The Autobiography of Anne Halkett

[In danger in London, she goes to live with Anne Howard in Cumberland, pp. 30 - 36]

[p. 30] Affter my brother [William Murray] was buried in the Savoy church, neere my father and mother, within few days I wentt againe to my brother Murray's, where I staid till the impertunity of my Lady H. [Anne Howard] prevailed with me to goe home with her to the North. My brother and sister aproved of itt, and C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] most willingly consentted to itt, resolving sodainly to follow mee and puplickly to avow what wee intended, and to live with a gentleman, a friend of his that was a great Royallist, where hee expected to be wellcome till such time as wee found itt convenientt for us to returne where wee had more interest. This beeing determined, I left all that concerned mee in such hands as hee advised, with hopes of preventing sequestration, butt itt fell outt unhapily, as many things els did, and occationed [p. 31] greater inconvenience.1

One of the great motives that invited mee to goe North was that itt began to be discoursed of amongst many Parliament men that I had beene instrumentall in the Duke's escape, and, knowing that severall weemen were secured upon lese grounds, I thought itt best to retire for a time outt of the noise of itt. Itt was nott withoutt trouble that I left my brother and sister [Charles or Henry and Elizabeth], butt finding itt nesesary made itt the more easy.2

Wee began our journy September 10th, 1649, and had nothing all the way to disturbe us till wee came to H. [Hinderskelle], beyond Yorke, to a house of Sir C. H. [Sir Charles Howard], where his sisters lived.3

There in one night both Sir C. [Charles] and his lady fell so extreamely ill with vomitting and purging in so great violence that nothing butt death was expected to them both, and some were so ill natured as to say they were poisoned, butt itt pleased God they recovered. And then there son tooke the small poxe, who was about 3 yeare old, his feaver great and apearance of being extreordinary full; and by the advise of Sir Thomas Gore (who studied phisicke more for devertisement then gaine) hee tooke a purge which carried away a great part of the humour, so that nature, as hee said, would bee able to master the rest, and itt had so great succese that hee recovered perfectly well withoutt the least prejudice.4 I cannott butt mention this from the extreordinarynese of the cure.

As soone as his health would allow of travaile, wee tooke journy and came to N. [Naworth] Castle,5 where I was so obleigingly intertained by Sir Ch. [Charles] and his lady, and with so much respect from the whole familly, that I could nott butt thinke my selfe very hapy in so good a societty, for they had an excellent governed familly, having great affection for one another; all there servantts civill and orderly; had an excellent preacher for there chaplaine, who preached twice every Sunday in the chapell, and dayly prayers morning and evening. Hee was a man of a good life, good conversation, and had in such veneration by all as if hee had beene there tutelar angell.6

Thus we lived sometime together, with so much peace and harmony as I thought nothing could have given an interruption to itt. Butt itt was too great to last long, for the post (going by [p. 32] weekely) one day brought mee sad letters; one from C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] giving mee accountt that just the night before hee intended to come North, having prepared all things for accomplishing what we had designed, hee was taken and secured in the Gatehouse att Westminster, and could expect nothing butt death.7 With much dificulty hee had gott that conveyed outt to mee to lett mee know what condittion hee was in, and that hee expected my prayers, since nothing els I could doe could be avealable, for hee had some reason to aprehend those I was concerned in and might have influence upon was his enemys, and therefore I might expect litle assistance from them.

Presently affter I receaved a letter from my brother M. [Charles or Henry Murray] and another from my sister N. [Elizabeth, Lady Newton], his very seveare, hers more compasionate, but both representing C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] under the caracter of the most unworthy person living; that hee had abused mee in pretending his wife was dead, for shee was alive; and that her unckle Sir Ralph S. [Sydenham] had assured them both of itt, which made nott only them butt all that ever had kindnese for mee so abhorre him, that, though he were now likely to dye, yett none pittyed him.8

Had the news of either of these come singly itt had beene enough to have tryed the strengh of all the relligion and vertue I had, butt so to bee surrounded with misfortunes conquered what ever could resist them, and I fell so extreamely sicke that none expected life for mee. The care and concerne of Sir Ch. [Charles] and his lady was very great, who sent post to Newcastle for a phisitian, butt hee beeing sicke could nott come, butt, sentt things which proved ineffectuall. My distemper increased, and I grew so weake I could hardly speake. Aprehending the aproach of death, I desired my Lady H. [Anne Howard] to vindicate mee to my brother and sister, for as I was ignorant and inocentt of the guilt they taxed mee with, so I beleeved C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] was; and therefore I earnestly intreated her to writte to her father [Edward, Lord Howard of Escrick] to bee his friend, and that malice might nott bee his ruine, which shee promised; and having taken my last leave (as I thought) of them all, I desired Mr. N. [Nicholls] (the chaplaine) to recomende mee to the hands of my Redeemer, and I lay waiting till my change should [p. 33] come, and all was weeping aboutt mee for that I expected as the greatest good.

Butt itt seemes the mercy of God would nott then condemne mee into hell, nor his justice suffer mee to goe to heaven; and therefor continued mee longer upon earth that I might know the infinitenese of his power who could suport mee under that load of calamitys. Having laine some houres speechlese (how I employed that time may hereafter be knowne, if the Lord thinke fitt to make itt usefull unto any), I began to gape many times one after another, and I found sencibly like a returne of my spiritts, which Mrs. Cullcheth seeing, came to mee and told mee if I saw another in that condittion I could prescribe what was fitt for them; and therefore itt were a neglect of duty if I did not use what meanes I thought might conduce to my recovery. Her discourse made mee recollect what I had by mee that was proper for mee. I called to Crew (who served mee) for itt, and with the use of some cordialls, I sencibly grew better, to the satisfaction of all that was about mee. I confese death at that time had beene extreamely wellcome; but having intirely resigned myselfe up to the disposall of my gracious God, I could repine att nothing hee thought fitt to do with mee, for I knew hee could make either life or death for my advantage.

Though that was great disturbance to mee which my brother and sister had written to mee concerning C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] wife's being alive, yett I gave nott the least creditt to itt, because I thought there information might come from such as might report itt out of malice or designe, for none of her relations loved him because hee was nott of there principles. And a considerable part of her portion being still in there hands, I judged it might bee still to keep that they raised that story, which had little influence upon mee, because I gave itt noe beleefe, only looked upon itt as a just punishmentt to have that thought true now which I once mentioned when I thought itt nott true, only to conceale my intentions; for my Lord H. [Edward, Lord Howard] and my sister Murray [Anne Bayning Murray, her sister-in-law] (having observed C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] come sometimes when he durst steale abroad to see mee,) said to mee one night, "I [p. 34] lay a wager you will marry C. B. [Colonel Bampfield]" I smiled and said, "Sure, you would nott have mee marry another woman's husband!" They replied, they knew nott hee had beene maried; upon which I told them whose neece she was (whom they both knew) that was his wife.9 Butt I did nott say shee was dead, though att that time I beleeved it; and therefore now looked on this as inflicted for my disimulation, for God requireth truth in the inward parts, and I have a thousand times beged his pardon for that failing.

Upon these grounds itt was that I gave so litle intertainmentt to that story, and all my trouble and feares was affter I began to recover for C. B. [Colonel Bampfield], lest the Parliamentt should condemne [him] to dye, as they had many gallant gentlemen before; butt I was much suported one day by reading what fell outt to bee part of my morning devotion (Psa. 102, vers. 19, 20): "For hee hath looked downe from the height of his sanctuary ; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth. To heare the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are apointed to death." I cannott omitt to mention this because itt was so seasonable a promise, and I was so asisted by faith to rely upon itt that in a manner itt overcame all my feares.

To confirme itt is nott in vaine to beleeve and expect promised mercys, within few days there came severall letters both to Sir C. H. [Charles Howard], his lady, and my selfe, that C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] had made his escape outt of the Gatehouse just the night before hee was to have beene brought to his tryall. None then could give accountt how or by what meanes hee had gott outt, butt afterwards I was informed by the person hee employed, that having with much dexterity conveyed into him a glase of aqua fortis, hee, with that and much paines, cutt the iron bars of the window asunder, butt lett itt stand by a litle hold till the time was fitt to make use of itt, and then, having found meanes to appointt such as hee relyed upon to bee under the window at such a time as the guards were past that tour, hee tooke the ropes of the bed and fastened them to some part of the window, and so wentt downe by them, butt his weight made them faile, and hee fell downe nott without hurt, butt the next [p. 35] dificulty was a pailing that was aboutt the verge of the window, butt his asistants by standing upon one another's shoulders, reached over to him and gott him over the pailing, and so escaped the fury of his enemys; which many was glad of, and more had joyned with them if they had nott beene posesed with a prejudice against him for the injury they suposed hee had done mee in persuading mee his wife was dead when shee was alive.10

Butt hee nott being now in a capacity to vindicate himselfe, itt was easy to lay upon him what guilt they pleased; butt all that his enemys could alleadge never prevailed with mee to lessen one graine of my concerne for him, because all they could say was the report that shee was living, butt they never named the person that could testify itt from there owne knowledge, except such as might bee biased by what I have mentioned allready. I cannott butt acknowledge I had great satisfaction in the news of his escape, and, though I was sometimes disturbed because I heard nott from him where hee was or how, yett I pleased myselfe with the hopes hee was well and secure, and so the better dispensed with my wantt of letters, since I knew he could nott convey them withoutt hazard of being discovered.

Itt is nott to bee imagined by any pious vertuous person (whose charity leads them to judge of others by themselves,) butt that I looked upon itt as an unparaleld misfortune, how inocentt so ever I was, to have such an odium cast upon mee as that I designed to marry a man that had a wife, and I am sure none could detest mee so much as I abhored the thought of such a crime. I confese I looked upon itt as the greatest of afflictions; butt, that I might nott sett limitts to myself, the Lord thought fitt to shew hee could make mee suffer greater and yett suport mee under them.

The first Sunday that my health and strengh would permitt mee to goe outt of my chamber, I went to the chapell in the morning (with the rest of the familly) to offer up thanksgiving to my God who had raised mee from the gates of death; and affter dinner retiring into my chamber, as I usually did, the door beeing locked and I alone, I was reading a sermon with which I was very well pleased, butt on a [p. 36] sodaine I was so disordered and in so great an agony that I thought itt nott fitt to be alone, and all the servantts beeing at dinner, and none within my call, I wentt imediately to Mr. N. [Nicholls] chamber, who was much surprised seeing mee come in so much disordered.

I freely told him every circumstance, imagining hee was a person fitt to intrust with any disorder of my soule, and desired his prayers;11 which the Lord blest with so good succese, that I imediately left trembling, and found a great serenity both of mind and body. Having giving him thanks for the great concerne hee shewed for mee, and had his promise to conceale what I had comunicated to him, I left him to goe and make myselfe ready for attending my Lady H. [Howard] to the chapell, thinking myselfe as secure of what I had said to him as if itt had beene within my owne breast, where itt should have beene still if I had then beene aquainted, as I have beene offten since, with the effects of melancholy vapours, butt having never known them before in others or my selfe made them apeare the more dreadfull; but those who have experience of them will I hope have the more charity for mee when they consider what effects they have had upon themselves.

[1 She refers to her oldest brother. This was Henry according to Loftis; Cummings also says Henry was the oldest brother and the letter came from him; see Cummings, AH, 664.

Of more interest is whether Anne lived with her oldest brother before she went to Naworth. Simon Couper in his 1701 Life writes: "After her Mothers Death [August 1647], She was invited by her eldest brother and his Lady, to live with them; where she had an apartment for herself and her Maid, and stayed there about a Year" (Loftis, Memoirs, 197-98n.) Couper seems to imply Anne left her oldest brother's house in 1648; the period of 8 months between the departure of James for Netherlands and the death of Charles I is the time when Anne Murray was probably living with Bampfield; they may have gone to the Netherlands as Loftis proposes (Bampfield's Apology, 248) or married privately in England. At the death of her brother, William, and the increase of danger to Bampfield where he has to live into deep hiding, she returns to Charles. Thus these letters are about a man the two siblings may have known their sister has been living with as a wife privately. This would help explain Elizabeth's husband's murderous rage; the "honor" of the family has been impugned.

Note that Bampfield has to give his permission for her to become her friend's companion and move, and she listens to his advice on what to do about having been appointed the Executrix of her brother Will's estate. On the trouble that produced well into her marriage with Sir James Halkett, see The Life of Lady Halkett, 20-21. Anne Howard is the same Anne who was Anne's closest friend and sister to Thomas Howard. The house is "Hinderskelfe (or Hinderskelle), later to be the site of Castle Howard" (Loftis 198n0. EM]

[2 It may be that the references here are to her oldest biological brother as in the 1701 Life, Simon Couper says she lived with her oldest brother. Also that the sister is her biological sister, Elizabeth. It was Henry's wife, Anne Bayting Murray, who teased our Anne (see directly below). A further confusion for the modern reader results from the 17th (and 18th) century habit of referring to in-laws and step-relatives with the same terms we use for our biological relatives. Thus Anne sometimes calls Elizabeth's husband and her brother-in-law, Sir Henry Newton, her brother. EM]

[3 Sir Charles Howard had five sisters who apparently lived in this house (Loftis, Memoirs, 198n). EM]

[4 Sir Thomas Gower (c. 1605-72) was Sir Charles Howard's brother-in-law, husband to Elizabeth, one of Sir Charles's sisters (Loftis, Memoirs, 198n). EM]

[5 Naworth Castle, East Cumberland, Sir Charles Howard's "seat." EM]

[6 Mr Nicholls, the Howards' chaplain. EM]

[7 From Bampfield, Apology: "In the months following the death of Charles I, Bampfield, in hiding, and Anne Murray, were often together. But Anne, learning that her part in managing the duke of York's escape had become known, accepted an invitation from a long-time friend to join her and her husband on a journey to the North of England. She left in September, expecting Bampfield to follow. About three months later, however, she learned in a letter from him that the day before his planned departure, he was arrested and taken to the Gatehouse. He told her he expected the death sentence." The warrant for his arrest is dated 18 December 1649; he escaped the night of 20-21 December. (135-37n). EM]

[8 Once again Bampfield's wife was Catherine Sydenham, daughter of a wealthy landowner in Somerset. Her father died when she was 5, so this would be his brother, her uncle, Sir Ralph Sydenham. See Bampfield's Apology, 18-20, 253n. Tellingly none of these suspicions or truths are told to Anne while it seems possible that Bampfield could return to some position of power; now that he is probably on his way towards death, no one fears him and so they begin to bad-mouth Anne and this of course gets to her brothers, brother-in-law, sister, and sister-in-law. EM]

[9 Here Anne seems to forget that she was told by Bampfield that his wife was still living some time after Charles I's execution. See pp. 26-27 above. After Catherine Sydenham's father's death, she had been made a ward of the Crown, and the wardship was sold for 1,2000 pounds to a consortium of 5 men; they controlled the estate (and thus its rents and monies) until her brother, John, should come of age. (See Bampfield's Apology 251n.)

Here is one of the places where we can discern Halkett preferring consciously to tell herself she believes a lie, while all the while she may suspect the truth and even voiced it once aloud. She actually knows enough about the situation to show the modern reader she could have found out the truth. She knew the wife had been orphaned and the names of her relatives, and various details, but only took what she wanted to believe and did not look into the situation, which she could easily have done.

She preferred to take what little bits of information she could fit together to weave rationales for Bampfield's behavior. Thus the wife's relatives would not tell the truth because they wanted to protect their claim on the money (again this resmbles the thinking in the later 19th century novel by Stannard, A Blameless Woman. Bampfield does not want to announce their bethrothal (or possibly marriage) openly lest he make enemies of them. And so on and so forth. EM]

[10 He escaped "on the night of 20-21 December 1649" and then again went into hiding (Bampfield, Apology, 136-37n). How much I wish the many letters Anne refers to but did not copy out had survived -- or the diaries Anne wrote, which formed part of the basis of the 1701 Life of Lady Halket by Simon Couper. EM]

[11 She may have told Nicholls she had bethrothed herself and perhaps that she had married Joseph Bampfield. A grave mistake. Loftis surmizes that she and Bampfield were married in the Netherlands after the escape of the Duke of York; however, they could just as easily married privately in England. See Bampfield's Apology, 248. She puts down her weakness of judgement to having been affliced by "melancholy vapours." We might call it her first strong attack of depression. EM]

Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 10 October 2006