The Autobiography of Anne Halkett
[She helps Joseph Bampfield rescue the young James, Duke of York, pp. 19 - 24]
[p. 19] upon time and nott the worse that hee [Colonel Joseph Bampfield] proffesed to have a great friendship for my brother Will.
This gentleman came to see mee sometimes in the company of ladys who had beene my mother's neibours in St Martin's Lane, and sometimes alone, butt when ever hee came his discourse was serious, handsome, and tending to imprese the advantages of piety, loyalty, and vertue; and these subjects were so agreeable to my owne inclination that I could nott butt give them a good reception, especially from one that seemed to bee so much an owner of them himselfe.
Affter I had beene used to freedom of discourse with him I told him I aproved much of his advise to others, butt I thought his owne practise contradicted much of his proffesion, for one of his aquaintance had told mee hee had nott seene his wife in a twelvemonth, and itt was imposible, in my opinion, for a good man to bee an ill husband; and therefore hee must defend himselfe from one before I could beleeve the other of him. Hee said itt was not nesesary to give every one that might condemne him the reason of his being so long from her, yett to sattisfy mee hee would tell mee the truth, which was, that hee beeing engaged in the King's service he was oblieged to bee att London, where itt was nott convenientt for her to bee with him, his stay in any place beeing uncertaine; besides, shee lived amongst her freinds, who, though they were kind to her, yett were nott so to him, for most of that country had declared for the Parleament, and were enemys to all that had or did serve the King, and therefore his wife, hee was sure, would not condemne him for what hee did by her owne consentt. This seeming reasonable, I did insist noe more upon that subject.1
[p. 20] Att this time hee had frequentt letters from the King, who imployed him in severall affaires, butt that of the greatest concerne which hee was imployed in was to contrive the Duke of Yorke's escape outt of St Jarnes (where his Highnese and the Duke of Glocester [Gloucester] and the Princese Elizabeth lived under the care of the Earle of Northumberland and his lady). The dificultys of itt was represented by Coll. B. [Colonel Bampfield]; but his Majestie still pressed itt, and I remember this expresion was in one of the letters: -- "I beleeve itt will bee deficult, and if hee miscary in the attempt itt will bee the greatest afliction that can arive to mee; butt I looke upon James's escape as Charles's preservation, and nothing can content mee more; therfore bee carefull what you doe."
This letter, amongst others, hee showed mee, and where the King aproved of his choice of mee to intrust with itt, for to gett the Duke's cloaths made, and to drese him in his disguise. So now all C. B.'s [Colonel Bampfield's] busynese and care was how to manage this busynese of so important concerne, which could not bee performed without severall persons' concurrence in itt, for hee beeing generally knowne as one whose stay att London was in order to serve the King, few of those who were intrusted by the Parliament in puplicke concernes durst owne convearse or hardly civility to him, lest they should have beene suspect by there party, which made itt deficult for him to gett accese to the Duke; but (to be short) having comunicated the designe to a gentleman attending his Highnese, who was full of honor and fidelity, by his meanes hee had private accese to the Duke, to whom hee presented the King's letter and order to his Highnese for consenting to act what C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] should contrive for his escape, which was so cheerfully intertained and so readily obayed, that being once designed there was nothing more to doe than to prepare all things for the execution.
I had desired him to take a ribban with him and bring mee the bignese of the Duke's wast and his lengh, to have cloaths made fitt for him. In the meane time C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] was to provide mony for all nesesary expence, which was furnished by an honest cittisen. When I gave the measure to my tailor to inquire [p. 21] how much mohaire would serve to make a petticoate and wastcoate to a young gentlewoman of that bignese and stature, hee considered itt a long time, and said hee had made many gownes and suites, butt hee had never made any to such a person in his life. I thought hee was in the right; butt his meaning was, hee had never seene any woman of so low a stature have so big a wast; however hee made itt as exactly fitt as if hee had taken the measure himselfe. Itt was a mixed mohaire of a light haire couler and blacke, and the under-petticoate was scarlett.
All things beeing now ready, upon the 20. of Aprill, 1648, in the evening, was the time resolved on for the Duke's escape.2
And in order to that, itt was designed for a week before every night as soon as the Duke had suped hee and those servants that attended his Highnese (till the Earle of Northumberland and the rest of the howse had suped) wentt to a play called hide and seek, and sometimes hee would hide himselfe so well that in halfe an howers time they could not find him. His Highnese had so used them to this, that when hee wentt really away they thought hee was butt att the usuall sport.
A litle before the Duke wentt to super that night hee called for the gardiner, who only had a treble key besides that which the Duke had, and bid him give him that key till his owne was mended, which hee did. And after his Highnese had suped, hee imeadiately called to goe to the play, and wentt downe the privy staires into the garden, and opened the gate that goes into the parke, treble locking all the doores behind him. And att the garden gate C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] waited for his Highnese, and putting on a cloake and periwig huried him away to the parke gate, where a coach waited that caried them to the watter side, and, taking the boate that was apointed for that service, they rowed to the staires next the bridge, where I and Miriam waited in a private howse hard by that C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] had prepared for dresing his Highnese, where all things were in a readinese.
Butt I had many feares, for C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] had desired mee, if they came nott there precisely by ten a' clocke, to shift for my selfe, for then I might conclude they were discovered, and so my stay there could doe noe good, but prejudice my selfe. Yett this [p. 22] did nott make mee leave the howse, though ten a'clock did strike, and hee that was intrusted offten wentt to the landing place and saw noe boate comming was much discouraged, and asked mee what I would doe. I told him I came there with a resolution to serve his Highness, and I was fully determined nott to leave that place till I was outt of hopes of doing what I came there for, and would take my hazard.
Hee left mee to goe againe to the watter side, and while I was fortifying myselfe against what might arive to mee, I heard a great noise of many as I thought comming up staires, which I expected to be soldiers to take mee, but it was a pleasing disapointmentt, for the first that came in was the Duke, who with much joy I took in my armes and gave God thankes for his safe arivall. His Highnese called "Quickely quickely dress me;" and, putting of his cloaths, I dresed him in the women's habitt that was prepared, which fitted his Highnese very well, and was very pretty in itt. Affter hee had eaten something I made ready while I was idle lest his Highnese should bee hungry, and having sentt for a Woodstreet cake (which I knew hee loved) to take in the barge, with as much hast as could bee his Highnese wentt crose the bridge to the staires where the barge lay, C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] leading him; and imediately the boatemen plied the oare so well that they were soone outt of sight, having both wind and tide with them.
Butt I afterwards heard the wind changed and was so contrary that C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] told me hee was terribly afraid they should have beene blowne backe againe. And the Duke said, "Doe any thing with mee rather than lett mee goe backe againe," which putt C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] to seeke helpe where itt was only to bee had, and, after hee had most fervently suplicated assistance from God, presently the wind blew faire, and they came safely to there intended landing place. Butt I heard there was some deficulty before they gott to the ship at Graves-End, which had like to have discovered them had nott Collonell Washington's lady assisted them.3
Affter the Duke's barge was outt of sight of the bridge, I and Miriam wentt where I apointed the coach to stay for mee, and made drive as fast as the coachman could to my brother's howse,4 where I staid. I mett none in the way that gave mee any aprehension that [p. 23] the designe was discovered, nor was itt noised abroad till the next day, for (as I related before) the Duke having used to play at hide and seeke, and to conceale himselfe a long time when they mist him att the same play, thought hee would have discovered himselfe as formerly when they had given over seeking him. Butt a much longer time beeing past than usually was spentt in that deverttissementt, some began to aprehend that his Highnese was gone in earnest past their finding, which made the Earle of Northumberland (to whose care he was committed) affter strict search made in the howse of St. James and all thereabouts to noe purpose, to send and aquaint the Speaker of the House of Commons that the Duke was gone, butt how or by what meanes hee knew nott, butt desired that there might bee orders sentt to the Cinque Ports for stoping all ships going outt till the passengers were examined and search made in all suspected places where his Highnese might be concealed.
Though this was gone aboutt with all the vigillancy immaginable, yett itt pleased God to disapointt them of there intention by so infatuating those severall persons who were imployed for writting orders that none of them were able to writt one right, butt ten or twelve of them were cast by before one was according to their mind. This accountt I had from Mr. N. [Serjeant Norfoulke] who was mace-bearer to the Speeker all that time and a witnese of itt.5 This disorder of the clarkes contributed much to the Duke's safety, for hee was att sea before any of the orders came to the ports, and so was free from what was designed if they had taken his Highnese.
Though severalls were suspected for being accesory to the escape, yett they could nott charge any with itt butt the person who wentt away, and hee being outt of there reach, they tooke noe notice as either to examine or imprison others. Affter C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] had beene so successfull in serving the Duke, the Prince imployed him and commanded him backe againe to London, with severall instructions that might have beene serviceable to the King, had nott God Almighty thought fitt to blast all indeavers that might have conduced to his Majestie's safety.6
As soone as C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] landed beyond the Tower, hee writt [p. 24] to desire I would doe him the faver as to come to him, as beeing the only person who att that time hee could trust; and when hee should aquaint mee with the occation of his comming, hee doupted nott butt I would forgive him for the liberty hee had taken. I knowing hee could come upon no accountt but in order to serve the King, I imediately sent for an honest hackney coachman who I knew might bee trusted, and taking Miriam with mee, I wentt where hee was, who giving mee a short information of what hee was employed aboutt, and how much secresy was to be used both as to the King's interest and his owne security, itt is nott to be doupted butt I contributed what I could to both, and, taking him backe in the coach with mee, left him att a private lodging nott very farre from my brother's howse, that a servantt of his had prepared for him.
The earnest desire I had to serve the King made mee omitt noe opertunity wherein I could bee usefull, and the zeale I had for his Majesty made me nott see what inconveniencys I exposed myselfe to; for my intentions being just and inocentt made mee nott reflect what conclusions might bee made for the private visitts which I could nott butt nesesarily make to him in order to the King's service, for whatever might relate to itt that came within my knowledge I gave him accountt of, and hee made such use of itt as might most advance his designe. As long as there was any posibility of conveying letters secrettly to the King, hee frequently writt, and receaved very kind letters from his Majestie, with severall instructions and letters to persons of honour and loyalty; butt, when all access was debarred by the strict guard placed aboutt the King, all hee could then doe was to keepe warme those affections in such as hee had influence in till a seasonable opertunity to evidence their love and duty to his Majestie.
1 She thus introduces the individual who centrally affected her life. In my view while her guilt and shame about the relationship are at the core of a complex of feelings (some about Sir James Halkett) which led to her writing this memoir, that core is itself the result of her community's treatment of her and her sense of a tenuous contingent safety. Also missing from the extant manuscript (as evidence in Couper redaction) is an account of Anne's mother's death (August 28, 1647, Couper 1701 Life, p. 16), her going to live with her older brother, Charles and his wife, and the statement she stayed with them for a year where it's implied she went to live elsewhere after that year (pp. 13-16). It's here we are told she dates her 14 years of misfortune from this time, and here we are told she lived in Holland. The 14 years may be dated from the time of her mother's death or the time she left her brother's house. There may be a considerable number of passages chopped out of the extant ms.
Colonel Joseph Bampfield (1622-1685) was a well-educated gentleman from a landowning family in Dorsetshire, a man on the side of the Royalists, but not absolutist (rather he was in temperament closer to the Presbyterian or Covernanting Scots he joined later in early 1650s); he was a military officer and became a highly effective spy, at first and for a long time for the royalist side. When it became apparent to him, Charles II's hatred of him would preclude his making a living for living with other royalists, he became a spy for Thurloe, the head of Cromwell's intelligence service in the late years of the Protectorate. He would not have gotten along with his wife's Parliamentarian family. Working back "several" years suggests Bampfield and his wife became estranged 1645. Will is William Murray, Anne's beloved youngest brother, then an attendant upon Charles II. EM]
[2 Loftis, Memoirs, (195n) remarks "there are at least three other accounts of the escape:" J. S. Clarke, The Life of James the Second, Collected out of Memoirs Writ of His Own Hand," 2 vols. (London: 1816)1:33-38; Clarendon, History of the Rebellion, 9:19-20; and Colonel Joseph Bampfeild's Apologies, "Written by himselfe and printed at his own desire" (1685):41-42. All three are consistent in detail, and Anne Halkett's (not published until 1875) "corresponds closely with that in The Life of James the Second."
Here is a retelling from F. C. Turner, James II (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1948), 16-19:
"To all the children he [King Charles I] counselled loyalty and obedience to their oldest brother Charles, and James in particular he advised to take what opportunity he could to escape, and to find a refuge in Holland with his sister Mary, the Princess of Orange. This last advice was superfluous. Within six months of his arrival in London, James had begun scheming to escape, and his father's friends had been scheming for him; the House of Lords in December 1646 took notice of the first attempt that was made and appointed a Committee to inquire into it. In February 1647 a letter to James from his mother was intercepted, and about the same time he was found to have written a letter to his father in cipher under pretence of writing to his brother-in-law, the Prince of Orange. What followed is described in a news-letter of the time:
Upon discovery of this, my Lord of Northumberland, Sir William Ermyn and another of the house were appointed by the Parliament to examine the Duke who would confess nothing but that he wrote to the King to let him know the Queen and his brothers and sisters were in health; they demanded the key of the cipher which he told them was burnt as soon as he write the letter, which was all they could get out of him. Whereupon the House of Commons, taking the quickest and readiest way, fell upon the debate of sending him to the Tower, which he having notice of (wisely) wrote a letter of submission and sent it to the Parliament with the key of the cipher, confessing the whole truth, and begged that he might be continued with my Lord of Northumberland and not sent to the Tower, which was granted; though some of the House being very much incensed against him opposed it saying, 'You see what a brood there is of them, like father, like sons, there is no truth in any of them';
and the writer concludes his narrative with a suggestion that James had been trapped by a woman agent provocateur into writing the letter and had been betrayed by her. (James's biographer gives the same story, except that he makes no mention of the letter of submission, in which no doubt he considered that James had compromised his dignity.) A year later a Committee of both Houses considered various attempts at escape that had been made, and James was constrained to write letters to the two Speakers 'by which he engaged his honour and faith never to engage in such businesses.' After his successful escape he was excused for his breach of faith on the ground that he was under age and should not have been put on oath; but Parliament took his promise seriously and made it a ground for exculpating Northumberland.
It was not, however, until April 1648 that success was achieved, and by an excellent piece of staff work on the part of one Colonel Bampfield. James was instructed to prepare for the attempt by playing hide and seek at dusk with his sister and brother, and this game he played with them every evening for a fortnight; so expert did he become at hiding himself that it was often half-an-hour before he was found. On this particular night he went off on pretence at hiding, and slipped down a back stair. Unfortunately he struck his foot violently against a door and made a clatter; no one took notice of the noise, but James retired to his bedchamber and pretended to be reading. When he found all was quiet he slipped down the stair again and across the grounds to 'the door by the tiltyard-end' which opened on St. James's Park and of which he had previously obtained the key. Outside this door he found Colonel Bampfield, who provided him with the temporary disguise of a periwig and patches, and they made their way no doubt at a leisurely pace so as to avoid notice to Spring Gardens, 'as gallants come to hear the nightingale.' At the exit from Spring Gardens they found a hackney coach which had been engaged by a friend of Bampfield's of the name of Tripp. In this coach the three of them went along the causeway which is now the Strand as far as Ivy Lane, and there the coach was stopped, James and the Colonel got out on pretence of paying a call, and Tripp went on in the coach, so as to lay a false scent in case the chase was up. The other two slipped down to the river and went by boat to the neighbourhood of London Bridge, where they entered the house of a surgeon of the name of Low; there they found Bampfield's fiancee, Anne Murray; she had had a costume made to James's measurements by a woman's tailor, and she reports the tailor's remark, 'that he had never seen a woman of so low a stature have so big a waist.' Anne has left a very vivid (though ungrammatical) account of her part in the escape: Colonel Bampfield had told her that if they were not at Surgeon Low's house by ten she would know they had failed and must shift for herself. But they came a little later:
The first that came in was the Duke, who with much joy I took in my arms. His Highness called 'Quickly, quickly, dress me,' and putting off his clothes I dressed him in the woman's habit that was prepared which fitted His Highness very well, and was very pretty in it. After he had eaten something I had made ready while I was idle lest His Highness should be hungry, and having sent for a Woodstreet cake (which I knew he loved) to take in the barge, with as much haste as could be His Highness went cross the bridge to the stairs where the barge lay.
At Billingsgate they engaged a barge to take them to Tilbury-Hope, where a Dutch pink was cleared and only waiting for 'Mr. Andrews and his sister,' who was going to join her husband in Holland. The barge-master was not quite satisfied with his passengers from the first -- for one thing, no fewer than five persons had embarked with them to see them off, and for another, they appear to have had no luggage -- and when they were under way, 'peeping through a cranny of the door into the barge room, where there was a candle burning before the Duke, he perceived his Royal Highness laying his leg upon the table, and plucking up his stocking in so unwomanish a manner, that he concluded his former surmises of him were undoubted truths.' (Another account says that Mr. Andrews was tying his sister's garter.) This was a bad break on the part of Master James: he was only fourteen-and-a-half, and no doubt was very self-conscious and uncomfortable in his unaccustomed costume. There was nothing to do but to take the barge-master into their confidence, and for a little time there was fear that the scheme had miscarried. The barge-master had no scruples of conscience; on general grounds he was quite willing, though by no means eager, to help James to escape; but he was a family man, and if he were detected as an accomplice -- as he was likely to be by the guard-boats at Gravesend -- he would be ruined. He yielded at last to James's promises to provide for him if he got into trouble, and without lights or oars the barge drifted on the tide undetected in the dark by the guard-boats and found the pink without mishap. The crossing to Flushing was uneventful, but their troubles were not quite over, for a vessel which they erroneously took for an English frigate followed them into the harbour, and the captain of the pink decided to proceed to Middelburg, a journey which was risky, with the tide as it then was. However, James's luck held, and 'at Middleburg the Duke slept that night, and gave much wonder to the hostess, that a young gentlewoman would not let the maids help her to the bed, but be served by a pretended brother, in the same chamber in another bed.' James finally arrived at the Hague on April 30.
Thus James's early boyhood had been spent in the atmosphere of the Civil War. He was a spectator at its two earliest episodes, and at Oxford, where he spent almost four years, he was at the centre of the resistance to the insurgents. There the talk of his seniors was entirely of the war and of the means to bring it to a successful conclusion. This atmosphere was, there can be no doubt, charged with an intense hatred of the Parliamentary leaders, coupled with an eagerness to swallow any sort of gossip against them ... ". EM]
[3 Elizabeth, wife of Colonel Henry Washington (1615-64) who served in the King's Army during the Civil War. Loftis (196n) says "Colonel Bampfield mentions a Colonel Washington -- presumably Henry -- as one of the Royalist officers who in the summer of 1648 were in the fleet that revolted against Parliament and sailed to the Netherlands, 'delivering themselves up to the Duke of York as their Admiral'" (Bampfield's Apologie, 43-44). EM]
[4 According to Simon Couper, Anne lived with her oldest brother from the time of her mother's death until one year later. See Couper 1701 Life, 14, who calls him Charles. Loftis says Henry was the oldest, see, e.g., Loftis, Memoirs, 5. EM]
[5 Loftis, Memoirs (197n): "'Serjeant Norfoulke'" was then mace-bearer (Journals of the House of Commons From December the 5th 1646 ... to September the 1st. 1648." The Earl is question was Percy Algernon (1602-166*); his wife, Lady Elizabeth Percy (born Howard), Countess of Northumberland (and his second wife) was also held responsible for the royal children at St. James's Palace. EM]
[6 Loftis, Memoirs, (197n) says of "the Prince imployed him: Lady Halkett passes silently over one of the most controversial periods in Bampfield's career, the summer of 1648. According to Clarendon, Bampfield used his influence with the fourteen-year-old Duke of York in an effort to persuade him to insubordination against the Prince of Wales. He also attempted to arouse support for the Duke, in opposition to the Prince, in the Royalist fleet that had revolted against Parliament and sailed to Holland ... Although Bampfield's interpretation of his actions is very different from Clarendon's, he traces his subsequent misfortunes to his actions during this period."
Until recently the tradition has been to accept Clarendon's partisan retelling of what happened, e.g., F. C Turner: "Like many successful plotters, Bampfield could not cease plotting even when his plot had achieved success. It was natural that James should be grateful to him for the assistance he had given him in his escape, and he wanted him to have the governor's place; but when Bampfield had attempted to get up a Presbyterian faction in the household, and also to promote a sort of mutiny in the Royalist flotilla, it was clear even to James that he was impossible. He was dismissed with such pecuniary gratifications as funds would allow." Turner 30-31.
However, a fairer and unbiased reading of Bampfield's Apology in the light of other documents, suggests that Bampfield has been misrepresented and unfairly maligned. In his Apology he denies the charge as showing him to have a ludicrous and unreal idea of what he could achieve. He seems to me to make a persuasive case that what fuelled his dismissal by Charles II was his boldness in trying to persuade others to perform a rescue operation of Charles I with his sons at the head, and his instinctive egalitarian defense of himself before Charles who felt his courage had been maligned. See Bampfield's Apology,71, 76-84, 132-40 explanatory notes. EM]
* From a miniature, probably painted by John Hoskins while the children were in the custody of the Earl of Northumberland at St. James's Palace. Anne Halkett's mother (it will be recalled) had been governess to Elizabeth and Henry.