Constance Charlotte Elisa Lennox Russell.

The rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance online

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' The Times called the Tichborne trial " the most celebrated of celebrated

* Bogle was the old black servant of the Tichborne family whom Arthur
Orton met at Sydney and from whom he obtained so much information.


The Merchant of the Ruby

nobility." Warbeck also claimed the evidence of three marks
on his body which those who had known the Duke of York
in early days could vouch for. Furthermore, there was the
analogy that, just as in modern times, many who did not go
so far as to say " the claimant " was Roger Tichborne, still clung
to the belief that he was a relation, probably du cote gauche^
and pleaded family likeness, so in the fifteenth century many
held that Perkin Warbeck was a natural son of Edward IV.,
and traced a resemblance to the handsome King. Amongst the
various authors who believed in Warbeck's pretensions were
Carte, Laing, Bayley, and notably Horace Walpole. On the
other hand, all early historians, as well as Sir Thomas More,
Lord Bacon, Hume, Lingard, Sharon Turner, &c., testified to
his imposture ; but the real history of Perkin Warbeck has only
lately been satisfactorily traced from contemporary documents
and official archives, and that learned historian Gairdner has
brought forward such convincing evidence as to render it now
almost impossible for any one to have a doubt upon the

Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, sister of Edward IV. and
widow of Charles le Temeraire, whom Bacon describes as
having the character of a man with the malice of a woman, bore
a mortal hatred to the House of Lancaster and personally to
King Henry VII. Determining to set up a claimant for the
throne of England, she had employed agents in Flanders to
search for a likely youth, who was to be both handsome and
graceful. At last they came upon one who seemed to have the
desired requisites and brought him to the Duchess, who at once
settled that he was most suitable for her purpose. Pierrequin
Warbecque (as he signed himself) was the son of a barber
of Tournay in Flanders, one Jehan Warbecque (said to be a


The Merchant of the Ruby

converted Jew) and his wife Catherine Faron. He had been in

service for several years in Antwerp and at Middelburg under

different masters, and, having been away from home for a long

time, it was considered that it would be less easy to trace him.

His age and looks were just right, and he was very intelligent.

It remained only therefore to continue his education, and to

prime him with the requisite information to carry on the

imposture. For this purpose the astute Duchess thought he

had best be out of the way of observation, so she arranged with

Lady Brampton that he should go with her to Portugal. Lady

Brampton was the wife of Sir Edward Brampton, a merchant of

London and Portugal, who was a godson of Edward IV., and he

and his family were zealous Yorkists. One, Stephen Frion, was

sent with Perkin as his secretary and tutor, and, being naturally

clever, the Flemish youth soon made rapid strides in foreign

languages and also in the history of his newly invented family.

After spending about a year in Portugal, he entered the service

of a Breton merchant, who took him to Ireland, and it was in

the autumn of 1491, when he was about seventeen years of age,

that Perkin Warbeck first landed at Cork. The citizens insisted

on doing him honours as a member of the House of York,

John Walters, who was three times Mayor of Cork, being the

prime mover. At first they said he was the son of Clarence,

but this he denied, and even took an oath to the contrary before

the Mayor. Then they said he was a bastard son of Richard

III., but this honour he disclaimed. Finally they insisted that

he was the Duke of York, son of King Edward IV., commonly

supposed to have been murdered in the Tower, and they bade

him not fear to assume the character, as they were determined to

be revenged upon the King of England, and they assured him

of the support of the Earls of Desmond and Kildare. " And


The Merchant of the Ruby

so," said Perkin (in his Confession), " against my will they
taught me what I should do and say."

He stayed in Cork many months, and then Charles VIII.,
King of France, delighted to have an opportunity of hampering
the King of England, sent over two envoys to Ireland to invite
him to his court, promising him a warm welcome and his
protection. Perkin accordingly went to France, where he was
received as a Royal Prince, lodged in splendid apartments, and
given a guard of honour commanded by Le Sieur de Concres-
sault. He was joined by Sir George Nevill with a number of
disaffected Yorkists ; but peace between France and England
being declared soon after, Perkin was no longer wanted as a
tool by the French King, and, dreading that he might be given
up to the King of England, the pretender withdrew to the Low
Countries, where the Duchess of Burgundy recognised him as
her nephew, introduced him to her court, ordered him a
guard of honour, and gave him the title of " Rose Blanche

In one of Henry VII. 's letters, written to Sir Gilbert Talbot
at this time, the King says : —

" Not forgetting the grete malice that the Lady Margarete
of Burgoigne bereth continually gainst us, as she sheweth lately
in sending hider of a feigned boye . . . and now the persever-
ance of the same, her malice by th' untrue contriving eftsones
of another fayned lad called Perkin Warbeck, etc."

The first-mentioned " feigned boye " was Lambert Symnel,
the son of a tradesman at Oxford, who about five years before
had gone to Ireland and personated Edward Plantagenet, Earl
of Warwick, and who was actually crowned in Christchurch
Cathedral, Dublin, by the Bishop of Meath as Edward VI.,

241 Q

The Merchant of the Ruby-
King of England ! The Duchess of Burgundy had then sent
over to Ireland 2000 Germans, headed by Martin Schwarz,
to assist the impostor, who on the strength of this made a
descent on England, where he was defeated at Stoke and taken
prisoner, and, as every one knows, his life was spared, and he was
made a turn-spit in the Royal kitchen. The King pardoned
the Earl of Kildare and other nobles who had assisted Symnel ^
and invited them the year following to a banquet at Greenwich,
on which occasion their ci-devant King brought the dishes in
from the kitchen.

One wonders that, so soon after the ignominious ending of
Lambert Symnel's deception, a similar impostor should make
any footing at all ; but the fact that he was recognised by his
aunt, who was not likely to be deceived, weighed with many
persons who were only too glad to be convinced that Perkin was
what he pretended. " Qui vult decipi, decipatur."

Emboldened by success, Perkin Warbeck next applied for the
support of Spain, and wrote in 1493 to Queen Isabella. In his
letter he said that he had on his side the Kings of France,
Denmark, and Scotland, the Duchess of Burgundy, Maximilian,
the King of the Romans, and his son the Archduke of Austria
and the Duke of Saxony. At the same time he gave the Queen
an account of his adventures. Ferdinand and Isabella were not
taken in by his story, and Warbeck's letter v/as docketed :
"From Richard, who calls himself King of England." We
next hear of the impostor being at Vienna with Duke Albert
of Saxony for the funeral of the Emperor Frederick III., when
he was given a high place in the procession to the church.
After this the King of the Romans, who had a grudge

^ After talking to them about their rebelHon, Henry said to them, " My
Masters of Ireland, you will crown apes at length ! "


The Merchant of the Ruby

against Henry VII., took, him again to the Low Countries
and publicly acknowledged him as King of England. Now for
the first time King Henry appears to have taken some steps
against Warbeck ; he sent Garter-King-of-Arms to remonstrate
with Maximilian and the Duchess of Burgundy, ordering him
to show them who he really was and publicly to proclaim his
origin. This did not, however, prevent them from giving their
support to the impostor, who had a bodyguard of twenty archers
bearing the badge of the White Rose and hung out his arms,
three leopards and three fleur-de-lys. However, when the
Treaty of Commerce between England and the Netherlands was
signed, it contained an express stipulation that the latter country
should not harbour any English rebels, so Perkin Warbeck had
to leave. He next turned his course once again to Ireland,
hoping to receive there the same support as before. This visit,
which is mentioned in a MS. in the British Museum, does not
appear to have been so satisfactory, and receiving little encourage-
ment he soon after proceeded to Scotland. King James IV., or
rather his Regency, welcomed any pretext for a quarrel with the
King of England, and they had long held secret communication,
both with the Duchess of Burgundy and with Perkin Warbeck
himself, v/ho on these occasions went by the name of " The
Merchant of the Ruby." As early as the year 1401, we have
found the following entry in the Scotch Treasurer's books :
" Given at the King's command to an Englishman called Edward
Ormond that brought letters forth of Ireland fra King Edward's
son and the Earl of Desmond 9 lb." King James received
Warbeck publicly at Stirling in November 1495, addressing him
as cousin, and the impostor was once again given royal honours
and was styled Prince Richard of England, Duke of York.
And now his success culminated when the Scottish King gave


The Merchant of the Ruby

him in marriage his young cousin, Lady Katherine Gordon,
daughter of the second Earl of Huntly and granddaughter of
James I., said to be the most beautiful maiden in Scotland.

The marriage took place about the middle of January
1496, probably at Holyrood, and in the treasurer's accounts
of Scotland at Register House, Edinburgh, we find Royal
payments on this occasion including " a spousing gown."
Perkin was given an allowance as well as a retinue free of

King James made a brief expedition across the Border
in his support, but did not follow it up, and withdrew his
assistance soon after. He, however, ordered a vessel to be
fitted out at some expense to convey him and his beautiful
consort away, and they sailed from Ayr with a few followers
in July 1497.^ One author states that Warbeck had on
board his two children, but this is probably not correct, or,
if it was so, they must have died as infants, as there is no
other notice of them. In the accounts of the Lord High
Treasurer of Scotland there are minute entries of the articles
provided for the voyage, including a " see goune of Rowane
tannee " for the Duchess of York.

Perkin and Lady Katherine went first to Cork, where they
stayed a month or more. The impostor was then joined by
Maurice Fitzgerald, Earl of Desmond, with a force of 24,000
men and laid siege to the loyal city of Waterford — " Urbs
in tacta," or the untarnished city.

He next sailed for Cornwall, where, after various vicissi-
tudes, he and Lady Katherine landed on the 7th September
1 497 at Whitesand Bay, near Penzance. They were admitted

' Treas. Ace, July 4, 1497. "Memorials of Henry \'II.," by Bergen roth ;
"Venetian Calendar," i. No. 755.



y"' ^tri'U t /r^f^Ki yi-r /i v^» l>^ y'^j^ ;^.

^ ^/^^/'""-'V^ /*^ l-^?^-

Perkix Wahhhck.

I'rom an old Print.

The Merchant of the Ruby

into St. Michael's Mount by the monks, who were favourable
to the house of York, and put the fortifications in a state
of defence. Here Perkin left Lady Katherine, and they
never met again. We are told she was devoted to him, and
she certainly followed him through many privations. This
was not much to be wondered at if the following account
of him were true : " Of visage beautiful, of countenance
majestical, of v/it subtle and crafty, in education pregnant,
in languages skilful, a lad, in short, of a fine shape, bewitching
behaviour and very audacious." ^ Perkin was joined at Bodmin
by about 3000 malcontents. The men of Cornwall had a
grievance against King Henry about taxes, and took this
opportunity of airing their wrongs. At Bodmin he was pro-
claimed King as Richard IV., and Exeter was besieged, but
Perkin and his followers were repulsed by Lord William
Courtenay. In Ellis's "Letters" there is one from King Henry
VII. to Sir Gilbert Talbot about the assault of " Excester."
The King writes : " Within that our Citty were our cousin
of Devonshire (the Earl) Sir William Courtenay, Sir Jo Sap-
cotes, Sir Piers Edgecombe, Sir Humfrey Fulforth, with many
other noblemen of our countries of Devonshire and Cornwall."

Shortly after Perkin heard that the King had arrived at
Taunton, and from that moment he seems to have lost heart
and to have seen that his cause was hopeless. He fled from
the West, and at first took sanctuary in Beaulieu Monastery
near Southampton, an Abbey of the Cistercian order, and,
later on, in the Carthusian Convent at Sheen. After the battle
of Blackheath, in which he was completely routed, he surrendered
and made a full confession on condition that his life was spared.

' Bacon describes him as "mercuriall, made of quicksilver, which is hard to
hold and emprison."


The Merchant of the Ruby

He was taken prisoner to London, where he was put hito
the stocks at Westminster and Cheapside, and compelled to
read his confession in various parts of London, after which
he was committed to the Tower in June 1490. It had been
stated that the confession, which Perkin wrote with his own
hand, was dictated, but, as Mr. Gairdner so forcibly puts
it, the minuteness of the particulars it contained, with its
circumstantial statement of facts, was strong evidence in its
favour, and all the persons (and they were many) whom he
mentioned as being his relations can be verified in the Muni-
cipal Archives of Tournay. The confession (of which two
copies exist, one at Tournay and one at Courtrai) is thoroughly
consistent with the best sources of information we possess.

The leniency of Henry VII. would have enabled Perkin
Warbeck to have lived on in comparative comfort had he
remained quiet, but he commenced plotting with the unfortunate
Earl of Warwick, who was also confined in the Tower, and with
the idea of effecting their escape proposed, it is said, to murder
the Lieutenant of the Tower. In consequence of this the
Earl of Warwick was executed and Perkin Warbeck was hanged
at Tyburn in November 1499. Thus ended the adventures of
" The Merchant of the Ruby."

To return to Lady Katherine, whom Perkin had left for

safety at St. Michael's Mount, the King sent Lord Daubeney

to bring her to his Royal presence at Winchester. Henry was

immensely struck with her beauty and charm, and this, added

to the fact that she was his cousin, induced him to place her

under the special care of his Oueen, the good and kind

Elizabeth of York, and he gave her an ample pension. She

was sent to the Palace at Richmond accompanied by " a

goodly sorte of sad matrones and gentlewomen" (Hallibert).


The Merchant of the Ruby

In King Henry's private expenses the item occurs on the
15th October 1499 of "payment of £'], 13s. 4d. to Robert
Buthewell for horses, saddles, and other necessaries for convey-
ing Lady Katherine to the Queen."

From the purity of her complexion and also in allusion to
her husband's pretensions, she obtained the name of " the
White Rose." The next we hear of her is in 1502, when we
find in Leland's " Collectanea " that " Lady Katherine Gourdon
was in the Queen's train and ranking next to the Royal
Family at the fian^elles of the Princess Margaret to James IV.,
King of Scotland, which ceremony took place on St. Paul's
day at the King's Royal manor of Richmond." After the death
of Henry VII. in 1509 she continued in favour with his
successor, and, moreover, Henry VIII. made her many grants
of land in Berkshire, including Filbert, Eton, Frylsham-Garford,
Longwittenham and Fyfield,^ and she married James
Strangways, one of the Gentlemen Ushers of the Chamber, and
took up her residence at the last-named place. Her second
husband lived only three or four years, and she then married
a Welsh knight, Sir Matthew (or Mathyas, as he signed himself)
Cradock of Cardiff; he was a widower thirty-six years of age,
of an old Glamorganshire family, and had a daughter Margaret
by his first wife, who married a Herbert and was ancestress of
the present Earl of Pembroke and Powys. Lady Katherine
became a widow for the third time in 1531, when Sir Matthew
died and was buried in St. Anne's Chapel (now called Herbert
Chapel), on the north side of the old church at Swansea,
v/hich he had built. Sir Matthew left Lady Katherine the sole

1 These manors were purchased with their advowsons from the representa-
tives of Lady Katherine by Sir Thomas White, who gave them to the President
and Scholars of St. John's College, Oxford, founded by him in 1555.


The Merchant of the Ruby

executrix of his will, expressly bequeathing to her "all such
jewels as she had of her own the day that she and I were
married, which included numerous ornaments of diamonds,
rubies, pearls, sapphires, garnets and gold and silver plate."

Lady Katherine appears to have found the married state
congenial, as she took unto herself a fourth husband in the shape
of Christopher Assheton, who outlived her.

She died November 5, 1537, and was buried at Fyfield, and
her tomb is still to be seen in the chancel of St, Nicholas's Chapel.
Sir Matthew had intended that Lady Katherine should be buried
with him at Swansea, where on a monument, much mutilated and
defaced, is the following inscription : '* Here lieth Mathie Cradok
Kt., sometime Depute unto the Right Honourable Charles, Earl
of Worcet, in the County of Glamorgan and Morgan, Chancellor
of the same. Steward of Gower and Kelvie and me Ladi Katerin
his wife." ^ But the worthy knight had not calculated that his
loving spouse would still take another and a fourth husband !
and in her testamentary instructions Lady Katherine desired
that her " body should be buried in the parish church of Fifield,
in suche place as shall be thought necessarie and mete by the
discretion of my dearly beloved husband." ^ Her will was proved
by her executor Richard Smith, " her loving brother-in-lav/."
After directing the payment of all her debts, " including which
might be owing by her late husband, Sir Matthew Cradock of
Cardiff and James Strangwis, late of Fyfelde deceased," she says,
" I give and bequeath to my cousin Margarett Keymes such of
my apparell as shall be thought mete for her by the discretion
of my husband and my said executor." Attached to this cousin

^ Sir Matthew Cradock was son of Richard ap Gwillim ap Evan ap Cradock.

* Lysons says her tomb stands under an obtuse arch, with a roof of rich tracery,
blue and gold ; over the arch is a cornice of gilt foliage. The Editor of Ashmole's
" Collections" says it was called the monument of" Lady Gorgon" !


The Merchant of the Ruby

Margaret Keymes there is a curious history. Her mother was
Princess Cecilia, a daughter of King Edward IV., whom Hall
calls " less fortunate than fair." She and her sisters were left
destitute, but when Henry VII. chose one of them as his Queen
their fortunes rose. Elizabeth allowed them an annuity and
gave them many presents, and Princess Cecilia bore her sister's
train at her coronation. Furthermore, King Henry arranged a
marriage for her with her uncle by the half-blood John Viscount
Welles, K.G. The latter died in 1489, and Princess Cecilia then
made a terrible mesalliance and married one Thomas Keymes,^ a
native of the Isle of Wight — a man of such obscure birth that it
is never stated who or what he was, and his name is variously given
as Kyme, Kime, Kerne, and Kymhe. By this husband Princess
Cecilia had a daughter, the "Margaret Keymes" mentioned in
Lady Katherine's will as her cousin. She married John Witherby,
and left descendants in the female line which can be traced for
several generations.^ Princess Cecilia also had a Keymes son
called Richard, and he left a daughter Agnes, who married John
Baldwy of Southampton.

Lady Katherine ends her will in these words : " And whereas I
in my life and my husband James Strangwis in the Monastery of
St. Mary, over in Southerke by London, founded, constituted
and ordenyd in the same Monasterye a p'petual Chaunterye with
one priest therein dayly to syng masse for the soules of my father,
the Erie of Huntley and Gordon, and my Lady and mother, his
wife ; my soule, my saide husband's souls and James Strangwys

^ Burke calls him " Sir John Kyme of Linconshire" ; there is a family of that
name there, but the pedigrees printed by the Harleian Society do not give this
Royal Alliance, and it is therefore improbable that Princess Cecilia's second
husband was one of them.

^ Her daughter married John Brooke, and their daughter Agnes became the
wife of John Duffiekl, whose daughter, Agnes Uuffield, married first Robert Turnour,
and secondly Robert Witherington.



The Merchant of the Ruby

his father and mother and all xten souls : I desire my saide
husband my executor to have the oversight of the same
Chaunterye, so that all masses and other oraysons may be sung
and said according to the very true Fundacon thereof."

It is to be hoped that when Lady Katherine was arranging
for these masses to be said for herself and so many of her
relations that in " all xten souls " she meant to include the poor
Merchant of the Ruby.


Charlotpe Brabantine dk Nassau,
d. of William the Silent.



" 'Twas when they raised, -'mid sap and siege,
The banners of their rightful liege

At this she-captain's call,
Who, miracle of womankind 1
Lent mettle to the meanest hind

That mann'd the castle wall."

Amongst our Huguenot ancestors was Charlotte de la Tre-
moille. She was the daughter of Claude de la Tremoille,
Due de Thouars, Prince de Tarente et de Talmand/ and
her mother was Charlotte Brabantine de Nassau, daughter
of William the Silent, Prince of Orange. Claude de la Tre-
moille was one of the leaders of the Reformed Church in
France, and fought bravely under the banner of Henri IV.
He died when he was only thirty-eight years of age, leaving
his wife and family under the protection of his two brothers-
in-law, the Elector Palatine Prince Maurice of Nassau and the
Due de Bouillon, as well as of Monsieur du Plessis, desiring that
his children should be brought up in the religion in which
he died. Our heroine, his third daughter, who was born in
1601 at Thouars, where she spent her youth almost exclu-
sively, seems to have been a precocious child, if we judge from
the two letters before us written on ruled paper in a large
hand and addressed to her mother. The first one, written
when she was only five or six years of age, is as follows : —

" Madame, — Since you went away I have become very
good. Thank God you will find me quite learned. I know

^ This family had nearly fifty titles, and dated from 1040.

"The Queen of Man"

seventeen Psalms, all the quatrains of Pibrac, all the huitains
of Zamariel, and above all I can talk Latin. My little brother
is so pretty. He could not be prettier ; when visitors come
he is quite enough to entertain them. It seems, Madame, a
very long time since we saw you. Pray love me. M. de St.
Christophe says you are well, for which I have thanked God.
I pray to God for you. I humbly kiss the hands of my
good Aunt and of my little cousins. I am, Madame, your
very humble and very obedient and good daughter,

"Charlotte de la Tremoille."

The other letter, written when she was eight, says : —

"Madame, — I am very sorry that I have been disobedient
to you, but I hope you will never again have occasion to
complain of me. Although I have not been very good, I
hope to be so for the future that you will have no cause
of dissatisfaction ; and that Madame my grandmother and
Messieurs my uncles will not find me ungrateful any more,
but hoping to render them obedient and very humble service.
This new year they have shown their kindness by giving me
beautiful New Year's presents ; Madame (the Princess of
Orange) a carcanet of diamonds and rubies ; Monsieur le
Prince d'Orange some earrings : His Excellency three dozen
of pearl and ruby buttons, Monsieur my uncle a dress of silver
tissue, etc."

These letters are, of course, translations, and in the originals
the spelling is so bad that one has to read the sentences aloud

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Online LibraryConstance Charlotte Elisa Lennox RussellThe rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance → online text (page 19 of 22)