Thursday, 19 April 2018

Who was John Cromwell? - English Civil Wars

Who was John Cromwell?

An interesting snippit taken from official military archives and embellished with a little background history in reference to English regiments serving in the Low Countries: 

The Civil War was still ongoing in England and the regiments were, on the face of it, pro-Royalist. In Jan 1649 when Parliament took control of the country and executed the king the general feeling in the Netherlands was one of shock and horror especially as William, Prince of Orange was the king's son-in-law. When the ruling Commonwealth in England sent Chief Justice St John to the Hague to forge a confederacy between the two republics he was abused by the public and failed to achieve his objective. There followed a war between the English and Dutch, placing the English regiments in a difficult position. But they were regarded as being supporters of the Royal family and therefore not loyal to Oliver Cromwell. 
The Colonel of one of the regiments was *John Cromwell* - related to Oliver but a staunch royalist, so much so that he changed his name to Williams. Fortunately for the officers and men the war was carried on at sea and not involving land forces.
And a mistake that was, because several of the officers were in Cromwell's pay throughout and were dutifully spying on the Royals. But interestingly two of the most notorious re royal scandal and accusations of shared mistresses, were embraced by Charles shortly after the restoration despite both were related to Lucy Walter - one a true gentleman albeit a spy, and the other a blackguard double-agent of the worst kind. But who was John Cromwell?

In Dedication to the "Buffs" amongst many!

The Companies in Dutch Service 1664

After 80 years of cooperation between the English and the United Provinces in the fight against the Hapsburgs the two countries now found themselves on opposite sides. 'It was alleged that the Dutch had been guilty of encroachments and depredations on English commerce and on the English settlements across the seas.' In 1664 the English and Scots companies in the service of the States were mostly in the pay of the state of Holland with some maintained by Friesland, Utrecht and Zealand. Altogether there were 32 English companies and 21 Scottish. In December 1664 the records show that these 53 companies were distributed in 31 different towns with no more than two companies stationed together, except at Maastricht where there were six. However, on paper the companies were allotted to 4 English regiments and 3 Scots.

The Four English Regiments serving in the Low Countries 1665

From various documents the regimental history was able to compile a list of English officers who served in the Dutch service in 1665 and they are listed under four regiments named after their Colonels:

Lord William Craven's Regiment - ( Lt-Col Sir Walter Vane )
Colonel Thomas Dolman's Regiment - (Lt-Col John Cromwell aka Williams) *this is where the name change shows up in official records and states he had previously changed his name.*
Colonel William Killegrew's Regiment - (Lt-Col Humphrey Peyton)
Colonel Robert Sidney's/Sydney's Regiment - (Lt-Col Sir William Sayers)

The Oath of Allegiance

Letters from Sir George Downing, the envoy at the Hague, to Sir Henry Bennet in England give details of the choice facing the English soldiers. The Dutch did not want potentially hostile troops in their country while there was a state of war between England and Holland so the choice was to swear an oath of allegiance to Holland or be disbanded. The oath was to include a renunciation of allegiance to the English King. Many of the soldiers had been born in the Low Countries and had strong ties with the country, and others, especially the Scots had no love for the English King, Charles II. For some reason, Charles did not exercise his prerogative to recall the English troops although urged to do so.

The Disbandment of the Regiments 1665

The Dutch authorities decided to honourably discharge the English and Scots troops serving in the regiments and replace them with Netherlanders. Those Englishmen and Scotsmen who were prepared to swear the oath of allegiance to The Dutch republic would be re-admitted into the regiments. The discharged officers and men were given no assistance from the English government for their repatriation, so the English envoy Sir George Downing paid for their passage to England and gave them letters of recommendation.

The 3 Scots regiments were converted into 3 nominally Dutch regiments and the 4 English regiments were replaced by only one Dutch regiment. Those English officers who remained in Holland were placed in the 3 former Scots regiments. 'The States General, on 14th April, ordered that the transformed English and Scottish companies, being now Netherlands companies, the drums were to beat the Holland March on guard mounting, and on all other occasions, and that the sashes and badges of the officers were to be orange-coloured, similar to those worn by the Dutch officers.'

The King's Change of Heart

In early 1665 the discharged officers and men began to arrive back in England and the King reconsidered the question of taking them back into his service. A list was compiled, dated 11th April 1665, of 17 subalterns who had arrived or who were expected. On 20th April a warrant was issued taking them into his pay at a reduced rate, 3 shillings a day for lieutenants and 2 shillings and sixpence for ensigns. Captains were given 5 shillings a day.

The Appointment of Col Robert Sidney/Sydney, 31st May 1665

The King finally decided to form the officers and men into a regiment and issued a commission to Colonel Robert Sidney to be 'Colonell of Our Holland Regiment of Foot, raised or to be raised, for Our service.' Robert Sidney, who had commanded one of the English regiments in the Dutch service, was the 3rd son of Robert 2nd Earl of Leicester. He was born in 1626 and died suddenly in 1668, buried in Penshurst. He was a handsome man and many thought due to scurrilous rumours put about by John Evelyn, Killigrew, James Duke of York and Col Thomas Howard, he was the real father of the Duke of Monmouth. (The reasons for this assumption were that Robert's mistress was at one time the King's mistresses/wife (?), Lucy Waters (Mrs Barlow), also that the resemblance was so strong that many remarked on it, forgetting Lucy and Robert were cousins - also seems unlikely Charles II would have asked Robert Sydney to raise a new Hollander regiment if he thought the Duke of Monmouth was from Robert's loins.

The Holland Regiment, 23rd June 1665

The official date of the raising of the Holland Regiment for His Majesty's service was the 31st May 1665 the day of the Colonel Robert Sydney's commission but the other officers received their commissions 3 weeks later on 23rd June. These 21 officers included Major Alexander Bruce who was the only officer of the Scots regiments to refuse the oath of allegiance to the Netherlands. The establishment was fixed at 6 companies of 106 NCOs and men each. The field officers acted as captains to the first 3 companies so that, as an example of the organisation:

The 1st Company had Colonel Robert Sidney/Sydney as captain, a lieutenant, an ensign, 2 sergeants, 3 corporals, one drummer and 100 private soldiers.

The 2nd Company had Lt-Col Thomas Howard - *Spy extraordinaire (double agent) during the ECWs, and Master of the Horse to Princess Mary, wife/widow Prince William of Nassau/Orange*.   
The 3rd Company by Major Alexander Bruce, 
The 4th Company by Capt Sir Thomas Ogle
The 5th Company by Capt Henry Pomeroy
The 6th Company by Capt Baptist Alcock

All the officers in the regiment had served in the English-Dutch regiments except the surgeon. It should be noted that when the officers and men refused to take the oath in Holland they faced a very uncertain future so their loyalty to the English crown had been proved. Another regiment, the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot (The Lord High Admiral's Regiment), had been raised the previous autumn. This, and the Holland Regiment, were primarily intended for service at sea. On the 11th July the cost of these two regiments was ordered to be charged to the Navy. The Holland Regiment remained on the naval establishment until May 1667.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Georgian/Regency Gentleman Cant - or not?

Oliver Twist - Victorian novel by Charles Dickens.

Rum as prefix to slang words has nothing to do with the drink. The Oxford English Dictionary describes rum prefix as a canting term from the criminal underworld. To start with it was positive, meaning variously good, fine, excellent or great. Subsequently "rum booze" was fine or excellent drink, a rum duke was a handsome man and a rum dab was a dextrous thief (dabs are fingers), rum bugher was a valuable nifty working hound, often as criminal as their masters (poachers/thieves), but it was cant from within the criminal world where a duke was not a toff/aristocrat, he was a master mind of criminal activity, and this is where modern-day writers have researched the wrong elements of the rum prefix re periods in history. 

Do you remember Oliver Reed as Dodger in Oliver Twist  and his "rum bugher" Bullseye (Dickens).  

Around 1800 the word "rum" prior to a word (prefix) appeared to do a flip from positive to negative and started to mean something that was odd, strange or peculiar. A rum book was a curious or strange one, a rum customer was a peculiar man or one risky to offend, a rum phiz was an odd face and so on. 

The OED guesses (it would be fair to say) the change came about when old criminal cant slid into common usage, through slang expressions such as rum cove, originally "an excellent or first-class rogue". 

Other terms also shifted their senses over time - subsequently the English Dialect/Cant Dictionary noted rum duke was “a strange, unaccountable person”, a substantial shift in sense from the original, because it no longer referred to the criminal duke, or criminal activities. But the original cant continued within the criminal underworld. 

Dozens of slang terms were cleaned up, became commonplace  
rum do - definition: a strange situation or event
rum deal -def - raw deal
rum bugger - true def - sodomise/er - cant - derogatory term for slippery/untrustworthy character.
rum bum - def - runny/grassy poo

So if you're writing Georgian period/Regency cant, rum prefix tended negative/derogatory at a time when the Bow Street Runners came into being. How much the BSR influenced the switch in cant bears scrutiny. Which brings us to cant, which tended to be in use within the working realms of society and rarely used within the drawing rooms and salons of the social elite, where a word of that nature would not only raise eyebrows it would give rise to mistrusting the speaker!

And of course Francis Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue takes you into the backstreet dives and dens of the criminal world cant, not to mention bawdy houses and doxy madams. The BBC looks at Francis' life and how he acquired the listings for his dictionary.    

Saturday, 14 April 2018

True life Vs Romantic Fiction

What fan of the Georgian era fails to recognise this portrait of Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire?
And almost all fans of the Georgian period and relatively short era of the Regency (1811-1820)  recognise Chatsworth House depicted as Mr. Darcy's rural estate in Derbyshire, the house the turning point in Elizabeth Bennet's estimation of Darcy as a man of landed substance, and eminently worthwhile catch for any woman. After all, what was a little brusque (rudeness) if but a standard of his financial flag and sense of superiority over such as she? But a lady with wile could turn, could she not, and embrace a man of substance and forgive him his former sins!  

Life for Georgiana was far from the romantic tale in which Darcy and Elizabeth resolved their differences and presumably lived a relatively happy existence at Pemberley. Whereas, Georgiana's story is extremely sad, and a secondary lesser known portrait inspired the writing of The Reluctant Duchess. 

There is sense of inner sadness to this portrait of Georgiana, and that sadness was revealed within her letters, which differing biographers have interpreted in differing ways. Some paint Georgiana as the victim of an arranged marriage, an unhappy marriage, in which her husband's mistress reigned alongside the duke at Georgiana's expense (akin to Diana, Princess of Wales). Whilst other biographers view her as a manipulative socialite who lived within a harmonious menage et trois, her friend Elizabeth (Bess) far from a backstabbing mistress to the husband (Duke) and indeed her best friend. As a writer one can read others assumptions, opinions, and then look to the eyes of the person in question, and portraits are a great medium to the person behind a smile, whether that be a faint smile or mere quirk of the lip, for the eyes most definitely reveal much about the inner person. I am not attempting to imply Georgiana was either of the above, but will add that her life involved humiliation of a loveless marriage that was anything but heaven, she nonetheless experienced joy (birth of children), she experienced love with another man, suffered tremendous heartache in having to give away a child, she became a fashion icon, and politically minded socialite. In effect she sought escape from tragedy and deep heartache and put her all in to becoming Georgiana, fiercely independent in spirit albeit tied to a marriage she was as good as forced into.  Her mother was overbearing, manipulative, and seeking to better her daughter's and her family standing within the upper echelons of the aristocracy, and she achieved her aim!          

Unfortunately young women in the past were subject to parental whim, many self-seeking parents with no desire but to better their fortunes with family alliances by way of marriage. Often substantial dowries purchased titles for daughters, or daughters were as good as sold to satisfy the whim of a suitor who required little more than a virgin bride to provide the heir and a spare to a vast fortune and landed estate. I shall leave you the reader to make of latter as you will, and I shall move on to The Reluctant Duchess. 

Indeed The Reluctant Duchess mirrors a little of the humiliation Georgiana was subjected to, but Liliana has a happier outcome from her experience of a duke and mistress cavorting and holding court at Summer and Winter balls. I set TRD within the Regency era, the setting is the West Country, Devon to be precise. It therefore has a dark Gothic edge to it, with added adventure and murder and mystery as described below in the premise.

The Reluctant Duchess (Steamy Content) - a Regency Gothic tale of romance, abduction, mystery and murder.

Devon Howard, the Duke of Malchester, acquires a bride by dubious means. Well aware Liliana is a reluctant duchess, and although his new wife submits to his ardent advances on the wedding night, he cannot be sure, that even if given time, she will ever surrender her heart to him. While his past continues to damn him, he sets out to win Liliana by inciting jealousy and rivalry ‘twixt her and Serenity: a would-be mistress?

Friday, 2 March 2018

Prinny's Dreams (Prince Regent)

It was 1786 when the Prince of Wales (later Regent) gained the lease on Thomas Read Kemp's farmhouse on the site of the present Royal Pavilion. 

By 1802, while in partnership with John Nash, Humphry Repton (1752-1818) was hired to oversee the landscaping work in the Pavilion grounds. In those earlier days the Prince acquired/purchased the land which formed the Royal Pavilion estate. Thus Repton was invited to advise on the site in November 1805. Whilst his designs for a garden surrounding the Pavillion at Brighton had illustrated proposals both (Indian-style pavilion), neither was executed. But by 1808 the Royal Stables and the Riding School (present day Dome and Corn Exchange) were completed. 

John Nash went on to build the Royal Pavilion in its present form between 1815 and 1822, the gardens too, though the original gardens were redesigned in the 1900s.

Ostentatious is probably the best word to  define the architecture of Brighton Pavilion - a combination of towering domes, minarets, and two eminent roof structures depicting tented pavilions. the latter oft seen within mediaeval English etchings in reference to battles and jousting tournaments. Thus the Pavilion has a decidedly Middle and Far Eastern influence, namely Turkish, Persian (Iran), so not altogether Indian as such in design, but Islamic.      

Map of  Bright Helmstone - latterly known as Brighton. 

In the blue ring box is the location of The Pavilion Mews (Stable Block) - not only commodious and able to house 60 horses, it was a glamorous building in its own right. 

In the red ringed oval is the Pavilion itself.

The Pavilion Mews and Riding School in its original state. 

Again we can see a Moorish influence, but it's interesting to note, ladies fashions at this time were also influenced by an idealistic Eastern romanticism. Thus ladies wore turbans decorated with jewels and feathers, and even wore Banyans as over garments for day wear, whilst gentlemen wore Banyans as bedchamber robes, though nothing new in that for Banyans were popular long before.  

As with all Prinny's grand dreams he set out to refurbish and extend what we now recognise as 
Buckingham Palace

One can see the architectural changes in comparison to the original Buck House - below. 

Buckingham House 1773 - the home of the Duke of Buckingham, a notorious rake amidst many within the court of Charles II. 

The saddest aspect of Prinny's dreams was the fact he never lived in the newly refurbished Buck House, nor did he enjoy the fruits of the extension of the original house that became  his personal Brighton Pavilion. When George became king in 1820, increased responsibilities and ill-health beset him. 

Albeit the interior of the Royal Pavilion was finally finished in 1823 he made only two further visits (in 1824 and 1827).

The noise and building construction had driven him distant to others houses, namely that of courtiers and friends, and houses of his mistresses. All the while he despaired and fretted over the length of time the two builds were under construction, and as months ticked into years he fell to morose countenance. 

Contrary to many beliefs, Prinny hosted far more parties in his original Brighton Farmhouse - more than he ever did within the Pavilion. 

Barely a few months, all told, did he enjoy parading about within the completed pavilion, for he was becoming so grossly obese and unwell, he as good as retired into obscurity until his demise, and would only receive ministers of state, his mistress, and close friends.   

26 June 1830, Prinny died at Windsor Castle, Windsor. 

His favourite tipple was Cherry Brandy. 

Sadly he despised his wife, Caroline of Brunswick, and as good as banished himself from Carlton House. 

His living issue was that of Princess Charlotte. 

Note the design of the Taj Mahal - the jewel of Muslim Architecture in India.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Darcy's Mistress - The Devil Be Damned!

Picture copyright Francine Howarth

Just occasionally wicked stories come to mind, and with the plethora of Jane Austen Fan Fiction novels, in particular those associated with Pride & Prejudice. Subsequently, all those spin-off novels - or if you prefer follow-on P&P novels, all rather sweet in context, the wicked devil in me couldn't help but wonder who Darcy may have flirted with before he met Elizabeth. Thus, what of the dire consequences of one long-lasting friendship, or could it be more?  

Below I give you a taste of the  story that unfolded, and there is a fair bit of mystery attached to it, and for any reader who has read my Georgian or Regency murder mysteries, will  know nothing is as it seems. Thus, when Elizabeth becomes suspicious of Darcy riding out with some regularity, and irregularity in another quarter, namely the bedchamber,  she  happens upon a letter, and although momentarily shocked and uncertain in what to do, she garners strength from letters back and forth between her sister, Jane, and duly sets out to discover where Darcy goes and who he is meeting in clandestine manner.  Oh lordy! 


Two days at Pemberley with his new bride, the rigours of marital obligations had taken its toll on Darcy. His ability to concentrate on estate matters so sorely neglected for several weeks, were quite overshadowed by the delights of Elizabeth in his bed. ‘Twas, as he reflected, the natural consequence of marriage and the ever unencumbered delight of indulging carnal pleasures at will. Whilst it was true to say life at Pemberley would be wholly different than prior unfettered existence, timely observance of his wife’s needs would ensure against misapprehensions, would it not? Heaven forefend worst case scenario involving cataclysmic personality clashes would occur, for the very thought set him on edge. There was no doubting he had indeed married a firebrand of sharp wit and clever retort in tongue, and to a great extent, affronted by the arrogance of the inner man, why then had she sought to wed him? What was done could not be undone, and marriage was no excuse for ignoring the wont of a third party, or that person’s unstinting loyalty. Thus, having excused self from his wife’s company, he hastened to his private study, a little prick of conscience causing him to unlock a drawer in the desk and peruse a copy of his last letter dispatched to Farthingly.
Dearest Belle,
I shall endeavour to pay visit as soon as can be set in place, and explain more. It is with sincere regret I have to inform you wedlock to a Miss Bennet has transpired. How talk of marriage arose remains somewhat as baffling as my stupidity in frequenting Longbourn in company with Bingley. Damnation –as one would say in person– for my impeccable hide is finally besmirched by insanity. The sheer joy of walking out in company with others, I had avowed to self as the safest measure in likelihood of compromise for the ladies. No onlooker could surmise the devil’s hand at play. Why then did I dawdle in pace and indulge in one young lady’s fanciful notions, my own vague utterances thence part taken out of context? I shall not mince words, for that damnable Wickham is the cause of my present dilemma. If you will forgive me for this rant I shall bear your scorn with fortitude when next I am able to attend upon you at Farthingly. Alas, I am now looked upon as akin to a ridiculous gallant of old from within Morte de Arthur, or some such nonsense tale. What can I say in despairing of this situation from which there is no escape? Dash it all, for now committed to a Miss Bennet, it is unconscionable for a gentleman to renege on betrothal. To say I barely recognised the juncture whereby it was presumed I had offered for Elizabeth, and so rapidly announced to all and sundry afterwards, I trust you will understand marriage will in no way curtail my visits to Farthingly. Be assured, the love we share will be no lesser than the past four years of indulging Bonnie at every given opportunity. After all said and done, Farthingly is but a short ride from Pemberley.
With sincere affections,
Secreting the letter once again to the locked drawer, he then rifled through a stack of letters awaiting perusal, and there, as hoped, a reply from Belle. With speed he unlatched the wafer and there to his consummate pleasure was:
My dearest Fitz,
How could you think I would be other than forgiving, albeit informed of your betrothal after the event? Whilst marriage has always been a rather contentious issue, for you, I never expected otherwise. It is the way of life and to continue as a bachelor when you have Pemberley; and as your aunt proclaimed on several occasions– you are sorely in need of an heir. So dearest man, aside from any sense of immediate guilt that may arise as you settle to your new life, you will embrace the new found existence with a deal of familiarity in no time at all, and on occasion utter despair when things go awry as they do in marriages. It is expected your wife and events will curtail planned excursions without notice, thus I shall miss your company dreadfully on those days though never to the extent of making life difficult for you. Should I ever have cause to send for you in haste, I shall dispatch a stable hand with a perfectly innocent errand of seeking your advice on a matter of equine interest at Farthingly. Whilst responsibility for Bonnie rests solely upon my shoulders, and at four years she is quite the handful, I am much in admiration of your generous allowance for all her needs. There is no cause to prevaricate on the bond we both share from the day she was born. It exists, and will in the years to come deepen, I feel sure. Love the magnitude of which you bestow upon her gladdens my heart, for with each day that cometh she ceases to amaze me with her beauty. Evidence of her sire is apparent from the moment of setting eyes upon her, as our mutual acquaintances oft remark with knowing nods from the gentlemen, and much fluttering of fans by the ladies. So my dearest Fitz, I shall bid a fond adieu until next I see you.
Your affectionate confidante,

OK ladies and Gents, there is more, but should I finish the novel, or do you think it will garner hate mail?