Thursday, 6 September 2018

A Much maligned Man

Many times when reading non fiction and supposed biographies by lauded historians and famous authors, I ponder how far they truly researched their subject matter, and why they chose to perpetuate what was writ before as though their own writings are mere carbon copies of former works! Thus I find it incredibly difficult to write on any subject and avoid overwhelming impassioned desire to uncover truths from lies and look at supposed infamy with a detective mindset - after all, it's easy to read others' works and judge which best suits one's ideal of the past and events of the day - in other words - biased leanings in a political sense relevant to self in one's own time as opposed to non partisan leanings, similarly in moral tones. 

Hence, here I attempt to redeem the reputation of a  much maligned man subject to envy of his service in the Dutch regiment of Holland (The Buffs) whilst on campaign with Charles II, and their close covert connection, and why fear within another cabal, namely James II's followers (Catholic conspirators), essentially set out to defame Robert and his cousin Lucy Walter/s by false declarations, scandalous rumours, and falsification of papers/dates/other to prove he was the father of James Duke of Monmouth. But of course, since then DNA samples have proved the Duke of Monmouth was indeed Charles II's son.  So was handsome Robert a cad of the first order or a true gentleman and loyal family friend to a much maligned lady cousin?      

Robert Sydney (1626-1668) 4th son - 2nd Earl of Leicester
buried at Penshurst Place

Throughout his service in the Low Countries Robert was maligned by leading chroniclers of his day - not least accusations he and his elder brother Algernon had shared the Duke of Monmouth's mother. Robert was also marked as a spy for Cromwell, his brother Algernon a staunch Parliamentarian and true Protestant. Was Robert a double agent, or did that cap fit Col Thomas Howard (Master of the Horse to Mary of Orange) - another wonderful character to place within the hands of a person with a detective mind set, for he too was in Cromwell's pay!  

What is never disclosed is the family connection of the Sydney family to Lucy Walter, nor is it ever disclosed that Lucy was a 7th cousin removed from Charles II. Considering John Evelyn's scathing comments about Lucy as "a woman of mean birth" he clearly knew nothing of her family connection to the Howard family (Duke's of Norfolk) via Catherine Howard.

Strange as it may seem, the movements of Lucy Walter and the fact she was in Paris long before she arrived in The Hague never appears in biographies, nor do chroniclers (Evelyn's Diaries) mention Lord Glamorgan (Lucy's uncle) and Mr. Barlow/oe, Lucy's uncle, as taking passage aboard "named" ship that anchored off Jersey to there join with Charles II  - thus after the defeat of the King Charles I armies, the Prince of Wales sought shelter first on the Isles of Scilly, then took flight to Jersey April-June 1646. When Charles moved to Paris, Sir Edward Hyde remained on Jersey for two more years, and therefore was not in Paris to witness Lucy and Charles second marriage ceremony, (legal or otherwise and much talk on the event). Rarely is Hyde's residency on Jersey mentioned. In that same year of 1646 Lord Glamorgan was dispatched to Ireland on a second sortie to raise a Catholic Army in support of Charles I (another story).

Nor do official chroniclers record Lucy and Lord Glamorgan when put ashore on Jersey, whilst Mr. Balow/oe of Slebech, Pembrokeshire, proceeded onward to The Hague. A Mr. Barlow disembarked at The Hague with a letter destined for Charles II's sister - Mary of Orange.     

Algernon Sydney - (1623-1683) tried for Treason (Rye House Plot)

Algernon was equally maligned as having taken Lucy as his mistress, which according to family writings he never did, but did indeed rescue her during a raid in which he was commander of operations on a house in Devon (Brock House) demolished in the reign of James II post Monmouth Rebellion.  Brock House is where Charles II (then Prince of Wales) was hiding prior to sudden flight to the Scilly Isles. Had news not arrived of Parliamentarian forces en route to arrest him, who can say what the result would have been. Someone, but who, had tipped off the royal party? Either way, it was a mad scramble to get out to sea, and Lucy and others were at the house, the owner her uncle, family to her mother. 

All that is official re Parliamentarian Army records, is that Lucy was escorted back to London along with her mother and siblings, whilst others were arrested for harbouring the prince. Bear in mind Lucy already had a brother serving in the Parliamentarian Army - Richard Walter who became High Sheriff of Pembrokeshire during the Interregnum. Lucy never set sail for The Hague - no warrant to travel overseas was ever issued nor a named ship's passage. What she did do was retreat to Wales (Roche Castle) to her father, (did her mother approve?) and once there plans were put into action to get her to Jersey, or perhaps plans were already set in motion. Was it possible Lucy was recruited as a spy for Parliament in the first instance, and could it be, Lucy fell in love with Charles? If the former bears any sense of possibility, was it she who revealed evidence of Colonel Thomas Howard (Master of the Horse to Mary of Orange) as a traitor to the royalist cause - in the pay of Parliament, and was he the mysterious "Walter" sending coded messages to Thurloe?  It would account for why he escaped imprisonment when Lucy and Robert Sydney were arrested shortly after her return to London with her two children, even though Col Thomas Howard travelled with them? Which of the two men was sent by Charles to guard Lucy and the children, and why would she and the children be received and treated as royalty by loyal royalists who were covertly raising and providing funds for Charles cause?         

The Rye House 

But back to Robert - the handsome and dashing blade! He continued to serve in the Low Countries as an English officer of an English regiment after Charles II was restored to the crown 1660.  

But come the disbandment of the Regiments in Holland -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 were re-admitted into the regiments. The discharged officers and men were given no assistance from the English government for their repatriation, which the better off in society could afford inclusive much loved horses. For the others Sir George Downing, British Envoy, 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 all the transformed English and Scottish companies, now of service within the Netherlands companies, thus drums would thereafter beat the Holland March on guard mounting, and on all other occasions. The sashes and badges of the officers were then orange-coloured, similar to those worn by the Dutch officers, and green coats.'

In England:
Charles II's Change of Heart, or should that be shamed by the officers who also assisted common soldiers with transport to home shores!  

And so, in 1665 the discharged officers and men began to arrive back in England and the King was more or less advised to reconsider the question of reinstating some or all of the soldiers for service to King and Crown. Subsequently, a list was compiled, dated 11th April 1665. 

All in all 17 subalterns arrived along with officers. Clearly all loyal to the English crown. Thus, on the 20th April a warrant was issued to reinstate said men into the King's 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 Sydney, 31st May 1665, raised a few eyebrows, but many were unaware of Robert's covert closeness to Charles (spy extraordinaire).

The King had the officers and men formed into a regiment and issued a commission to Colonel Robert Sydney to be 'Colonell of Our Holland Regiment of Foot, raised or to be raised, for Our service.' 

Hardly surprising as Robert Sydney (Sidney), had commanded one of the English regiments in the Dutch service, and was 4th son of Robert 2nd Earl of Leicester.  He was as stated 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 (?), I'll not venture farther into the rumours because it's a story in itself, and it comes to light a great deal within my English Civil War series of novels - The Royal Series! 

In brief it was said Lucy Walter/s (aka Mrs Barlow), and Charles II's son Duke of Monmouth, so closely resembled Robert (Sydney) he must be the father, but the fact most ignored or purposefully attempted to mask, was the truth that Robert and Lucy were cousins!   

Aside from which, it is most unlikely Charles II would have asked Robert Sydney to raise a new Hollander regiment, if he thought for one moment his first born (James Duke of Monmouth) was the other man's child. Nor would Charles have ever treated the DoM as a prince of the blood, as did - oddly enough - Queen Henrietta Maria, an act neither applied to other of Charles' bastards. 

The reinstatement of  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 Colonel Robert Sydney's commission was confirmed, but the other officers received their commissions 3 weeks later on 23rd June. The 21 officers included Major Alexander Bruce who was the only officer of the Scots regiments to refuse the oath of allegiance to the Netherlands. Thus the regiment was fixed at 6 companies of 106 NCOs. Field officers acted as captains to the first 3 companies. 

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

The 2nd Company was commanded by Lt-Col Thomas Howard - another spy extraordinaire (double agent) during the ECWs, and Master of the Horse to Princess Mary, wife/widow Prince William of Nassau.   

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. The very fact all the officers and the returned men had refused to take the oath in Holland they were in effect out of commission kicking their heels in civvy street. Nonetheless, their loyalty to the English crown had been proved. 

In the meanwhile the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot (The Lord High Admiral's Regiment), had been raised the previous autumn. It was decided the Holland Regiment, would primarily serve at sea as a maritime/land unit - effectively Marines! On the 11th July the cost of these two regiments was ordered to be charged to the Navy. And the Holland Regiment remained on the naval establishment until May 1667.

All the above is accumulated research across many years of study into this period in history, a fascinating period of political turbulence, religious intolerance, social change, and last but not least, royal shenanigans involving treachery, jealousy, hatred, revenge, and lust and romance. 

To cite all my sources would entail a list an arms length in respect of 50 yrs of studying history, and still new things come to light as private papers, ecclesiastical and state papers are discovered within national or private archives and placed within the public domain! Though many personal family archives contributed to the writing of The Royal Series.