King Charles the Martyr, 1643-1649

By Esmé Wingfield-Stratford | Go to book overview
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beggarly pieces of silver, or for one bawbee less than the contents of thirty-six carts, loaded with clinking gold pieces, and guarded by Roundhead troopers who would no doubt very much have preferred some of them to have been devoted to meet the arrears of their own pay.

As these carts rumbled into Newcastle, the drums of the Scottish regiments were beating for the return march over the Border, and the Stuart King was handed over, with all appropriate formality, to his new Sassenach masters.

When the Scottish Commissioners, some of them with tears oozing from their eyes, came to apprise him of the transfer, the King dryly remarked that it made little difference, since even if he had been at liberty, he would rather have gone to those who bought him than to those who sold him, and added, "I am ashamed that my price is so much higher than my Saviour's."

It was the 30th of January, 1647.

The thirtieth of January!


THE place in which the Parliamentary chiefs had determined to shut up the King was his own house of Holdenby, or Holmby, in Northamptonshire, not far from Naseby. It was alleged afterwards, by the Cavaliers, that they had chosen this location with the express purpose of afflicting him, but it is very improbable that his feelings, one way or the other, entered into their calculations. Indeed they had originally intended to send him to New- market, but this would not only have been to put him at the disposal of the New Model, but it was also far too near to that East Anglian district whose loyalty to the rebellion was for the first time reported to be wavering. And Holdenby had the advantage of being in the midst of a district unexceptionably Roundhead.

The house itself was palatial, having been built for the chief residence of Elizabeth's fantastic Chancellor, Sir Christopher Hatton; it had been purchased for Charles, then Duke of York, by his mother. Pains had been taken, before the King's arrival, to get it up suitably for a royal residence. But a prison is none the


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