Friday, 26 July 2013

On the subject of royal babies...Guest: Tim Vicary

Pity the poor Duchess of Cambridge, forced to give birth while the world's media camped outside her bedroom window. Imagine what it would have been like had they been allowed INSIDE the birthing room? Such was the fate of the wife of James II's wife Mary of Modena who had to give birth in the presence of over 60 people.

This week's guest is writer Tim Vicary. This wonderful post first appeared on English Historical Fiction Authors and as I was researching doing my own post about the "Warming Pan Baby", I came across Tim's post and really couldn't go past it. So thank you to Tim for allowing us to reprint your post and for being our guest this week with a witty and insightful look at...


This is the story of a baby who wasn't born at all - or at least, not when his mother said he was. (And she wasn't his mother anyway, so what did she know?) That, amazingly, seems to have been the view of many people in England at the time - perhaps the majority view.

Or to put it another way, it's the story of sixty people - adult men and women - many of whom refused to believe their own eyes.

And so, to prove that this baby hadn't been born - even though it had happened right in front of their own eyes - they raised an army, invaded a country, and deposed a king.

So what was it all about? 
James II

Well, here's the story. In 1685, Charles II died, and his brother James became king. Unfortunately, King James II was a Roman Catholic.  This made him hugely unpopular with most of the English ruling class, who hated and feared Catholicism -  just as many people fear Islam today - so the idea of a Catholic king was anathema to them. 

In Charles II's reign, there had been a determined attempt to exclude his brother James from the succession. As soon as James was crowned his Protestant nephew, the Duke of Monmouth, led a rebellion against him. When Monmouth was executed, James seemed secure. His opponents consoled themselves with the thought that James' heirs - his two daughters, Mary and Anne - were both loyal Anglicans with staunch Protestant husbands. So all they had to do was wait a few years for James to die and everything would be all right again.
Mary of Modena

But then - oh dear - James' second wife, Mary of Modena, became pregnant. At first this wasn't too much of a worry because Mary was well into her forties and had suffered a number of miscarriages and still-births already. 

But while her husband proceeded with his plans to reintroduce Catholic officers to his army and Catholic clergy into the universities, the baby in Mary's womb grew steadily bigger. The bigger her belly, the more the public worried. What if she gave birth to a Catholic prince? That would change everything. In their minds people saw a long line of Catholic kings stretching into the future.

Some of their fears were real, others imaginary. The real fears were that England could be plunged into religious war, like those which had convulsed Europe for the past century. Millions on both sides had been massacred. The English Civil War had been partly about religion. And just over the Channel, French Protestants - Huguenots - were being forcibly converted, imprisoned and tortured by the agents of King Louis XIV. Many fled to England with genuine tales of terror.

But there were imaginary terrors too.The reign of Charles II had been disfigured by fantasists like Titus Oates, whose lies about non-existent Catholic plots had sent many innocent men to the scaffold. Many believed the Great Fire of London, even the Plague, were spread by Catholics. To the London mob, Catholics were monsters, like Jews in Nazi Germany.

And here was the Queen about to give birth to one!It was such an awful thought that many people refused to believe it. After all, the last Catholic queen - Bloody Mary - had claimed she was pregnant too. And it had all turned out to be a fantasy, a dropsy, a joke. Surely this would be the same.

Plans were laid to ensure that 'unbiased' witnesses - respectable Protestants - would be on hand to witness the birth. The Archbishop of Canterbury, for instance, and King James' second daughter, Princess Anne.
Call the Ambulance!

But the Queen went into labour a month early, while Princess Anne was still in Bath, taking the waters. On the evening of 9th June 1688, Queen Mary was playing cards in Whitehall until midnight. Then, as her labour started, an ambulance (a sedan chair!) was hurriedly called to carry her to St James' Palace and messengers were sent running hither and thither to summon help and witnesses. Lots of them. A really enormous number of people. Poor lady - she gave birth in front of no less than sixty people!!

She had two midwives, Mrs De Labadie and Mrs Wilkins, who each received 500 guineas. There were doctors too, and priests, and Lords of the Privy Council, and Ladies of the  Bedchamber. Presumably the King was there too (a new man!) and a few servants to light the fire and change the sheets. If it had been possible to invite a TV crew they would have done that too, no doubt.

Or perhaps not.Because even though the Queen gave birth in as public a way as it is possible to imagine, many people still refused to believe it. Princess Anne said it must be a conspiracy to pretend the birth had come early while she was in Bath and couldn't witness it. The Archbishop of Canterbury had been arrested the day before (about something quite different) so he wasn't present either. And the royal obstetrician, Dr Hugh Chamberlen, missed the birth too because no-one could find him - he was attending another birth in Chatham.
Weapon of Mass Deception

So there you are, people cried. It's obviously not true - it's a conspiracy, a fraud! (Dan Brown would have had a field day.) Gilbert Burnet, a prominent churchman, said the Queen had deliberately sent Dr Chamberlen away so that she could deceive everyone by smuggling in a changeling. 

And why were so many of the witnesses Catholics? Why hadn't the King invited the Dutch ambassador, for instance? No, only a fool would believe the Queen had actually given birth as she claimed. The baby wasn't hers at all.  They'd smuggled one into the bed in a warming pan.

Dr Burnet, who was in Holland at the time, was quite certain of this.

And so the evidence of sixty eye-witnesses counted for nothing. Not even the evidence of the vociferously Protestant midwife, Mrs Wilkins, who surely ought to know what had happened if anyone did. She protested to Dr Chamberlen:  'Alas, will they not let the poor infant alone! I am certain no such thing as the bringing of a strange child in a warming-pan could be practised without my seeing it; attending constantly in and about all the avenues of the chamber.'

Crazy, isn't it? People just believed what they wanted to believe. Nothing like that could happen today, surely? We're far more rational now. Ah, but bear with me. Here's a thought. Far-fetched, I admit, but still ...

Ten years ago, British and American soldiers invaded Iraq. (I told you my idea was far-fetched - a giant leap across centuries!) Why? Because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Almost everyone believed that; even the protesters. I certainly believed it, and so did George Bush and Tony Blair. I don't think they lied; they deceived themselves. They believed what they wanted to believe, because they were afraid of another, bigger 9/11.

Oh dear, I'm in seriously hot water now. Let's jump swiftly back to 1688. What happened as a result of this earlier bout of mass self-deception, this refusal to believe a baby prince had been born? Well, a large force gathered in Holland, sailed across the Channel and landed in Torbay, England. King James II fled, and was replaced, at Parliament's invitation, by his daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange--the throne, with strings attached. This was the Glorious Revolution of 1688-1689.

So there you have it: the invasion of a foreign country, regime change, and a change in the balance of power between monarch and Parliament. Coincidence, or what? All because of a bout of self-deception.

Amazing what a warming pan can do. Especially when it wasn't there at all.
Mary of Modena with James III (the "old pretender")
About Tim Vicary:
Tim Vicary is an award-winning author  and a university teacher at the university of York, England. His legal thrillers about a tough British barrister, Sarah Newby, have been compared to the works of John Grisham and Scott Turow. The second book in the series , A Fatal Verdict, was awarded a B.R.A.G Medallion for an outstanding independent novel in 2012 and is currently book of the month on The third book, Bold Counsel,  was  awarded the Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence. His four historical novels have also won praise.
Tim has also written about twenty graded readers for foreign learners of English, published by Oxford University Press. In 2010 and 2011 two of these - Titanic and The Everest Story - were each the winners in their category for the Language Learner Literature Award for the Extensive Reading Foundation. Tim lives in the English countryside, near York. When he's not writing he likes horse-riding, cycling, and swimming. For more about Tim, visit his website.

Tim's latest book, THE MONMOUTH SUMMER, is available from AMAZON

1685. King Charles II dies unexpectedly, and is succeeded by his brother James II, England's first Catholic monarch since Bloody Mary. English Protestants feel threatened, and King Charles’s illegitimate son, the handsome young duke of Monmouth, rises against his uncle in armed rebellion.
The rebellion turns young Ann Carter’s world upside down. Eighteen years old, she is betrothed to Tom Goodchild, a Protestant shoemaker; but secretly loves Robert Pole, an officer in King James’s army, who offers to take her to London as his mistress. Ann knows it is her duty to marry Tom, but does not love him; so when he marches away with the rebels, she imagines him being killed – which would set her free. But she knows such thoughts are wicked; her father is a rebel soldier too, like all the men of her village. So who should she pray for, when musket balls start to fly? What matters most – love or loyalty?
If God could see into my heart, she wonders, what would He tell me to do?
Her father, Adam, is a brave man tormented by fear. He has two fears: first, that he may be a coward, and run from the enemy; and second, that he is not one of God’s Elect, and will go to Hell when he dies. But like all the men of Colyton, ‘England’s most rebellious town’, he marches to war, risking his life for what he believes.
When England’s most notorious judge, Judge Jeffreys, is sent to punish the rebels, Ann and her father are faced with the hardest choices of all.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Rhode Island Firebrands: Guest Post - Jo Ann Butler

Thanks to the Hoydens and Firebrands for having me as their guest today, and my thanks also to Kim Murphy, who invited me. I am Jo Ann Butler, genealogist, once a colonial archeologist, and author of Rebel Puritan and the Reputed Wife, historical novels set in seventeenth-century Rhode Island.

We remember few seventeenth century New England women. Perhaps we think of Priscilla Mullins, the Pilgrim bride of John Alden, at Thanksgiving. However, Rhode Island was home to several famed hoydens and firebrands who deserve to be remembered.

A Firebrand is one who stirs up trouble or conflict, and Rhode Island had plenty of them. Canonchet led his Narragansett nation, and after being attacked by a Puritan army, joined Metacomet’s Wampanoags in rising against the Englishmen in King Philip’s War. Roger Williams was chased out of Puritan Massachusetts for heresy. The same colony sent an army into Rhode Island to arrest Samuell Gorton. Massachusetts said Gorton was treating the Narragansetts unfairly, but their aim was to annex Gorton’s holdings into the Puritan colony. Rhode Island was noted for its female firebrands. Perhaps Anne Hutchinson and Mary Dyer are still mentioned by history teachers searching for female participation in New England society. I hope so, for by their words and deeds these women changed their world.

In 1635 Boston women began meeting at the home of William and Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson on the day after Sabbath. In many respects, Anne was like most other New England wives. With twelve children, she must have run her household with military efficiency. However, unlike nearly all of her contemporaries, Anne had been educated by her minister father. She and her audience discussed the Puritan ministers’ sermons, and Anne gave her own interpretation of Scripture. Soon she held two meetings each week, and upwards of eighty women – and men – participated.

When one of Anne’s followers, Lord Henry Vane, was elected as governor the Puritans mobilized. They overturned the election, then prevented a possible uprising by disarming over 140 men from the Boston area. Anne’s supporters were told to recant, or to leave. In 1637 over half of them took their families and left, most of them to Rhode Island.

Assisted by New England’s ministers, Governor John Winthrop led the trial of Anne Hutchinson. There was no separation of church and state, so she was banished as “not fit for our society” for her religious beliefs. A few months later Anne joined her followers in Rhode Island after being excommunicated. She “gloried in her sufferings,” and as she swept out of the Boston church, Anne was joined arm in arm by Mary (Barrett) Dyer.

Mary Dyer was very well known to Bostonians. “A very proper and fair woman,” she was married to a rising merchant and minor official, and they had a two-year old son. Mary and William Dyer followed the Hutchinsons to Rhode Island. However, without Puritan laws and beliefs to oppose, Anne lost influence. After her husband’s death, Anne and most of her family moved to the margins of New Amsterdam. In 1643 all but one daughter were slain by the Siwanoy Indians.

Mary Dyer left Newport, Rhode Island in 1651, and did not return from England until 1657. The year before her return, English Quaker missionaries had begun arriving in Puritan Boston. The Quakers were notorious for their civil disobedience in England, and New England’s Puritans were on the alert. The first two Quaker women were jailed before being deported back to England. The next group of Quakers sat in Boston’s jail for much longer. John Endecott was governor when whipping Quakers became Massachusetts law that autumn. When Mary returned she was jailed, but escaped the lash, probably because the Dyers had been friends with so many Bostonians. The English Quakers did not fare so well, and several, including women, were whipped in the Puritan colonies. One of them was Herodias (Long) Gardner of Newport.

In summer 1657 Mary returned to Newport after her jailing in Boston. Herodias – who was known as Horred – was a few years younger than Mary. The two women had come to Newport about the same time, had several young children, and knew each other well.

In May 1658, after Mary brought her Quaker beliefs to Rhode Island, Horred Gardner shouldered her nursing infant. With Mary Stanton, a neighbor’s daughter who came to help, Horred walked fifty wilderness miles from Newport to Weymouth, Massachusetts, where she had once lived. There she spoke in public, perhaps at a market, telling of the scarred, starved, and traumatized Quakers recuperating in Rhode Island, and pleading that the abuse be stopped.

Horred Gardner and Mary Stanton were whisked to Boston by the militia. There, Governor Endecott ordered both of them whipped 10 lashes. Afterward, Horred prayed that God would forgive them. However, her whipping marked the last of Horred’s firebrand days.

Despite Horred and the other Quakers’ ordeals, the whippings, brandings, and ear-cuttings continued. In 1659 two Quaker men hanged when they returned to Massachusetts after being banished. Mary Dyer, who had also been banished on pain of death, then mounted the gallows and had the noose placed around her neck before being reprieved. She again defied her order of banishment and was hanged in 1660. However, her sacrifice finally ended the execution of Quakers after the newly-restored King Charles II read of Mary’s hanging.

Now, let's consider Rhode Island’s hoydens. A Hoyden is a lively or boisterous young woman, and perhaps there were plenty of them to go around in Rhode Island. That colony was called “Rogues Island” by Puritan detractors: rude, illiterate, and unchurched. Perhaps one birth in ten occurred within nine months of a couple’s marriage in Rhode Island, but about the same proportion occurred in Puritan colonies. Rhode Island punished women for theft, sexual misconduct, and scolding, but not overly many of those lesser crimes.

However, a few notable cases made Rhode Islanders whisper. In 1655 a stone mason bragged that not only had he built Elizabeth (Baulstone) Coggeshall’s house; he had “laid many a stone there” and was confident that her youngest child was his. Betty’s husband, John Coggeshall divorced her and repudiated her two youngest children. Lesser couples might have been fined or whipped, but John was son of Rhode Island’s ex-governor, and Betty was the only child of the colony’s richest man.

Horred Gardner’s full name was Herodias (Long) Hicks Gardner Porter, and her marital hijinx also made Rhode Island talk. In 1644 she and her first husband, John Hicks, parted after Horred charged him with abuse and he accused her of whoredom. In 1655 her second husband, George Gardner, was tried for keeping John Hicks’ wife as his own. Gardner was found not guilty because the Hickses had been legally separated. However, in 1665 the forty-two year-old Horred asked for a divorce from George because they had never married. Horred got another separation from the shocked colony. Only a couple of years later she and John Porter, who was a good twenty years older than she, were tried for cohabitation.

By the way, the image here is of Horred’s granddaughter, Hannah Gardner. No contemporary image exists of Horred, Mary Dyer, or Anne Hutchinson.

I believe that ‘hoyden’ is an appropriate description for Horred Long, but she was also a firebrand in her defense of the Quakers. Many years ago I learned about Horred when compiling my genealogy, and I am proud that she is my 8th-great grandmother. I also thought her story would make a dandy historical novel. I hope that Horred is proud that I wrote Rebel Puritan, an Indie BRAG Award-winning novel, about her, and followed it this year with The Reputed Wife. Horred shares the pages of my novels with Mary Dyer and Anne Hutchinson, all three of them formidable Rhode Island Firebrands.

Want to know more?

American Jezebel – Eve La Plante. An excellent biography of Anne Hutchinson.
Wayward Puritans – Kai Erikson. Fine social history with sections about both Hutchinson and Dyer My website about Herodias Long. Christy Robinson’s superb blog about William and Mary (Barrett) Dyer
The Winthrop Woman – Anya Seton. Superb historical fiction with Anne Hutchinson as a main character
Rebel Puritan and The Reputed Wife – Jo Ann Butler. I humbly recommend my own novels about the development and disputes in early New England as experienced by Herodias Long.
Mary Dyer, Biography of a Puritan Rebel – Ruth Plympton. This book contains inaccuracies, and is as much fiction as biography, but also covers Mary’s life.

Jo Ann Butler

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The State of the Roads in the 17th Century - by Deborah Swift

The roads near my house are full of pot-holes thanks to a wet winter and not much money spent on road maintenance. But how were roads and highways maintained in the Stuart Era? 


Most goods were transported from the ports to the interior of the country by pack horses and so tracks were the routes most commonly followed. There were no signposts in the 17th Century, so you had to either know the route already or employ a guide. Most roads passed through areas that were still deeply forested, and would in no way resemble the sort of roads we have now. In Henry VIII's reign the use of the heavy waggon and springless cart became more common, and as prosperity increased there was more need for wider roads. A large waggon was also more economical for transporting items in bulk. The dust surface of these new broad roads became mud in winter, and so in 1555 the Statute of Philip and Mary was passed which provided a strategy for maintaining the roads.

17th Century routes through the towns and forests
of England, hunting horns denote forests
This act, which lasted right through Stuart times made the parish instead of the Lord of the Manor responsible for the upkeep of the highway. What this meant in effect was that if a road passed through your parish, it was your job to keep it in good condition. In order for this to work, each parish had to appoint a Surveyor of Highways. His duty was to inspect the road, and should it need work, he could call on each of the parishioners to do six days of road mending. Materials could be legally taken by the Surveyor from anyone's land for this task, and stones, rubble or earth removed without the landowner being recompensed for damage to the property. Naturally the Surveyor of Highways was not a popular person, as very few wanted to spend six days labouring and his inspections usually meant trouble as he took materials for repair from local landowners.

This system did not work particularly well and meant roads were often impassable in bad weather. Particularly bad were the routes in and out of the capital. But in 1656, tired of the resposibility of maintaining The Great North Road, the people of Radwell in Hertfordshire petitioned the Quarter Sessions for help, because this was the major route in and out of London. Probably as a result of this, Parliament passed a bill that gave the local justices powers to erect toll-gates on a section of the Great North Road for a trial period of eleven years, and allowed that the revenues collected should be used for the maintenance of the road. 

This being a success, to assist in the repair of roads, after 1663 groups of wealthy landowners were given permission by Parliament to build or improve a stretch of road and then charge tolls to get their money back, thereby allowing them to make a profit. These were called Turnpike Trusts. At first these toll roads were short and acted as short cuts, often bypassing a village and thus reducing its trade. 

File:Hyde park turnpike toll gate.jpg
18thC print of Hyde Park Turnpike Gate
At some places along main roads, houses and gates were set up and a tollgate keeper lived alongside the route. These turnpikes continued to multiply slowly until by 1872, when the system was finally abolished, there were approximately 8000 turnpikes in operation.

A turnpike gate was a large gate which revolved on a spike and after the individual had paid his penny to use the turnpike the gate would revolve allowing access to the newly created turnpike road. Typical charges in the 17th Century were one penny for a horse and sixpence for a coach. Exempt from the charges were mail coaches, foot passengers and people in a funeral cortege. Because it was possible for brave horsemen to leap over the gates without paying, the gate was sometimes replaced by what soon became known as a 'turnpike': a wooden bar with spikes on top. The book I am working on now features a lot of travel by horseback, so I thought I'd share some snippets of my research. Anyone with information to add to my growing collection of data about Stuart roads, I'd be glad to hear from you.


Monday, 8 July 2013

HOYDENS AT LARGE: A Farewell and our news...

The Hoydens are very sad to say farewell to Sandra Gulland. Sandra has been with us since the Hoydens first burst on to the blogging scene but her writing and her life are moving her in different directions. While she remains a 17th century passionista, the lure of the Napoleonic days has captured her and that is where she needs to devote her time and her energies.  

Thank you, Sandra, for your support and your friendship over the last five years. You have graced us with some wonderful articles and will always be welcome back as a guest author should you have a 17th century "moment"!

In the meantime we are waiting with baited breath for the televisation (is that a word?) of your Josephine B. series. I am currently half way through the second book and just loving it.  Mini review here:  Sandra Gulland has chosen the first person voice of Josephine Bonataparte to tell her own story in a diarised format.  The result is a deeply personal account not only of Josephine's own  life but the tumultuous times in which she lived. I can't put it down!

Fear not, dear followers...the Hoydens will continue with our core group of Anita Davison (Anita Seymour), Dee Swift, Kim Murphy and Mary Sharratt, supplemented with our wonderful guests.  We are finding more and more fellow 17th century if you write books set in this period of history, do please email me at and ask for a guest spot on the blog. The more people we can share our interest in this period with - the better!

Back to the Hoydens:

Mary on a panel at HNS
THE DARK LADY’S MASQUE, the story of Aemilia Bassano Lanier, the first rofessional woman poet in Renaissance England, and her collaboration—and star-crossed love affair—with William Shakespeare, as his Dark Lady, sold to Nicole Angeloro at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 

 Conference news: I (Mary) was on three panels at the recent HNS conference: Depicting Religion in Historical Fiction;  Genre vs Literary Historical Fiction ; and The Witchcraft Window: Scrying the Past with Erika Mailman, Kathleen Kent, and Suzy Witten. 

Writing as Anita Seymour, ROYALIST REBEL, was released in January this year.  The biographical novel of the tumultuous life of Elizabeth Murray who lived through the reigns of Charles I through to William and Mary. The book is gathering some wonderful reviews

Like Mary, Dee was recently in Florida where she appeared on the Historical fiction bloggers panel. Blogging is alive and well...
Dee Swift on the panel at HNS
Her two wonderful 17th century books THE GILDED LILY and THE LADY'S SLIPPER are out in the world and gathering wonderful reviews. We are all waiting for her next book A DIVIDED INHERITANCE, set in 1609, it moves from London to Seville in Spain...coming soon

Kim reports:  "I'm working on my copy edits for my nonfiction title I HAD RATHER DIE:  RAPE IN THE CIVIL WAR. Release date looks like it will be Jan. 2014."  Kim's study of the American Civil War will be a major contribution to women's history and the fate of women in war time.

Alison's September 2012 release, GATHER THE BONES (set post World War One) has gathered some major award nominations this year:  The Australian Romance Readers Awards, the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence, the GDRW Booksellers Best Awards and the InDtale Magazine RONE Awards. 
In April 2013, SECRETS IN TIME was released, an unabashed time travel romance with a time travelling cavalier hero.  Fun to write and a short read.

Alison Stuart
July 7 2013