Sunday, 11 August 2013

17th Century Satire-The Two Tom Lucys

George Fitzroy, 1st Duke of Northumberland
These days, the royals appear unable to keep anything secret, especially when reprehensible behaviour is concerned. Newspapers and social media eagerly jump on every snippet and make it public knowledge within hours. However, it seems the 17th Century royalty were no more effective in keeping their private affairs out of the pamphleteers hands.

George FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Northumberland was the youngest son of Charles II and Barbara Villiers, the Duchess of  Cleveland. John Evelyn, the diarist, who met him at dinner at Sir Stephen Fox's house, described him as "of all his Majesty's children the most accomplished and worth the owning," and is "extremely handsome and well shaped." Expansive praise indeed because Evelyn was equally kind towards Charles II elder son, the ill-fated James Scott Duke of Monmouth.

At the age of 21, George eloped with Katherine, the beautiful widow of Captain Thomas Lucy of Charlecote. The duchess was the mother of a small daughter, but had no dowry or rank, and an unsavoury reputation - although this third vice may or may not have been circulated so as to make George's reprehensible behaviour more acceptable..

George’s uncle, King James II was in negotiations for a wealthy wife for his nephew to a daughter of the Duke of Newcastle and was openly furious about the match. Repenting his elopement, George sought the help of his older brother, Henry, Duke of Grafton, another of Barbara's offspring, who advised him to divorce the blameless Katherine. Due to their papist leanings, divorce was impossible, so the two dukes kidnapped the bride, took her by barge from Chelsea to Gravesend, and there sailed for Flanders. At Ghent they placed her in a nunnery, and returned to England. Problem solved then?

King James, however, discovered their actions and sent a yacht to return the duchess to England, thus forcing his nephew to acknowledge her, and presented at Court.  Maybe the king’s conscience was bothering him, for he secretly married Ann Hyde in 1660 and was ready to repudiate her until his brother Charles II, insisting James acknowledge the marriage, and publicly received his wife.

It isn't recorded what Katherine thought about this treatment, but I hope George was reminded of it at regular intervals. The story was circulated amongst London society, and made into a satire - called "Ballad. The Widows and Maids." and was already being sung in taverns by the time Katherine was returned home. 


Young widows and maids
Now hold up your heads,
There are men to be had for all uses.
But who could presage
That ever one age
Should be furnished with two Tom Lucys? [1]

No reason I see
Our Goodman [2] should be
So very much angry with her son;
For though her [3] estate
Be encumbered with debt,
She always was free of her person.

Since his grace would prefer
The poulterer's [4] heir
To the great match his uncle had made him,
T'were just if the King
Took away his blue string [5],
And sewed on two to lead him.

That the lady was sent
To a convent in Ghent
Was the counsel of kidnapper Grafton;
And we may foretell
That all will do well,
Since the rough blockhead 6 governs the soft one. [7]

King John [8], who once passed
For a coward, at last
Gave evident proof of his courage;
There's many a one
Scorns pistol and gun,
Would not venture on such a marriage [9].

Moll Hinton [10] best knows
Why Newburgh [11] keeps close,
But it need never trouble her conscience;
Tis duty to clap
That impertinent fop,
For then the town's free of his nonsense.

For one that loves peace
And would live at his ease,
Northampton [12] the best way has chosen;
Leaves courting the fair
To his uncle's care,
And the combating part to his cousin.

In Shrewsbury [13] we find
A generous mind
So kindly to live with his mother,
And never try yet
To revenge the sad fate
Of his father and only brother.

Since fighting we see
With some don't agree,
A witness the much safer post is,
And though Ford [14], Lord Grey,
In the field ran away,
He can charge in a court of justice.

'Tis pleasant to hear
An eminent peer [15]
Make whoring a case of conscience,
When 'tis so well known
His favor begun
By pimping to Portsmouth not long since.

It is plain case
The countess's [16] disgrace
The Catholic cause advances,
And 'tis also as plain
That Tyrconnel's [17] chief aim

Was to bring in his daughter Frances.
That church will dispense [18]
With no heretic wench,
But yet we have this for our comfort:
If the priest at the Court

Denies us the sport,
The Chancery allows us a Mountfort. [19]
Thrice fortunate boy
Who can give double joy,
And at every turn be ready,

With pleasures in store,
Both behind and before,
To content both my lord and my lady.

Katherine Wheatley, Duchess of Northumberland
1.   Lucy - Thomas Lucy Captain of a Troop of the Household Guards who inherited Charlecote in 1677.
2.   Goodman - Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland, George's mother and mistress of Charles II.
3.   "her" - refers to the new Duchess of Northumberland, Katherine.
4.   poulterer - Katherine’s father, who was in fact a country gentleman, Robert Wheatley of Bracknell, Berks.
5.   blue string - The ribbon of the Order of the Garter.
6.   the rough blockhead - Duke of Grafton.
7.   the soft one - Duke of Northumberland.
8.   King John- John, Earl of Mulgrave, "fearful Mulgrave" in "Satire," accused of cowardice at Tangier
9.   marriage- Mulgrave married Ursula (Stawell), wealthy widow of Edward, Earl of Conway.
10.   Hinton- Mall Hinton, a famous prostitute
11.   Newburgh- Foppish Charles Livingston, Earl of Newburgh (c. 1662-94).
12.   Northampton - George Compton, 4th Earl of Northampton and his uncle, Henry Compton, Bishop of London, wooed Ursula, the widowed Lady Conway. Mysterious underhand dealings developed between Lord Mulgrave and the lady's step-father, Mr. Henry Seymour. Northampton sent Seymour a challenge by his young cousin, Hatton Compton, but Seymour refused to fight. Hatton Compton and Edward Seymour's second son "grew very warm, and this morning [February 18] fought near Kentish Town; nobody was killed, but both the principals and one of the seconds wounded"
13.   Shrewsbury- Charles Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury killed in a duel [1668] with the Duke of Buckingham. Shrewsbury's brother, John, was slain by the Duke of Grafton in a duel [1686]
14.   Ford- Ford, Lord Grey of Werke - one of the main instigators of Monmouth's
Rebellion. After the defeat at Sedgemoor, Grey informed on the others plotters and after paying a fine of £40k was re-admitted to court.
15.   an eminent peer- Robert Spencer, Earl of Sunderland and Secretary of State, persuaded King James II to dismiss his Protestant mistress, Katherine Sedley (he made "whoring a case of conscience").
16.   the countess- Katherine Sedley created Countess of Dorchester. A week later, and although pregnant, she was ‘turned out of Court’  She allegedly went to Ireland but returned to London eight months later. King James's priests considered her dangerous to their plans for Catholicizing England.
17.   Tyrconnel- Colonel Richard Talbot created Earl of Tyrconnel. One of the four Catholic lords who tried to persuade King James to dismiss the Countess of Dorchester. The satirist implies Tyrconnel's purpose was provide his stepdaughter as the new royal mistress. Frances, eldest of the three daughters of his second wife, Frances (Jennings).
18.   dispense with- Condone by dispensation, pardon.
19.   Mountfort- William Mountfort, actor and playwright, was in the service of Lord Chancellor Jeffreys as an entertainer and mimic, a supposed bisexual.

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