Rye

1 S. A. C., xxxix, 4.

3 Cal. S. P. Dom., Interreg., ii, 17, 63; Viet. Hist. Sussex, ii, 157.


and Bredhempson, and other ports and creeks of Sussex,
and acquaint the people that you are ordered to attend
there and convoy vessels bound to London with corn, etc." l
Ten days later Captain Pierce was ordered to draw as near
the coast of Sussex as he could so as to meet the picaroons
which lurked under Beachey and thereabouts, annoying
poor fishermen and others that trade to and from Sussex
and London. 2 And in August the Council of State sent
similar instructions to Captain Henley of the Minion?

A very special privilege was obtained in 1652, the Rye-
Dieppe service being exempted from the embargo laid on
all French shipping. 4

Great shot, guns, cables, anchors and other iron manu-
factures were constantly shipped from Rye to the fleet in
the Downs, the Tower of London, and King's Lynn. The
chief contractor for freight was William Key, shipowner,
whose farthing tokens are well known to numismatists.
They bear on one side a ship in full sail, on the other the
initials W.I.K. The legend, commenced on one side and
finished on the other, is " William Keye at the Sheepe Inn,
Rye, 1652." s He married Anne, sister of Samuel Jeake the
elder, 8 and died in 1666.

Smuggling, which became so important a Sussex industry
in the eighteenth century, was not unknown in the seven-
teenth. Lewis Gilliat, a French haberdasher and tradesman,
who did a large business in shipping horses and other com-
modities to France, and was certified by the Mayor in 1654
as a professor of the Protestant religion, a resident in Rye
for thirteen years, and a man of good report, 7 was charged
in 1650 with being concerned in smuggling French silks."
" In 1658 his son Claude was indicted and convicted, on the

1 Cal. S. P. Dom., Interreg., iv, 4. * lbtd. y 17.

3 Ibid., 63. * Rye MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com., xiii, 4), p. 218.

5 S. A. C., xxiv, 133; xxxix, 9. 6 See ante, p. 78.

7 Rye MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com., xiii, 4), p. 224.

8 S. A. C., xxxix, 10.


prosecution of an informer, of having exercised the com-
bined mysteries of a haberdasher and grocer without being
duly qualified by apprenticeship. His fellow townsmen,
however, who probably had a constitutional and hereditary
sympathy for the family of a suspected smuggler, were well
disposed towards him, and the informer having recovered
i of the fine imposed, viz., 12, the rest was remitted." l

But in the seventeenth century, as for centuries before,
the Sussex maritime population was busy not with " free
trade " in imports, but with the export smuggling of wool.
The export of wool was either wholly prohibited or only
permitted under licence on payment of a heavy duty. The
Sussex " owlers " set these provisions at defiance, openly
brought down the woolpacks on horseback to the seashore
and loaded French vessels with them. In 1656 it was
affirmed that although the exportation was prohibited al-
most as a felony, there was nothing more daily practised. 3
All classes were concerned in this unlawful trade, even the
magistrates were not ill-disposed towards it, and legal pro-
ceedings against "these caterpillars " when detected com-

Online LibraryCharles Thomas-StanfordSussex in the great Civil War and the interregnum, 1642-1660 → online text (page 22 of 30)