Intriguing Historical Snippets

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?

Arthur Wellesley latterly Duke of Wellington.

Contrary to belief by many authors of Georgian and Regency novels set during the Peninsular Wars,  Arthur Wellesley is oft referred to as the D of W.  

Unfortunately, he was not awarded the title Duke of Wellington until the 3rd of May 1814, the year Napoleon abdicated as Emperor and was dispatched to Elba. Thus the long saga of Napoleon's reign had ended, but a year later with Napoleon's escape from Elba and fast re-establishment of a Grand Armee, it once again fell to the now Wellington and the Allies to mass and defeat Napoleon once and for all, hence he was dispatched to St Helena where he died in confined exile.   

What could Daniel Defoe possibly have in common with the Duke of Monmouth?
Well, quite a lot!

If you didn’t know before reading this, then let me introduce you to the rebel soldier “Defoe”, who was a staunch supporter of Monmouth’s cause to topple James Stuart (James II) from his throne. Yes indeed, Defoe fought in Monmouth’s rebel army. Unlike Monmouth, Defoe evaded capture (contrary to many Wiki accounts of Defoe’s life and supposed Kingly pardon) and made safe escape to the Low Countries. There de foe lived in exile, as had Monmouth. But, when William of Orange ousted his father-in-law from the English throne, the invasion thus notably referred to as The Glorious Revolution, Defoe returned as a mercenary soldier. In self accounts of his own life, Defoe is sparing on detail to do with the Monmouth rebellion, though did say: whilst hiding in a churchyard from royalist soldiers who were hunting runaways from the Battle of Sedgemoor, he read the inscription on a tombstone “Robinson Crusoe” which later became a novel, along with "Moll Flanders".

Extra: Many of Monmouth’s supporters who evaded capture were known to the authorities but never found despite intense searches of houses by brutal means against existing occupants. Of those who escaped to the Scilly Isles and other island retreats and thought of themselves as safe and out of reach of the King’s hounds, were soon to learn the awful truth that the king’s vengeance had not dissipated with the brutal finale of Monmouth’s decapitation. As naval ships docked or anchored off-shore on those outlying islands so escapees were again forced into hiding or smuggled away in fishing boats to foreign shores. The most dreadful account of Judge Jeffreys enacting a despicable remit, was the sending of privates parts of notables "to the wives/mothers" of those who were hung drawn and quartered. A list of prisoners and their respective fates can be viewed here. 

George Damer, 2nd Earl of Dorchester.

Always during research for projects, articles, or even novels, interesting “asides” capture the moment. For me research is much like taking a country walk and suddenly a flower, an animal or mayhap an insect draws the eye and I wander off the main path. 

That’s what happened in the case of George Damer, born 28 March 1746, Died 7 March 1808. Who, between 1792-1798 was a British politician: his title that of Viscount Milton. He held many Governmental offices throughout his life, though I’ll not venture to all in detail. Needless to say, his father, the Ist Earl of Dorchester led an equally interesting life.

The Interesting aspect of George Damer’s life (for moi) was 25 June 1798, when he was appointed colonel of the Dorset Militia in succession to Lord Rivers. He resigned from this post in late 1799. 
As Lord Dorchester he was also “Lord Lieutenant of Dorset”. 

All Lord Lieutenants are appointed by the monarch of the day.

 Flag for Lord Lieutenants' of English Counties. 

Then in 1803 he became Colonel of the Dorsetshire Yeomanry Cavalry, and held this post until 1808. He was without any shadow of doubt, a great favourite of the Royal family who were regular visitors to his estate in Dorset and stayed there as close family friends.

Milton Abbas Dorset

He died in Park Lane, London, March 1808, aged 61. He was sadly unmarried and his titles became extinct. But, his estates were inherited by his sister Lady Caroline Damer, and on her death in 1828, they passed to cousins (Dawson), who assumed the additional name of Damer.

What did the Queen of Bohemia have in common with the 1st Earl of Craven? 

Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia - Sister to Charles I

William, Earl Craven

What did they have in common? 

Love and affection, and in brief, he became her master of the horse - a title oft used for men who were lovers and or confidantes of widows, whether the latter was of royal blood or a wealthy commoner.  They met whilst her nephew Charles was in exile on The Continent, and he later provided much needed accommodation within London for Elizabeth when she returned to England at the Restoration of her nephew Charles II: 1660.

It is stated Ashdown House was built in 1662 by Earl, William Craven, as a house fit for the queen he loved. Its setting is on the Berkshire Downs not far from Faringdon, and of Dutch styling; lovingly referred to as The Dolls' House. 

As with many tragic love stories - imagined or real - Elizabeth died before the house was completed.