F. J. Harvey (Frederick Joseph Harvey) Darton.

The marches of Wessex, a chronicle of England online

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the eyes of his over-zealous keepers) to walk towards the
seaside with an intention to make known to those that waited
for him the sad tidings of this disapjDointment together with
the causes." Wyndham thought the figure was Limbry's,
but was not certain, and dared not question him because
of the women.

It was one of many curiously suspicious mischances
in Charles's flight. Half a dozen incidents seem to hint that
everyone knew who he was, and many would help towards
his capture, but none would connnit the direct act of

One or other of the party waited on the beach all night
for the boat which never came. Their horses were kept
saddled, their gear not unpacked. In the morning Peters,
Wyndham's servant, was sent to Ellesdon at Lyme to
enquire what had happened. Charles and Wyndham and
Miss Coningsby set off towards liridport : Lord Wilmot was
to follow them and meet them at the George in that
town (now the frequented and pleasant shop of Mr. Beach)
as soon as Peters came back with news.

The news might well have been even more disturbing
than, ill the end, it was. Thi- hoKtess of the Queen's
Arms had lately taken on as an dslicr an ox-servico man
(uH wo should say to-day) — " a ncjtorious knave," who,
" p<'rhapH inspired and prompted l)y the devil," called her
atti'Htion to the strange behaviour of her guests. Ellesdon,
ill his narrative, lialf hints that she herself hatl some know-


ledge of their identity. But she would not listen to Henry
Hull the ostler. Henry, however, had to take Lord Wilmot's
horse to be shod that morning ; and when Hammet the
smith saw the hoofs, he exclaimed, " I am confident these
shoes were made and set in the north." Thereupon Hull
goes " to one Wesley, the puny parson of the place, and a
most devoted friend of the parricides, to ask his advice."*
Wesley was praying and could at first take no heed. But
when his " long-breathed devotions " were over, he went at
once to the host of the inn and " with most eager blattera-
tions catechiseth him " ; and from him to Robert Butler, a
justice, and a member of the Dorset Standing Committee,
for a warrant to set people on to apprehending the King.
Butler, it is said, refused. But Captain Massey or Macey,
in charge of troops at Lyme, to whom Wesley then repaired,
set off posthaste along the Bridport road with as many men
as he could get together.

I said " the host " was interrogated by Wesley. That
is one account. Another is that the parson went to the
hostess and said, " Why, how now, Margaret, you are a
maid of honour now ! " She asked what he meant. " Why,
Charles Stuart lay the last night at your house and kissed
you at his departure, so that now you can't but be a maid
of honour." Whatever Charles did or said, the hostess,
according to this story, was on his side : " if I thought it
was the King, I would think the better of my lips all days
of my life ; and so, Mr. Parson, get you out of my house,
or else I'll get those shall kick you out."

Something of all these suspicions — how much is not
evident — must have come to Wilmot's ears, for he and
Peters set off in haste after Charles. The Charmouth-
Bridport road in its present state was not constructed till

* Bartholomew Wesley or Westley, John Wesley's great grandfather.
"This Westley," says the author of Miraculum-Basilicon (1664) "is
since a Nonconformist, and lives by the practice of physic in the same
place. He told a good gentlewoman that he was confident, if ever the King
did come in again, he would love long prayers ; for had he not been longer
than ordinary at his devotions, he had surely snapped him."


over a century later, but doubtless followed much the same
natural lines — up the long slow hill to Morecombolake,
round the curve of Har Down (most unexpected and lovable
of the sudden shaggy Dorset hills), down to little Chideock,
up again, and down over the bridge past Allington into
Bridport town, where the tiien George is almost at the
main cross road.s.

In the paved yard which is still behind Mr. Beach's shop,
Charles in his character of servant was tending his mistress's
horse. The place was full of soldiers preparing for the
Jersey expedition. To him one Horton the ostler, " Ho,
friend ! I am glad to see thee here. I know you well ! "
Cliarles did not accept the recognition. Horton explained
that he had met him at Exeter, where he had been at an inn
eleven j-ears with one Mr. Porter. " And I likewise," said
the prince, readily, " did serve Mr. Porter. I am glad that
I have met with my old acquaintance ; but I see now thou
art full of business, that thou canst not possibly drink with
me ; but when I shall chance to return from London, wo
will talk more freely concerning our old affairs."

Fortunately Lord Wilmot arrived with Peters just
afterwards, and, spurred by his alarming news, the fugitives
set forth again at once, taking the Dorchester road. They
met many travellers, and among them one who was for-
merly a servant of Charles I. One account puts this meeting
between Charmoutii and Bridport. But at any rate tho
risk of recognition was becoming menachigly real, and they
resolved to take the next turning off the main road, " which
might probably lead towards Yeovil or Sherborne," and so
back to Trent.

Mr. A. -M. liroadley was instrumental in placing a stono
slab U) commemorate this " miraculous divergence." I
cannot feel sure that his choice of the lane or of the quotation
on the stone is correct. Ho cites Fuller's doggerel : —

" At \Vor<o8tt'r great Clod'H goodiieH8 to the Nation
It wu« u Conquest Your bnro Preservation.
When niiclHt Your (ierceHt foe.s on every Mido
For your CHcapo God did a lane provide."


It is quite true that Fuller, as rector of Broadwindsor,
might know the more intimate details of Charles's adven-
tures in Dorset. But it seems to me more likely that
the " Lane " is not a road but a person — Jane Lane, by
whose aid he got safely away immediately after Worcester

Mr. Broadloy insisted that the Lane is Lee Lane, a by-
road running down to his own house at Bradpole. But that
would not take the fugitives to Yeovil or Sherborne, except
very indirectly — even if the road then existed. It would
take them into marshy ground north of Bridport. What
looks like an older track, however, diverges from the main
road at the same place, in a much more promising direction
— a disused broad path between hedges, which may well
have been an ancient bridle track, pointing (and in fact
leading) direct to the great land-mark of Eggardon — which
is on the way to Yeovil and Sherborne.*

What is more, had they taken Lee Lane they would have
found themselves almost immediately in Bradpole village ;
whereas Mrs. Wyndham's account says they reached a
village " after many hours' travel." The village was Broad-
windsor. By following the track I have mentioned they
would have come out on higher ground near Powerstock,
and might easily have wandered through the desolate
wooded country near Hooke and Wraxall, as certain eminent

* Ogilby's Traveller's Guide, a " description of England undertaken by
the express command of King Charles II," describes (I quote the 1G99
edition) the road from Exeter to Dorchester. " At the end of Bridport an
indifferent straight way by Walditch and Lytton Churches on the right,
Long Lother and Askatham on the left." Long Lother is Loders ; and
Lee Lane can only reach Loders deviously, whereas the deserted track I
have mentioned goes close by Loders almost in a straight line. It is true
that Denzil Holies in 1651 held the manor of Loders ; but he was not
necessarily there, and Charles was not necessarily to know it if he was.
Bradpole is not mentioned by Ogilby. Askatham I take to be Askerswell.
The turning for Loders is given as at three furlongs from the bridge at
Bridport ; that for Askerswell at two miles three fui'longs. A hundred
and more years later, the turnpike roads that still endure began to be
constructed, and the mean bjToads of to-day lost tlieir then importance.
It is much more likely that a track disused to-day is an old road of the pre-
turnpike era than that a better engineered one now in use is of continuous
ancestry. The present stretch of main road from the top of Chilcombe
Down to Axminster was built in 1754.


gipsies did later, without meeting a soul or seeing a house
till they fetched up at Broadwindsor inn.

At any rate, they found the inn in safety. If they had
kept to the Dorchester road, Captain ^Nlacey would have
caught them up. He was close upon their heels ; but he
followed the main road, up over Askerswell Hill and on all
the way to Dorchester, where, " with the utmost haste and
diligence, he searched all the inns and alehouses " — in vain.

It chanced that the host of the George at Broad-
windsor was an old servant of Wyndham's, one Rhys Jones.
He gave them a private room. But tiiey were not wholly out
of danger. Many houses round Cliarmouth were being
searched ; apparently it was common knowledge that Charles
was somewhere in the neighbourhood. One party of soldiers
came as near to Broadwindsor as Pilsdon Manor (owned by
Wyndham's uncle), where they offered much indignity to
the daughter of the house, believing that she was the prince
in disguise. Gregory Alford (of whom more shortly) says
that EUesdon himself was in charge of this party, and was
eager for the £1000 reward ; the assertion is hardly con-
sistent with Ellesdon's own account, for he says that he
knew from the first who the fugitives were ; and if so, lie
need not have postponed the betrayal. Alford hints at a
possible reason for disloyalty : " Ellcsdon was newly
married to a very rich but rigid Presbyterian." Alford him-
self was vigorous against Dissenters.

But there was danger even nearer than Pilsdon. They
had not been in the George long w^hen the village con-
stable arrived with forty soldiers for the Jersey expedition,
whom he l)illeted on the inn. With them was a " leaguer-
wench," a camp-follower so far gone towards motherhood
that she bore a child in the inn that night. This " made the
inhabitants very ill at ease, fearing the whole j)arish should
become the reputed father, and be enforced to Ia( p th(^
child." Their uneasiness was fortunate, because it led to a
hot argument between the parish and the troops, and allowed
the royal party to rela.x their vigilance and consider lluir



position. They thought it " very hazardous to attempt
anything more in Dorsetshire " ; and after resting, left the
house quietly at dawn and returned without mishap to
Trent. Charles remained there undisturbed — save for one
alarm about some mj^sterious troops at Sherborne — till
October 6th, when he set out for the coast again : this time
more successfully, for he sailed from Brighton for France
on October 15th.

I have mentioned Gregory Alford. He is a Dorset link
between this flight of Charles II and the adventures in the
county of his wretched son, James Scott, Duke of Mon-
mouth, at this time only a year-old baby. When the
Dorset plan was first mooted. Col. Wyndham rode off
to Giles Strangways at Melbury Sampford, thinking him
a knowledgeable person who could find a boat, and also
a financial supporter. But Col. Strangways' father was
still living.* " He had no great command of money."
Moreover, most of his seafaring acquaintances were " for
their loyalty banished." He managed, however, to fm^nish
£100 for the King's use, and he advised Wyndham to try
either Gregory ALford or William Ellesdon, both of Lyme.
But Alford was in Portugal, " forced," he says, " to be
abroad by reason of his loyalty."

Now Alford had married the daughter of one George
Potter of Exeter ; and the Bridport ostler Horton had been
in George Potter's service. It was in that service, Horton
said to Charles in the yard of the George inn, that they had
formerly met !

Gregory Alford prospered, it seems : and he was able to
show his loyalty to the Stuart dynasty later, for it was he
who, as the zealous mayor of Lyme, did so much to frustrate

* John Strangways, buried with others of his notable family in the
little church at Melbury Sampford, close to tlie great house. His Latin
epitaph records iha,t he was " faithful to the King for whom he stood up,
boldly and continuously, througliout the severest hardships, while the
internecine conspiracy was at its height ; suffering the loss of his private
possessions, imprisonment, and every indignity, with the greatest fortitude,
and now " — at the date of his death, at the age of eighty -two, on December
30, 1666—" beholding the restoration of King Charles II."


Moninoutirs rebellion by sending early word of his landing
to London.

It was on June 11 (June 21, " N.8."), 1G85, that "a
ten-oared boat landed three gentlemen [from three ships off
Lyme] at daybreak at Scatown [under tJoklen Cap]. They
asked some fishermen, while they treated them with bottles
of Canary and neats' tongues, what news there was ; who
said they knew none, but thej^ had heard there was a
rebellion in Scotland by the Earl of Arg3'le." Two went
towards Taunton, and the third — Colonel Vernier, who
aj)pears at Bridport a few days later — re-embarked.

The local surveyor of customs heard of it, and became
suspicious. He told the mayor of Lyme, Alford. Thesm-veyor
of Lyme had already put off to examine the vessels, and
had not returned. Later in the day, towards evening, a
newsletter from London arrived with the intelligence that
three boats well armed had sailed from Holland, ostensibly
for the Indies, but probably in reality for England, bearing
the Duke of Monmouth.

Gregory Alford and his friends were uneasy. They would
have summoned the boats to salute — if there had been any
powder for the town guns ; but there was not. Suddenly
they saw seven boatloads of men fully armed rowing ashore.
The town drums were beaten, and the deputy-surveyor
with a few seamen ran to the Cobb, procm-ing a little
powder on the way from a West India merchant, and hand-
ing it over to a magistrate. He was too late for any resist-
ance. The Duke's men were ashore, escorted by townsmen
crying, " A Monmouth ! a Monmouth — the Protestant
religion ! "

They proceeded to enlist men in a fuld on the Church
Cliffs. " The Duke was in purple, with a star on his breast,
wearing only a sword." He said he had arms enough for
twenty or thirty thousand men. A long and wordy Declar-
atitjn was read, calling King James " a murderer and an
assassin of imiocent men ; a Popish usurper of the Crown ;
Traitor to the Nation, and Tyrant over the People."


The Duke's welcome was of a mixed character. A good
number of peasants joined him at once ; by June 12 he
had 1000 foot and 150 horse. He does not seem to have had
arms for more tlian twice that number at most (he had
to turn hundreds away), and he was not well provided with
money. Nor did the gentry join him as he hoped ; James
had been vigilant : some were arrested, some fled. In the
meantime the mayor of Lyme also fled : Lyme was now
hardly safe for him. But before he fled he despatched the
active deputy-surveyor of customs to London with a letter
to the King, reporting the invasion.

The next day men still flocked in — Daniel Defoe was one
of them — and there were soon sufficient for the formation of
four regiments, the Blue, the Yellow, the White, the Green.*

Then came a futile reconnoitring visit to Bridport, and
" Edward Coker, Gent, second son of Captain Robert Coker
of Mapowder, was slain at the Bull Inn, by one Venner," as
the brass in the parish chm-ch and a rubbing of it at the
Bull testify. The flghting is said to have been very hot
while it lasted, but it seems to have been purposeless and
indiscriminate. Local tradition says that the invaders
pushed James's men up the steep Bothenhampton Hill
(above the present village, to the north and east of it), and
fought so flercely that the lane up which they struggled — a
narrow path between hedges now — ran with blood. It is
called Bloody Lane to this day. But after a short time
both sides, according to the written accounts, seem to have
lost their heads. Lord Grey and his horsemen " ran and
never turned till they came to Lyme." Venner, being left
in command, was wounded, and rode after Grey. But Wade
continued an intermittent attack, gradually retreating,
while, on the other hand, " the militia remained contented
with having reoccupied the centre of the town, and shouting,
out of musket shot, at Monmouth's men."

* Their memory lived long. Roberts, the historian of the rebellion,
writes : " the generation has passed from us, whose countenances glowed
at any mention of the Blue and the Yellow regiments, in which their
fathers and grandfathers served with their darling Monmouth."


On June loth the little army left Lyme and Dorset ; many
to return only to the justice of Lord Jeffreys. The inept
manceuvi-es and fighting which ended miserably at Sedge-
moor need not be described liere. It is estimated that
3200 men were in Monmouth's force on the dark morning of
July 6, 1685, " many half drunk."

The Duke came back to Dorset niter the battle, hi which
he does not seem to have borne himself well. He re-entered
the county, a fugitive, near Shaftcsbiu-y, and at Woodyatcs
inn disguised himself as a shepherd. He was soon traced :
the country was being beaten for him ; and there was a
price of £5000 on his head. They found him " in a ditch
covered with forn and brambles, under an ash tree ... in
the last extremity of hunger and fatigue." (The remains of
the alleged tree stood till recent times.) He could not even
run away competently. He was taken first before Anthony
Ettricke, of Holt Lodge, the magistrate whose curious
coffin lies half inside, half outside ^^'imborne Minster ; and
thence he was sent to Ringwood, and so to London.

He was beheaded on Tower Hill loss than a fortnight
later. On the scaffold he bore himself witii dignity and
courage. He had need of all his courage. " The executioner
had five blows at him ; after the first he looked up, and
after the third lie put his legs across, and the hangman flung
away his axe, but being chid took it again, and severed not
his head from his body till he cut it off with his knife."

The executioner was John Ketch, immortal through his
immediate passage into the newly introduced Punch and
Judy show, and so into proverbial speech. He had already
been accused, in KiS.'i, of unnecessary brutality in the case
of one (»f the Russells' (William Lord Russell), who had
certainly been connected with Monmouth and Shaftesbury
before they both lied from England, but was perhaps
hardly guilty of the treason for which he was executed.
Ketch, according to an " apologie " or defence alleged to bo
l)y himwlf, was drunk i»n that occasicjn, and did imt hit
straight. Russell, Ketch says, had given him ten guineas


to make a quick job of it, and then woukl move about and
not lie in the right position. Other accounts say that the
executioner severed the head with two blows, a common
necessity : Burnet, who was an eye-witness but could not
bear to keep his gaze fixed on the sight, hints that he put
the axe lightly against Russell's head as if to take aim, and
may have touched him then, but took only one blow after-

Burnet also speaks in moving terms of Russell's fortitude.
Monmouth's own fine demeanour at the last moment was
at last equalled by that of his followers. They " nothing
common did, nor mean." They made the usual simple pro-
testation of innocence or guilt, bared their necks, pulled a
cap over their eyes, and laid their heads " down, as upon
a bed"' — "rather to die like men than live like slaves."

I give these and la-ter gruesome details partly because an
age which has invented high explosive and poison gas, and
still uses capital punishment and shrapnel and the bayonet,
has no right to be shocked at slightly less efficient methods
of taking life ; but mainly because they illustrate the
complete acceptance of those methods by the people then
chiefly concerned. The proceedings were common form.
The British Museum has recently acquired a fine drawing
by Visscher, and his subsequent engraving, which show how
well the routine was observed even many years earlier. It
is of the execution in 1606 of the Gunpowder Plot con-
spirators. Two or three prisoners, pinioned, on their back
on flat wattle hm-dles, are being drawn rapidly over the
cobbles by horses, urged on by mounted grooms. A few
halberdiers keep back a ciu'ious crowd — men, women, and
children, some jeering, some cheering ; from the windows
grave persons in large hats look down ; the inevitable dog
intrudes. One prisoner is already dangling from the gallows
— he must die by suffocation, not dislocation, so short is the
rope. Another, hanged, is on a table just beyond, a man
with a knife busy " drawing " him, while one with an axe
is about to sever a limb. Beyond again is a huge cauldron,


from which an attendant is taking a tarred leg. There aro
bunilles of faggots ready to feed the roaring fire under tlio
cauldron, and a bent figiu-e is hurrying up with a fresh

" Decently and in order." ... It was only indecent dis-
order that nia(U' Ketch pass instantly into a figuro of
ridicule and ill-fame. And JelTrej'S has also passed into
that grisly ininiortality. But it was probably not so much
the punishments he ordained, in themselves, that made the
Bloody Assize burn so long in Western hearts, as their
number and the blind, deaf rage with which they were
reached and delivered.

Immediately after Sedgemoor the survivors of Mon-
mouth's unhappy rabble had scattered and fled. Summary
justice, more or less in accordance with the civil law — if
they had been duly tried — was done upon those whom
Kirke caught soon after the battle. They were hanged till
they were almost dead, then cut down — still living — and
disembowelled (" drawn," as in Visscher's picture), the
entrails being burnt before their faces, and then quartered —
" the four parts to be disposed of at the pleasme of the King ;
and the Lord have mercy on your souls."

That may be considered merely as military fmy. When
Jefifreys came on to Dorchester after the ghastly execution
of Alice Lisle at Winchester, the forms of law were more
fully employed. The terrible judge — he was really one of
five — attended Divine service in the parish church on
Friday, September 4th, 1G85, and immediately afterwards,
in a court hung with red cloth, began his Assize. Two
hundred and ninety-two prisoners were sentenced within a
week at Dorchester — thirteen hanged by Monday the 7th ;
the roll for the whole Western Assize containing 2(311
names. Three hundred and forty-five in all were Dorset
men, and of these 74 were executed, 177 transported,
9 whipp((l ; shopkeepers, tailors, mariners, weavers, shoe-
makers, poor common men and lads and even boys.

Jeffreys bullied witnesses and counsel alike ; guilt was


piedotormined. Often he foamed at the mouth in his
frenzy. The very pleas for mercy were turned into cruel
jests, as Macaulay records. John Bennett, whom he
mentions, was a Lyme man ; John Tutchin, who had some
connection with Bridport, and a Weymouth boy of fom'teen,
both noticed by Macaulay, were sentenced to be whipped at
every market town in the county every year for seven
years : a parson rebuked the gaoler for not whipping the
boy hard.

As I have suggested, care was taken to organize the
functions jjroperly. The authorities of Bath were ordered
beforehand, by the high sheriff, to prepare gallows and
halters, " with a sufficient number of faggots to burn the
bowels, and a furnace or cauldron to boil their heads and
quarters, and salt to boil them with, and tar to tar them
with. You are also to provide an axe and a cleaver for
quartering the said rebels." The quarters were distributed
for widespread exhibition, even in places which the rebellion
had not touched directly. Piddlctown, for instance, got
four quarters and a head : Winfrith the same : Weymouth
(the Weymouth barber's apprentice mentioned above was
whipped for reading Monmouth's proclamation, but the
town was not itself implicated) sixteen quarters and six
heads : the new post for two of the quarters cost Is. 6d.

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Online LibraryF. J. Harvey (Frederick Joseph Harvey) DartonThe marches of Wessex, a chronicle of England → online text (page 14 of 28)