Anne Fitzroy, Countess of Sussex

It’s hardly surprising that two of Barbara Castlemaine’s three daughters went off the rails.  What is amusing is just how horrified the good gentlewoman was when they did so.

Anne Palmer was the first of Barbara’s six illegitimate children, supposedly conceived on the night of Charles II’s coronation in the early days of Barbara’s reign as maitresse en titre.  But to be perfectly honest there were a couple of candidates for father – the most unlikely of whom was Barbara’s husband Roger Palmer.  Both Palmer and Charles accepted paternity but Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Chesterfield was generally believed to be little Anne’s father.

Anne, unlike her easy going, loveable sister Charlotte, was a chip off the old maternal block.

Aged not much more than thirteen Anne was married to Thomas Lennard, Lord Dacre at a sumptuous ceremony held at Hampton Court on August 11, 1674.  Guests included the King’s brother, the Duke of York; his nephew Prince Rupert and his eldest illegitimate son James, Duke of Monmouth.  Charles provided a £20,000 dowry for his daughter and settled a £2,000 pension on the bridegroom, conferring upon him the title of Earl of Sussex.  Whether Thomas ever received his wife’s dowry is debatable as the King’s largesse was frequently just a gesture.

The marriage proved to be an unsatisfactory one.  The first sign of trouble came with the arrival of Hortense Mancini, duchesse Mazarin who appeared on the scene in 1676 having fled her own eccentric and abusive husband Armand Charles de la Porte, reputedly then the richest man in France.  Hortense had her sights on Charles – the couple had some ‘history’ – and she soon supplanted his then current squeeze Louise de Kerouaille.

Not only did Hortense bed the King, but rumour had it, his daughter Anne as well.  Unhappily married for two years and still only fifteen years old, Anne fell for the older woman’s charm and sense of fun.  They took fencing lessons together and once took part in a public match in St James’s Park wearing only their nightgowns.

This could be said to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, and Anne’s exasperated husband removed her to the country where she wept and wailed for her lover, spending the days in bed kissing a miniature portrait of Hortense.

Perhaps even these measures weren’t enough to subdue the wilful Anne.  The next reference to her comes two years later when in 1678 we find her in a French convent, living within reach of her mother Barbara who had retired to Paris, and also Ralph Montagu, Ambassador to France.  Courtier, diplomat and all round wheeler dealer Ralph Montague was more than twenty years older than seventeen year old Anne and had also been Barbara’s lover, when he seduced and abducted the young Lady Sussex.

“I was never so surprised in my whole life-time as I was coming hither, to find my Lady Sussex gone from my house and monastery where I left her, and this letter from her, which I here send you the copy of,” a furious Barbara wrote to Charles.

“She has never been in the monastery two days together, but every day gone out with the Ambassador and has often lain four days together at my house, and sent for her meat to the Ambassador; he being always with her till five o’clock in the morning, they two shut up together alone, and would not let my maitre d’hotel wait, nor any of my servants, only the Ambassador’s.”  Did Charles see the irony in all this?  

“I am so much afflicted that I can hardly write this for crying, to see a child, that I doted on as I did on her, should make me so ill a return, and join with the worst of men to ruin me,” she continued.

Unfortunately little else is known about Anne.  She had four children by Thomas Lennard but the couple eventually separated in 1688, so perhaps she didn’t calm down.

Anne wrote her will on May 15, 1722.  The first matter she wanted to address was the details of her funeral.  “I commend my Soul to the infinite mercy of God my Body to the Earth to be buried with the least expense viz early in the morning and one only Mourning Coach to attend my ffunerall.”

Anne had invested £4,050 in the South Sea Company.  As her will was written after the infamous South Sea Bubble of 1720 which saw so many lose their investments, presumably she managed to hold on to hers.

She divided her £4,050 between her two daughters, Lady Barbara Skelton and Lady Anne Teynham, with bequests to her two grandchildren Anne Roper and Thomas Barrett Lennard.

To her old servant Margaret of Radclyffe she left an annuity of £30 per annum during her natural life.  Other servants received a year’s wages over and above what was due to them.

Sadly there are no personal items such as those mentioned in her kinswoman Bridget St John’s will.  Anne appears only to be interested in hard cash, very much like her mother.

Anne appointed her son in law Henry, Lord Teynham as her executor and her will was witnessed by Charles Boucher, John Harrison and James Rainford.  She died the next day.

Charlotte Fitzroy – Countess of Lichfield

Charles II’s mistress Barbara, Countess of Castlemaine, wasn’t big on exclusivity.  She wasn’t what you’d call a one man kind of girl.  Lovers paid their money and took their chances, so when the inevitable baby appeared on the scene it was pretty much anyone’s guess who the father was.

Her first daughter was initially accepted by her cuckold husband Roger Palmer.  Eventually the King acknowledged the child as his but word on the street was that Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Chesterfield was a more likely candidate. However, her third child came with a much better provenance.

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Charlotte Fitzroy was born on September 5, 1664 at her mother’s Whitehall Palace apartments.  The king’s daughter was said to have her father’s mouth, but the similarities went deeper than that.  Charlotte did not share her mother’s fiery temperament but was easy going, fun loving and affectionate like her father.  Charles enjoyed a  close relationship with his daughter and the king’s brother, the Duke of York later James II, was particularly devoted to his niece.

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An alliance with a royal child, even an illegitimate one, was an attractive proposition in court circles and Charlotte’s future was decided upon before she was barely out of the nursery.  In 1674 a marriage contract, masterminded by Edward’s grandmother Anne, Countess of Rochester, was agreed between the king’s bastard daughter and Edward Henry Lee. The couple were 10 and 11 years old respectively – and distant cousins.  Charlotte’s maternal great grandmother Barbara St John was the sister of Sir John St John, Edward’s paternal great grandfather.

The young married couple spent their summers at the Lee family’s country estate in Oxfordshire, bought by Sir Henry Lee in 1580.  Sir Henry, Ranger of the Wychwood Royal Hunting Forest caused the wrath of Elizabeth I when he married one of her Ladies in Waiting without first asking her permission.

Legend has it that when Elizabeth visited Ditchley in 1592 she out stayed her welcome, putting Sir Henry to considerable extra expense.  This visit is commemorated in a portrait of the Queen called “The Ditchley Elizabeth” in which Elizabeth stands with her foot on Oxfordshire and her toe on Ditchley.

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Edward’s grandmother, the formidable Anne St John, married first Sir Francis Henry Lee and secondly Henry, Earl of Rochester.  Following the death of Sir Francis in 1639 Anne used influential friends and feminine wiles to protect her Lee properties at Ditchley and elsewhere and continued to manipulate the financial affairs of her children and grandchildren for more than 50 years.

Young Edward was created Earl of Lichfield, Viscount Quarrendon and Baron Spelsbury upon the couple’s betrothal and Charlotte and Edward were married in February 1677.  Charlotte was just 12 years old.

When in London the newly weds home was a property granted by the King to Sir Walter St. John (Edward’s great uncle), Sir Ralph Verney, Sir Richard Howe and John Cary on a 99 year lease.  Described as “all that peice …of Ground with the Buildings thereupon Within our Parke called St James Parke – bounded Eastward with the Buildings of the Cockpitt, Southward with the Wall of Hampden Garden, Northward one hundred and forty foote in length to the said Parke, Westward eighty five foote in length to the Parke.”

Today the property is the impressive building on Horse Guards Parade designed by Sir Christopher Wren and fronted by an undistinguished row of terraced houses called Downing Street.

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By the age of nineteen Charlotte already had four children and went on to have a further 16, but the couple’s 42 year long marriage was apparently a happy one.

In contrast to Barbara’s bad press, all references to Charlotte are favourable.  She was a central character in her large, extended family and the only one of her mother’s three daughters not to cause a scandal.

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Sir Edward Henry Lee has been described as a dedicated Tory and zealous follower of James II. He was Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards in 1688 and served as Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire 1687-1689.

Edward died in 1716 and Charlotte two years later.  The inscription on their monument in Spelsbury Church reads – “at their marriage they were the most grateful bridegroom and the most beautiful bride and that till death they remained the most constant husband and wife.”

Lucy and Colonel Hutchinson

When John met Lucy it wasn’t her shy smile or her slender ankle that won his heart.  John Hutchinson, a 22 year old law student at Lincoln’s Inn, fell in love with Lucy Apsley after browsing through her Latin notebooks.

Lucy Apsley was the granddaughter of Sir John St John and his wife Lucy Hungerford.  Sober and scholarly, Lucy has left a wealth of writing – essays, poetry and her invaluable account of a family at war in The Life of Colonel Hutchinson.

Lucy was born on January 29, 1619/20, the fourth child and eldest daughter of Sir Allen Apsley and his third wife, the former Lucy St. John.

Lucy records that she was born at ‘about 4 of the clock in the morning’ in the Tower of London where her father was Lieutenant.

She writes how after three sons her mother was ‘very desireous of a daughter.’ While pregnant Lady Apsley had a dream that she was walking in the garden with her husband when a star fell from the sky into her hand.  Sir Allen interpreted the dream to mean that they would have a daughter of extraordinary distinction.

However, the nurses in attendance at her birth expressed concern at the baby’s heightened colour and feared she would not live, according to Lucy.

It’s fair to say that Lucy was the apple of her parent’s eye.  Quick to count her many blessings, Lucy acknowledged the advantageous circumstance of her birth and in particular the education her parents provided for her.  She recalled learning to speak in both English and French and how by the age of four she was reading ‘perfectly.’

As a seven year old the young Lucy had no less than eight tutors to school her in languages, dancing, writing and needlework (which she hated). In fact, she spent so much time studying that her mother feared for her daughter’s health and locked away her books.

“After dinner and supper I still had an hower allow’d me to play, and then I would steale into some hole or other to read,” Lucy writes.

She describes how she enjoyed the company of adults in preference to her same age playmates.  ‘Play among other children I despis’d, and when I was forc’d to entertaine such as came to visitt me, I tir’d them with more grave instructions than their mothers, and pluckt all their babies [dolls] to pieces.’

John was lodging at the home of his music teacher Mr Coleman when he met fellow student Barbara Apsley, Lucy’s younger sister.  Barbara talked at length about her sister Lucy and showed John some of her poetry.

While John Hutchinson was leafing through Lucy’s Latin books, Lucy and her mother were visiting relatives in Wiltshire where a marriage settlement was under discussion.

Fortunately for the smitten young law student the negotiations had come to nothing and the young couple met for the first time at a party at Syon House, the home of the Duke of Northumberland.

John’s affections were reciprocated and Lucy, who paid little heed to fashion and outward appearances, allowed herself a little leeway when it came to describing her suitor.

‘She was surpriz’d with some unusuall liking in her soule when she saw this gentleman, who had haire, eies, shape, and countenance enough to begett love in any one at the first, and these sett off with a gracefull and generous mine [mien] which promis’d an extraordinary person.’

But mischief makers tried to drive them apart.  John’s friends advised him to be cautious while ‘the weomen, with wittie spite, represented all her faults to him, which chiefely terminated in the negligence of her dresse and habitt and all womanish ornaments, giving herselfe wholly up to studie and writing,’ Lucy recorded.

But of course this is exactly what John loved about her.

With the critics silenced and the wedding date set, disaster struck.  On the very day the couple were to exchange their vows Lucy fell ill with small pox.  For several days her life hung in the balance.  According to Lucy’s account the disease made her ‘the most deformed person that could be seene for a greate while after she recover’d.  Yett he was nothing troubled at it, but married her assoone as she was able to quitt the chamber, when the priest and all that saw her were affrighted to looke on her.’

The couple were eventually married on Tuesday July 3, 1638 at St Andrew’s Church, Holborn and began married life with Lucy’s mother at Bartlett’s Court.  Lucy quickly fell pregnant but miscarried twins and nearly died herself.  Quickly pregnant again, her health gave cause for concern and her worried mother and husband moved her out of London to a property called Blew House in Enfield Chace where Lucy gave birth to twin sons, Thomas and Edward.

The couple’s continuing love affair would be played out against the backdrop of civil war in which Lucy’s Parliamentarian husband played a prominent part.  John was Governor of Nottingham Castle 1643-47 and in 1649 was one of the judges at the trial of Charles I.  His signature appears on the King’s death warrant.

In 1663 John was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the Northern Plot and was imprisoned in the Tower.  The following year he was transferred to Sandown Castle in Kent where he died four months later.

Lucy’s account of her husband’s life has been criticised for her exaggerations of his virtues.  She would continue to protest his courage and his innocence. The inscription she had carved on his memorial at St Margaret’s Church, Owthorpe reads:

‘He died at Sandowne Castle in Kent, after 11 months harsh and strict imprisonment, – without crime or accusation, – upon the 11th day of Sept 1664, in the 49th yeare of his age, full of joy, in assured hope of a glorious resurrection.’

It is believed that Lucy began her account of her husband’s life for her children soon after his death.

Their love affair transcended death as Lucy wrote:

‘Soe, as his shaddow, she waited on him every where, till he was taken into that region of light which admitts of none, and then she vanisht into nothing.’

To be continued…

Anne Douglas, Lady Dalkeith

While three St John sons famously gave their lives fighting for the Royalist cause during the English Civil Wars, another member of the family – a woman – performed an equally brave act of duty and devotion.

Anne Villiers was the daughter of Sir Edward Villiers and Barbara St John, the 5th daughter of Sir John St John and Lucy Hungerford. The date of her birth appears unconfirmed as does her name, occasionally mentioned as Elizabeth, but the part she played in history is not up for debate.

Anne married Robert Douglas, Lord Dalkeith, 8th Earl of Morton, in around 1627. Little is written about their married life. At least three children survived to adulthood. Their son and heir, William 9th Earl of Morton, Lady Anne Douglas, who married the Earl of Marischall and Lady Mary Douglas who married Sir Donald Macdonald. Lady Anne is mentioned in her grandmother’s will along with her more notorious cousin, Charles II’s mistress Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland

Anne, Lady Dalkeith was a Lady in Waiting to Charles I’s French born Queen, Henrietta Maria and is pictured with Anne Kirke in a portrait by Anthony van Dyck painted in the late 1630s.

In 1644 England was in the grip of war. Royalist York was under siege, Lincolnshire and Manchester lost and the Royal court headquartered at Oxford was under threat.

The heavily pregnant Queen left Oxford to seek refuge in her homeland. Forced to halt her journey at Exeter, the Queen came under the protection of Sir John Berkeley, Governor of the city. The Queen’s health gave cause for concern and the baby daughter she gave birth to on June 16, 1644 was small and delicate.

Just two weeks after giving birth Henrietta was forced to continue her journey and placed her baby daughter in the care of Anne, Lady Dalkeith. She could hardly have chosen a better guardian for the little Princess.

The child’s first few months were blighted by ill health and uncertainty. By the autumn of 1645 Exeter was surrounded by Parliamentarian troops under the leadership of Sir Thomas Fairfax and Sir William Waller.

The Royal garrison held out for more than six months until, at the point of starvation, Sir John Berkeley was forced to surrender.

Berkeley escorted the small royal entourage to Salisbury where Anne informed Fairfax of the arrangements she had made with the King.

“I have prevailed with Mr Ashburnham to acquaint you that I have His Majesty’s allowance to remain, with the Princess, for some time about London, in any of His Majesty’s houses. I have judged Richmond the fittest. This bearer will inform you of those particulars concerning the settlement of the Princess in that place, wherein I conceive your assistance and recommendation to the Parliament to be necessary, which His Majesty will acknowledge as a service, and I as an obligation to Sir, your humble servant. A. Dalkeith,” she wrote.

But Parliament now called the shots and instructed Anne that she should take the child not to Richmond but to Oatlands, a Royal house near Weybridge, Surrey. The allowance promised for the Princess’ support was withheld and Lady Dalkeith paid all the household bills out of her own pocket.

Next came the order that Anne should deliver the child to St James’ Palace, where she would join her brother and sister, the young Duke of Gloucester and the Princess Elizabeth, in the charge of Lady Northumberland. She would then be dismissed from her post.

But Anne was having none of this. Although she had no objection to taking orders from the Lord and Lady Northumberland, she had made a promise to her King and there was no way she was going to give up the young Princess.

Anne wrote to the Speakers of both Houses of Parliament asking for the allowance as promised and her intention to remain with the child. She waited a month for a reply, before taking events into her own hands.

Anne hatched a daring plan that would test her courage and her physical strength to the limit. She would reunite the child with her mother – in France.

On the night of July 24, 1646 Anne, the child and two trusted servants left Oatlands under cover of darkness. Anne disguising herself as a beggar woman, dressed the three year old Princess in a ragged suit of boy’s clothes, and with the child on her back, walked to Dover, a distance of approximately 95 miles.

Apparently the little Princess further compromised their perilous situation by regularly announcing that she was not ‘Pierre,’ the name given her for the flight, but ‘the Princess.’

Anne wrote en route to the staff at Oatlands, informing them she had ‘removed her Highness to a better air’ and pleading that they ‘conceal her being gone as long as you can.’

The faithful Sir John Berkeley followed at a distance until, arriving at Dover, they boarded a French boat bound for Calais. Landing on French soil, Anne wrote to the Queen who sent a carriage to convey them to Saint Germain.

It is no exaggeration to say the journey nearly killed Anne. Having handed over the young Princess to her mother, the Queen, Anne collapsed and was seriously ill for several weeks. But Anne’s heroic feat did not go unrecognised and she was much feted during her lifetime.

Anne remained with her Royal charge until the death of her husband Robert Douglas, Lord Dalkeith and 8th Earl of Morton and in 1651 she returned to England where it was said her children required her presence.

Anne died in 1654 following a bout of fever.